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Student 23's picture

I am not a Trekkie—or at least I’ve never admitted to being one.

I enjoy the show quite a bit, I concede. It’s a maternally-inherited idiosyncrasy, in that my mother has tried to expose me to Star Trek from an early age; it never caught on with me until quite recently, however. When I told Mom that I’d watched First Contact with some friends, she delighted, and within a few weeks we had bought the entire Original Series. We made a habit of watching an episode or two a day while we exercised in the basement. Now, a few months later, we’ve finished everything but the dregs of the boxed set and over the coming Thanksgiving break we plan to continue with The Next Generation, an entertaining way to preclude those holiday pounds.

I’ve drawn silly Star Trek cartoons, and chatted about Star Trek for hours with my friends, and have Star Trek inside jokes, and even was given a hand-embroidered Star Trek decorative pillow for my birthday. But still, I’m only a casual fan. I do not possess a Starfleet uniform, let alone wear it in public; I collect no action figures or merchandise; I speak not a word of Klingon. I’ve never been to a Trek convention, written fan fiction, or named any of my pets after characters.

The world of Trek is as alien to me as our world would be to any Vulcan. But the 1996 documentary Trekkies, while highlighting the absolute absurdity of the Trek fandom, brought me closer to this “peculiar” community than I’ve ever felt, or cared to feel, before.

Trekkies is at the same time a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the long-running TV series and an often hilarious, though not snarky, sketch of obsession. It neither mocks nor glorifies its subjects, from Barbara Adams (who famously wore full Starfleet regalia to the Whitewater trial), to the dental practitioners of Starbase Dental, to the late Bones the Cat. Occasionally I found myself moved, as when James Doohan (better known as Scotty) presents an account of a suicidal fan that reached out to him and found reason to live, eventually obtaining her Masters degree in Electronic Engineering. On the other hand, a few of the interviews elicited pity verging on mild disgust. In one scene, a socially-stunted fourteen year old boy who had been to over two dozen conventions in his life, scripted a 172-page screenplay, and was obviously quite intelligent and extremely articulate, picks up a telephone call and screams into the receiver, “This is the worst possible time for you to call! Go away!” And when neither joy nor pity sufficed, baffled amusement, and lots of laughs, did. Perhaps the most ridiculous scene is where the late DeForrest Kelley describes a bizarre letter sent to him by a young female fan: a marijuana joint taped to a piece of cardboard, a “stunning” photograph, and an attached note reading, “You’ve turned me on so many times in the past that I feel I should turn you on at least once.”

And yet in its final chapter, Trekkies salutes what Star Trek has given to us, all that its die-hard fans so admire. Trek has inspired NASA engineers, scientists, and entertainers; it has promoted diversity and equality. It has presented a vision of peace and tolerance, of a perfected world. So despite the stalkers, the hoarders, the recluses, and the deluded, the Star Trek fandom is as harmless as it is idealistic. Every ship has its Ahab (or its Khan, as it were).

And for once, I admit I am indeed a Trekkie; and though I will never appear to jury duty in uniform, I am not ashamed.