Seneca Media Unscripted : Star Trek, Social Issues and The Power of the Narrative
Hello fam, we are back with another episode of Unscripted. This week we take a bit of a departure from the usual and get our geek on.
By this time, you have all settled into the new semester, the grind has become somewhat of a habit, and your Netflix accounts have finally started seeing a little action again. With Fall TV-Premier season (a.k.a one of the most wonderful times of the year) right around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to talk about one of the most popular and long-running TV shows to grace the screens – Star Trek.
Now, Star Trek like we mentioned, has been around for a long long time. It could be because of its unique characters, the amazing world-building, the die-hard fans or maybe the handsome Captain Picard – okay that last one might be a bit of a projection from our part, but Patrick Stewart ammiright?
Anyway. While all of the above elements have had a hand making the show successful, we think that the power of the message, was perhaps the most important driving force behind it. It is effective story telling and the framing of important social issues within the narrative that has really made Star Trek stand apart from the rest.
We immerse ourselves in stories everyday, and absorb what we consume subconsciously, or even consciously. Whether its through books, TV, the radio, the news or through advertisements, stories are all around us, and more often than not, the purpose of these stories is to disseminate an important message to the audience. Media in all forms is about communicating a certain thought, emotion or piece of information. Which is why as students in this field, it is important for you to master this art.
As School of Media students, you are responsible for using your given medium to convey a certain message effectively. You have the power to change mindsets, influence change, evoke emotions and make an impact in this field. It is all about how well you incorporate the message into the story.
It becomes important then, to be mindful of what we are saying on any given platform. You as students can use this power positively, disruptively or to maintain the status quo. Though, if you’re not careful it could have negative consequences that could land you in a lot of trouble. Like Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.
We told you we’d be getting our geek on. Speaking of, why did we choose to use a show like Star Trek to talk about this topic? There are so many shows today that get pretty political right? Well of course, but let’s keep in mind that Star Trek ran through some pretty significant eras in history. It was around during the civil liberties and feminist movement to name a few events, and Star Trek has been known to address these changing social dynamics over the years. The show used its popularity to deliver social messages to the audience, while cleverly incorporating them into the episodic stories.
Now, we don’t claim to be full-fledged Trekkies, nor are we noobs. We have only seen a handful of episodes. But there is someone in the School of Media who will unabashedly tell anyone who’ll listen how amazing Star Trek is. We brought Graham Becksted, who is basically the person responsible for rearranging your entire life. Yeah, he’s the one who makes your class schedules.
Graham is always telling us how we should watch ALL 700 episodes of Star Trek because they are so effective in addressing important issues such as feminism, racism, peace and militarism, xenophobia and even religion. These are all heavy issues that even some of the edgiest shows have failed to cover. So how did Star Trek, a show that is pretty removed from life as we know it with it’s voyages through the galaxy and discovery of alien races, manage to touch on these issues?
We asked Graham these questions on our podcast. As expected, every question got a similar response – “there’s an episode for that”. What we got through this, is a charged discussion on Star Trek and social messages that ended on a surprisingly positive note. Listen to our episode to find out.
If you enjoyed Graham’s infinite wisdom on Star Trek, note that he does have his own podcast series, Geek Top 5, where he discusses so many more topics in the geek universe. Be sure to check it out!