The Privatization of Star Trek

When I first heard that CBS was going to make a new Trek tv show, I was thrilled. I’m a huge Trekkie. Janeway is my personal hero, Picard the man I most admire, and Spock a soulmate. I followed all the casting announcements like crazy. I admire all the showrunners and writers and actors involved.

Then I heard that CBS was going to air it solely on their online streaming service. I was puzzled at first, because that would limit the number of fans and advertising dollars. Why would CBS do that to themselves and the show? Didn’t they want to give it the best possible chance at success? We all know that just because it’s Trek, doesn’t mean it’s always going to be a huge hit.

I didn’t think about it much because it hadn’t even aired yet. Wasn’t even close, at that point. I figured CBS would come to their senses and change their minds… only they didn’t. And the longer this sales decision sat with me, the angrier I got.

Star Trek is no longer available to the poor, or even the working poor. It won’t reach children who dream of the stars but are ground down by life and their circumstances. It won’t be a role model to women of color who can’t afford to pay to watch someone represent them in an important role on television, like Captain of a starship. It won’t give hope to LGBTQ youth (or adults for that matter) that maybe, one day in the future, they’ll be treated like everyone else instead of ostracized by their sexuality.

Am I ascribing too much to a simple television show? I really don’t think so. Star Trek’s origination came from someone who wanted to challenge the status quo and shine a light on social issues. In order to do that, everyone needed to be able to see it. Granted, streaming wasn’t an option back then, but I believe Trek was too important to Mr. Roddenberry to limit its vision like this.

“But it’s only $5.99!” people keep saying. “It’s nothing!”

You know what? $6 is toilet paper. $6 is a school lunch. $6 is a box of pasta and bag of rice to make sure you eat for a few days. Sometimes, even $1 is the difference between having a bank account that’s not accumulating overdraft fees and getting sucked into the ever-deepening hole of fees and charges, let alone $5.99. That small amount that doesn’t matter to you? It matters a lot to the poor and working-poor.

I know that Trek’s a commodity. I’m not naïve. People need to make money in order to produce television, of course they do. I have zero problem with CBS making money. But they could make just as much, probably more, by airing Discovery live instead of online. They could double their fanbase by airing it live. This grasping after ever-more dollars at the expense of what Trek stood for leaves me hollow.

This isn’t going to change anything, but I had to get it off my chest.


6 thoughts on “The Privatization of Star Trek”

  1. I’m a huge Star Trek fan, Voyager especially, and it saddedned me when it was announced that Discovery could only be watched via a paid subscription service. You’re right $6 IS a packet of toilet paper and $1 CAN be the difference between falling into debt or not. When I was watching a Star Trek Voyager episode earlier this week I noticed that it was made in 1997 – I was 16 at the time and I still love Janeway and co as much now as I did then, maybe I even more. It was my escape and still is. A chance to dream while still awake, and it’s so very sad that those who cannot afford a subscription service are missing out on something quite wonderful. It angers me.

  2. Reblogged this on alkaplan and commented:
    Nancy says it well. This pay to view decision is also why I haven’t bothered watching the pilot. There are plenty of other things to watch that aren’t going to cost me more money.

  3. You guys are making me feel guilty and ashamed. lol.. I know about the bag of rice. The pasta and the pennies we count. We struggle to keep the internet on for kids these days. What a great excuse that is eh? Gotta keep the net so the kids can do homework and connect to the school from home. We haven’t had cable TV in six years I think. I don’t buy myself clothes. I own two T-shirts. Two pairs of shorts. Three pairs of underwear. I give up all the time to my children. To the food of the house. Too many health issues. Netflix has been gone for some time. Money is TIGHT! There isn’t any left. I haven’t received/given a birthday present to my wife or her giving me one in years… Same with anniversaries.

    SO, I was angry too… WHAT? PAY CBS!? I watched the articles and news sites for over a year. All the while saddened about a pay site I couldn’t afford.

    My wife paid for a present for me. As a Trekie and more than a fan of Star Trek, I was excited and angry. I felt guilty that she spent the money on me. That could have bought pasta, or rice, or a gallon of milk! wow, milk, we haven’t been able to afford that in months. I made her feel guilty. She said it was a gift and I wasn’t supposed to question a gift.

    The boys worked hard mowing lawns, raking.. yard work. That’s where the extra money came from.

    Extra money? There is NO SUCH THING!

    What about the PASTA! THE RICE!! THE MILK… Oh, the yummy milk. The milk I leave for the boys to drink, or cooking. I haven’t had a drop of milk touch my lips in almost a year.

    I have watched seasons of star trek with my sons. Seasons obtained in good times and money. Currently, my fourteen-year-old son has watched with me, DS9, Voyager, almost all of TNG and a few episodes of TOS. A few of the animated as well. The first season of Enterprise!

    HE is hooked.

    Movies for one person cost way more than that. We haven’t taken the kids to a movie in years. My youngest is 11. He doesn’t remember what a movie theater experience is.

    More guilt. Cancer guilt. A home recluse/hermit guilt. Stuck in bed most of the time, sick person guilt.
    No camping or fishing, or hunting guilt. No bike rides or walking or beaches. the boys haven’t had a working bike in almost two years

    That money could have fixed an inner tube tire. Bikes are to0 small anyway for them now…

    EVERYONE was excited. Everyone gathered in my/our bedroom. We watched Star Trek as a family and we all fell in love with a TV show that shown ALL those things you expressed Star Trek was and represented.

    Now, I am not too thrilled about the use of the, F, word. That made me frown.

    It really is a great show though.

    CBS has every single episode of star trek ever made on its site, You get them also. As well as I LOVE LUCY and MCGYVER. all their old great shows.

    I hope as a true Trekie, you will wait till the show is all done. Then pay, for less of the cost of a movie ticket, for a one-month subscription and watch all the episodes, then cancel Binging I think they call in now.

    I don’t think you will regret it.

    I still feel guilty. But those kids, they love it. We love it together, as a family.

      1. Oh, that’s okay! No worries at all! 🙂 For some reason, I just had that pang of guilt and felt like I needed to, Defend myself in some way.

        The largest reason, most likely, is I think CBS shouldn’t be charging either. Kind of brings up a remorseful or feeling of regret. I’m not sure. I can’t really describe the emotion.

        Thank you for responding! 🙂 I actually even wrote a blog post about it myself. I think I wrote it out of guilt! lol… Not because of you, obviously. My own personal internal battles. Things hard to think about! Thank you for your opinion and your article. It is never wrong to express how you feel to anyone! 🙂

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