Star Trek and Allegory.
In February 1964, Gene Roddenberry’s television show The Lieutenant produced an episode dealing with racism in the US military. The episode proved so controversial that NBC refused to pay for it, let alone broadcast it. A month later, Roddenberry pitched Star Trek, a science-fiction format that would allow him to address such incendiary issues indirectly, by telling stories set in the future as allegories of contemporary concerns. Although occasionally ham-fisted, Star Trek’s early allegories trod provocative new ground, and, half a century later, the allegorical mode is still a key part of Trek’s storytelling.
In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Zachary Fruhling of Meta Treks and To The Journey to discuss the relationship between Star Trek and allegory, considering both Star Trek as allegory and instances of allegorical narrative within individual episodes. From Aesop’s Fables to medieval romance—and beyond—we trace a line of allegorical writing that leads all the way to the twenty-fourth century.
Morals, Meanings, and Messages (00:06:15)
Loose Canons (00:17:13)
An Allegorical Taxonomy (00:35:55)
Fables and Fools (00:42:07)
Tony Black (Editor) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)
Cinematic Influences on Star Trek: First Contact. We discuss the influence of Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron on Jonathan Frakes and how their films inspired his big-screen directorial debut.
Gay Representation in Star Trek. We look at the franchise's fraught engagement with LGBT issues, from The Next Generation to Discovery.
Star Trek's Impossible Choices. We consider the influence of Sophie's Choice on Star Trek's storytelling and the dilemmas Starfleet captains are forced to face that the rest of us might consider impossible.
Voyager, History, and Nostalgia. We explore the show’s obsession with the past, debates around historical truth, the pleasures of nostalgia, and whether the homeward mission was inherently retrogressive.
A Christmas Carol and Tapestry. In this special holiday episode, we look at the influence of Dickens’s classic story on of the most popular episodes of TNG and the role Christmas plays in the secular societies we see in Star Trek.
Star Trek and Human Rights. To mark International Human Rights Day, we consider how Star Trek has engaged with real-world debates about human and animal rights, the impact of war on our most dearly held principles, and the Federation’s role in policing the future.
Director’s Cuts and Star Trek. At this live roundtable recorded at Prince Charles Cinema in London, we discuss how a director’s cut impacts the fan relationship with a film before we watch the UK premiere of the director’s extended edition of The Wrath of Khan.
Time Loops in Star Trek. We consider the role of time loops, both within the Star Trek universe and beyond, and explore the darker issues at play when the loops begin to unravel.
The X-Files and Star Trek. In a Halloween special, we explore connections between these two long-running sci-fi franchises.
The Federation’s Field of Dreams. We discuss baseball in Star Trek and why it’s such a good fit for storytelling in Gene Roddenberry’s universe.