Star Trek and the Pandemic

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Star Trek and the Pandemic

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Since its release in 1966, Star Trek has been an inspiring and comforting series to millions of people around the world. It is unapologetically utopian and hopeful, and throughout the pandemic it has been of incredible utility to people suffering from isolation and other stress in their lives. Even though the pandemic has had little real impact on my day to day life, Star Trek has still remained my favorite piece of media to immerse myself in to feel a little better about the future.

Set hundreds or even a thousand years in the future, Star Trek is a setting where diseases like Covid-19 have been wiped from the Earth permanently, and even unknown alien diseases can be cured and eliminated in just hours of study and research. No one suffers from homelessness or poverty, as replicators have enabled extremely high quality of life for everyone. For me, in a time when not only is there uncertainty about disease but also high degrees of political and societal stress, Star Trek is a breath of fresh air whenever I sit down to watch it. For a time I no longer have to worry about Q-Anon cultists ransacking the capital or about catching the disease. I have seen Star Trek referred to as "competency porn," and indeed that is exactly one of the things that appeals so much in this time of strife and angst. Unlike most pieces of media, Star Trek doesn't rely on failures of communication and other frustratingly real issues to drive its conflict and stories. Instead, each show is focused on extremely competent and intelligent characters who are able to work together to quickly and efficiently solve issues using their pooled knowledge, despite their differences. Through this I can revel in the utopian ideal of the show and believe even for just a moment that we could reach that point ourselves one day, even if for now our society is plagued by the very issues Star Trek posits we can overcome.

One could call it escapism, but I think many people would agree that escapism is exactly what people need and want right now due to the ever-present and overpowering feeling of doom surrounding everything else.

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This item was submitted on February 11, 2021 by Adam Peretz using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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