So, imagine you don’t like Star Trek.
I know, I know, that’s a big ask. I mean here you are at The Clam where we generally assume that you, our reader, are at least semi-literate in 80’s post punk, 18th Century maritime jargon and pretty much the entire mainstream Science Fiction cannon in order to comprehend any given post. I mean, why else would you be here? But just imagine for a second that Star Trek is just not your “thing.”
Now further imagine that for reasons unknown our culture gave the entire month of March over to the love of Star Trek. It was everywhere, all over TV, the radio and the Internet. Four to six weeks of it, pushed by every major aspect of the culture but especially retail and media marketing which fed back into a massive consumer consumption machine.
Large, inflatable starships bearing the registration number “NCC-1701” are on lawns. Romulan Birds of Prey hang in doorways, if you’re caught under one you have to finish an entire glass of kali-fal. The whole freaking town decks itself out in full Federation livery starting at a ceremony in mid-February where the Mayor, local leaders and townsfolk gather to ceremonially launch the Enterprise out of Drydock while all the various school bands have to come and play “Where No Man Has Gone Before” by Alexander Courage. Frigging Spock is everywhere.
[Clameditor’s note: The original draft of this post read “Kirk is everywhere” but Carolyn Kirk is actually the name of our Mayor. So it’s Spock. That’s why.]
Everywhere you go people are speaking in Klingon, shooting fake phasers at each other, talking about their favorite episodes and the office is full of cupcakes shaped like Tribbles. In fact they have a whole day where you had to dress up like your favorite character and exchange Trekkie-related gifts. Oh, and the only performance your drama-inclined kid can be in during March is “Wrath of Kahn, The Musical” (featuring the songs “KAAAAAAHNNNN!” and “Put Some Jiffyspock in the Microwave, Baby!”). Of course there is also “Fleet Fest” at school and at work you have to be a “Secret Betazoid” to someone, figuring out what they want and getting it for them. Every. Damn. Day.
And remember, you don’t hate Star Trek. You just never really got into it.
Worse, what if what you really like is 70’s BBC produced Space 1999, the show about Earth’s moon blasted out of orbit and the people living on the base there get shunted around the galaxy having all kinds of adventures? Well-meaning people attempt to assure you Star Trek month is really about that too (and maybe they shove an Eagle somewhere on one of the tables of decorations next to the shuttlecraft), because they are basically the same, right? THEY ARE NOT THE FUCKING SAME! You’d obviously celebrate Space 1999 on September 13, the day that Moonbase Alpha broke away from Earth orbit and began its journey through the cosmos. Sure, March is the month where they discovered Maya and she’s cool, but for a 1999 fan, nothing can beat September. And the assholes over at Fox News don’t want anyone to say, “Happy Science Fiction Month” anyway because March is about Star Trek, dammit and nothing else, but nice try with that.
So here you are, stuck with Trek month. How tedious do you find all this? Our guess is pretty fucking tedious.
This is our culture right now. It’s a massive tailgate/cosplay dedicated to one particular fan group. And unlike real tailgate parties and cosplay events, it’s not taking place at an isolated stadium or in a conference center, it’s happening everywhere making it impossible to avoid. And let’s be honest, that’s all this is: a big tailgate/cosplay event. If it were a real religious holiday people would be kicking each other’s asses to buy discount mangers at Wal Mart, but the religious aspect is at best a side-nod. The parts people pay attention to are the secular manifestations- the trees, decorations, gifts and so on. Those may be traditions people enjoy, but they are not commanded by any holy text or scripture.
The basic rule for fan cultures is this: It’s opt-in, not opt out. No one has to like Firefly or Buffy or Fursuits, but if you’re into it, that’s great. We all know that in order for our own particular fandom to be respected we have to make room for everyone’s. And you might admit, even if you don’t personally get into it, that steampunk shit looks pretty cool. Encouraging diversity and individual expression is where creativity comes from, but that only happens when people feel included rather than excluded.
So it’s time to tell all the overenthusiastic Christmas boosters to dial it back on the enforced Yuletide inclusion. Everybody: the media, Wallgreens, that one chick in the office who blows the entire snack budget for the month on nogg. This is especially important during the first two weeks of December. Let people not participate. For those who do, find out how they want to engage, don’t just make assumptions. Especially don’t hand someone a Santa hat and some red and green beads (why are there beads now with everything?) and expect them to appreciate having to be “festive” in the way you like to be. There is nothing worse than a cheerleader who can’t shut up about how awesome the team is for five seconds. It makes outsiders assume they are masking deeply repressed doubts.
Oh, and that Borg on the Shelf thing has to stop. That shit is just creepy.