Star Wars and Star Trek: A Study Of Political Spectrum Star Wars and Star Trek: A Study Of Political Spectrum
Mention politics and immediately many think about political parties. But the subject of politics is more than just party divisions. The Ancient Greece philosopher... Star Wars and Star Trek: A Study Of Political Spectrum

STW1

Mention politics and immediately many think about political parties. But the subject of politics is more than just party divisions. The Ancient Greece philosopher Aristotle called Man the political animal, and by that he meant to say that all subjects about human and human creation are in the realm of the political. And this includes art.

3

This is Aristotle. Blame him.

The word politics is based on the ancient Greek πολιτικός (politikos), which means “relating to/about citizens” (politikos derives from polis, the Greek word for city, which in Ancient Greece was the centre of all their human activity, given they were a people who lived in City-States).

4So, on its most broad and original definition, politics is everything about or concerning people in all its dimensions. From this, the political spectrum is roughly divided between two poles: the conservative and the progressives.

In this study, I take the two biggest SF franchises and analyse which side of the spectrum they belong to.


 STAR WARS

5

Star Wars is about a group of rebels who fight against a tyrannical evil Galactic Empire. Their goal is to topple the Empire’s new order by bringing back the Republic that once governed the galaxy in order to restore the old order. Paradoxically, or maybe not, the Empire, while created by the deposing of the former Republic and thus imposing a new order, is in itself based on an old dream by the Sith Lord to create a galactic empire of their own, to expand from their once former domains and to dominate the entire galaxy. So both the rebels and the empire are based on ideals from a past that is upheld as referential.

On a meta level, the Star Wars Saga itself is a throwback to a perceived more innocent form of entertainment enjoyed by creator George Lucas in contrast to the more adult type of film entertainment that dominated the cinematic landscape in the 1970s. This nostalgic throwback was not unique to Lucas, as other filmmakers of his generation had done something similar, like Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Saga where he used a 1940s cinematic style mixed with 1970s modern filming technology to give it a period feel in reference to the times the story was set, and Steven Spielberg who filmed his films in the style of Frank Capra, all in contrast to such fellow generation filmmakers like William Friedkin or Hal Ashby, whose style was completely contemporary to the 1970s, often based on documentaries so to create an immediate and realistic feel. Lucas’s Star Wars contrasted with the then current filmmaking American landscape by going backwards for inspiration.

Star Wars itself is a throwback to the Buck Rogers serials of old, often emulating their visual and editing stylistics, like the frame-sweep, which was already out of fashion since the 1960s.

The prologue of every Star Wars movie in itself is throwback looking back style of the saga:

“A long time ago…”

It says it all.

Star Wars is conservative.


STAR TREK

6

Star Trek is (or should I say used to be, given the current incarnation) is made of stories of mankind from a future where national, ideological and ethnic divisions are a thing of the past, and where learning and humanism are upheld as the highest values. A time where mankind’s efforts are devoted to exploration of the unknown and the spread of a future form of advanced democracy in collaboration with other allied alien civilizations.

In Star Trek, all efforts are to improve the present toward building a better future, which the past as a tableau of lessons to be learned and mistakes to be corrected and avoided. What references are from the past are from visionaries who saw beyond the line of the horizon of their own times. Everything is projected for a better future, where the golden age is still ahead, still to come, a project of a future to be.

The human society of Star Trek has neither seated on their own laurels, despite they living in what by the standards of today would be called a Utopia, nor has looked back to a golden age for inspiration and to guide themselves into.

On the contrary, the human society of Star Trek was born from the ashes of an apocalyptic war event that reshaped Earth into something completely new, which created a whole new society and order which cut from the things of the past and created a new world free of the evils, superstitions, small-mindedness, egotism and frailties of the past, toward the stars and the future, based on values born of humanism and reason.

The motto of the exploration endeavour and of Star Trek itself is symptomatic of the attitude that permeates the shows, here in its Original Series version:

“To boldly go where no man has gone before”.

It says it all.

Star Trek is progressive.


As I said before, this dichotomy is not about political parties in today’s countries of the World.

7

“You GOP fascist son-of-a-bitch”

8

“You pinko-commie liberal bastard!”

Oh, behave, boys.

No, it’s about the spectrum of broad politics as relating to the human experience and how they chose the way to go about this human condition we call life in society.

Of course, there is more to the conservative/progressive dichotomy. There are nuances between the two positions that are not explored here. There’s also the fact that some people enjoy both Star Wars and Star Trek. Or neither. Some people are conservative and like Star Trek better and vice versa for progressive who enjoy Star Wars more.

What does that tell about them? Simply, that people are people. To quote from the Bard (William Shakespeare to you) from the play Hamlet, what he might have said with irony will be here said with conviction:

“What a piece of work is a Man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world!”

Sometimes the two opposites can meet in the middle… if you know what I mean (wink)

Sometimes the two opposites can meet in the middle… if you know what I mean (wink)

Science Fiction, like all genres, has had authors express their views of politics in their writing. Sometimes the political leanings transpire merely by the way the story plays itself, even if the creative had no desire to do so. It has always been an interesting academic exercise to notice and deconstruct a SF story given the political situation of the time it was created and the leanings of their authors. That can be a subject for the comment section or for some future article. Politics in SF does not merely resume to Star Trek and Star Wars, these are just two of the more well know franchises of the genre. Just a question of visibility, really. To study the politics of SF one would had the whole genre as a study case. And it’s fun.

10 11

As always, thank you for reading.

This is AsimovLives signing off. Have a better one.

12

Author Image

AsimovLives

Hailing from the atlantic lusitanian shores, AsimovLives is a native of Portugal (it's in Europe). An enthusiastic fan of Science Fiction and Cinema, together with varied interests in Science, Astronomy, History, Arts, Gastronomy, Wines & Spirits and all things Beauty. Unshakable convictions of humanism, secularism and rationalist kind. Tireless supporter of intelligent and honest-hearted entertainment. Staunch enemy of superstition and all dumbed down shallow hack made cynical cash-grabbing cinema and tirelessly calling out on their supporters, no half-measures. Passion is the game.

  • Abe

    Very, very interesting Asi. I think I need to mull this over before crafting a proper response. But you did give me something to think about.

  • Col. Tigh-Fighter

    This is why Star Trek is more worthy than SW. But SW is more fun and frolics on the eyes.

    http://youtu.be/crpUHa9_pJ0?t=1m39s

  • Dee

    Lucas received a lot of criticism for modelling the victory celebration at the end of Star Wars after a scene from Nazi-filmer Leni Riefenstahl’s movie “Triumph of the Will”.
    It unintentionally (or intentionally?) looks as if the rebels moved closer to the Empire in terms of ideology.
    http://imaginarycinema.com/images/lucas/triumphofthewill.jpg

  • Abe

    Someone gave Dee a can of gasoline and said put out the fire.

  • I_am_better

    In the Special edition end celebration of “Jedi” they’re toppling a statue of the emperor, much like, say Lenin-statues after the fall of Soviet Union

  • Abe

    I am surprised you took it easy on Star Trek Asi. I adore Star Trek, but I think the Federation is evil. You want to be in Starfleet outstanding! Send your children to earth where they’ll adopt human fashions, human morality, and learn to quote human art.

    Hell even the registries on the ship are in English so we have to assume all aliens are forced to learn rudimentary English.

    http://youtu.be/xy5jAixHhSA?t=1m21s

  • Chekov: We do believe all planets have a sovereign claim to inalienable human rights.

    Azetbur: “Inalien…” if you could only hear yourselves. “Human rights.” Why, the very name is racist.

  • Abe

    Yes! That’s it in a nutshell.

  • FTW !!

  • Abe

    But with all that being said. Trek>Wars

  • we should have a vote on that…….

    oohhh wait……

  • Abe

    This is brilliant.

  • Abe

    Don’t think I’ll ever forget what you did that weekend. From hell’s heart I stab at thee…

  • “Hey, remember you lost her to me, fair and square.”

  • Stalkeye

    AHAHAHAHAHAH!
    That’s a funny comparison!

  • Dee

    Do you think it’s a coincidence?

  • Stalkeye

    Before or after Han decked him in the Jaw?

  • Stalkeye

    Dee, I don’t put anything past “Uncle Georgie”, look at all the silly questionable caricatures from the previous SW films. (Especially the prequels.)
    It could be a coincidence but if not, I would question his motives even further. 0_O

  • Tim R.R. Something

    How many Bards do you know Asi? 😉

  • Tim R.R. Something

    This would be material for several great episodes.

  • Tim R.R. Something

    Prime Directive was used to excuse shit like watching people and planets be destroyed. Remember the episode where Worf’s brother tries to convince Picard to save a planet? Wouldn’t it have been great if a Klingon ship had swooped in and saved the planet. Then gave Picard the finger and said :”Tell me about your superior society human”.

  • theyre both dead 🙁

  • after

  • I like to look at it from a filmmaking standpoint concerning the “what hits?” aspect of it. Obviously they both hit, and hit big. Two types of things can hit: things we havent seen before, and things we haven’t seen in a while. ST was the former, SW the latter, except then when TNG happened it was the latter again. this doesnt really have anything to do with your article.

  • I_am_better

    Thinking about this, I remembered this Picard’s line from “First Contact”:

    “I will not sacrifice the Enterprise. We’ve made too many compromises
    already; too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back. They
    assimilate entire worlds and we fall back. Not again. The line must be
    drawn here! This far, no further! And *I* will make them pay for what
    they’ve done!”

  • I_am_better

    Reflecting anything much…?

  • Dee

    Well, to be fair Lucas expressed, like a lot of other famous directors, that Riefenstahl was a very innovative, proficient director, even if she worked for the Nazi regime. I don’t think he hid any messages of that kind in SW. But his use of this iconography is still kind of naive and irresponsible.

  • There is only one The Bard, with a Big B.

  • That’s part of my job description. I think it’s for things like this is one of the reasons you hired me.

  • Abe

    You’re worth every penny.

  • CreepyThinMan

    I think Picard was suffering a case of PTSD from having an H.R. Giger’esque biomechanical phallus inserted into his anus and enjoying it along with the shame over his new found fetish which is why he was soo angry!!!FACT!!!

  • I_am_better

    That’s a big possibility

  • I_am_better

    Hell, if it weren’t PG, the Borg could’ve gone all cenobites on Picard….
    http://www.quickmeme.com/img/5f/5f652407a2f2f1b0eb041462afd304be365e6e94c8eef53105357379df2df49b.jpg

  • CreepyThinMan

    Star Trek Voyager is a fucking terrible show but it has probably my favorite episode of Trek EVER!!!

    In DEATH WISH the Voyager crew accidentally release a member of the Q continuum, let’s call him Q2 (played BRILLIANTLY by Gerrit Graham, that’s right, BEEF from Phantom of the Paradise), and Q (John de Lancie) shows up to put him back in the prison he was placed in because he wishes to commit suicide.

    I’m not going into further details but this is one of the most intelligent, thought provoking piece’s of entertainment I’ve ever seen. It deals with soo many issue and also solidifies abstract concepts such as the Q and shows that omnipotence and immortality have their own drawbacks. Ideas are what drives Star Trek at its best and THIS is why I’d take Star Trek over Star Wars anytime!!!FACT!!!

  • Stalkeye

    Fair enough.

  • Abe

    My man! That’s right you Star Wars people can take 70 some percent of the vote, but CTM is on my side.

  • Guest

    🙂

  • CreepyThinMan

    MADE THIS ONE FOR AsimovLives AND UNTIL DOING SO, I HAD NEVER NOTICED JUST HOW MUCH ELIZABETH BERKLEY’S PUSSY JIGGLES LIKE PINK JELL-O!?!FACT!!!
    http://i.giphy.com/yoJC2oBwYlFepXiqLS.gif

  • FINISH HIM!!!!

    Thanks, CTM.

  • Quality over quantity.

  • The thing is subverted quite fast when Picard is called out on this course of action by being compared to Captain Ahab. To the movie’s credit, Picard quickly realizes he has crossed the like and true to his proper self he regains his composure and reason he’s so well known for.

  • Abe

    If Asi be for us, who can be against us?

  • The devil himself, JarJarAbrams.

  • ErnestRister

    Let me get this straight…an idyllic military space navy that somehow gets themselves muddied up in other people’s business every week — sometimes from a condescending point of view — that’s progressive. But Star Wars, whose central recurring theme is that individuals have to create justice through their own choices, and sometimes the best choice is to throw down your sword and accept loss…that’s conservative? Damn. Do I have to vote for Ted Cruz and Rick Perry now?

  • If you put it that way…

    Of course, the way you described the Federation is not how it is, but a forced perspective, a deliberate attempt to make it into something not as it’s presented but as perceived by some sensibilities. My article is not about sensibilities of the beholder but the nature of the sagas themselves.

    While SW is indeed a work that is conservative in both content and in a meta dimension by being a throwback work to a past style of SF that was no longer made at the time.

  • ErnestRister

    Asi, I was just joshing you a bit…sadly I think pretty much ANY movie can be couched in right/left terms. You may find this hard to believe, but there was a war of editorials in U.S. newspapers many years ago with Republicans and Democrats arguing over the documentary, March of the Penguins. This beautiful film showing the jaw-dropping resilience of life in extreme conditions suddenlt became fodder for people arguing whether if the penguins were more democrats or republicans. It was embarassing, and it went on for days and days. Same thing happened with Forrest Gump. I don’t think Star Wars or Star Trek lean any way politically, with the exception that Mr. Lucas was personally revulsed by the Vietnam War — but that war was administered by both republican and democrat presidents, so even in that instance I don’t think Star Wars leans in any direction.

  • “there was a war of editorials in U.S. newspapers many years ago with Republicans and Democrats arguing over the documentary, March of the Penguins.”

    *facepalm*

    Well, in regard to fucking Forrest Gump, that fucking movie is a GOP wetdream propaganga. No two wayd about it. I’m bloody allergic to revanchistic fantasy, i can smell it’s foul stench a mileaway,and FG reeked of it. I wanted to throw shitty at the screen afteri watched the bloody movie, and this was a movie that when i came in to the theater i was more then pumped to love it. If FG was a person, i would want to break his fucking legs.

  • Tim R.R. Something

    Too bad we can’t bottle this wit, in case we have to shoot down an incoming asteroid.

  • Tim R.R. Something

    I thought it showed pretty clearly what a waste the Vietnam war was and how Lt Dan (at great cost) was delivered of his delusions.

  • ErnestRister
  • ErnestRister

    Forrest was demonstrably apolitical. I thought the fact others got caught up in distractions like politics while Forrest was just trying to make his way in the world, while focusing on his family, friends, and his love was the entire point of the movie.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFvASiMTDz0

  • And?

  • The character is too stupid for political leanings. But the movie clearly is a suck up job for GOP.
    I would even say this movie helped the people warm up to the real Forrest Gump that a few years later run for president, George W. Bush. People were endeared for the retard thanks to the movie.

  • ErnestRister

    Another point that Forrest Gump the movie tried to make…it ain’t your IQ that matters. It’s your choices. The world will happen to you, but you will also happen to the world. Love. Family. Friends. The sun rising and setting. Experiencing joy and pain. That’s life. Politics? No different than religion, just a bunch of organized assholes trying to control how other people think. Fuck that. Go outside and breathe and feel the wind on your skin and blowing through your hair. Kiss your wife. Savor it. Every minute of it.

  • You don’t take the “lessons” of Forest Gump seriously, i hope. Because that movie’s glorifying of human stupidity is insulting beyond belief. I loath the movie’s message. Few movies have insulted me as much as this one.

  • ErnestRister

    I have to bury another relative next week. I may not know much, but I know this…spending your life in the grips of ideology — of any kind — is a fucking waste of your time while you’re here. Let’s assume your ideology becomes triumphant. Look at history. How long does that last? Ideologies ebb and flow, wars and borders come and go. You can’t control any of it. I wake up, rub the sleep out of my eyes, make coffee and breakfast for my wife, kiss her, go about my day, try not to unfriend my rabid political friends on Facebook, and just enjoy the world. I am a political agnostic. There’s enough injustice round the block that people can solve just by donating food and clothing rather than prattling on about GOP this and DNC that. Hypocrites. Get out and live and make a difference and love the world and life you’ve been given.

  • Abe

    That’s very well said and I completely agree with that. While you’re out living and loving the world you can take along a few podcast from the Supernaughts though.

  • I subscribe to your post above. Well done.
    And my condolences. I’m so sorry for your lost.

  • ErnestRister

    Lost a lot of people in the last 18 months. Three to cancer, one to Alzheimer’s, one to old age, another to a four-wheeler accident. 14 year old kid, flipped his ride, it landed on him and crushed his skull. I was always more or less anti-politics, even though I keep up with the news…but these days…it’s crazy how people seem to think they’re going to live forever.

  • You remind me during the 1996 to 1998, it was an endless parade of family funerals for me, culminating with my mother’s funeral. What an hellish time it was! I know how you must be feeling, if this serves as any consolation.

  • ErnestRister

    Thanks, Asi. I can’t even comprehend the death of a parent. My condolences to you, as well.

  • Thanks, pal

  • ErnestRister

    Thanks for calling me “pal”…never trust a man who calls you “buddy”. I’m serious.

  • Point taken.