I regard myself as a second-generation Trekkie (my Mum is a first-generation Trekkie, and she got me into the franchise when I was a kid). I’ve seen pretty much every bit of Star Trek TV and film material, I’ve read several of the books, I’ve owned models, uniforms and toys. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a couple of conventions (thanks Mum!). My love of Star Trek runs deep. Being a part of this fandom makes me feel like I’m part of a truly special, warm and diverse community.
This is, in a way, what the Star Trek shows and movies are. They are a diverse mix, stretching across more than fifty years, all meaning different things to different people. It therefore pains me when I see some fans playing a divisive game on social media.
Out of courtesy I’ve refrained from revealing the tweeter’s identity, but this sort of thing annoys me. It is anathema to what Star Trek is all about. It is not for me, or anyone else, to decide what is ‘true Trek’. The above tweet represents the desire to take a personal opinion and have it regarded as objective fact. It represents the wish to have one’s personal views override everyone else’s.
This tweet is in itself an act of trolling. It’s deliberately creating an ‘us versus them’ culture. It’s telling fans of Discovery the show they like isn’t really Star Trek, and there’s the implication that they’re not really Star Trek fans. Such an attitude is incredibly arrogant, and deeply ironic too.
I’m sure there are fans of Discovery who take their defence of the show too far. For the record, they’re just as bad (though I’ve not actually observed any such behaviour directly). If you’re a fan of Discovery and someone else isn’t, just shrug and move on. If you’re not a fan of Discovery, don’t watch it, shrug and move on. Labelling certain things ‘true Trek’ certainly isn’t a sensible or mature approach, and the implication of it isn’t going to accomplish anything. To some, Discovery will be their first taste of Star Trek. To others, including lifelong Trekkies, Discovery will feel every bit as relevant and important to the franchise as TOS or TNG.
See, here’s the thing. As I mentioned earlier, Star Trek fans are a diverse bunch, and the shows and movies reflect that. To some, TOS and only TOS will do. Others might have never seen TOS and their first experience of Star Trek will have been through JJ Abram’s films. Some fans will love TNG and hate DS9 and some will hate ENT but love DS9. There is no ‘true Trek’, there is only different Trek that means different things to different people.