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Speaking for one, speaking for all

By Michael Hinman
Posted at May 13, 2000 - 10:38 PM GMT

Life is just too short to spend time debating various issues online, and I have rarely seen the point to do so. We have all been created as individuals, and as individuals, we are going to have differing views than others. That is why IDIC plays so much in the lives of diehard Star Trek fans looking for a better future.

At the risk of starting a debate, and at the mercy of taking the bait to respond, I felt it was necessary to counter many points that were made in Joe Beaudoin's May 13 column, "Star Trek Must Die," that appeared here at the Trek Nation.

I'm not going to bore you with a blow-by-blow rebuttal, so I will simply get to the point. If you are doing nothing more than eating, breathing and sleeping Star Trek, then I feel it's time to finally take the advice that William Shatner gave to a late Saturday night television audience so many years ago ... get a life.

When I read columns and postings about factions, splinter groups, etc., in the world of Star Trek, I'm not sure whether to be amused or to break down in tears. It's hard to believe that people will come online and make some backward determination that the fandom we see here online, or the fandom that we observe at science fiction conventions, is a true representation of fandom as a whole.

Get real.

To make such statements is to insult the very being and popularity of the Star Trek franchise. Why is that? What you see here on the Net, or in conventions, or any other isolated area may contain 1,000 or maybe even 2,000 people. If that small amount can be representative of millions of fans, then Star Trek fans are more single-minded than many people give them credit for. Star Trek has become a part of our pop culture and a strong portion of entertainment history. But just because Star Trek carries more weight than shows like Buffy or X-Files, does it really mean that Star Trek can no longer be fun?

I swear. The Net Trekkers are going to have hernias and bypass surgeries at very young ages by the time they're through worrying and fretting over Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry's creation was met to not only make us think, but also to be entertaining. But how can I be entertained when people around me are working on frayed nerves because Seven of Nine's comm badge was slightly crooked in a scene from Voyager, or because overnight ratings dropped by a fraction of a point.

In being a true fan of Star Trek, the first thing a person has to admit is that Paramount Pictures does not continue Star Trek just to make diehard fans happy. Paramount is not a non-profit organization working to make dreams come true. They are a business, and as long as Star Trek produces figures that are in the black, or shows promise to return to the black at the bottom of quarterly balance sheets, you can be guaranteed that Star Trek is here to stay.

The so-called factions are a minute part of the entire Star Trek fanbase. There is more significance and power in one of the pinochle clubs in my town than there is in these so-called splinter groups that are supposedly causing a rift in fandom.

Without even looking at numbers, I can easily tell you that the majority of fans of the show are not running to conventions wearing costumes, they're not stopping by every Star Trek site on the Internet to get the latest news. Hell, they probably don't even think about Star Trek unless they tune into the show. Most fans of Star Trek are casual watchers. And because the vast minority of the fanbase that is composed of diehard Trekkers who seem to be quite loud, it's pretty much uncool to be a Star Trek fan without getting some kind of negative label.

The only person I know of who would grab the attention of fans calling to the end of Star Trek (and even that position changes every day with this person) is Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Gene's widow. But how much weight should we put on her statements? Probably not very much since she is working in competition with Star Trek properties making more money than she would ever see in continuing royalties from Paramount.

Does Voyager live up to the standards of the crews of James T. Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard? That's a matter of opinion. However, where do we earn the right to tell Paramount what to do, to tell them they should quit giving us continued spinoffs.

I say if people continue to watch the shows, keep making them. Sure, I would like to see a small break myself sometimes when I start to wonder about oversaturation of the market and stuff like that.

But then I remember that it's just a television show. No one is forcing me to watch it, and no one should be putting their words into my mouth calling for it to all end whether I agree with it or not.

I think some Internet fans have way too much energy that is simply being directed into the wrong place. Instead of building campaigns to kill Star Trek, maybe some of you fans who might be a litle too overboard might want to help the homeless or maybe even start your own religion.

Looking at those around you is important, but don't forget to include everyone. What you see here on the Internet, or what you see at conventions is barely a fraction of Star Trek fandom, the way it really is. There is a lot more than TOS-lovers, TNG-lovers, Kirk-lovers, etc. There are also causal fans who could care less about all this ... and those are the fans, plus millions of more potential or closeted fans, that Paramount works to reach.

So let's just get off our soap boxes and enjoy Star Trek.

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Michael Hinman is the webmaster of SyFyWorld.

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