One might not think science fiction movies and television can be educational, that they are just daft wastes of time or mindless entertainment. Some of them can be quite educational when you really take a good look at them. Star Trek has always been a part of my life. As a toddler, sure I watched the kiddie shows of the time but my earliest memory of watching tv was actually sitting up on the couch with my parents intently watching reruns of the original Star Trek series from the 1960s. Star Trek is the show that sparked my love of all things film, television, and acting. I knew early on the difference between reality and make-believe and wanted to one day be among those who created that magic that I so loved to see. As my mind matured, I found the hidden meanings the writers thrown in to their stories. Here’s a few of the things I’ve learned from the original series and movies with the original cast:
Original series had many moments. It showed what was going on socially in the era that it was made, so kind of history lesson. There was the ugliness of racism and classism, the ever-present fear of war, pressing one’s religious or political views on others and its ramifications, stereotypes, human rights, environmental impact, ramifications of interfering in others’ affairs, cause and effect, and the potential dangers of science and technology.
The first feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture we learn the mistake of over-padding with cool (for the time) special effects. While I actually did like this film, they did seem to sacrifice deeper storytelling for the sake of showing off flashy effects. As stunning as the visual effects were, that should not take away from the story. There is the underlying relationship between logic and emotion to consider though which does make its presence known and is key to solving the situation once you get past all of the pretty effects. Also, be careful what you throw out because it may just come back looking for you.
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan we learn that revenge is a dish best served cold, and that it’s very cold in space. Do not pay attention to the many plot holes and inconsistencies and just enjoy the story. I could sit here and write a whole page on how many goofs are in this film and how the writers felt nobody would notice but at the end of the day, despite all of its faults, is a pretty damned good story about a man out for vengeance. Another lesson is that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
Star Trek: The Search for Spock – not too much here except the great lengths friends will go through for each other, as well as a bit of playing God by trying to make uninhabitable planets habitable by changing them.
Star Trek: The Voyage Home is all about the ramifications of species extinction and environment. While in reality, it is highly doubtful some alien spaceship is going to come wipe us out because we caused the extinction of a particular species, there can still be definite impacts on the environment creating a domino effect that can eventually lead to our extinction.
Star Trek: The Final Frontier proves that some people are really passionate about their beliefs, sometimes to the point of harming any who do not share their beliefs.
Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country had political intrigue, conspiracies, cultural misunderstandings, fear of change from what is considered the norm even when that change is for the better. We also find that the Klingons are fans of Shakespeare. Probably one of the best out of all of the Star Trek films.
Well there you have it. Who says nobody learns anything from fantasy.