Monday, June 23, 2008

Other Worldly Beings: Star People

I watched two episodes of STAR TREK (Rodenberry, 1966-69) (the original series) and STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (Rodenberry, 1987-94) to compare attitudes towards people of other planets. The episodes were “Day of the Dove” (62) and “Déjà Q” (61) respectively. The most obvious change in attitudes was the easy familiarity between humans and other peoples in THE NEXT GENERATION. In the second series, casual social relations among various peoples were the norm. In contrast, the original series treated people from other planets as alien. Humans were wary of them. An example of the change was the Klingons. In the second series, they were no longer enemies, but welcomed as crew members of the Enterprise.

However, both series kept the same attitudes towards more powerful people from other planets. In “Day of the Dove”, the Beta Entity used people for its own ends. In “Déjà Q”, the crew greeted Q with veiled hostility. When Q shouted gleefully, “I’m omnipotent again!”, Commander Riker answered with a sarcastic “Swell.” Meanwhile, Capitan Kirk ordered the Beta Entity to get off his ship. Both shows regarded these entities as beings that used people instead of helping them. While the attitude towards ordinary aliens changed, the one towards aliens with advanced powers did not.

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