Star Trek and Allegory.
In February 1964, Gene Roddenberry’s television show The Lieutenant produced an episode dealing with racism in the US military. The episode proved so controversial that NBC refused to pay for it, let alone broadcast it. A month later, Roddenberry pitched Star Trek, a science-fiction format that would allow him to address such incendiary issues indirectly, by telling stories set in the future as allegories of contemporary concerns. Although occasionally ham-fisted, Star Trek’s early allegories trod provocative new ground, and, half a century later, the allegorical mode is still a key part of Trek’s storytelling.
In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Zachary Fruhling of Meta Treks and To The Journey to discuss the relationship between Star Trek and allegory, considering both Star Trek as allegory and instances of allegorical narrative within individual episodes. From Aesop’s Fables to medieval romance—and beyond—we trace a line of allegorical writing that leads all the way to the twenty-fourth century.
Morals, Meanings, and Messages (00:06:15)
Loose Canons (00:17:13)
An Allegorical Taxonomy (00:35:55)
Fables and Fools (00:42:07)
Tony Black (Editor) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)
2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. We look at the ties that bind these two mystical, complex, and sometimes problematic films, as well as how 2001 influenced Trek’s reinvention for cinema.
Hawkeye Pierce, Milo Minderbinder, and Nog. We look at how a pair of MASH episodes and the novel Catch-22 inspired the writers of Deep Space Nine.
John Carpenter’s Christine and Voyager’s “Alice.” We look at the 1983 cult classic movie and the Stephen King novel that inspired it, alongside the sixth-season Voyager episode that borrows its central premise.
Untimely Ends for Star Trek’s Redshirts. We look at how the deaths of junior crewmen have been handled throughout the franchise’s history, with reference to John Scalzi’s novel Redshirts.
Star Trek Beyond in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Trek.fm hosts past and present gather for a roundtable discussion recorded during a live London performance of the third Kelvin Timeline film.
The Holodeck and Video Games. We look at gaming culture in Star Trek and what the fantasy lives of our favorite characters—played out in those magical rooms—tell us about them as people.
Pandemics in Star Trek. We look at disease outbreaks on Federation worlds and beyond in relation to real-world plagues and pandemics, such as the Black Death to HIV.
Religion in Star Trek. We consider how the franchise’s presentation of faith and religious practice has changed over the course of half a century, and how our own beliefs have impacted our viewing.
Schooling in Star Trek. For Starfleet officers whose families have joined them in space, providing a well-rounded education can be a challenge. We take a look at how education is handled in Gene Roddenberry’s future.
Star Trek’s Fathers: the good, the bad, and the absent. We look at daddy issues throughout the franchise’s fifty-plus-year history.