In its own way Star Trek was more influential on our Culture than any event with the exception of the Beatles arrival in NY weeks after JFK’s assassination and Elvis swiveling onto our TV screens a decade earlier!
Star Trek can be credited or blamed for our helping create our present Digital & Media culture. The Digital Age really began in the late 60’s and many of the engineers & software programmers who created it were the most avid Trekkers. Men & women who were inspired by Star Trek and its then future technology which include personal communicators and a computer terminal at anyones command. (Of course it was a giant mainframe , personal computers were too way out in 1966)
While many of Gene Roddenberrys ideas seem to come from the tail end of the New Deal. The basic optimism and quest for the wild stretches of space is quintessentially American in its ideal. Sure Deep Space Nine & Next Generation would explore a more nuanced & pessimistic view of Star Fleet & the Federation in the 80′ & 90’s. They were a product of their times as surely as TOS was a child of the late 60’s with the great Dichotomy of America and its successful race to the moon amidst the great failure (and disillusionment ) of Vietnam.
All of this is on my mind as I ponder getting older as a Gay man in the early 21st century. This is the first 40th Anniversary of ANYTHING that I can actually recall. I was 4 years & 4 mos old when ST:TOS premiered on Sept 8 1966. We were living in Charleston S.C. when Dad (a Navy man) said I could stay up late for once to watch this new show if I promised to keep quite for a whole hour.
Of course, that is really a lot to ask of a child at four but a least I made it too a commercial break without jabbering. How much could I really digest of a show like this, but I remember being excited by the ship & Mr. Spock and being frightened by the Salt Monster. Indeed my Mom decided after this one episode that the show was too mature for a kid my age, She later admitted the Salt Monster freaked her out! The “Salt Monster” by the way was named Nancy 😉
I would not see another Star Trek until it hit syndication Sept 1970 and I was 8. I surprised my parents by perfectly recalling this episode to them at every commercial break. I was informed by therapist years later that many military kids have good early childhood memories because they moved around so much as kids. So this is why I feel old recalling this anniversary.
So why do I also feel young? Because I have spent the last few days with a new friend who I feel is a very special man. Fun, intelligent, exciting on a more adult level than most of the guys I ever pick or run around with. It makes you feel young when you build a new friendship and a great new personal relationship. It may be long distance but I feel my New friend will be a Life Long friend. And yes I found him on My Space! 😉 Who says you cant meet great people on the Net! DeWayne in SD ..