(Ye Ed babbles: This afternoon we enthusiastically welcome Molly Jackson, our newest ComicMix columnist. As is our habit, Molly’s bio lurks below. She will be occupying this space revealing her cultural soul to us all each and every week! And now…)
This past week we marked the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager. I was 12 at the premiere of this show, and excited to see Captain Kathryn Janeway, a woman running a ship just like Captain Picard. Star Trek helped reinforce ideals taught to me by my parents, my religion and by scouting. Now at age 32 I still hold this show in such high regard, despite its flaws.
With the events happening today, the lessons of Star Trek, throughout all the series, become more and more important. The goal of exploration and discovery should be more important that the goal of power and conquest. Understanding cultures rather than controlling them. These humans came from a world that moved to where we want to be.
Voyager, in particular, resonated these ideals. A ship, lost in unknown space, rose above base desires to learn about other species. To explore new worlds and cultures. This show, like the other Star Trek series before it, studied racism and sexism in their own ways, using different species to fill in the roles of the subjugated in our own society. A captain ignored by another race for her gender shows her strength. A holographic doctor fights for his rights of personal ownership. These are just a few examples taken from real life into the mirror that science fiction always is.
Most important, Voyager taught that even at the heights that humanity had reached, they could still falter. Humans are fallible in the Star Trek universe. But rather than let them accept their failings, they did their best to rise above and grow as people. And who doesn’t want to live in their world? As Janeway remarked in episode “The 37’s” how humans built a world they could be proud of, where war and poverty don’t exist. Isn’t that what we are striving for today?
Yes, it has its cheesy moments. And yes, there are some episodes I would rather forget than watch again. But on the whole, who didn’t cheer for the little ship finding its way home. Voyager championed ingenuity and creativity in its crew. They had their moments of weakness. They had space battles and were willing to fight when they needed to. The show held to its morals, even when it suited them to cheat.
Go ahead and give Star Trek: Voyager a second or even a first watch. It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. This time, look beyond the sets and the cheese and listen to the message of exploration and understanding. It may have been 20 years, but the message still holds true.