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New Podcast! Primitive Culture #114 – Star Trek and Vietnam

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the wonderful Tony Black to talk about Star Trek and Vietnam.

The general reading of classic Star Trek tends to play up the show’s liberal credentials, to read Star Trek as a utopian and pacifist series that was very much on the right side of history. This antiwar reading is supported by episodes like Errand of Mercy, The Trouble with Tribbles and Day of the Dove, among others. However, the show’s politics are decidedly more complicated. Like America itself, Star Trek was divided over the Vietnam War, as reflected in episodes like Friday’s Child or The Omega Glory, and most especially in A Private Little War.

The result was a fun (and involved) discussion, and you can listen to it below or directly via Primitive Culture‘s homepage on trek.fm.

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Star Trek – The Omega Glory (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Gene Roddenberry is a controversial figure who casts a fairly large shadow. It is very hard to talk about Star Trek – particularly the classic Star Trek – without talking about Roddenberry’s influence and vision. Roddenberry was fond of myth-making when he was alive, of playing up his own contributions to Star Trek while marginalising or dismissing the other people who shaped or defined the franchise.

Roddenberry is a polarising figure among fans and critics, insiders and outsiders. To some, Roddenberry was the man who created Star Trek. While this doesn’t immunise him against criticism, it does provide a sense of context – whatever sins he may have committed and whatever faults he may have had must be offset against that. To others, Roddenberry was prone to exaggerate his accomplishments at the expense of people like David Gerrold or Gene L. Coon who shaped the franchise just as much as (if not more than) he did.

Flagging trouble ahead...

Flagging trouble ahead…

While those are two extremes, they are not the only possible views of Roddenberry. There are a broad range of opinions that might be offered, and not all of them are mutually exclusive. Ask a dozen people who know their Star Trek about Roddenberry, and are likely to come up with a dozen nuanced and defensible positions on the man and his legacy. Nobody seems entirely what to make of Roddenberry and his creative contributions to the franchise.

The Omega Glory is an interesting episode, one that invites as much debate as any of Roddenberry’s contributions to the franchise.

A strong constitution to make it through this one...

A strong constitution to make it through this one…

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