Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

The meaning of Star Trek and life...

05/17/2013 6:05 PM

05/17/2013 6:05 PM

Today I posted a blog item about Star Trek.

My gosh, there are a lot of Trekkies out there, and I offended every single one of them. It wasn't my intention, exactly. What I meant was that our society gets fixated on a television program (unreality), and kind of ignores NASA and its earlier efforts (reality).

SInce I deal in the unreal world myself (cartoons), versus the real world (public policy), I also understand it when politicians are upset when I bend reality around a bit to make a satirical point. It's what I do, I own it, and, sometimes I guess I feel a little guilty about complaining about something in a cartoon when I really should just drop everything and go run for the Legislature. Wait. No. I don't have a million dollars. But if I did, maybe I would, just to see what would happen. 

I recognize that Star Trek was indeed a fine television program, and, compared to a lot of the other 1960s television programs ("My Mother The Car" comes immediately to mind, and the premise is self-explanatory), it was influential. In taking on Star Trek, I might as well have thrown in my utter boredom with The Lord of the Rings, another little cult I haven't joined yet, either.

Yes. I said cult (letters should be addressed to Jack Ohman, The Sacramento Bee, 2100 Q Street, Sacramento, CA 95818).

My lamentation is that there is yet another generation of people being exposed to Star Trek, and the sequels stretching out into The Final Frontier, and that same generation of Americans has absolutely no conception of who John Glenn is, let alone anyone else from that generation. I mentioned Stan Lebar, the director of the Apollo Lunar Camera program, and to me, that's a real person who did a real space thing, and where are the accolades for him? Certainly there were moments in the sun for these folks, but not over 50 years. 

I would cite Apollo 11 as an excellent example. People my age, mostly, have a pretty strong appreciation for the moon landing, but when you have Star Wars, Star Trek and other space movies with better special effects than Apollo 11 capturing the imagination of a generation of Americans, then America, we have a problem.

The film Apollo 13 brought some true heroes back into the national consciousness briefly, but I think if I went up to 10 people on the street, I suspect they could not name the crew of Apollo 13. I would also wager they could name four or more members of the Star Trek crew. 

So, yes, Star Trek was awesome, and it was a truly innovative and interesting TV show, particularly when the actors were able to breathe without helmets on every planet they landed on.

"Hey, Bones, do you smell ammonia in the atmosphere?"

"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a bomb-sniffing dog."

So, dammit, Trekkies, I'm a cartoonist, not an astronaut.

I have to go now. My people need me on the Planet Unreality.



About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.


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