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You've Gotta Be Kidding Me!

Category: Rants and Raves

Published April 13, 2005

(Warning: This article truly embodies the definition of "rant". I've tried to stay positive about this subject, and more recently I've just tried to stay quiet, and avoid causing trouble. But I just can't do it any more... Consider this the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.)

So there I was, sitting comfortably in the family room chair, Maia asleep on my lap, when I happened across the following Google advertisement on a Trek-related website:

Screenshot of a Google advertisement

I love Star Trek. I've been a fan for the past twelve and a half years of my life, and have watched every single hour of all five live-action series. I'm certainly disappointed that Enterprise has been cancelled, but this is hardly the end of the world.

To say that I was disgusted to discover that anonymous individuals promised to donate US$3 million in order to save a measly little television show would be an incredible understatement. With such recent disasters as the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, or the Florida hurricanes, or the numerous wars and genocide in Africa, or any of a thousand other crises threatening Human life around the world this very moment, just what the hell is a friggin' television show going to matter compared to all that? And don't give me any of that clichéd crap about Star Trek inspiring future generations to strive for improving Humanity — that three million dollars could be used in plenty of much better ways to help improve Humanity. Like, food for starving families in Africa. Or textbooks for fledgling schools in Afghanistan. Or...

So anyway, incensed as I was, I couldn't resist following the link to see just what the heck they wanted us to say in the letter to our Congressional representatives. And here's what I found:

In today's society where an increasing amount of television shows seek to appeal to the lowest common denominator with programming based on questionable morals, Star Trek has been a bright point of light that has inspired generations of young Americans to reach greater heights in science and mathematics. While I certainly understand the need to balance network profits with successful programming, I also believe that thought provoking shows that appeal to men and women of all ages and races deserve to be defended.

Questionable morals? Questionable morals?!? I've got one thing to say to that. Or rather, to link to:

Screen capture from ENT: 'Harbinger'

I've got your "questionable morals" right here, morons!

This kind of obsessed reaction makes me ashamed to call myself a Star Trek fan. If those anonymous donors were really interested in funding initiatives to help move Humanity out into space, they could help fund something like the "X Prize". Heck, if they really wanted to fund some lost cause that could actually do some good, try giving the money to NASA and tell them to use it to repair the Hubble telescope. (Not that I don't want Hubble saved — I certainly feel that it should be, but NASA seems as intent on killing Hubble as Paramount and UPN do Enterprise.)

Thirty-seven years ago, millions of fans rallied together in an unprecedented campaign to win a reprieve for an under-appreciated and under-funded television show called Star Trek. Two years ago, fan-organized campaigns helped to win revivals of both Farscape and Firefly. All of those shows were unquestionably worth saving. And although I personally have grave doubts about the value of Enterprise, I still refuse to make that judgment for other fans. Each individual gains their own meaning from the series.

However, what I unquestionably do have a problem with is the methods of this "Save Enterprise" campaign. First off, personal funds should never, ever go towards funding a lousy television show. I don't care how rich you are — put that money to better use! Second, writing to Congress is an absolute waste of time — something like that might have been impressive forty years ago (and purportedly helped win Bonanza a reprieve), but now it's only so many fanboys making a lot of noise.

(And don't even get me started on the name of the entire campaign... "TrekUnited", my @$$! Fans can't agree on the length of the Defiant, and I hate their self-aggrandizing claim to somehow represent every Star Trek fan in the world.)

Please, folks, stop obsessing so much over a mere television show. At the very least, consider the show for what it actually is — and not what you want it to be, or what you want it to represent. In the end, it's still nothing more than entertainment. Entertainment with a message, certainly, but still entertainment. And writing to Congress to try to save it is completely the wrong solution.

(I can only imagine the mail I'm going to get for this next quote...)

"Save Enterprise? They couldn't even save Terry Schiavo!" — Anonymous

My final point, and to return to the original issue that prompted this whole rant: Questions of personal ethics and beliefs regarding the Terry Schiavo case aside, is begging Congress to help save some television show really something we want our government to worry about? Consider how the bureaucracy works — do you want your tax dollars spent to pay hundreds of Congressional aides to answer (or at least filter through) various messages begging government representatives to intervene? Just how much do you think that is worth, after all? I'd guess thousands of dollars, at the very least. (Figure that every Congress(wo)man and Senator receives one hundred copies of this letter. Figure that it takes some poor aide one minute to open the message, read through it, and redirect or dispose of it as necessary. That's more than one hour of time — per representative. Multiply that by 535. Then multiply that by, say, $15 (a guesstimated hourly wage for a Congressional employee, though I'm probably way off). That's more than eight thousand dollars collectively spent by Congress to simply read the pleading letters from this campaign. And that's if only a handful of people start sending off these letters. The costs can only increase from there.

I seriously doubt that any television show would be worth that much effort and expense!

So, in summary, the gist of my message is this: "For better or for worse, Enterprise is almost over, and it's not coming back. Get over it, people, and stop wasting our government's time and money!"

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