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Hollywood should learn from Star Trek

I don’t know what came first, my love of writing or my love of television, movies and all things pop culture.  Since I remember watching Romper Room and the Electric Company before I even learned to spell, it was probably the love of pop culture.  As a lover of pop culture, I like to feel connected to the movie I’m watching, the song I’m listening to or the book I’m reading.  If there is no emotional connection, why waste the time.

I must confess that I am a Trekkie.  Not the convention-going, Klingon quoting, Kirk-worshiping kind, but the casual I’ve watched all the series at some point or another, and seen all the movies kind.  To put myself  in the proper time-space continuum, I was too young to watch classic Trek when it first aired, but I caught it during reruns in the seventies.   The beauty of classic Trek was that it lived up to it’s motto ” to boldly go where no one has gone before.”  It explored political issues and race relations in a thoughtful non-preachy way.  Long known for it’s multi-ethnic crew and interspecies relationships, Trek promoted that “we are all different, but the same” idea.  And that diversity was and is beautiful.

So after forty years, you would think that the powers that be in Hollywood would get the picture and stop catering to the all mighty 18-34 demographic and believing the only movies with an all white cast (a will smith flick being the exception) will make money.   If I read one more time that the studios were surprised that  films like “Taken” and “Grand Torino” (gasp- the heroes are not just over forty, but over fifty!), Mama Mia  and Sex and the City (double gasp – the leads are over forty AND women) and don’t faint now – Tyler Perry made another successful film (triple gasp – it starred mostly black people).  Television has it’s surprises too.  Look at “Grey’s Anatomy” that has a muti-racial cast and the show is not about race relations.  What is also surprising is that as much as tv likes to copy itself, there has yet to be another drama since “Grey’s” to launch a multi-racial cast.

Monday I went to theater to see Star Trek.  Not one person in the theater looked younger than thirty.  There was even a group of (get your heart medication ready) seniors who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the movie.  You may be thinking that I’m contradicting myself by pointing to a movie featuring a group of attractive young actors as the leads, but I’m not.  It’s a story that cuts across generations.  Even with its familiar characters, the predicted demographic for that movie (according to the anonymous movie analysts) would be again young white males – but the audience I saw was anything but.  It was diverse.

As liberal as Hollywood pretends to be, the product coming out doesn’t often reflect that.  People of  all races can be beautiful, sexy, heroic, smart and courageous.  People over thirty-five or over fifty for that matter are interesting.  Usually more interesting, because they’ve been taught by the greatest teacher – Life.

We all have imaginations and like to go to new worlds created by Hollywood scribes.  My point is simply, we also like to see a semblance of ourselves because it makes it easier to get in on the action on the screen when the hero looks like you or at least shares some of you traits.   So memo to Hollywood more Star Trek ideals and less Logan’s Run.   More “Grey’s” and less “Friends.” ( a show set in New York City that had one person of color featured in its entire run) And if all that doesn’t persuade you, always remember that people over thirty-five and minorities have jobs and careers too – we will spend the money if you make what we want to see.

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One comment on “Hollywood should learn from Star Trek

  1. Dear Bailey:

    You are so right in your assessment of Hollywood. The only movie that I would add is Slum Dog Millionaire — about people in another country other than the USA. Hopefully the changing demographics of our elected officials and our top government officials will impact pop culture and Hollywood as well.

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