Between Star Wars and Star Trek

This and dozens of other essays are compiled in the book Between: Living Live in Neither Extreme. Check it out!

I look fondly back on the “Star Trek the Next Generation”-themed murder mystery party in college when I played the civilian lounge hostess named Guinan. On the TV show Guinan was played by Whoopi Goldberg.

I did not have a hat that resembled Guinan’s stretchy towering masterpiece, nor did/do I look anything like Whoopi Goldberg, but I did have my mom’s big fuzzy aqua robe. And I was a good bartender with our cheap vodka and Captain Morgan’s bubbly space concoctions. Given that most of my friends and boyfriends watched the show, and given that I liked mystery parties and could quote The Firm’s “Star Trekkin'” song lyrics like “there are Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow, and …it’s life Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it,” we all had a good time. It also helped that our friend Brian already kind of looked like a robot, so he was Data.

I also look fondly back on the first drive-in movie I ever saw: Star Wars. I fell asleep in my pink flower pj’s in the back of our Chevy wood-paneled 1978 station wagon and got a lot of mosquito bites (open windows at night during Minnesota summers=bug bites), but it was still a great experience. I think I took up the oboe years later because it most resembled an instrument used in the cantina scene in Episode 4.

But I do not look fondly back at the Star Trek movies with Ricardo Mantalban as Khan because of that one scene with a bug crawling in someone’s ear. I do, however, love Benedict Cumberbatch as the new Khan. Also I’d like to see him as Mr. Rourke in a new version of “Fantasy Island.”

I also do not look fondly back at the disagreements Neal and I have about which Star Wars movie is the best (none of 1, 2, and 3; 5 is Neal’s [and all of his boy friends’] favorite; my third grade self says 6 because I [and all of my little girl friends] liked Ewoks then and could recite most of the lyrics to their “Yub-Nub” song; now I say 4 because it started it all and is the one I can quote the most). This is despite the fact that we both agree that JarJar Binks was a terrible idea and Luke gets a little whiny sometimes.

Captain’s Log, Stardate 2013: please ensure that any future Star Wars sidekicks that appeal to kids who want the Happy Meal character figurines are interesting for grown-ups, too.

One of my favorite movie scenes is the fight between Star Wars and Star Trek fans in “Fanboys.” I find it comforting that J.J. Abrams is directing both the new Star Trek and Star Wars movies, because he, like I, must traverse the boundaries of two subcultures that, on the outside, look similar, but on the inside, are quite different. Hence the “Fanboys” fight.

In sociological terms, this amounts to in-group #1 treating in-group #2 as an out-group, and all non-space-subculture people treating both as the out-most outerspace out-group there can be. If that didn’t make sense, just watch a couple episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” and you’ll get it.

Abrams hides Star Wars objects in his Star Trek movies, and I can’t wait to look for Guinan’s hat somewhere in Star Wars Episode 7. Or Benedict Cumberbatch.

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