Sunday, March 20, 2011

Today as in the 1950s and 60s, other groups—certain races, ethnicities, religions—are also demonized as some threatening Other, even as such feelings continue in some degree in areas of gender, sexual orientation, age and class, as well as physical and mental abilities or health.

From its beginnings, Star Trek modeled a future in which these prejudices were confronted and banished—in which people had dignity as people, and were valued for their abilities and contributions. Star Trek’s living ideal was that those who were different, who were alien, were not assumed to be evil. Though these attitudes weren’t always present, they were the expected standards of that future, and they usually prevailed.

This was a deliberate part of the Star Trek universe—it was a characteristic that went into the definition of a better future. This is why so many people who have been subjected to prejudices, to being demeaned or devalued, became enthusiastic Star Trek fans. They wanted to live in that future. And with this vision, with this possibility, they often were encouraged to demand respect—and to give respect—in their present. Having seen the dream made real on the screen, they became dreamers who tried to make the dream become real in how they live their lives.

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