Star Wars vs. Star Trek
They possess two of the most die hard fan bases in all of science fiction fandom. There is the Utopian ideals expressed in Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek. There is the swashbuckling popcorn glory that stirs an imagination that is Star Wars. Star Trek has phasers as well as a dedication to higher sensibilities. Lets face it, Star Wars has laser swords. You just can’t get any cooler of a concept than laser swords! Somewhere, you have debated this very question. Now, you get to decide. Which is better? Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek is not only a television show. Star Trek is a vision. Star Trek said that as man went through the ages, he would actually get better. Man would learn how to live in peace with other men. Men would abolish a greedy monetary system. Once we were united as a planet, then we could move on to become a member of an intergalactic community. Star Trek fired the imagination for men to experiment with Cell Phones, Virtual Reality, and shots without needles. If nothing else, Star Trek is based in an almost childlike hope that one day race will be nothing more than a color and that humanity will truly be only one race. Not only that, but through the Prime Directive, we would be able to show respect for other cultures and planets which we did not immediately understand. We would go to visit them spreading a message of peace as well as an offer of friendship to those evolved enough to understand. It is a world that people not only wanted the gadgets of, it is a world in which people wanted to actively move towards creating. Through a nearly uninterrupted five decades of continued success, Roddenberry’s dream is relevant to some people to move towards in the same way that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is.
Lets go ahead and get this out of the way. Light Sabers are the coolest things that have ever been and may well be the coolest things that ever are in the history of time. Star Wars is a popcorn pumping orgy of sight, sounds, and visual delight. Star Wars has a compelling story, mind blowing battles, as well as the hint of a Greek Tragedy. Star Wars takes everything that you love about everything and puts it all into a visual delight of one film series. Star Wars changed the way that movies were made. Star Wars changed the way that movies were seen. Star Wars gave kids toys to make their own adventures with. Bill Murray on Saturday Night Live sung it best “Star Wars! Nothing but Star Wars!” There is an entire generation of movie goers who would have literally been different people had Star Wars and its sequels not been released. They not only wanted the clothes and the ultra cool light sabers, but they also practically wanted to adopt the Force as a religious belief. This is not to mention all the filmmakers who wound up giving us their vision precisely because they had seen Star Wars in the theaters.
This is also the same show which featured a heroically lecherous Captain who regularly disobeyed orders and seemed interested in either fighting or having sex with every alien he came across. In addition to that, the United Federation of Planets seems to have a preferred admittance to races which stand on two feet and have a bit lighter skin. The Prime Directive seems to apply to only new planets. As far as other established universal forces right to exist such as the Klingons, Romulans, or Borg: the policies of the Federation get a bit more hazy. In addition to all of the technological advancement and higher thinking, Roddenberry’s Earth is also a place which must have gotten bored with the good life. They seem to go exploring precisely to seek out the base and belligerent desires that home has become too mundane for now. It is not necessarily the best comment on humanity. In their accomplishment, there is a hint of arrogance. The old adage of “Make The World Britain” has now become “Make The Universe Earth!” There is something that implies an essential hubris there.
What is exactly that Star Wars does as well as accomplish in the grand scheme of things? Star Wars ends up telling you a very familiar story in a very familiar way with a very familiar ending. All of those things are popular yes, but in the end how groundbreaking are they? George Lucas took all of the things he liked and put them into one movie. Beyond that, imagine if you were a normal person in the Star Wars universe. Luke Skywalker craves adventure and excitement precisely because he is living in a desolate wasteland. Most of the population of many planets seemingly willingly turned to a life fo crime just to get by. In Tatooine, being a criminal is a surprise to no one. People are shot in bars without a second thought or any hint of justice. Wars in the title is not just a pretty word. It is a belligerent dystopia in which the former masters of the universe are in a desperate bloody violent struggle with the current ones. Tatooine did not change from the ‘prequels’ to the ‘trilogy’ precisely because the only change was really at the top.
Do you prefer a series with a vision or a series that merely excites your vision? Star Trek presents a superior view of humanity however Star Wars presents mind blowing excitement. It is all in a preference and what you prefer to follow and see. If they were ancient tomes, then Star Wars would be the Iliad and Star Trek would be the Odyssey. One is a narrative of battles fought. The other one is a synopsis of an ongoing journey taken. One tells you that humanity will one day be better than all of this. The other one states that everything will be pretty much the same, but the scope will intensify on a Galactic scale. The essential question is which one do you prefer?