Fandoms. Fans. Canon. Headcanon. Ship. Fanfiction. Internet!
Hello there! Hope you are all having a fantastic day today.
I recently read a really interesting article by GQ titled “This is How Star Trek Invented Fandom.”
Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I was a Star Trek fan from the day I was born. I don’t think I really had a choice. My parents love watching the Next Generation, so I grew up listening to the soothing voice of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and thinking that space exploration was all about negotiations and peacemaking. I didn’t even know that James T Kirk existed until just before these reboot movies started coming out!
2016 is Star Trek’s 50th anniversary
The original show premiered in 1966. Just three years after the premiere of one certain Time Lord made his way onto the screen.
Today, both Doctor Who and Star Trek are major science fiction franchises with spin offs and books and massive fandoms spanning generations. Both have been recently rebooted with shiny new cast members and updated CGI.
Serious Trekkies know that Star Trek was actually nearly cancelled in 1968.
The GQ article describes the event that followed well:
“They had heard the show was being cancelled in 1968, after its second season, during a visit to the studio lot. At John’s suggestion, the two launched a letter-writing campaign—all mimeographs and postal mail. It was the first ever to save a TV show, and the first time any fan community had flexed its collective muscle. NBC came on, in primetime, and made a voice-over announcement that Star Trek was not canceled, so please stop writing letters.”
Today, no one bats an eye at the hashtags fandoms use to promote or save their favorite shows. For those of us who are invested in these shows and movies and series, it’s hard to imagine a world without this colorful online and real-life community of fans. Fandom, at its best, has become a place for people who are typically marginalized to find stories that they can identify with. The GQ article continues with a short story about one of the many brilliant Star Trek actresses:
“When Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, considered leaving TOS after the first season, Martin Luther King, Jr., who watched the show with his family, urged her to stay on. (“We don’t need you to march,” she says he told her, “You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for. For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen.”)
Fandom didn’t always exist and I think it’s important to remember that the concept didn’t come about in order to argue over ships and compete on who has the better or more accurate headcanon, or who’s the “bigger, better, truer” fan. Fandom began, especially for Star Trek, with the simple desire to connect with other people who enjoyed the same thing, and to share and promote it. In a fandom, you don’t need to apologize for how much you love something. We get it. And we’re right there with you. Fandom. So live long and prosper!
P.s I’ve lost track of the number of times I wrote Stark Trek instead of Star Trek. *Insert eye rolling emoji here*