Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I Love Star Trek, Essay #8: Hannah Vestal

Why I Love Star Trek
by Hannah Vestal

I was destined to be a Trekkie from an early age. You see, my grandfather, whom I never met because he died before I was born, was a first-generation Trekkie. My mom remembered him planting himself in front of the television set each night Star Trek came on, and he refused to get up until the episode was finished. She also remembers him dragging her and her mom to the movie theater when Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released.

My mother has never been a science fiction fan, despite growing up in a house of Star Trek. I suppose the Trekkie gene skipped over her and went straight to me, where it lay dormant until seven months ago.

It all began with my professor in my Technology and Society class in college. He was a big sci-fi fan, and a bit of a Trekkie. As the classes “last hurrah” before being released for the semester (and therefore with the class), the professor brought in what was then the newly released on DVD STXI.

I confess, I wasn’t bitten by the Star Trek bug at that moment. But it certainly got the ball rolling. It wasn’t until several months later that I decided I would sit down and see what this obsession with Star Trek was about. I decided to watch The Original Series first, since I knew I’d be slightly familiar with the characters, and from the name of the show, it was obviously the beginning. That was when it happened. I got sucked in. I’m not even sure when it happened exactly. But somewhere in between watching the episodes “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and “The Enemy Within”, I fell in love with Star Trek.

It has taken me a while to know what specifically I love most about Star Trek. As I’ve grown as a Trekkie, I have slowly been able to define my love for Trek.

I have been a big believer in imagination ever since a kid, scribbling down little stories of my own when I ran out of books to read. To find the Star Trek universe, in all its imaginative glory, was like a dream come true. Not just the imagination on the part of all the wonderful writers within the Star Trek franchise, but also the imagination that was sparked within the fans, and me. With Star Trek also comes fan fiction, of which I write some myself.

With that imagination comes a hope for a brighter tomorrow. In a world that seems like it is crumbling apart, socially, economically, and physically, Star Trek offers hope that the human race will survive these turbulent times.

Finally, I fell in love with the Trekkie people. All my life I've just wanted to "fit in" and be "normal". It wasn't until seven months ago when I became a Trekkie that I found a place to fit in within my own realm of normal. The Trekkies I’ve met are all such amazing and good people. They are open-minded and loving, embracing Star Trek ideals, such as IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations). No matter what race, religion, or political views you may have that differ, two or more Trekkies can always find something to talk about.

Being a Trekkie feels natural to me, like breathing. I belong here. This is my destiny. I’ve come home.


  1. Hmmm...Star Trek 2009 brought in a fan to TOS. What is Matt going to think? Is his head going to explode? :P

  2. Hoorah! Thanks for sharing your Trekkie heart, my Vulcan friend! Welcome to the family. After spending years away from Trek, my return in the last few years has felt like becoming a Trekkie again for the first time, so I'm right there with you. :) LLAP!

  3. Actually, I find it somewhat reassuring that even a bastard version of Star Trek like JJ Abrams' inspired someone to seek out the real thing.

    Thanks for writing, Hannah!

  4. You'll note that Hannah says she did not fall in love with JJ Abrams' Star Trek. It was at some point between the second pilot and The Enemy Within that it occurred.

    Which is pretty quick, considering those are episodes 1 and 4, respectively :)

  5. Ahh...I see Matthew feels the same way about Jar Jar Abrams as I do! LOL Though I'm in the sad position of having to give him kudos for STXI because that was what piqued my interest in Trek. :-/

    Thanks Kevin, Kevin, and Matthew for your comments and Trekkie love!

  6. That's an apt comparison, Hannah. Abrams is to Star Trek as Jar Jar is to Star Wars. An annoying hipster doofus who dumbs down something that was previously great.

    The difference is that nearly everyone hated Jar Jar, while there are legions of Abrams fanatics who apparently care very little for things like coherent story logic, realistic human characters, and realistic light sources on frame.

  7. I've always conceded the entertaining nature of the film while in the theater. It's after you leave that it all goes haywire.

    Hannah, have you gotten to TNG yet? Matt and I both started watching as children, and it's not that the show isn't entertaining to an adult by any stretch, but I do wonder if watching it as children colors our perception of it as our "favorite." Also, most people I know who watched TNG watched it as children, so I'm curious how an adult coming to it fresh sees it.

  8. I have seen season 1 of TNG, plus Best of Both Worlds, Sarek, Unification, and Relics.

    Honestly, from what I've seen so far, I haven't been as impressed with TNG as I was with TOS. Of course, people tell me all the time that once TNG hits season 3, the show gets much better. I will say this though. I have found that I like more of the secondary characters/guest stars better than I do some of the main crew. Such as, I adore Q, and of course, the episodes with Mark Lenard and Leonard Nimoy are supurb. But then, I'm biased LOL Spock is my favorite character :)

    However, despite my initial impression of TNG, and the other Trek incarnations, including STXI, I still love them, because they are Trek. Just because I may not prefer the other incarnations to TOS does not mean the others are bad. I look forward to continuing to watch through Trek. I certainly have plenty of TV to watch now!

  9. Hannah, I assume you know that all Trek is now available for streaming on Netflix (with DS9 coming in October).

  10. I most certainly do! This is what I had been waiting for! And I've been flying through episodes like crazy ever since then. I even watched an entire season of Voyager in about a week :)

  11. I'm sure Kelly will agree with me when I say that, despite all of the internet hate for Voyager, that show gets REALLY good by seasons 3-7. It's got great characters, if not always great plotting.

  12. That's what I've observed just in watching this one season. It's not a bad show, and I do like several of the characters (like The Doctor and Seven of Nine). The only downside to the show is the poor writing during parts (but not all) of the show. That's a shame, because the concept for Voyager was a good one. The premise of Voyager being in uncharted space, alone, with very little help from anyone is, in a way, reminiscent of TOS.

  13. Basically, any episode that does NOT feature the Kazon tends to be pretty good. Unfortunately, boring Kazon story lines bog down about half of seasons 1 and 2. But once they leave the Kazon behind, the show really takes off and stand up well to TNG and DS9.

    Heck, Seasons 1 and 2 of TNG (and DS9 for that matter) were pretty much adequate, and nothing more. I think people bag on Voyager because it seemed like they kept making the same mistake for two straight years. TNG and DS9 at least had the virtue of a variety of mistakes.

  14. Out of curiousity, what's your opinion of Enterprise? I've watched a little over one season of that show, and my feelings are pretty mixed.

  15. I think Enterprise was ill-conceived in its "ret con" aspects. The idea of a show taking place between First Contact and TOS is a fine one. But trying to shoe-horn another Enterprise into continuity is a terrible idea. And then, they diddle around until Season 4, not doing the things we WANT, that is, telling the obvious stories suggested by TOS continuity. What happened to the Romulan-Earth war mentioned in "Balance of Terror?" And so on.

    Season 4 is wonderful. But 3 seasons of frustration were tough to overcome.

    Also, they sorely under-developed most of the supporting cast. It was much less of an ensemble cast. It seemed like it was all Archer-Trip-T'Pol. And frankly, they're not as strong as the TOS big three. Scott Bakula is no Shatner. He's just not as charming.

  16. Also, the Temporal Cold War idea seems inappropriate to the period. It's as ambitious as all get out, and I could imagine it being done well (though it's really tricky, avoiding making the show about the 27th or 30th century, as opposed to the 22nd). But they don't do it well, then they totally drop it. Really disappointing.

  17. I dont understand why Enterprise has such a bad reputation and all the hate it is getting. As a Trek fan who loves all three Trek Shows that came before it, I found Enterprise to fit neatly into established canon. And unlike with the 2009 reboot by Abrams and his incompetent writing team, I wasn't put off by this Enterprise. Sure it was a very different format and set from what we are used to, but somehow it still resonated with me; it did fit into the larger canon.

    I think that may have had to do with the fact that it was created and conceived by the same people who did the last 3 shows: TNG, DS9 and VOY.

    There was a sense of unity there and consistency. Maybe it's the fact that JJ Abrams' reincarnation of Star Trek has left a rather bitter aftertaste in my mouth with the way with which it conceived the Enterprise and its crew, but having people on the writing and creative team who really know and understand and love Star Trek, for whom this is a love child instead of some business deal where the script is ordered and written by the marketing department, really does make a difference and is important if you want to do GOOD Trek.

    So, despite some of its short comings (Suliban, Xindi etc), ENT stood out for me because it was written by Brannon and Braga. I trusted it implicitly. I didnt approach it with suspicion and later left with disdain (such as with Abrams' mess of an abomination).

    I also didnt find Archer a bad captain - as i have read in some places about him - but just a different person with a different persona that he brings to the character. And that's ok and i liked that. I dont want the same stoic personality in each captain. These are not pretty mannequins in colorful suits, like Kirk, these are real people.

    Archer is cool and likeable and he isnt uptight. That is just his style of command. Unlike Kirk, Archer is actually someone I can see myself having a beer and chatting with; he is someone I can imagine actually existing in this plane of reality, a real person, as opposed to the plastic fantasy that Kirk is. I have said it before, but I think Kirk is overrated. He is too mechanical 60s TV. He is eye candy, especially in TOS, but that is about it for me. He is just not complicated of a character and person. No no demons to fight, no short comings, no dark side - he is very predictable, smooth, two dimensional, almost boring and he always solves the problem at the end of the 60 minutes looking prettier.

    To quote Barclay, he is nothing but a pretty boy in a fancy suit.

    But Archer, he is the real thing. I really enjoyed him as captain and his style and while I was annoyed at times with his pissy and bitchy attitude, he seemed like a good guy you'd still wanna hang around with. Unlike Kirk whom I cant imagine being even in the same room with.