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)
Star Trek’s Fathers: the good, the bad, and the absent. We look at daddy issues throughout the franchise’s fifty-plus-year history.
Hitler’s British Isles and the Dominion takeover of Deep Space 9. We consider the parallels between the opening arc of DS9’s sixth season and the occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II.
Starfleet and the US Space Agency. We look at the developing relationship between real-world exploration and the famous science fiction franchise.
Shrinking Sci-Fi and DS9’s “One Little Ship.” We look at some examples of shrinking in Star Trek, comparing the franchise’s tiny people to those in science fiction cinema, such as The Incredible Shrinking Man and Fantastic Voyage.
Federation Politics in Star Trek. We’re joined by Keith DeCandido, author of Articles of the Federation, for a look at Star Trek’s political structures, the Federation Council, and its three on-screen presidents.
Star Trek and Fan Fiction. We consider Star Trek's role in the cultural phenomenon of fanfic, charting its development from the 'slash' stories of the 1970s through to the vast online archives of the twenty-first century.
Anne Frank and Counterpoint. We look at the influence of The Diary of Anne Frank on Star Trek’s screenwriters, considering how science fiction handles fascist and authoritarian regimes and the role played by ordinary people in resisting oppression.
Michael Piller, Joseph Conrad, and Star Trek: Insurrection. We look at some of the inspirations behind the script of the third TNG film, including Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and discuss Piller’s book Fade In.
The British Isles in Star Trek. We discuss the portrayal of our homelands over a few synthales at the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and examine real-world independence movements and the effects of transporters on national identity.
Cinematic Influences on Star Trek: First Contact. We discuss the influence of Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron on Jonathan Frakes and how their films inspired his big-screen directorial debut.