[PLUG-TALK] Star Trek 2009 - age and second thoughts

Keith Lofstrom keithl at kl-ic.com
Thu May 14 13:30:30 PDT 2009

The following is way off topic, but I thought it would be of
interest to the older folk among us, or the ones that expect
to reach that age someday.  It is a reaction to Roger Ebert's
review of the new Star Trek movie.

Mr. Ebert:

My first impressions of ST2009 (Star Trek 2009) were like yours -
who was the fool who cast kids to play these parts?  Much of the 
rest of my irritation with the movie stemmed from that.

I was 13 years old when the original Star Trek appeared in 1966.
You were 24.  The actors were mostly in their 30's, and they
played their parts as older, seasoned officers.  To me, and
perhaps to you, these were "grown ups".   They have always been
my seniors and yours.

And then I rethought my reaction.

Now we are 43 years older, and we are seeing the characters 
fresh out of the academy.  Indeed they look like infants; we are
old enough to be their grandparents.  But these actors average 
only 5 years younger than the original cast.  They are actually
"older than their roles" in this movie, unlike the original cast,
which was younger.   The producers of this film may have skewed
the casting to be less upsetting to us old codgers.  They did
not succeed, but that is because of our own mental rigidity.  

I've been watching the original series on DVD.  As important as
these stories seemed when I was a teenager, they look hackneyed
now.  I'm a nerd.  Spock used to be my hero - now he is just a
conflicted human being pretending to be something he is not. 
The situations and the engineering were as fake as the styrofoam
boulders.  I find myself shouting at the screen when there is 
too much smug 60's-ism.  Same material, wiser observer.

I was upset by the ST2009 romance between Uhura and Spock - that
isn't the behavior of the decade-older Spock I revered - but
imagine the story possibilities.  ST2011 will perhaps show the
drama of these two characters maturing into the professional,
emotionally distant characters (and Uhura usually *was* distant)
shown in the TV show.  Imagine the water under *that* bridge!

I've never been in the military, but I know many young people who
are, and the behavior and reactions of "the kids" in this movie is
like the young people that pilot our aircraft and operate our fleet
now.  The great problem of the modern military is how to train
teenagers to operate billion dollar pieces of lethal hardware.  
Our aircraft carriers are operated and maintained by recent high
school graduates.  In battle, real ships are managed chaos with
situations changing second by second.  ST2009 portrayed that quite
accurately, unlike Scotty rewiring circuit boards in the "15 minutes
until the antimatter explodes" crises of Star Trek original.  

So perhaps the problems you and I see in Star Trek 2009 are actually 
unresolved conflicts in ourselves.  As we watch younger people move
into the roles we used to have, as we struggle to maintain our 
relevance in a world that is changing daily, and as we forget our
own youthful callowness, we must choose between engagement or
nostalgia.  The seniors I revered, and hope to emulate, put up
with my own callowness, and were passionately engaged in the new
world we were entering together.  I fervently hope that I will
be as accomodating and forward looking in another 20 years.


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com         Voice (503)-520-1993
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon"
Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Scan ICs

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