Did you know that the JJ-movie-verse (now officially coined the Kelvin Timeline) is now a part of Star Trek Online? All you need to do is look around ESD or in the Badlands BZ; there is no shortage of iEnterprises and Robocop’s Vengeances in evidence. There hasn’t been too much in-game explanation as to where these ships come from other than the cursory “someone mucked around the timeline”, but it unexpectedly stirred up some serious vitriol among the playerbase, and it all stems from the fact that many Trekkies despise JJ’s version of Trek… and the JJ-ships represent the new movie universe.
As I stated in a previous post, as entertainment goes, I actually quite liked the JJ movies. They’re action-packed, they’re fast-paced, they’re eye-popping, the characters and actors are hip – they have all the right elements to be summer blockbusters. Sure there are some fairly significant plot holes, but I thought the pacing was brisk enough that the plot holes didn’t immediately undermine the movies (trust me, nothing derails a movie as much as a plot hole that the audience immediately recognizes).
A significant subgroup of Trekkies argues that JJ’s version is not “true” Star Trek. Well, is it? That’s debatable. JJ took the Star Trek name and the TOS characters, re-imagined and repackaged it for the new millennium. Reimagining/repackaging has been all the rage in Hollywood in the last decade, some were done well and others not as much (Look at Green Hornet – Seth Rogen you bastard!)… but let’s face it, the JJ-Trek movies did give an effective face lift to an aging Sci-Fi franchise that, even though it still has a sizable fanbase, is old and considered by the masses as the epitome of nerddom. TOS is barely watchable to kids nowadays, and even TNG/DS9/Voyager are dated by modern standards that they likely can’t achieve the necessary ratings to stay afloat; the new movies managed to make a new generation of kids think Star Trek is cool and hip and sexy, which I would consider a good outcome in continuing the life of the franchise. It’s sad, but I think that without a flashy update, the traditional Star Trek probably won’t have a viable fanbase beyond the current generation.
So what about the Trekkies who take personal offense that JJ-Trek threw out the core concepts of Star Trek, and that it is not their Trek? They argue that when JJ tossed out the more cerebral side of Trek in favor of action, he dumbed down the franchise and didn’t stay true to Roddenberry’s vision. They also argue about various minutiae that got changed from TOS to JJ-verse, such as character personalities and details. So in a sense, they’re right — this is not the same Star Trek of old, and on that alone some people will reject it. The truth of the matter is that we’re human, and humans are creatures of habit who prefer old, familiar surroundings – we are hard-coded to dislike change, especially changes to things we’ve enjoyed… Rose-tinted glasses and all. Rightly or wrongly, rosy retrospection is very much a part of our perception: TOS was far from perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
One important point that I will concede though, is the kind of legacy the JJ Trek-reboot leaves behind. When TOS captured the imagination of a generation of engineers and scientists in the 60’s, it inspired a surprisingly number of technological advances in the real world. It addressed societal issues, and promoted diversity and equality. Over the decades, Star Trek had a cultural impact. Subsequent Trek series have done the same to lesser extents, but the JJ-Trek movies offer nothing of the sort. These are action movies made purely for entertainment, not inspiration, and in that sense I feel this new incarnation will never measure up. Yet this may be a reflection of our times as well; these days, who watches TV or movies to be inspired anymore? Still, it’s nonetheless disappointing that with the reboot, Star Trek will be just another run-of-the-mill Sci-Fi movie franchise, when its heritage was so much more.
Meanwhile, back on Star Trek Online — evidently some people are feeling an acute pain in their pancreas when they see the JJ-iEnterprise and Vengeances now invading the real Star Trek timeline. Reports have been made that some folks have turned their ire to the owners of those new vessels, private-messaging them with vitriol and leaving queues as soon as they see one of these ships on the team. One Reddit poster even expected Cryptic to make new ship costumes for the JJ ships so he doesn’t have to look at those eyesores.
Listen: no one is saying you have to like the JJ-ships or his movies. But the above? Gosh, people, you’re taking it way too far.
I have my list of lockbox alien ships that I dislike (especially the various Delta Quadrant ships and especially the Herald vessels), but I don’t begrudge people for flying them. I most certainly don’t go around PMing them about how ugly their ships are, or expect Cryptic to create ship costumes so I don’t have to see them; if anything I’d just quietly get out of the way. As lockbox ships go, I find the iEnterprise and Vengeance to be a lot less objectionable than the alien ships: at least they both have the Federation aesthetic, and if I don’t like JJ-Trek I can just pretend they’re some other random ship classes. Why go out of my way to be angry at something that doesn’t affect me?
It’s also ironic that one of the main principles of Star Trek is embracing diversity, yet here they are demanding that something be excluded. Pshaw, I say!