Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent):
More than 40 years after it was first broadcast, on September 8th, 1966, Star Trek is still going strong. The original TV series, starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk, ran until 1969, but it has been followed by six other series and 10 feature films, with an eleventh due for release in late 2008.
Even more remarkable is the devotion of Star Trek fans around the world who gather for special Star Trek conventions. The most important takes place in Las Vegas every August, but the gambling resort’s resident Star Trek fans meet every month at Quark’s Bar and Restaurant. This is inside “Star Trek, The Experience” at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Star Trek fans have adopted the military command structure of the starship USS Enterprise. The Las Vegas group, which calls itself “USS Las Vegas,” is a “chapter of the International Federation of Trekkers” and its “Executive Officer” is “Captain” Mike Cornwell. When Speak Up met with him in Las Vegas, we asked him to explain Star Trek’s enduring appeal:
Mike Cornwell (Standard American/southern accent):
Well, I think that Star Trek is very popular because it points to a future that we all aspire to. We would like to think that, as a species, as a world, that we’ll get past all these petty grievances that we have with each other, that we’ll better ourselves, that we will get past the problems with nuclear weapons, that we will learn to get along, that we will tolerate each other more fully, accept each other, and that we have a bright future. You know, lots of science fiction points to this dismal future, where, you know, there’s been this horrible holocaust and most of the people have died and things like that.
Star Trek points to a future where we learn to get along, and we’ve, you know, advanced technologically, we’ve also bettered ourselves as a race. I mean, Star Trek, the way it’s portrayed, is one possible future for us. I mean, they stuck to technology and, the way things could unfold, who’s to say that 300 and 400 years from now that we’re not living just like they do in... on The Next Generation or on the other shows.
A SUBTLE DISTINCTION
Star Trek fans are often ridiculed as “Trekkies,” but Mike Cornwell was eager to point out that he and his fellow crew members are in fact “Trekkers”:
There’s kind of two terms: there’s Trekkies and there’s Trekkers. The way I always define the difference is that a trekkie is kind of over... maybe not over the top, but they are really, really into Star Trek, it could be the most important thing in their life.
They may have all of the walls in their house covered in Star Trek posters, they may spend all of their money going to the conventions and buying everything they possibly can and they’re really into the... kind of the merchandising and the collecting and all that. To me, a Trekker is more someone that likes the ideologies put forth by Star Trek and by Gene Roddenberry (the show’s inventor – ed), that looks to the future, to the bright future that was painted and that uses the things that you learn from Star Trek in your everyday life to make yourself a better person and make yourself more successful, so... but that line is blurring quite a bit. Trekkies and Trekkers? There used to be more of a distinction, I think it’s blending some now, I don’t think it’s quite as much a distinction as it used to be.