50 Years Of 'Star Trek' Fandom

With three seasons of the original series, four child series and another coming in 2017, 13 films, billion dollars merchandise, but above all millions and millions of aficionados, this is the legacy of Star Trek, the cult TV series that recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast (1966) and it still surprises with its longevity and loyalty of fans.

Just the community that has developed around this revolutionary sci-fi series is one of the most interesting aspects of this phenomenon. It is a mystery as how these fans were the first to go from simple traditional viewers to become deeply devoted members of an alternative sub-culture, aggressively going against well-defined social, political and even religious needs.

Launched during the height of the Cold War and the Space Race, Star Trek takes place in the future, which is 300 years away amidst social utopia and post-capitalist technology.

Its creator, Gene Roddenberry, describes a world in which man, managed to survive for so long, and would learn to delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures.

The universe of Star Trek is therefore a utopian refuge for the alienated and enslaved as the outsiders of this can be recognized in this improved model where there is no poverty, racism, injustice and abnormalities and see their own idiosyncrasies redeemed.

It is no coincidence that the primary cult character has always been Mr. Spock, who is able to attract those who have been marginalized by those who, perhaps, have a higher social status, social skills or physical appearance, but is also less intelligent.

As a result was born the figure of Trekkie, a little nerd, who is bizarre and is often associated with fanaticism and immaturity, but one who boasts great passion, creativity and imagination.

To this pejorative definition, however, the real fans prefer Trekker, who is a type of fan who is more aware and detached and is the one who wears the uniform only when it is appropriate.

At one time, in any case, to be a fan of Star Trek was like something to keep itself hidden, and living only within a well-defined and codified community. In the decades these figures have been gradually cleared along with those more generally of the geek and nerd, thanks to hits such as The Big Bang Theory.

The most negative remarks have been more open-ended and shared, by identifying this fandom as a series of curious people and experimenters, who are open to diversity and, above all, capable of fidelity with depth of their passions.

To a more political connotation, they have been joined over time, where even a religious one reads that the sense of the sacredness in the Star Trek consumer culture is explained by terms such as devotion and is highlighted by the fans who are not involved in the fandom as an institutionalized activity.

The mystical resonance of the series becomes for fans a kind of moral imperative to build gradually, in today’s society, the positive role model and an ideal embodied in the enterprising world. It is obvious that the fandom of Star Trek could not have been developed if not in the context of a media and industrial consumerism, fuelled by the creators of the series with a clever use of marketing and merchandising.

Yet the connotation of a sub-culture, which feeds on its own position of otherness and alienation, is one of the most interesting phenomena from a sociocultural point of view since there is a massive television viewership.

To be a Trekkie or a Trekker means to belong to a kind of civil religion, who is a real hero with his innocent dogmas and his willingness to change the world for the better.