So I’ve decided to fill the rest of my summer blogging with self-reflection based on what I’ve been doing for the past three summers: fangirling. This post will be about two things: my general relationship with cultish things to fan about and Star Trek.
First off, here’s something you should know. I don’t do fandom the way that it is usually done. Like dedication to one thing and an outpouring of support for those characters, that author, those actors, that story. I can’t handle that. I once said told my roommate that I could either handle Bones or the Phillies in October, and I chose the Phillies. And I will always choose the Phillies. I can only survive being emotionally involved in one thing that doesn’t actually directly affect my life. And I will always choose the Phillies.
I’m glad we got that straight.
So I do best with (and enjoy the most) things are self-contained. They usually have an end point or already ready finished by time I am become interested in them. Otherwise, I become burnt out (with the thus-far exception of Bones with a healthy break during the postseason). Those who knew me at age 14 can take note of the varying degrees of success of my interest in Degrassi and M*A*S*H. (M*A*S*H worked out a lot better.)
And as of late, things that I am an a fan of (which I think is considerably different than “liking” something) have some element of ridiculousness. Like I can’t take them too seriously. Consider Sherlock the BBC three episode production, a modern Sherlock Holmes. There is a huge fan community for this show. But I don’t participate in it, or consider myself apart of it. Because I actually think Sherlock is quality. I have to be able to make fun of it, to be what I consider a fan.
Which leads me to my first self-reflection on a fandom: Star Trek.
Let’s be clear here, when I say Star Trek, I mean anything with Kirk, Spock and Bones. Remember, I need things to be self-contained. So we’re talking about the TOS, the old movies, and the new movie from 2009. I don’t really understand the point of Star Trek if the troika isn’t there.
I don’t know how people take Star Trek seriously. Like watch it and think “this is a quality show.” Do people think that? I am sure some do…but I watch and think “this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. and I LOVE IT.”
The show is highly formulaic. Find something interesting. Something interesting is dangerous. Kirk or Spock or Bones saves the day. And they wrap away with a greater understanding of their small place in the universe.
The real reason I got interested in the show is because I love things that pervade culture. Most people can reference things from Star Trek without ever seeing an episode. And that’s pretty cool. That a show that lasted for only three years managed to turn into an empire.
My absolute favorite part of the show are the ridiculousness of the aliens they encounter. So here are three of my favorites.
What isn’t to love about tribbles? They are like Ewoks, small, cute and furry. (Of course some people don’t like Ewoks. Because Star Wars is serious. But Star Trek is ridiculous! so the Tribbles fit right in). “The Trouble with Tribbles” according to McCoy is that they are born pregnant, so they reproduce like crazy and will eat just about anything. Even though they produce a soothing affect on everyone (even Spock!) except for Klingon. Tribbles even have some use as they reveal a Klingon double agent! And they are still adorable.
Iotians from my all time favorite episode “A Piece of the Action”, as my all time favorite Humanoid aliens
The Iotians are a humanoid race that has contact with Starfleet before. The starship, Horizon, left a book behind called Chicago Mobs of the Twenties and the recently industrialized planet of Iotia decided to replicate as many things possible from the book. Which results in plenty of shenanigans when our heroes beam down! The Boss wants the “Feds'” superior weapons to defeat the other bosses. There is also the great moment when Kirk creates “Fizzbin” a card game, and teaches it to the gangsters as a distraction. Smarm. My favorite thing about all the different types of people/aliens that the Enterprise runs into is Kirk adaptability to them. And in this episode Kirk shines.
I don’t know if I should be allowed to include this. But Vulcans are flippin sweet. Especially in TOS. Because that was before Vulcan’s and pointy ears and “live long and prosper” were widely acknowledged as flippin sweet. Spock is the only alien in the main cast of TOS and he carries his minority burden with class and stoicism that only a Vulcan could handle. AND HE DOESN’T EVEN MIND THAT MUCH WHEN HE LOSES TO KIRK IN THREE DIMENSIONAL CHESS. Mostly, my love of Vulcans is just redirected love of Spock. Because anyone who can steal limelight from the Shat is doing something incredibly difficult and incredibly right. I do love other Vulcans we meet in the TOS, like Sarek, Spock’s father.