(Today we will feature a guest post from East Tennessean staff writer Nate Bradley. Nate is a writer for the viewpoint section. He covers a myriad of topics, but I chose to pick his most recent article, which I believe also happens to be the most appropriate for the Interwebs:
Hope you enjoy
If I die tomorrow, let it never be said that I did not appreciate “StarTrek.” I grew up watching episodes of “The Next Generation” and Netflix allowed me to watch the every episode in order.
I did not stop with “TNG.” I moved on to watch the other “Star Trek” series, as well. I’ve even watched a few of the movie adaptations of the TV series, which — as some will tell you — fail to live up to the standards of the TV series.
However, I am very excited about J. J. Abrams’ movie adaptations. The first movie reboot was an exciting action movie with just enough nostalgia to overlook the fact that was, well, an action movie. The second movie is shaping up to be the same sort of thing, which is fine, but it isn’t quite “Star Trek.”
You may be wondering why I am excited about these movies that I consider to be “not quite” befitting of something bearing the “Star Trek” name. The answer is quite simple: These movies have made “Star Trek” relevant again. And if “Star Trek” continues to be cool and relevant we may just get another TV series, which is where it belongs.
Simply put, “Star Trek” tells compelling stories about very complex issues. The TV show was able to accomplish this because, like any long running TV show, it doesn’t need to introduce the characters every episode.
One of my favorite episodes is called “The Measure of Man.” Widely considered to be “The Next Generation’s” first great episode, it explores the question of what is required for personhood.
In this episode, the future of a cybernetic life form by the name of Data hangs in the balance. Some believed that Data, despite seeming to have consciousness, was not truly “alive” and thus did not have any rights. Others argued that just because Data was a “synthetic” life form, this difference was not enough to declare him property.
This debate goes on today, and I’m not talking about rabid fans debating about characters on a screen. This issue is alive and well in the form of cloning and artificial intelligence. The many episodes of “Star Trek” constantly dealt with complex ethical, cultural and philosophical issues.
The show wasn’t about giant space ships; it was about how cultures interact and how we come to deal with complex issues and the art form of diplomacy. The fact that it is a science-fiction show is merely a driving force for some of the most in-depth story arcs that modern entertainment has ever seen.