By Commander Shane Tierney
I love J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboots. There. I said it and I am not ashamed. It seems that that statement is quite a polarizing one. But perhaps a little clarification is in order before the pitchforks get raised.
Ahh, April of 2009! I remember it well. I was asked by a good friend of mine if I would like to join him to see a screening of the new reboot of Star Trek. I was highly skeptical. I had never watched an episode of Star Trek and considered myself more of a Han Solo/Star Wars fan. I felt like if I went to see Star Trek, I would be signing my nerd card in blood. But I went. And I feel in love.
Abrams new Star Trek introduced me to Spock and Kirk and the USS Enterprise and I loved it all. I loved the way that Starfleet did the naval ranks; I loved the idea of cosplaying as Captain Kirk, who I identified with on a personal level. It was phenomenal. I wanted more, I needed more. So I went back and watched all of the original series. And feel deeper in love with it.
I joined a Star Trek fan club and started getting in touch with fellow fans. We talked about our favorite episodes and favorite movies and for the first time, I felt proud of my nerdom. And that was when I started to see an ugly side to fandom. Eventually the question would always come up, “What is your favorite Star Trek?” And my answer was and still is, the 2009 Star Trek reboot. It was the film that started my passion and I wouldn’t be as involved with the 1701st, nor met any of my amazing new friends, if I had never seen it. But people wouldn’t have it.
“You aren’t a real fan if you like Abrams Trek. It’s not even real Trek!”
I heard that sentence or a variation of it for months. And it bothered me, hardcore. I mean, I loved the universe, I loved the stories, and I loved the characters. And I was being told that my love for Star Trek wasn’t valid because the reboot didn’t live up to the “spirit” of the original. I was distraught. Was I a bandwagon fan? Were my feelings for Trek less than the feelings of those who had watched since September of 1963? For a few years, I thought so. And then I had an epiphany and it all came from another source, outside of Trek.
In June of 2013, I saw Man of Steel. It was like pulling teeth to get me to go because when it comes down to it, I am a Batman fan. Superman was a goody-goody, and I didn’t think his character could exist in the world today. However, Man of Steel took a character and brought him successfully into the 21st Century. And I realized that is what Star Trek did for me. It brought ideals from the 60s and successfully brought them to a new audience and inspired people and made them fall in love with Star Trek in a new way.
I can’t change the way some people feel about the new Star Trek, but I don’t have to let their opinions of ruin my enjoyment of it. After all, as Gene Roddenberry himself said, “Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.”