Remember the 1960’s?
It’s “the silly season,” as news reporter call it. Parliament is in recess, nothing’s happening, and journalists are resorting to stories about the Loch Ness monster, and nostalgia for Star Trek. Me too.
Now, some of my very best writing is not my essays, but my comments on other people’s blogs. That said, not so “best” were the comments of me and others on the blog of Scott Berkun, gentleman and scholar, when he answered a reader’s question by posting Star Trek and the ideas we must reject in order to save our future. (See footnote) He received 22 comments, some of them quite lengthy.
In the spirit of the silly season, here are my comments for Scott’s post.
The first came after a commenter, believe it or not, “dissed” Star Trek! I was shocked, shocked I say! So I commented too:
Call me a computer nerd, but:
Lisa, above, is confusing the later Star Trek universe, made during grim Reagonomics and so forth, with STOS (Star Trek the original series) made during the cresting wave of the age of Aquarius. This original series remains ever a cultural icon.
Remember? Starships could “destroy an entire planet” but didn’t, and phallic weapons were never carried in visible holsters,
(unlike on Wagon Train, the show’s touchstone for having guest stars who had been in the train/crew all along)
but tucked beneath one’s shirt.
The median year for African countries getting independence, (by my count) was 1960, only six years before the show. So the anti-imperialist Prime Directive was a welcome shock.
The Klingons were Bad Guys who, as someone (David Gerrold?) joked, had no bathtubs on their ships, but hey, you would never see one unless you went out into space.
Then I had to correct my “oopsy,” also known as a factual error:
Oops. I should have written “mode year” not “median year.”
Details: Mode means the year (number) repeated the most. Median would be the number in the middle, like a dotted road median. “Mean” would be the number that is conventionally “average.”
Well, it’s been literally decades since I took any statistics. (Strange, at my age, to measure lots of things now in decades instead of years)
We commenters had fun:
Call me old, but I enjoy my memories:
For Star Trek, I never got used to the velcro thingy, too futuristic-silly for me, because in one of the first episodes to air, Kirk has a leather-looking holster thingy you can see for a second as he pulls his shirt down, getting ready to beam to the planet. It looked yellow, but our TV set was black and white, so I don’t know.
The brand new department store was two miles away (walking right angles) and I remember when the salesmen still couldn’t get the three colour knobs right (Jeanie had green skin) so there would be a wall of televisions with all different colour settings. I went home and reported what color the ST uniforms were.
Star Trek, airing in 1966, just barely caught the change to color TV. Lost in Space, as I know from re-runs, had their first season in black and white.
I have read they didn’t make Spock have green skin, because the make up would look bad on b&w TVs.
As for make up and fashions, on rare occasion I would see signs in the dirt sidewalk that the high school girls had worn high heels. I don’t know if any wore mini skirts. At our elementary school I think one girl did, I forget, (and all the boys in my grade—but not the younger grades—kept their hair short until junior high) but I dimly remember strangers my age from other schools wearing minis.
I will tell you what a lot of elementary girls wore for our fashion show (fund raiser), which I haven’t seen since: Three piece bathing suits. Truly society was in transition.
Would I want my granddaughter wearing a miniskirt? As Spock would say in the episode with computer warfare: “I said I understand/have memories, I did not say I approve.”
You will recall that the first blogs were intended partly for community, with lots of intra-comments. So we communed:
Hi Scott, Lisa, Tony, everyone:
I guess it was Christmas of 1969 that we (a brother and I) got a model kit for Christmas, complete with room for a battery so (the front nacelles?) would light up. What I’m clear on is the box included a cheap booklet that included advice on how to write in to save the show, advising “don’t put Star Trek on the envelope” or it would be passed on to the actual show, not the network. It said the next season would start with the “never before seen” Turn About Intruder, and then re-runs, so save the show!
Also in the booklet you could send away for Spock’s pendant, brief celluloid film clips, and actual scripts. That was an eye opener, (either then or later) since it was super obvious the third season had all the bad episodes.
When I took Macbeth in high school I counted five episode titles.
Luckily for me, we lost our TV part way through the series, and so for years I could look forward to possibly seeing a new-to-me episode.
Since I left home in mid-1975, it would have been sometime in the first half of the decade that my brother perused the TV guide and pointed out there was an episode showing, on some channel or other, seven days a week. So the show was popular years before Star Wars encouraged a movie release with Star Wars style orchestra music, instead of futuristic space music.
(And hey, the above was probably before cable, let alone satellite) We all got on a roll, even unto non-Star Trek things. Of course you remember The Troubles With Tribbles episode!:
- Call me a fan, but I can’t resist sharing:
- Speaking of the tribbles script by David Gerrold, I put his Chtorr War series in the “about me” section on favorite books in my blog. The series has lots to say about integrity, responsibility and leadership. It’s told first person, like a detective story, as the hero learns about life and the alien Chtorr.
- The series starts with exposition about some serious plagues (only 76 congressmen survive) Now the survivors have to “step up to the plate” and not say, “Let George do it.”
- Everyone feels like an orphan in mourning, everyone therefore has a golden excuse to escape into alcoholism and drugs, but the good ones carry on. The hero starts out as a spoiled brat, but he learns better.
- The army is integrated, to the point where the young hero often forgets to mention the gender of a soldier in the background.
The feminist in me laughs at how he gets a girl friend (husband and child deceased) who is older, more sexually and relationship-ly experienced, taller, smarter and of higher military rank.
As you might guess, Gerrold is from wacky Southern California.
I guess we talked of how in the Star Trek future humans were all so affluent. No wonder we had less war in the future.
Lisa: Thank you.
Scott (and everybody):
Regarding American society and affluence, I just tried a search engine. No luck.
But I’m sure that (probably in a coffee table patriotic picture book) John Steinbeck wrote something years ago which I’m still thinking about:
That Americans, after several generations of trying, had finally achieved affluence … and for the first time were at a loss as to what to do next.
I suppose we meant that United Statesians had lost one of their national dreams.
…Well dear reader, that’s enough silliness.
For next week’s post, maybe I’ll blog deadly dull, and serious. But don’t worry, it will be posted near labour day, so I don’t suppose you will read it.
in a loft in Cochrane,
~Here’s the link to Berkun’s post. I am a fan of his web site.
~For more about TV history, of a more scholarly bent, see my essay Death of Buffy, archived January 2012.
~For the death of Buffy’s friend, see Anya, Friend of Buffy, archived April 2017, regarding how at last I understand her phobia for bunny rabbits.