Whatever Happened to Hope?

“I think we gave it the ability to create its own sense of purpose out of our own human weaknesses, and the drive that compels us to overcome them.”

Admiral James T. Kirk, Star Trek: The Motion Picture

If I read “post-9/11 sensibility” in one more book or movie review, I just might scream out loud. In deference to the horrific events of that—and the days that have followed–I would like to say this: We get it. As Q told Picard in “Q Who”, “It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires, both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.”

I see movies and television series being praised because they are “gritty” and “real”. The recent Battlestar Galactica fell into this category. I’ll grant that it made for good drama, but as a friend of mine said in one of her comments, “I don’t like any of the characters; none of them is anyone I’d want to be friends with, or even live down the block from. And the universe is totally hopeless.” While I don’t entirely agree with her dramatic assessment, I concur with the sentiment.

When did we lose hope?

I read an article somewhere (I wish I could remember where so I could post a link to it) offering the premise that Star Trek held little relevance in our current world, even with the not-insignificant success of the recent movie. I find this opinion more than a little sad and depressing. One of the things that Star Trek, in any of its incarnations, offered was a message of hope—hope that we would find our way past our global chauvinism and tendencies toward various types of self-destruction to a future of peace and common vision.

I guess my question at the end of this rambling essay is this: Do readers and viewers still want to experience stories of a hopeful future? Or is the new common denominator a collection of vampires, paranoia, and post-apocalyptic despair? If so, I won’t be writing about it.

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