Flipping through channels this evening, looking for something to watch while I ate my incredibly healthy dinner of Annie’s Mac and Cheese with hot sauce and ketchup, I landed upon what I thought was merely a school board meeting, or a panel on plumbing, or whatever. Alas, no. Instead, what the fine people of Malden Public Access TV had elected to show was an episode of a show I never knew existed, entitled Science Fiction Fandom.
And on this panel were four men arguing the following topic: which was better, Star Wars or Star Trek?
I know what you’re thinking – “wow, that’s…. wow. Why?” And I know what you mean. It’s the height of stereotypical nerdery to argue such things. It’s a trivial topic of debate at a time when our mental energies are best directed elsewhere. Besides, it’s a trick question, and the answer is obviously Doctor Who.
However, here’s the thing about geeks that most people don’t know: they get all that. They get that it’s silly, at least on some level, to devote this much brain power to something dumb like a tv or film franchise. They (okay, “we”) can laugh at them(our)selves. However, what they also get is that the bits of popular culture that happen to resonate with people are worth exploring academically, because the images and the messages within the “silly” shows or movies tell us a lot about where we are as a culture. Especially the futuristic/mythic ones, because they can get away with more.
This, I feel, is the difference between nerds and geeks. A nerd loves Star Trek or Star Wars because he or she can list every ship in the Federation or every planet in the Empire. A geek loves Star Trek or Star Wars because he or she groks the Cold War parallels of the original series, or the “Hero With A Thousand Faces” Joseph Campbell stuff in Luke Skywalker’s journey. However, both use the word “Grok” more than they should.
Point is, I sat and watched this whole thing, and then went to find it online. Luckily, Richard (who runs the show on public access) has a website with all of his episodes on it. Unluckily, they’re all in RealPlayer format, but what you gonna do.
Oh, and the panel in question happened at Arisia, so some of you may have been there.
The link is here. It’s about an hour long, but it’s pretty fascinating, and Team Star Trek cleans Team Star Wars’s clock. Which is as it should be, as Star Wars is inherently fascistic and anti-Democratic, and Star Trek is post-capitalist and more or less egalitarian.
(Check the name of the blog, baby. Ain’t no one tryin’ to lie to you.)