By Christopher Robin Negelein
Star Trek is the truly more geeky universe compared to Star Wars and it all boils down to pig people.
Just follow me here.
How many of you know who Gamorrean are? A show of hands? yep, I see a few. So Gamorreans were those green piggy-lizard people that guard Jabba, who’s pretty porcine in his own habits. They are straight up bad guys or pansies for bad guys.
As for Star Trek? Think about, don’t google it. Hands? Okay, some of you got it.
The Tellarrites, who have pig snouts (and sometimes also sported hooves for hands) are also one of first five founding members of the Federation with warp drive mastery before humans had it. So how many of you accidentally googled “tellurite” instead when you looked it up?
But both races, though, like to be stubborn and favor eating flora over fauna.
If you knew all that off the top of your head, though, I salute you. I had to actually look that up (along with finding out that Tellarrites are excellent politicians because of their love for debate, which is considered a sport on their home planet.) And then I felt a bit of shame for my geek cred.
Because while the two universes are filled with a gajilion alien races, FTL, and military institutions, they also both shine when they focus on substitute families overcoming a interstellar crisis. (Hence why arguing which one is “better” is inherently silliness that should be done with tongue inserted firmly in cheek.) That difference in these two pig-like races show, in my eyes, what marks half a century of Star Trek as being the truly more geeky franchise.
There was a time when Star Wars and Star Trek were both the lands of the geeky, the outcast and the dispossessed. You didn’t ask which was better because you didn’t want to alienate the few people you called friends as it was. If anything, everyone was a fan of one or the other depending on what hit the theaters that year.
But something changed.
Over time, Star Wars grew into a true cultural touchstone. I seen many a person who wasn’t a “sci fi fan” but rushed to see Star Wars and wear a SW shirt at home — never in public. Their usual defense is “But Star Wars is cool,” defies geeky logic. (But it fits in that old paradigm of “It’s Sci-Fi until we like it, then it somehow becomes literature.”) Part of that is that Star Wars has defined the tent pole summer flick for more than a generation with action and set pieces.
Star Trek’s TV shows, on the other hand, had deliver the good with a much lower budget and quite a few more talking heads while trying to occasionally tackle issues that made outsiders feel like they’d be more welcome in the future of the Federation than they did the world just outside their door.
That mission statement often meant that organizations, not people, were inherently bad or good. Individuals, on the other hand, could turn their back on their culture or their government. It made episode a little less clear cut and a little more talky, that’s not as exciting as watching light saber duels.
So you have to be just a little more geeky to remain passionate about that sort of show.
But as Star Trek looks towards the next 50 years, I keep hoping that the franchise keeps offering a safe harbor for the geeky outsider inside all of us.