In 1988 I discovered something that would change "my destiny," if you would not mind me being a bit dramatic. I did graduate from college as a theater major after all. I found Star Trek: The Next Generation. From that moment onward, my imagination never touched down on Earth again.
1988 was a difficult year for me. We had just moved to a new city. To say I felt overwhelmed at this new home was an understatement. We had moved from a small town of only 202 to a population of 70,000. While I had visited big cities before, going to school in one was rather frightening. I was quite shy and unsure. I did not make friends easily. But each week, I was able to transport myself to a new world and boldly go where I had never imagined I could have before.
I developed much of my writing skills from writing my own episodes of Star Trek. I joined a Star Trek writing club which was pen-pal based. I never met in person the girl who created the club, I just remembering picking up something about it at a Star Trek convention. Yet I became friends with this "crew" on a whole new starship that I was a part of. We would write stories, develop characters, etc. It continues to be one of my favorite memories. I loved sitting at the computer and letting my thoughts form adventures (this was the 1990s now, and yes, we had computers back then). Every couple months, we would get a newsletter. In it would be the start to a story. You could finish the rest. It was one of my favorite activities! I joined this writing club at the height of DS9. As such, our spaceship flew through the wormhole to explore space. Eventually, after a distiguished career and years of service, I was given my own ship!!! WOW! I had my own crew to lead. It was immensely exciting for me. I relished creating a newsletter and meeting, through writing, new people from across the United States. I was in this writing club in late junior high through high school. But once I was college bound, it became too hard to continue. By that time, pen pals were beginning to become a thing of the past. Email was the new thing. Membership dwindled, and eventually, our ships were "decommissed." I am grateful to have found one of my old writing friends on facebook. Eventually, I hope to find more. They helped shape me into the woman I am to day: hopeful, imaginative, artsy, and full of wonder at the possibilities.
Recently, I have discovered Netflix. Through it, I have begun catching up on ST: Enterprise and Voyager. I enjoyed these series very much. With Voyager, I was in college and was very busy with my theater and dance pursuits. It eventually fell by the wayside. With Enterprise, I was a new mother. I remember my last convention when I was early in my pregnancy with my son. It was a good day for me. I avoided throwing up that day (as I was sick throughout my first pregnancy and could never really keep 3 meals a day down). I also got to meet Conner Trinner who played Trip and Linda Park who played Hoshie. But lets just say Trinner was the one I was most excited for (*girlie sigh*). About 7 months later, I held a baby boy in my arms. Enterprise became a thing of the past. As much as I enjoyed it, my son was the center of my world.
So now I am rediscovering the last two Star Trek series again. But I have noticed a few things that I remember bothering me in the past. Namely, the way the women are dressed. Yikes! I remember being disgusted with the way T'Pol was always directed to take her shirt off and she never seemed to have a bra on. The saving grace of this character was the brilliant performance of Jolene Blalock. (I apologize for any mis-spellings by the way, they are my own) I found her Vulcan performance captivating. She could give her character more depth in a flash of her eyes as she held those emotions at bay than most other actors attempting the role of a Vulcan. For instance, Gary Graham was just not cast right as a Vulcan. I could see him as more of an Andorian versus a calm and controlled Vulcan. His character always seemed to be boiling under the collar.
Voyager also suffered from some wardrobe sexism. 7-of-9 was again saved by the performance of its perfectly cast actress: Jeri Ryan. That is one thing about Trek. If you're going to have a character cast mostly for the shape of her body, at least they have had the saving grace to always have managed to find a good one for the lead roles. 7-of-9 quickly managed to become one of my favorite characters from the show.
Either way, these were strong women on weekly TV. I thrived on it! I remember how much Princess Leia influenced me as a young girl. There she was, a product of the 70s/80s, yet she was a woman who was firing blasters like the boys, sassing them, and able to hold her own and not wait around in that common "damsel" role all the action/sci fi seemed to have back then. I always loved that entertainment, and I was captivated at Leia. That was who I wanted to be when I grew up. I also wanted to have a dance party with Ewoks, but that's another entry blog, I'm sure. Watching Star Trek, again... strong women who were making a difference, exploring space, being pivitol in missions, and overall kicking ass. Voyagar came out with a female captain! I had the pleasure of actually meeting and getting Jane Mulgrew's autograph at a convention. I was SO nervous too! I had drawn her a picture of her as Janeway with Voyager in the backgound... and I was so excited to be in her presence. YES, she was an actress. But she was embodying a role I would have loved to grow up to be! She was a woman who was feminine and strong and a leader. Who wouldn't want to grow up to be that kind of woman? Even if it was just a passing glance, a thank you, and an autograph, it was still very exciting to me to meet her.
I will put it out there now that I am not a Classic Trek girl. I have enjoyed their movies, I have seen their episodes, but I grew up with TNG. Just want to make that clear. It is the foundation for this amazing franchise, and I respect it and its original actors greatly. But it did not influence me as much as the spin offs have. So I find there is not much to say about this series.
Of course, now we get to the new movies. I recently read a review of Into Darkness which begged the question: Where are all the women? Saddened that I myself missed this fact (see my review, I otherwise truly enjoyed the film), I was more saddened by the truth of this. It seems that we've gone into the future to find Starfleet commanded by men alone. What happened? Perhaps its the uniforms. Abrams has kept the original uniform styles in tact. Did he not want to flaunt too many women around for fear of it being offensive? Probably not as there was the worthless scene of one of the two women in the film stripping in front of Kirk. But with these two films, I have found myself mesmerized by Zoe Saldana! While the "new" Uhura has the same base, Miss Saldana has managed to build up a new strong character whom I thoroughly enjoy. I think I'm seeing a trend of being easily distracted by strong women and very attractive guys in very manly roles (again *girlie sigh*)...
Any who... I hope in the future, Trek continues to grow. I hope that more women make an appearance in the next Star Trek film (because I expect one, thank you very much). And I hope that other young kids going through difficult changes in their lives and who are unsure of which direction is the one they should be traveling... I hope they can also find something in a simple TV show. A TV show which launched the imagination of a multitude of kids and adults. A show which allowed us to explore the vast unknown. A show that gave us a future to be excited for and succeed for. I hope that Star Trek continues to boldly go. I will be watching... and waiting.
Just released December 2016: "The Forgotten" volume 2 "Heir of the Heretic"
Reviewed and awarded the
2016 Indie Editor's Choice
by the Historical Novel Society.
Long listed for the Historical Novel Society 2017 Indie Award.
Goodreads profile at: https://www.goodreads.com/JElse
Oh how this makes me laugh!
Just so funny!!! Grumpy Old Angels?