Star Trek fandom may be approaching a crossroads


With Star Wars fans getting a ton of bad press over the last year, it may be time for Star Trek fandom to pause for a second and take a step back.

Looking back on 2018, you almost have to feel sorry for Star Wars fandom.

First Star Wars: The Last Jedi divided fans down the middle, with some loving it and a more vocal minority hating it. Why? Because it didn’t mesh with their notions of what a Star Wars film should be.

The result was a campaign to have the film reshot to be more in-line with what “fans” think Star Wars should represent, death threats targeted at director Rian Johnson, actress Kelly Marie Tran deleting her Instagram account due to constant online harassment and a campaign to make sure Solo: A Star Wars Story bombed at the box office.

Despite these actions representing a very small fraction of Star Wars fandom, to the larger world it didn’t matter. To most people the coverage uniformly portrayed Star Wars fans on the whole as a pathetic, sad group that needed to get outside once in a while and enjoy some fresh air.

Why bring all this up? Because if folks aren’t careful, Star Trek fandom could be headed down a very similar path.

First came the 2009 Star Trek reboot, which much like The Last Jedi, divided Trekkers into two camps. Some really enjoyed the fresh take on the characters and world of Star Trek while others, usually longtime fans, despised the reboot. They felt it was an affront to everything Gene Roddenberry tried to accomplish with the original show.

Things only got worse with the arrival of Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond. But since those were movies and considered an alternate reality, the hardcore fans simmered down and went back to watching Deep Space Nine reruns.

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Then came the arrival of Star Trek: Discovery on the new CBS All Access streaming service and all hell broke loose.

From the moment it was announced that Discovery would only be available on the new streaming service, fans seemed to go from being in shock to feeling betrayed. How dare they put Star Trek behind a paywall? Most fans swore to never watch the series even if it aired on regular television, which the first episode did.

However, one has to wonder if Discovery was on Netflix, how many of those same fans would have created such an uproar. Was it the fact that Star Trek was now using the paid streaming model or that viewers would have to subscribe to yet another service that got them so upset?

Then there was Discovery itself, which much like the JJ Abrams reboot, people either loved or hated, there was very little in between on the matter. Trekkers who enjoyed the show have been accused of not being real Star Trek fans simply because Discovery is so different from the shows in the franchise that came before.

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The bottom line is that with a second season of Discovery set to arrive in a few weeks, there are all the ingredients present to push some Trek fans over the edge. Maybe make a few of them say some things online they shouldn’t or decide to harass someone on social media thinking they are helping Star Trek.

The thing is, we’re better than that.

Star Trek fandom is known for giving. For being inclusive. For welcoming just about anyone to our extended family. When all the news about Star Wars fans going bat crap crazy was being reported, the first thing that came to mind was that you never hear about Star Trek fans doing anything like that.

Is Discovery different that The Original Series or The Next Generation? Sure. Is it better? Some fans will say yes and some will say no. The thing to remember is that it’s important to respect their opinion even as you try to convince them otherwise.

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When Star Trek: Discovery arrives in January, before you go online to discuss or complain, just take a second to think before you type. Because let’s be honest; do you really want to be included with Star Wars fans as representative of the worst in geek culture?

I didn’t think so.