Star Wars vs. Star Trek

This week on Hide and Create Joshua Essoe, Jordan Ellinger, Moses Siregar and Diana Rowland talk about how Star Wars and Star Trek compare.

“May the Force be with you” or “Live long and prosper”?

“I am your father” or “He’s dead, Jim”?

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” or “I’ve given her all she’s got, captain”?

Star Wars is an epic hero’s journey; the same story that people have been enjoying and craving from the beginning, and it takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Much of the setting may be in space, but it is very much the swords and sorcery fantasy.

Star Trek is an idea story all about the brightness of the future. Future setting, future virtues, future technologies, hope for what the future holds. It looks forward while Star Wars looks backward.

Really, the two complement one another beautifully.

7 thoughts on “Star Wars vs. Star Trek

  1. At just the philosophical level Star Wars is to Star Trek as the Odessy and Illiad are to Moore’s Utopia as told by Horatio Hornblower with a tip of the hat to Pilgrim’s Progress. One is the stuff of folklore, the other the stuff of sermons, philosophy, and kingdom come. One revels in what was, the other in what should be.

    It is my opinion that Star Trek at heart is a vision of American Exceptionalism as it existed in the mid 60’s writ large across the stars. The series for all it’s adventure and swash buckling is an extended treatise/sales pitch on the virtues of the Federation and an extended critique of why everybody else would be better off like them with few notable exceptions.

    Your episode raised the question of Star Trek’s utopianism, but I am surprise you did not at least mention another series by Gene Roddenbery that took the “historical” starting point of the Federation and reimagined it from the point of first contact, using many of the same tropes, character and race types of Star Trek to explore the price of Utopia…or What if the Prime Directive wasn’t prime and wasn’t a directive. In a number of ways it serves as a critique of his earlier vision as expressed in Star Trek. Of course I’m talking about Earth Final Conflict.

    In EFC Roddenberry begins with a dying race similar to the Mentats of the very first Star Trek episode, Menagerie. As the series develops we meet the antagonist race, the Jaridians, who are a little less advanced, but quite prolific. The dynamic between the Taelons and the Jaridians are essentially the same as those between the Vulcans and the Romulans, sibling races that took different paths, each hindered in the limitations inherent to that path. One is ice, one is fire. The scientist vs the warrior…Beethoven vs the New Zealand Blacks. Instead of Kirk you have Booth (and later Kincaid), instead of Kira Neyrs you have Lili Marquette, instead of Spock you had Da’an, instead of Scotty/Data/Jordi you have Augur….etc.

    In some ways the dramatic arguments of EFC explore the inside of the flip side of the logic/empire of the Dominion (genetic engineering of other races to serve them) or other social sandboxes in the Star Trek universe.

    My point…I think EFC is Roddenberry rethinking the greater tropes of his Star Trek Universe and where they can lead. One theme that dominated EFC that made it’s appearance all throughout the various ST franchises is the question of motivation (why are these guys helping us/ what do they get out of it? Why don’t they help us more?) This idea is explored more some of the ST movies and in Enterprise…frustration with the moral standoffishness of the Vulcans and their dribbling of technological help, the set piece episodes on the dangers of violating the prime directive, even rethought the issue of “seat belts” on space ships etc.

    Roddenberry also seemed to have this recurring theme of life suckers of some sort in all his oeuvre, be it the salt beast, the pretty planet guardian (I am for you), or the “evolved” Nosferatu looking Taelon’s who “fed” on domesticated culture’s genomes and their more classic vampirey ancestors the Avatars who showed up in the 5th season.

    Basically I would have enjoyed seeing exploration of the elder Roddenberry’s thoughts/critiques on the vision of the younger Roddenberry. Granted your episode centered on Star Trek/Star Wars…but I thought EFC should have had at least a mention when arguing Gene Roddenberry’s ST utopian vision.

    Just in case you are not aware of the show which I thought was very good and I enjoyed it every bit as much as ST, though it really only dealt the humanity, the Taelons, and the Jaridians…and later the parent race of both, the Avatars (not Cameron’s) here is a link to the series: Everything is so much clearer. 🙂

    From first episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roahmZjjaxY&feature=endscreen

    1. Hi rwhegwood,

      Thanks for this detailed comment. I never got into EFC but will now give it a shot. Hopefully it’s on Canadian Netflix! Thank you for the suggestion.

      We didn’t intend for the episode to be a detailed analysis of Star Trek, but rather why I thought it was objectively better for people to watch than Star Wars, and why. Joshua, of course, argued mainly that the opposite, wrong opinion was true. Hahaha. What a card he is.

      Still, thanks to your comment I’m going to give the works of Roddenberry a closer look in future!

  2. I can’t believe I almost didn’t listen to this episode. I don’t have a horse in this race (grew up on Star Trek TNG but never liked other Star Trek series, and I haven’t watched the Star Wars movies through), but the discussion was enjoyable even for someone as ignorant as I am. Thank you.

    Obviously I have to watch Star Wars now, but I can’t decide whether to watch just the original trilogy, or watch them in machete order (IV, V, II, III, VI). I already know I’m not too keen on the dialogue in the prequel trilogy; my son watches them and it drives me bonkers.

  3. THAT is fantastic, Kate. If you already know the famous plot twists of the original trilogy, I would urge you to watch: EP 2, 3, 4, 5, then 6. You can completely skip EP 1 without missing anything. After you watch the the other five, perhaps go back and see EP 1 for the extra backstory (some of which is terrible and makes no sense), to see Jabba as a young slug, and for the lightsaber duel at the end. Consider it one long series of deleted scenes special features.

    If you don’t know the plot twists in the original, then to preserve them, I would watch the original trilogy first, and view EPs 2 and 3 as backstory.

    The viewing order also affects the focus of the story. Do you want it to be about Anakin’s character arc (from the prequel), or about Luke’s (from the original)? Consider also that if you watch the prequel after, you also end your watching on a downer.

    1. Yeah, I think I’ll just skip episode one completely. I’ve had enough exposure to Jar-Jar to last me a lifetime already, and I have no interest in the pod race (is that what it’s called?). I might just watch that lightsaber duel, though, because that sounds like fun.

  4. The podrace is never ending, especially in the uncut version. The best thing about Episode 1 was Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jin.

    So, in the spirit of skipping EP1, Qui-Gon Jinn is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi Master. EP1, The Phantom Menace, is where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan find Anakin on Tatooine as a slave and take him with them to train him as a Jedi. They meet Queen Amadala of Neboo and help her reclaim her planet from the Trade Confederacy, while Bad Guys try to stop them. Anakin develops a little crush on her.

    Now you don’t have to see it! (Except for the lightsaber duel at the end.) 😉

    1. Excellent. I usually adore Liam Neeson, but it might be best if I don’t associate him with a movie I’m going to dislike. I don’t think my family would appreciate me yelling, “ASLAN, WHY DID YOU DO THIS?” at the TV. Thanks for the back-story!

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