The Worthless Lessons I’ve Learned From Star Trek – Or Why I Would Never Beam Down Anywhere

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Let’s face it, we all have put on the red shirt at one time or another

A while ago I wrote a blog post on the leadership lessons I got from Star Trek  The Leadership Lessons of Star Trek I wanted to do a blog post at one time about the practical lessons you learn from watching Star Trek.  In other words, by watching Star Trek, what life lessons do you gain – mostly from a cynical perspective.

Let me begin by saying I’m a huge Star Trek fan.  By the same token, there’s some stuff that really drives me nuts about the universe.  When you objectively look at some things you notice as trends in the IP (Intellectual Property) you cringe a little. I know this is sacralidge with my fellow Trekkers, but let’s be real – some things DO seem odd.  These are things I’ve learned from my observations of the TV series and movies:

Most alien races are dangerous, evil, and should be attacked immediately.  Obnoxiously, most aliens that are encountered are not benign or even friendly. It is best to shoot first, negotiate treaties later.  Most of Deep Space Nine could have been resolved with a nuke-the-site-from-orbit-first approach.

The Prime Directive is hopelessly flawed and often ignored.  The Prime Directive is like the speed limit.  It’s a law, but everyone disregards it.  And frankly, it’s a douchebag law.  So the Federation has all of this technology and knowledge and does not share it with less advanced cultures.  Why?  What’s so great about them evolving naturally?  Remember, the Federation had outside influence of the Vulcans and that turned out okay, but they deny other cultures that same opportunity.  Seems pretty sleazy to me.  Killing the Prime Directive would have made Star Trek Voyager far more entertaining.  Only the Q seem to get it – they interfere in a big way.  The Klingon’s aren’t burdened with the Prime Directive and are just as powerful as the Federation – implying you really don’t get a lot out of having a Prime Directive.

All members of any alien race all act and behave the same.  All Romulans are all schemers.  There are no snowflake Klingons.  Only humankind (and the Ferengi) has any variation as a race.  So what’s with that?  There should be some redneck Romulans or some gangsta Klingons don’t you think?

All aliens speak the same language.  I’ve been to places in my own country where I cannot understand the language being spoken, but in space, it’s all generic.  Don’t whine about “universal translators” to me either.  There should be at least some different accents.  A little Creole Klingon would be cool – kinda like Swamp People meets American Ninja Warriors.

Mankind moving beyond the need for monetary gain, is still pretty much a bunch of egotistical, power-hungry asshats.  The Federation has removed money as a motivator, implying of course it is evil.  What has it gained?  Nothing.  The Federation has a number of corrupt leaders out after power.

A lot of the worlds we see in the franchise wouldn’t be worth visiting.  There’s a lot rocks and scrub brush, but few really beautiful places.  Most planets that we see on screen rate right up there with a tour of Death Valley.

With hundreds of worlds and seemingly endless resources, all governments are interested in securing more territory – more planets.  Why?  How many Class M worlds do you freaking need?  Is overpopulation an issue?  After the first dozen, why not say, “We’re cool.”  You could stop exploring, which we have seen is inherently dangerous, and focus on domestic programs.  Exploration equates to death in Star Trek, ask anyone wearing a red shirt…oh right, you can’t – they’re all dead!  Exploration brings on encounters with hostile races and apparently adds very little to your civilization.

The future lacks cars, tanks, boats, etc.  In a universe built on voyages, nobody has personal vehicles – only starships.  That seems, well, impractical.

Why would you ever beam down to anywhere?  It seems that with transporters and communications systems, it is much safer to just never go down to another planet.  The start of everything bad in the Star Trek universe begins with someone beaming down to some planet, ask any red shirt.  As we’ve seen, when you beam down you will be killed, accused of crimes you didn’t commit, kidnapped, tortured, killed, get sucked into a war, involved in a terrorist attack, lose your memory, get killed, get a deadly disease, get chased, travel in time, get poisoned, fall in love and have her die, get forced into an archeological dig, and get killed.  (I know I mentioned killed a lot, there’s a reason for that.)  The only reason you need a doctor on your ship at all is if you beam down.  Stay aboard the ship and call it in.

Technology causes more problems than it solves.  Star Trek has taught us that many of the hazards of space travel are caused by the technology.  The transporters is the worst.  I mean seriously, would anyone use one of these things given their unreliability and casual breaches between universes?  The stuff that technology does resolve in an episode is usually caused by technology in some way.  It’s as if there’s still a Microsoft in the 23rd century, forcing reboots of starships every so often.  Worse yet, technology is often the villain – i.e. the Borg.

While we’re on the subject of technology, aside from cloaking devices and quantum torpedoes, there is no new technological advancement in decades of the Star Trek universe.  Sure tricorders got 22% smaller, big whoop.  We had a genesis device that could make entire planets (which was awesome), but that supposedly just got locked away and forgotten.  Ships pretty much look the same and do the same things after decades of the series.

Starships are complicated and control panels are dangerously explosive.  The interface controls for starships is all buttons and touchpad controls.  Lots of buttons and controls that require physical interaction.  Wow.  That’s what we have now.  So you’re limited to the speed of human reaction.  In reality, interfaces would be massively simplified – even aboard something as complex and big as a starship by the 23rd century.  You should be able to drive a starship with your iPad.  On top of their complexity, in battle, these control stations explode.  It is probably just me, but that does not seem people friendly in their design.

The governments of the Star Trek universe are pretty stagnant.  Despite all of the wars in Star Trek, only the Cardassians ever really got their assess whipped, and they totally deserved it.

No one uses camouflage in space.  Why have a gray-white starship?  Wouldn’t it be harder to hit if it was, I don’t know, black?

The same thing with uniforms.  Oh, you’ve made it easy for me to identify and target your command staff by the color of their uniforms…thanks! And no pockets except for Star Trek: Enterprise.  These polyester unitard uniforms really seem too tight to be comfortable.

Time travel has been cracked, but almost nobody abuses it.  Assuming there is some parity between the governments in the known universe, only the Borg have said, “Screw it, let’s go back in the past and mess things up.”  For me, that would be my opening move the minute everything started to go wrong in an episode.  Apparently you can travel in time in any old starship, even a Klingon Bird of Prey loaded with two whales, but nobody does it.

Starfleet operations does a crappy job of assigning ships.  There’s far too much of this, “we’re the only ship in the quadrant,” BS.  Even a cop rolling up on a suspicious vehicle does so with backup.  It’s like StarFleet subcontracted United Airlines to arrange their flight schedules.  In Star Trek that concept seems to be lost on StarFleet Command.

Mankind is the superior race in the Federation…no alien race has actually elevated the Federation more than man.  Any substantive race in Star Trek is considered evil.  The Borg, who merely want efficiency and equality are bad.  The Klingons who favor a martial tradition are bad  The Romulans are all bad too.  Don’t even get me started on the Cardassians.  Only those races that are subjective to mankind (example:  Vulcans) are considered good.

Despite StarFleet, despite the technology, Earth and other words are virtually defenseless.  Oddly the only world that had a real defense was Cardassia and we all saw how that ended.

None of the real old civilizations survived.  There’s hints of other older civilizations that sounded pretty cool, but they all die out.  It’s as if the Mayans were trendsetters in the universe. The older civilizations and races just freaking disappear.

Every starship travels on the same plane of flight.  When ships meet in space, they are not askew but always appear to be flying on the same invisible plane.  Space, the last time I checked, is three dimensional.  (I double-checked – yes, it still is!)

No one is fat in the future (except Harry Mudd).  If you had replicators that could make anything, you’d be eating a lot of foods I’d think.

Somehow human names like Romulus and Remus are adopted and used by alien races long before contact with mankind.  That should raise a few eyebrows.  We certainly didn’t name things after the Klingons – BEFORE WE KNEW THEY EXISTED.

The only redeeming race is the Ferengi.  That’s right.  They run casinos and bars, have dancing girls, holosuites, you name it.  Humans are boring in Star Trek.  You want to have fun – it’s with the Ferengi.

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This reminds me of a motivational poster I saw in the office.  

I know the true-believers out there will tear me apart for this…I get it.  Star Trek is sacred to most of us.  But everyone should question their faith – in a TV series – every now and then.

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2 thoughts on “The Worthless Lessons I’ve Learned From Star Trek – Or Why I Would Never Beam Down Anywhere

  1. T. R. Shaw

    Great insight Blaine. When James Doohan spoke at CMU, a Trekkie asked, “I saw the blueprints of the new Enterprise. Did you know there are no toilets on the ship!”. Doohan calmly replied, “What do you think the transporter is for Laddy?”. The audience roared!

  2. The money thing was Roddenberry’s hippie dippie nod to the 60s. It really is stupid.

    How do O’Brien and Bashir run a tab at Quark’s if they don’t have money?

    And how does Admiral Cartwright manage to run a creole restaurant (Sisko’s) without any money? Who cleans those oysters when The Emissary is off planet?

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