Berman, Mulgrew, Jenkins Talk Trek on NPR

By Michelle
September 12, 2006 - 7:54 PM

Several Star Trek notables including executive producer Rick Berman and Janeway actor Kate Mulgrew spoke to National Public Radio about the significance of the franchise at 40.

Brooke Gladstone, the host of NPR's "On the Media" and a self-professed Trekkie, began the program by playing a clip of William Shatner (Kirk)'s infamous "Get a Life!" skit from Saturday Night Live, noting that even though Shatner did not write the material, "it stung" for fans like herself. She then spoke with Whitewater juror Barbara Adams, who wore her uniform to the highly public trial to draw awareness to Star Trek's emphasis on pluralism and peace.

Gladstone emphasised the importance of female fans in Star Trek's legacy, interviewing MIT professor Henry Jenkins, who explained that the majority of campaign leaders to save the series in 1968-9 had been women and the importance of female fans to the viewership. "[Star Trek] kept alive this idea that women alongside men would be active in shaping the future," said Jenkins.

Gladstone cited this as a reason that the opening voiceover was changed for Captain Picard to say, "to boldly go where no one has gone before." But Berman said that despite this shift, he heard criticism about female stereotypes on The Next Generation. Of the females, "one was Counselor Troi, one was the doctor, and there was some discussion that we had two women in caretaker roles, which seemed a little sexist." However, added Berman, Gene Roddenberry had also created security officer Tasha Yar, who "was a tough broad and probably the sexiest of the three."

"Did I see the original series as sacred? No. Did I do my very best to keep from contradicting anything...? Absolutely," insisted Berman, who said he was criticised by fans on many other topics.

Gladstone mentioned that when Deep Space Nine came about, "some die-hard fans grumbled about the dark nature of the show." She added that the casting of Mulgrew as a starship captain broke the "glass ceiling" where no woman had gone before, though Mulgrew stated her belief that she believed her casting was a threat to what she perceived as Star Trek's "largest demographic: young men." Gladstone also discusses the evolution of fan fiction and online "fanon" and said that Star Trek had shapeshifted from popular entertainment to "a kind of creed" based on Roddenberry's ideas.

The full audio interview is here.

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