Saturday, December 14, 2013

Can't We All Just Get Along? The Star Trek vs. Star Wars Debate.

I must have been living under a rock for the past thirty or so years. This can be the only explanation. How else could I have missed out on such a heated debate amongst fanboys (and girls) over which is superior - Star Wars or Star Trek?

I have been a fan of science fiction my entire life and never realized that I might have to make a choice between two such beloved franchises. It is really only since the advent of social media (re: Facebook) that the conflict has truly come to my attention. I will not advocate for either side on this matter. My intention is to simply state where I stand and let members of either camp decide whether to come after me lynch-mob style.

I will confess that my first love is Star Wars, mainly because I experienced it first. I was seven years old when I saw the original film in the theaters (Back before episode numbers, when A New Hope was simply known as Star Wars.) Like every other child of similar age at this time, I was blown away by the original film (Much as Greedo was blown away by Han Solo who -say it with me- shot first!) I had never had much exposure to science fiction before this, but afterwards I began to take in as much as I could. This lead, logically (No pun intended) to my first, and almost last, encounter with Star Trek.

January 1979, my parents take me out for my birthday to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The television ads got me very excited for this film, with images of the newly refurbished Enterprise, and Klingon ships battling. My excitement lasted about fifteen minutes, right after those battling Klingons and newly refurbished Enterprise flashed across the screen. Star Trek: The Motion Picture quickly became the Motionless Picture. I was bored, my parents were bored. My father would continually lean over and ask if I wanted to leave. For some odd reason, despite my boredom, I kept saying no, I wanted to see how it turned out. I left the theater despising the movie, but intrigued enough to start watching the series. (For the record, in recent years I have come to a new appreciation for the first film, since it's newly re-edited release on DVD, but it is still probably my least favorite.) On occasion, while flipping through channels, and if nothing else was on, I would check out that week's adventures of Kirk, Spock, and crew, but it still had yet to take with me. It wasn't until The Wrath of Khan that I began to follow wholeheartedly, and by The Search for Spock, I was a true convert.

For many years, Trek filled the void left behind by the lack of any adventures set in that galaxy far, far away, but I always wanted more Star Wars. And even when George Lucas decided to finally grace us with more Wars, whether in books, comics, games or the special editions or prequel films, I never lost my enthusiasm for Trek.

What I am getting at is that I have a deep love and respect for both franchises and will not choose a side. I do not care if Picard could beat up Han Solo. I have no intention of traveling to Riverside, Iowa, wearing my Darth Maul t-shirt, blasting the Star Wars theme from my car stereo, and urinating on the placard indicating the spot that is marked as the future birthplace of Captain Kirk. A face off between the Enterprise and a Star Destroyer???
Who cares??? And perhaps one of the most inane arguments of recent months, the debate that J.J. Abrams should not be allowed to direct Star Wars Episode VII because  he has already directed the last two Trek films. I could see a debate if he had directed something worthy of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but Abrams has proven himself time and again, and as an admitted Star Wars fan, I have every confidence that he will do justice to the new films. The only other choices I could have seen would be Peter Jackson or Steven Spielberg.

Star Trek or Star Wars? Apples and oranges people! Enjoy them both for what they are. Two diverse, but equally entertaining science fiction franchises. Go to Comic-con dressed in your best Klingon warrior garb and go up and hug a Wookie! When Trek was at its best, it celebrated that kind of diversity. It's a lesson that we should all take to heart.