The era of dark and gritty realism needs to come to an end in Star Trek’s Nu Era.
Star Trek has long been thought of as the end-game for humanity. The answer to the question, “What would a humanity devoid of greed and racism look like?” It worked in series like the original Star Trek series in the 1960s and again in the 1980s with The Next Generation. But after Gene Roddenberry’s death, the series started to morph into a more cynical series.
While it still had series where they pushed against the morale quandaries of life, some series really embraced a darker mentality. They started to corrupt things that Roddenberry believed should never be corrupted; like Starfleet.
Enter Section 31, which really took off in Deep Space Nine before being used heavily in the Nu Trek era of the shows. We also saw it on full display in the Nu Trek adjacent film series; the Kelvin Timeline, where Section 31 was a core concept for the plot of Into Darkness.
And while it’s the basis for the long-gestating project featuring Michelle Yeoh, it’s time we retire Section 31.
Star Trek should not be a reflection of society but a goal for it
The world isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago or even 10 years. Before the rise of social media and the advent of YouTube, people weren’t drowning in the undigestable amount of information and hostility that people are now dealing with. Making content that strikes nerves in an attempt to be thought-provoking no longer seems to have the same effect.
Times have changed, and entertainment has to change with it. There was a time in the 70s and 80s when social commentary in things like sci-fi and comics was not only expected, but they worked. That’s because there wasn’t an endless onslaught of it in every form of media at every turn. People are burnt out. They’re tired of yelling and getting angry. They’re tired of being cynical and they want things that can unload the tension that lingers on their souls.
Shows that incorporate dark tones had their places decades ago, but now fans need uplifting, more meaningful content. Content that reminds us that the world isn’t out to get them and that their neighbors aren’t plotting their demise.
It’s become an endless cycle of retaliation. Further forcing shows like Star Trek, a series about the best of humanity, to continue to mirror the failures of today is not only not helping the show embrace its original purpose but it’s actively not helping its fanbase feel better.
Trek needs to be, maybe more than ever, a guide to loving and trusting one another again and using a concept like Section 31, the boogeymen of Starfleet, who only exist to say “See, you can’t even trust the good guys”, will only further affect fans negatively.
It’s time to end Section 31 and remind people that there are unifying ideas that put us on the same side.