The things that worked 40 years ago no longer work today and Star Trek needs to embrace that.
Once upon a time, the only way you could talk about social issues was through a guest spot on a news show, or through some sort of entertainment. News broadcasts were never that long, and most nightly prime-time slots were saved for entertainment programs, designed to put one at ease.
Things like 24-hour news cycles, the internet, and social media weren’t even thoughts in the heads of most people. So it wasn’t shocking at all to see social issues be placed front and center in things like science fiction and comic books. Due to how rare people would see such stories, it was never really met with the vitriol that we see today.
The reason why fans reject “politicizing” entertainment today, as opposed to 30 years ago, is just how much of the country and the world, has fallen into the 24/7 news cycle approach to life. Every chance one gets to talk about why Side A is bad or Theory B is killing the country, people are going to take it.
That constant dogmatic approach to politics and social issues has led many to be turned off by programs that are steeped in political messaging. Whether you agree or disagree with the message being presented, many people are fed up having to hear about other peoples’ opinions on very divisive topics.
There’s never an end to it anymore, and so people want their entertainment to be free of such rhetoric. This wasn’t an issue 60 years ago when Star Trek first started airing. It was such a unique, and different take on the world around us, many flocked to hear a different point of view.
But now due to the rise of social media, everyone has a chance to broadcast their own point of view and it’s become deafening. To such a point that Star Trek and other media properties, need to stay away from hot-button issues. This isn’t the 60s anymore, where people could go days, if not weeks without hearing about any relevant news story. Now, you can’t go 30 seconds without finding someone ranting about the left or the right on Twitter or Tik Tok and the constant bile spewing has become overwhelming.
Fans need a break from reality, and Star Trek needs to offer that break.
Star Trek has to focus more on good storytelling over anything else
CBR wrote an article explaining why Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home couldn’t work today. They argued the film succeded because it wasn’t “punished” for being political, saying;
"They didn’t punish the film for taking a very modern, real political stance, though arguing against the murder of whales for profit isn’t a hard sell."
And they’re right, the fans of 1986 didn’t punish The Voyage Home, but that was nearly 40 years ago and our culture has dramatically changed since then.
Movies like Star Trek IV can’t work today, due to the fact that fans are constantly flooded with different narratives and arguments. Fans are overstimulated and tired of being browbeaten.
Social media ruined the ability to have political-themed films and shows, as it become a never-ending cycle of commentary that drowns people. Turning those away from ideas and theories they’d usually believe in, just for a semblance of peace and quiet.
Fans now can’t do anything without seeing some politically themed narrative or reminder of how awful certain groups of people of anymore. Star Trek used to be a voice for the voiceless, but that isn’t the case anymore. Social media has amplified all voices, and it’s pretty hard to enjoy anything anymore without someone shouting you down.
If Star Trek wants to continue its current success, they have to be mindful of incorporating divisive topics into its shows, because now more than ever, that could be costly.
Star Trek needs to remember this. Times have changed, and the way we engage media needs to as well. People need a break from the constant anger and rage, the constant bickering and disagreements. Now, more than ever, we need our entertainment, and Star Trek specifically, to be a refuge from the constant bickering and shouting.