Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dose Of Reality

You know what was maybe my favorite movie of the entire summer? Star Trek. Yeah, I said it. And I'll say it again. I think Star Trek might have been might favorite movie of the entire summer. There were some other entertaining ones, but this is the only one that I left the theater thinking that I wouldn't mind paying another full priced admission to see it again in the theater, or that I'd even like to buy it when it comes out on DVD.

At the time that the idea behind it was dreamt up, mankind had already explored the whole world over. With nowhere else to go, Gene Roddenberry took exploration to space and created a universe of characters and stories that revolved around what those journeys might be like. What really drives the franchise along are the characters that he fabricated.

I can't even really remember what the TV show was like, or what they were like in the movies, but this adaptation with the new Captain Kirk, Spock, and everyone else is just wonderful. Kirk is both courageous and a bit reckless, while Spock provides the perfect foil of being both logical and measured in his actions. Beyond that they have a friendship that is really worth hearing about. The franchise has been rebooted, and they really couldn't have done a better job.

(This is a time period that will be funny to look back on for this reason alone: everyone will look back at the last part of the decade and will ask, "remember when Hollywood decided to reboot every major franchise that ever existed, and they actually did a really good job with it?" James Bond, Batman, among others.)

Several years ago, Orson Scott Card visited BYU's campus and talked about the importance of fiction. I've made this point a number of times on this blog, but many people would rather just write off fiction as just being fiction, that it's only made up and has no real bearing on reality or our everyday lives. Card made the point that what is made up in fiction is often repeated soon thereafter in reality. In a sense, it becomes a breeding ground for ideas and what remains possible. There is no such thing as just a movie/book/TV show/story/etc. Everything has a purpose and will have some kind of impact, one way or another.

Although Star Trek is only science fiction, it remains, nonetheless, a reflection of true ideas and beliefs about the world as we know it. In fiction we find what it is that we really value, even if the stories and characters are entirely manufactured. We see in Star Trek a glimpse into the excitement of space exploration that existed during the 1960s when it was a major focus of this country's ambition. In the characters, we get a sense for the kind of traits and characters that we value in real life; through the pairing of Kirk and Spock we see the value of passion coupled with reason; in exploring the outer limits of our imagination we gain an appreciation for the curiosity that mankind has in the world and universe outside ourselves.

While talking about this topic with a friend tonight, she playfully chided herself for not reading books that supposedly have more meaning, autobiographies of important people and the like, but who's to say that these fictional portrayals don't have the same kind of real impact and inspiration that real life accounts do? Many real life lawyers point to Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird (or as Dave likes to say it, Tequila Mockingbird) as their inspiration for the type of lawyer that they want to become. I'm sure that there is a whole generation of kids out there that want to be brave in the face of danger and loyal to their friends because that is what they learn from reading Harry Potter. Unfortunately on the flip side, there are probably many teens and women that I'm sure develop their sense of romance from what they have read in the Twilight series.

Just because it is fiction does not mean that the impact that it has on your life is not entirely real. As a child, I loved Peter from The Chronicles of Narnia books. I loved that he was the leader, and that he was always on the lookout for his younger siblings. I loved Aslan because of his selfless sacrifice in behalf of the kids. I loved Encyclopedia Brown because he saw everything, could always figure out exactly what was going on, and was always one step ahead of everyone else. When I read T.S. Eliot sometimes I think I am that nervous, perpetually self-conscious person that he so perfectly captures. The power behind fiction is how it can affect us on a deeply personal level.

Not that this movie is particularly deep. It's a sometimes witty, but mostly action-packed ride that entertains from beginning to end. Nevertheless, it does have some aspects to it that are no less real than you sitting there reading this on your computer screen right this minute.

1 comment:

kent said...

interesting post. i usually pass on a lot of fiction books, but not all. some are such great reads you can pass on them. just like you cant pass on star trek. i was never a fan of the series or the other movies. i never watched them. but the movie this summer was just awesome. i haven't seen a ton of great movies this summer, but star trek is one of the top movies for sure. right up there with 'up.' another fiction story with another character that i think everyone connected with.