Star Trek at Fifty | HumorOutcasts

Star Trek at Fifty

September 10, 2016

One of my earliest memories was watching the Apollo Moon missions on TV.

One of my other earliest memories was hiding behind my mother from a frightening image on TV: a giant, alien, disembodied head. If you don’t know how those two could possibly be connected (besides an early indication that my generation watched too much TV) … then you don’t know Star Trek. (That episode, by the way, was “The Corbomite Maneuver”.)

Could it have really been fifty years ago? A whole half century since the single most influential entertainment show in television history debuted.

Yeah, that’s a big claim, but think about it. That weird space show with the bad special effects did more than spawn a bunch of movies and spin-offs. It influenced people who became astronauts themselves, as well as scientists of every stripe. It became a cultural phenomenon, to the extent that even people who hate science fiction recognize “Live long and prosper”, and “Beam me up, Scotty”. It went all the way from there down to a little kid who was inspired to write stories about space himself, and who now defines himself as a writer above almost all else.

Just to be clear, that would be me.

Lots of electronic ink is being spilled this week over the big five oh. Why did it become so huge? The simple answer is that it held one thing that so much futurism of the time didn’t: optimism. It posited a future universe in which we not only survived nuclear weapons, racial conflict, despots and election campaigns, we triumphed. We went out beyond our world together, as one race.

Can’t we all just get along? In Star Trek, we did. That was what it was about, not the rubber alien faces and over-emoting.

On a personal level, it led me not only to write stories myself, but to have my first fictional role model. I was a shy kid, suppressing my emotions, misunderstood—alien. The character of Spock spoke to me … I even had a blue sweatshirt with an insignia on it that looked a lot like his uniform shirt.

The less said about my haircut at the time, the better … although it may help explain why I wasn’t the most popular kid.

As a teen, it seemed like I was in an exclusive club, sometimes too exclusive—sometimes I thought I was the only Star Trek fan in the state. In a weird way, I was upset when it went from a canceled cult show to a franchise. It was like losing ownership. But now Star Trek belongs to the World, and after fifty years it’s still going strong.

That’s a good thing—the world needs all the optimism it can get.


Mark R Hunter

Mark R Hunter is the author of three romantic comedies: Radio Red, Storm Chaser, and its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, as well as a related story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. He also wrote a young adult adventure, The No-Campfire Girls, and a humor collection, Slightly Off the Mark. In addition, he collaborated with his wife, Emily, on the history books Images of America: Albion and Noble County, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, and Hoosier Hysterical. Mark’s work also appeared in the anthologies My Funny Valentine and Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology. For two decades Mark R Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 32 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically. Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book.

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7 Responses to Star Trek at Fifty

  1. Bill Y Ledden
    September 17, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I was a bit aprehensive when going to see the last Star Trek film. The opening scenes with the supposed comedic touch wasn’t working as far as Bill Y was concerned but it got better and wasn’t a bad film at all, at all. Here’s to another 50 years of Star Trek.

  2. September 10, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    I have never been able to connect with the Star Trek spinoffs like I connected with the original series. I still love it.

    • September 10, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Same here. I liked them, mostly–but it was never quite the same.

  3. Bill Spencer
    September 10, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Some people have told me I have a “warp” sense of humor. Do you think they could be trekkies? And what’s the fastest speed humor has ever traveled? What if it’s “light” humor?

    • September 10, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      See, puns are part of the reason why Kirk always wants to be beamed back up.

  4. Roger Freed
    September 10, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    One and a half thumbs up. (accident with a chopping knife)

    • September 10, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      Well, I won’t ax how that happened. Say, if Spock accidentally lost a finger, would he be Vulcan saluting with an accent?

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