Star Trek turns 50

Thanks to the VCR, I believe I missed but one episode.

startrekFrom all the news segments, I knew that Star Trek turns 50 today. Yet I was going to let the anniversary pass, even though I really liked the piece on CBS Sunday Morning, where, I discovered, reporter Faith Salie appeared on Deep Space Nine.

But what tipped the tide was turning on the TV on Labor Day, and there was someone who looked a whole lot like Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on the original Star Trek, on the CBS-TV soap opera The Young and The Restless, which, I assure you, I never watch. And it was!

My excitement, BTW, was only mildly tempered by the fact that The Wife has NO idea who Uhura was, let alone Nichols, who was one of the very few black actors on TV in 1966-1969 when the original series aired. But my late father, who watched that series in real time, even as I mostly ignored it, knew the significance of the actress and the character.

I didn’t watch Star Trek but I did watch Leonard Nimoy in his next TV series, replacing Martin Landau on Mission: Impossible. And oddly, I started watching the Star Trek cartoon series in the 1970s.

I saw the first five Star Trek movies. The first one bored me, but I liked the next three. The fourth film, The Voyage Home, I saw in a movie theater in Charlotte, NC with my mother in 1986. And though she had not seen the previous films, which made the narrative a bit confusing, she seemed to enjoy it. But after the terrible fifth film, I never saw another movie with that cast.

Speaking of the original cast, the late James Doohan, who played, Scotty, participated at FantaCon in Albany in 1983. I saw him only briefly, but the story goes that he was…less than an ideal guest. Also, having been to several conventions and worked at a comic book store, I will attest that Get A Life, that famous segment on Saturday Night Live, had a HUGE element of truth; Shatner talks about the experience.

Like most people, I only discovered the original Star Trek in reruns. But I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation religiously from the start. Thanks to the VCR, I believe I missed but one episode, and that in the first season. But I have never seen any of that cast’s films. Go figure.

I viewed Deep Space Nine (1993–99) and Voyager (1995–2001) fairly regularly, though Enterprise (2001–05) considerably less so.

But I was a devoted follower of the TV series The Practice, which, in its last season, was essentially an extended pilot for Boston Legal with Shatner as Denny Crane.

There was also this Shatner-hosted program, and I hope someone can identify it since it appears nowhere in his IMDB or Wikipedia pages. He interviews people involved in saving a little girl who fell down a well, or victims of a crime, or Mary Kay Letourneau with the much younger Vili Fualaau.

And while I’m on Shatner, it was through Coverville that I discovered Common People, the cover by William Shatner and Joe Jackson, which I have great affection for.

Patrick Stewart, Jean Luc Piccard in The Next Generation, I love in almost anything I see him in. I get oddly great pleasure seeing his great friendship with Ian McKellan.

I’ve already addressed George Takei recently. And I noted Leonard Nimoy’s passing last year.

The first Star Trek movie reboot I’ve seen on TV. CBS Interactive is showing a new iteration of Star Trek, Discovery in January 2017. I’ll probably not watch it until it’s on a more affordable platform.

But I realize that Star Trek, no matter how much or little one has seen the movies, TV series, bought the comics (I did) or the novelizations, or purchased accouterments (I did not), is in the cultural DNA. So I need to acknowledge the fact that Star Trek turns 50 with an appropriate response.

Equality, rape culture, and the war on women

So, is there a “war on women” when women at war are being raped?

I’ve been thinking about the rights of women a LOT lately. There are so many examples of what’s wrong – and to be sure a couple that are right – that it’s overwhelmed me. (And it’s taken at least a couple of weeks to write this piece.)

In New York State, “The Women’s Equality Agenda will safeguard women’s health, extend protections against sexual harassment in the workplace, help to achieve pay equity, and increase protections against discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and lending.” Sounds wonderful, of course. The big hangup for some is over abortion rights, a huge issue.

But I think the conversation about whether there is a “war on women” had been framed too much on abortion and birth control – sometimes reframed by the talking heads, to be sure.

Though there does seem to be a sexual component in all of this. In his review about Fiona Apple’s song Criminal, MDS writes: “Let’s just admit something upfront right now: as a society, we are all pretty much terrified of girls and young women having sex. Terrified. Been that way since the beginning of time, I guess. Which is why for a while there we bottled up virginity in exchange for land before the wedding ceremony. Chastity belts and dowries are mostly archaic things that no society really trades in anymore, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t figured out new ways of badly dealing with girls and young women and their sex-having. We slut-shame. A lot.”

You’ll find gender issues in comics and other entertainment, including the suggestion that the woman of a married couple in the comic business got where she was because of him when she in fact had several credits before they even dated. Someone complains about the lack of female protagonists in video games is savaged on Twitter.

So, is there a “war on women” when women at war are being raped? Recently, and I’m quoting Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) here: “The Senate Armed Services Committee held its first full hearing on sexual assault in the military in a decade. Of the twenty witnesses, only two were there as victim advocates. The other 18 were representing the top ranks of the military and uniformly opposed our efforts to reform the military justice system.”

Meanwhile, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) suggested that the “hormone level created by nature” was to blame for rapes in the military and that all pregnant servicewomen should be investigated to make sure their condition was the result of consensual sex.

Former baseball star Jose Canseco’s defense of a rape allegation against him is that he doesn’t HAVE to rape to get women to bed, showing his sheer ignorance. Then he makes his situation worse by going on Twitter and attacks his accuser by name.

What caught my attention more recently was comedian Patton Oswalt’s reversal about rape as a source of humor. “I was secure in thinking my point of view was right. That ‘rape culture’ was an illusion, that the examples of comedians telling ‘rape jokes’ in which the victim was the punchline were exceptions that proved the rule. I’ve never wanted to rape anyone. No one I know has ever expressed a desire to rape anyone. My viewpoint must be right. Right?” It’s long (addresses two other topics) and rambling, but makes an interesting point.

A report on working moms came out. It showed that 40% of the households have moms that are either sole breadwinners or making more than their husbands; BTW, that latter category would include MY household. The men at FOX News were so histrionic: “Society dissolv[ing] around us,” said Lou Dobbs. A sign of “something going terribly wrong in American society,” said Juan Williams. Erick Erickson chimed in and said having moms as breadwinners were against “biology” and said people who defend moms are “anti-science.”

Happily, they got slammed by their female colleagues on FOX, including Megan Kelly. This particular article also disses some of the MSNBC women for not calling to task the men on their network, notably Chris Matthews, over the stupid, hateful things THEY have said. Don’t know if it’s Rachel Maddow’s job to do so, but I agree that Matthews, for one, has made vile, sexist comments, especially about Hillary Clinton.

I haven’t even scratched the surface: e.g., Texas governor Rick Perry recently vetoed an equal pay bill. Instead, I’ll hang on my great hope from the words of Jean Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, which you should just watch. He speaks, among other things, about the role men must play in curbing violence against women.

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