Star Trek brought Elon Musk into Trek canon and it’s a move that won’t age well.
Whether you like Elon Mus or you don’t, it’s fair to say that the man is a polarizing presence these days. At one time he had a sterling reputation and was seen by many as a man of the people who wanted to do nothing but help humanity grow and prosper. He appeared in all sorts of high-profile outlets and in cameo roles, maybe most notably in The Big Bang Theory.
Yet, in recent years, Musk has fallen into a state of perpetual controversy. From his calling a diver a pedophile for the crime of living in another country, to his family drama, to how he’s running Twitter, there is a controversy for everyone when it comes to Musk.
So it should be surprising that Star Trek: Discovery would incorporate Musk into the canon by having a character (Sylvia Tilly) having attended Musk Jr. High. After all, Star Trek typically doesn’t engage in the pop culture zeitgeist of the time all too often. Especially with controversial figures.
Musk’s baseless claims about British diver Vern Unsworth came in 2018, during the filming and production of the show. Yet, the reference was left in despite it being very easily deletable and not at all impactful to the show’s narrative.
It’s stuff like this that leaves fans feeling isolated and excluded from the franchise and it’s not the only time they’ve done this.
Star Trek: Discovery tries too hard to be in the moment and that’s why it fails
Star Trek’s best efforts are when they tackle a subject matter that is universal. Intolerance, war, finding commonality among an enemy; stuff that is pertinent today, 100 years ago, and will be true in 100 years. Yet, Discovery and Picard as well, have tried to shoehorn aspects of modern living into the show. Sure, sometimes it works, but most of the time it just causes issues.
Take for instance when the show brought in Democratic politician Stacey Abrams to serve as the President of Earth. Just like with Musk, Abram’s involvement puts the show in a unique situation where they’re putting fans against one another.
By embracing the modernity of the zeitgeist, they’re inadvertently (or advertently), telling fans who the show is for and who it isn’t. That’s risky business considering how easy it is to lose money hand over fist on streaming endeavors.
If you’re a fan of Musk or Abrams, that’s not a problem, that’s your right. Yet, they are people who polarize the field, rightfully or not, and to incorporate them is just one of the dozen-odd reasons why Discovery has failed to attract the fandom that other shows like Strange New Worlds have.
This is why Star Trek needs to stay away from modern pop culture, as it dates the show and drives a wedge in the fandom.