Amoeba’s Lorica: May the Fourth Be Not A Stardate

Once upon a time in America, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba recalls, it was considered inappropriate to make fun of, or otherwise disrespect, anyone with a lisp or other speech impediment.

Unless you were a Muppet or something.

At the most daring, you could commiserate with the sufferers, and point them in the direction of the appropriate health care. Which they might accept, having some dwindling hope of being able to afford it.

Or, they might, with some measure of security and even pride, choose to carry on regardless. Hence the annual spectacle of millions of people shamelessly demonstrating their inability to pronounce the word “force”, and turning that calamity into a litany, a prostrate worship of the media behemoth that vacuumed their wallets and purses dry while they grunted in ecstasy. A behemoth welded to the most colossal mouse turd in history.

That was then. This is now, snowflakes. It’s open season on lispers (and all other foreign languages), as it is on melanin, vaginas, logic, and all science not applied to computer toys for us (and big-data election manipulation for our masters), steroid abuse masquerading as professional sports (NCAA this means you), and coal extraction. Of course ‘speech impediments’ are on that list of pre-existing conditions that we’re excluding from national healthcare, and from private insurance too as soon as we can manage it. You were born to be a scapegoat, and we’re going to make sure you stay a scapegoat, for as long as we, your rich white male betters, choose to tolerate you and make what use we can of you. Deal with it, wuss.

… what was that? You’re trademarking “May the Fourth Be With You”? So this is a financial opportunity? That’s different. Send us a copy of your prospectus, and let us know when you’re scheduling your IPO. If we like what we see, we may invest.

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If you’re coming in late to all this, dear readers, you aren’t alone; YFNA had himself forgotten about the phenomenon until it infiltrated his Facebook feed like nanites and whacked him back to consciousness of the entertainment topics that constitute the entirety of what really matters to people. “The phenomenon”, as you may know, is the ongoing Star Wars media franchise and profit machine, complete with its catchphrase “May the Force Be With You”. May 4th each year is Star Wars Day, an unofficial holiday (“May the Fourth …”).

To YFNA’s knowledge, no Star Wars fan has yet suggested use of the Death Star (in any of its incarnations) to sink the mayo, thereby making more room for the [ahem] Fourth. This would seem to The Amoeba to constitute an excessive use of Fourth. Not that such matters matter anymore to the American Imperial Dignity. However, since the calendar this year (2017) did not pass directly from the 4th to the 6th of May, nor did the 4th extend over more than its usual 24 hours, it seems a moot question. For now.

Speaking of franchises. There are two stars in the space opera firmament. Yes, there are, and since they both have “Star” in their names, the aforementioned Star Wars and its competitor, Star Trek, a little confusion among those not already fans is perhaps to be expected. So what’s the diff? Let’s find out, yeah?

* Star Trek started in 1966, on TV.
* Star Wars started in 1977 (more than ten years after Star Trek), in theaters.

* Star Trek features humans, their planet Earth, and their Milky Way galaxy, two to four centuries in Earth’s future.
* Star Wars is set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”. The similarity of its (NB) dominant species with Homo sapiens on Earth is [ahem] a happy coincidence.

* The protagonists in Star Trek represent a galactic federal republic (United Federation of Planets), which is prosperous, stable, and peaceable.
* The protagonists in Star Wars represent a fragmented opposition to a Galactic Empire – an opposition which is economically marginal, unstable, and constantly at war.

* The principal themes of Star Trek are peaceful exploration and conflict resolution.
* The principal themes of Star Wars are violent conquest, and violent resistance to conquest.

* Religion is peripheral to Star Trek, used, when it occurs, to highlight the acceptance of political and social diversity within the Federation, and the absence of such acceptance among the antagonists which the Federation routinely defeats and/or assimilates.
* Religion is central to Star Wars, and Force-s its conflicts.

In fine, Star Trek is a utopia, one that strives to find the best in all of our galaxy’s myriad sentient lifeforms, and the society in the name of which they labor. Star Wars is a dystopia, in which even its best are focused on personal power, and periodically – and disastrously – succumb to its temptations.

A sensible populace would prefer the utopia, would it not? A stable hope for itself based on the achievement of a cherished balance between logic and feelings, rather than a ‘new’ and fleeting hope based on solo [heh] heroes at constant risk of losing control of their gifts and betraying the cause? Right?

It’s not as if the Star Trek franchise hasn’t provided the populace plenty of opportunities to express a preference for it. The video runtime of all Star Trek products to date is a colossal 513 hours. That’s nearly three full weeks worth of non-stop viewing. And counting. The gross earnings from all that runtime? A tidy US$10 billion for Paramount Studios as of 2016.

The video runtime of all Star Wars products to date is a comparatively paltry 18 hours. You can watch the whole catalogue on a Saturday, including trailers for the new stuff that’s coming out, and still show up to work on Monday morning more or less functional. How much has that earned for Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney? $42 billion! As of 2015.

The “Original Series” of Star Trek attracted a Who’s Who of Science Fiction to write scripts for them. To little avail; the show lasted just three years (1966-1969) on NBC, teetering on the brink of cancellation the whole time due to miserably low numbers of viewers. An animated version (1973-74) fared little better.

When the first Star Wars movie was released, the lines to get into the theaters showing it brought entire cities to a standstill – and this went on for months. (Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba was in Seattle as this was happening, and no he didn’t, he couldn’t spare the time to wait in those lines, or the money for the privilege of spending that time.) Star Trek didn’t begin to catch on until after Star Wars busted down the gates of popular attention – and Gene Roddenberry’s creation never has caught up with George Lucas’s upstart.

Which means … We the People of the American Republic consider Star Trek and its pointy-eared Vulcan utopian logic as quaint as the computer keyboard which Scotty, transported from a 23rd century stardate back to a common-era date in the 20th, had to deal with. Nay, give us the twisted space knight with the three-ball voice, leading hordes of white troops to victory against those scruffy, squabbly little liberal freaks. And we’ll just wipe out any North Korea planet they think they can hide out on. We’ll sink their mayo for them!

And when we’re done with that, We the People can go back to fantasizing about our exalted positions in the hereditary aristocracies of Middle-Earth.

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