Wednesday, November 21, 2007

gene roddenberry has doomed us all

Around fifteen years ago someone alerted me to the Star Trek Universe paradox - namely, that the history of Earth in the world of Star Trek resembles our own in every particular, except for that fact that the Star Trek television show could never have existed. Also, we didn't get involved in the Eugenics War and Ricardo Montalban never conquered Asia, but whatever.

Think about it for a second. Why would a fictional universe include in its fictive history a piece of pop culture that foretells the future? It would be the most earthshaking thing to have a series of shows, movies, novels and role-playing games that turned out to constitute a body of prophecy. It would be somewhere on par with finding a medieval manuscript that rated all the restaurants in New York in 1957. But if Star Trek as a cultural phenomenon appeared in the historical annals of the Starfleet Academy, nobody's talking about it. Maybe the horror of predestination caused them to expunge all records? I don't think so.

This evening, as I was watching Pretty In Pink with Schmutzie and Saviabella, the obverse face of this paradox presented itself to me - that the human race is doomed to extinction, or at best, to a ragged barbarism on par with that stupid Yangs vs. Coms episode* from the orginal series. And we have Star Trek to thank for it.

According to Star Trek lore, the discovery of warp power saved the Earth from collapse by initiating contact with a whole universe of habitable planets, living gods and different foreheads. But the existence of Star Trek effectively reduces that chance to nil, because what are the odds of a sci-fi movie starring a bunch of cheesy, technobabbling prigs being replicated precisely in the real world? Exactly. The discovery of warp power by a guy who looks like James Cromwell, the next leap forward for humanity, just isn't going to happen. It's been narrated right out of existence. I'm pretty sure Borgs are in the cards, but as for the rest of it, no way.

*This is my favourite Trek episode, because there is nothing funnier than watching William Shatner berate a roomful of cavemen for their terrible grammar and pronunciation of the US constitution.

6 comments:

Ada said...

Wow, the Star Trek geek within the Palinode has been revealed! Awesome! I think you have a very good point though, we've narrated our way out of our own future.

palinode said...

ada - Sadly for Palinode-reading Trekkies everywhere, I'm a terrible Trek geek. I haven't seen all the movies and I've only seen a fraction of the shows. I'm more of a Buffy geek than anything, which shows my love of melodrama over dilithium. But for some reason, Star Trek is immensely absorbable - once I see it, it soaks indelibly into my memory.

Anonymous said...

L Ron Hubbard.

lotus07 said...

When it first came out....this was the coolest show ever....then it expanded in the Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise until it was pretty much beat to death. At that point the original series sort of seemed like a bad Saturday Night Live skit.

Then I got a bunch of the original episodes on laser disc (on the cheap) and started watching them again. Without all the cuts, edits and commercials, these shows almost seem like Shakespeare for the Gen X'ers.

Everything that was cutting edge, becomes kitsch and then becomes respectable....eventually.

lotus07 said...

...as a follow up, I have this theory of why Star Trek is so enjoyable....rummage back through my blogs to March, 2006 and read "To Boldly Go"....

savia said...

You were so not into the whole Pretty in Pink thing, were you?

Or is that movie another sign that our universe is doomed?

I think the dress she wore to the prom should foretell some kind of apocalypse anyway.