Amok Time: Star Trek Provokes Political Gibberish



Oh boy, the new Star Trek movie is here! Can we just go to the theater and forget about mundane crap like politics? Fat chance. This is 2009, baby — everything is politics.

Newsweek started the ball rolling by announcing, “Spock’s cool, analytical nature feels more fascinating and topical than ever now that we’ve put a sort of Vulcan in the White House.” Also: “the Obama foreign policy, at least for now, emphasizes cross-cultural exchange and eschews imperialistic swagger. That sounds very much in sync with the Federation’s Prime Directive.” Live long and pander!

Rightbloggers set their phasers on kill! “Unlike Spock, who would die for Captain Kirk,” says Bob McCarty, “Obama is loyal to no one but himself.” “Total sycophantic suckup piece glorifying Barack Obama,” growls Speculative Faith. “Newsweek is just another political tool of this administration along with the rest of the cheerleaders at MSNBC,” says Munz’s Place.

At Newsbusters, Warner Todd Huston is mad that Newsweek also did a funny chart with politicians in Star Wars and Star Trek roles. “A transparently unhinged and partisan hit job against several Bush administration officials,” he calls it. “Out of the 9 Star Wars characters used on the SW side to explain the Bush era, only 5 are conceivably a good guy. The rest are all the SW bad guys…” His analysis of the joke graphic goes on for hundreds of words, including, “[Star Trek’s Captain] Pike is nothing like the disloyal, womanizing Clinton. All Captain Pike fans should be telling Newsweek to shove it.” Whoa; someone’s pocket protector needs re-adjusting.

Others make their own case for the movie’s rightwing politics. “The film reveals something a bit different — a surprising conservative streak,” says Christian Toto. For example (spoiler!): “Later, when Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) appear to have the upper hand on an enemy, Kirk suggests showing some mercy as a way of winning hearts and minds. But Spock will have none of it.” So Dick Cheney is Spock, and waterboarding is the Vulcan nerve pinch.

Politically speaking, there’s plenty of blame to go around. teamsugar buys the Spock analogy: “And what are Obama’s main policy initiatives? Health-care reform, economic recovery. He wants us to live long and prosper. That clinches it.” And Slate calls the film “a blockbuster for the Obama age, when smarts and idealism are cool again.”

But perhaps the biggest load is dropped by rightblogger Jonah Goldberg, who critiques the film for National Review. He interrupts his giddy exegesis to complain that Leonard Nimoy has dismissed Trek obsessives as people who “have to cling to their knowledge of the minutiae.” Goldberg counters: “This creeping Obamaism annoyed me greatly.”

Huh? Goldberg explains: “Recall how last spring, then-senator Obama explained that those stupid hicks in Western Pennsylvania wouldn’t vote for him because they were too busy clinging to their skygod and boomsticks, not to mention their bigotry and xenophobia? It seems in Nimoy’s view, the people who made him a rich celebrity rather than the second fiddle has-been on a short-lived sci-fi TV show 40 years ago need to get over themselves. How convenient he tells us this at age 78, after a lifetime of cashing in on those silly minutiae-clingers.”

Then he furiously re-tucks his shirt and proceeds. Shatner’s advice has never seemed so timely.