And since we’re talking about Star Wars “The Space Show”, a US radio broadcast that deals with topic related to the space industry or space exploration and research, broke from its normally schedule to discuss “the politics of star trek” with Timothy Sandefur. It was quite an interesting discussion, which is worth listening too.
In the show they discuss how Gene Roddenberry and the production staff were mostly veterans of WW2 and of course writing with the back drop of the cold war and how these factors influenced the development of the Star Trek. The Federation is clearly modelled on some sort of alliance of democracies, a kind of hybrid of the EU and NATO that held at bay the Soviets. Of course in Star Trek the Klingons (based on Japanese warrior culture) were the main enemy.
In the second hour however, with the new star wars film on the horizon, they turned to the differences between Star Wars and Star Trek. Apparently one of the maxim’s of Gene Roddenberry was that everything had to be founded in science. He was willing to give the writers some leeway when it came to what was and wasn’t scientifically possible, particularly given possible future advances or technology available to a much more advanced species. But otherwise he would veto any script that seem to rely on a supernatural explanation. In other words, no space wizards and “using the force” like in Star Wars.
Of course there are many who would still classify Star Trek as not really true science fiction (as the science of Star Trek is a bit thin), but its certainly a word of a difference from Star Wars which is basically Arthurian legends in space. But one of the other differences was the politics. Star Trek had much firmer ideas about what and how a future society might work, which one can agree or disagree with (some libertarians seem to think the federation is communist) whereas Star war lacks this.
Star Wars goes for the usual “bad” or “good” formula. Its fairly authoritarian, with only a handful of all the core characters making all the decisions (and that’s only the good guys!), includes lots of racial stereotypes….and it tolerates slavery. Think about it, the droids in Star Wars are capable of rational thought, they have feelings (we see one being tortured in Jabba’s palace) and yet they have no rights whatsoever and can be bought and sold like washing machines. Ultimately, star wars is authoritarian and racist!…..Although its not as racist as some other Disney movies.