William Shatner made a comment last week that Star Trek wouldn’t have existed without Star Wars. It sounds wrong, simply because Star Trek aired in 1966, and Star Wars was released in 1977. It sounds backwards.
Except it is and it isn’t.
First Came Star Trek
In the last week, I’ve run into multiple articles on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. One was in the Smithsonian, and another a Time Magazine special. The tone has changed a lot over the years.
I remember when I first became a fan in the mid-seventies. Momentum for the show was starting to build. There were conventions popping up in Los Angeles, and a lot of people were attending them. Needless to say, reporters got sent to find out what all the fuss was about.
And they came with a bias, which showed up in the newspaper:
- Star Trek is for children.
- Star Trek is for crazies.
Invariably they would either find a little boy in a Spock shirt and shorts and wearing pointed ears and take a photo of that. Or they find the sloppiest, craziest-looking fan and photograph her. And ignore anyone—everyone else—who looked normal.
It’s probably where “Trekkie” got associated with children and crazy fans, because there was always that condescending attitude from the news stories about “These Trekkies” like those people weren’t normal.
We all wanted the show come back. But the studios hadn’t liked it in the first place. They thought no one would like it much, and besides, it was way too expensive. No one was going to take a risk on it again.
Along Comes Star Wars
In 1977, Star Wars came out. It caught everyone off guard—it just took off. People were lining up around the corner to get into the movie theaters. They returned to the theater to watch the movie sometimes 20 times!
I saw it only once. I wished Star Trek could come back. Star Wars was an action adventure film, but Star Trek was about something more.
But Star Wars’ success had the affect of making science fiction something everyone could enjoy, and that they would spend money on. It kick started the move to bring Star Trek back, with a shift to films and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
If Star Wars hadn’t been such a huge success, causing studios to get dollar signs in their eyes, I’m not sure the studios would have wanted to risk the expense of bringing Star Trek back. And we’d have been a lot poorer for it.
We’re at 115 degrees today—the actual temperature was 100, and the humidty pushed it the rest of the way. Ugh!