Wired interviews Scott Colthorp, producer of a new documentary in which Eugene Roddenberry delves into the enduring appeal of his father’s creation: Star Trek.
Colthorp: A great question that is thematically explored in our film. Roddenberry was unabashedly humanistic as we know from his membership in the American Humanist Association. His humanistic optimism was boldly present in the original series, a show which was birthed in the political and social upheaval of the ’60s. It makes sense that Star Trek would emerge from the milieu of this era. It reached through the screen and promised millions of viewers a future where the fear and prejudice they were seeing in the headlines would no longer rule the day. And he did it in an intelligent and entertaining manner. I think the fans will be thanking him well into the 21st century.
Wired.com: How do you think that optimism plays in our terrorized 21st century?
Colthorp: Gene Roddenberry was concerned about terrorism in the late ’80s when he created The Next Generation. He talked about it in many interviews. He and other writers explored the subject in various episodes through the years. Even with the rise of postmodernism and its moral relativity, Gene kept his optimism about humankind’s potential. But, many of the writers weren’t so keen with his grand narrative.
In fact, one of the show’s top writers felt that Gene may have taken his optimism too far, perhaps even becoming dogmatic about his position. Our documentary puts Gene’s optimistic orthodoxy under scrutiny, and poses the question: Could Gene have made his Star Trek in today’s time? In fact, many of our interviewees commented that Star Trek began to lose much of its optimistic tone after Gene’s passing in 1991.