It’s an age-old debate: Is Star Wars or Star Trek better? There must be an ultimate winner, for true nerds are only a fan of one or the other. So, let’s look at the facts:
Star Wars: The first movie of the series was released in 1977, ushering in a resurgence of interest in sci-fi stories set in space. It was instantly recognized as a classic, for people everywhere fell in love with the riveting battle between good and evil. There is a well-developed lead female character, Princess Leia, who resists the damsel in distress trope. Harrison Ford (as Han Solo) captured the hearts of thousands. Lightsabers are awesome. There are many lessons to learn from these movies, including the comforting thought that no matter how much you may stray from your ideal path, there is always hope for redemption. Today, millions of people still attend Star Wars conventions around the world.
Star Trek: The cult phenomenon began with Star Trek: The Original Series in 1966 with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (RIP) as stars. Both of their characters, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, though very different in personality, have strong morals that are never compromised. Their banter is always entertaining, especially when Dr. McCoy is included. Despite Captain Kirk’s ability to woo women across the universe, in the end he always treats them with respect and regards female crewmembers as assets to his team, not liabilities. It is said that on any given weekend, there is a Star Trek convention happening somewhere in the world, even today.
It seems to me that, completely objectively, both franchises have great strengths. Adding in people’s personal connections, of course, will often tip the scale in one direction or the other. In my case, I have a strong connection to both series. I grew up watching Star Wars and still consider my love for it an important part of my identity; yet, the summer before I began college I watched all of The Original Series and the accompanying movies and consider myself a Trekkie. As a result, I find myself at a loss—I don’t have strong feelings that one is better than the other.
But…why should I have to choose?
It’s like when people ask, “Are you a cat person or a dog person?” as if cats are the opposite of dogs. Labeling yourself as one or the other type of person has social implications, and others want to be able to learn about you through your answer to this question. New acquaintances are thrown off when I answer, “Both!” to this question, because they cannot come to a conclusion about my personality this way. But cats and dogs are both cute animals, so I’m going to love both! Because I’m a massive nerd, I am going to obsess over Star Wars and Star Trek.
It seems that the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate speaks to a larger issue in society—the issue of binaries. Since we are creatures that seek to categorize the world around them in order to understand it, we like it when things fit into neat little boxes. As we have so often heard, however, the world is not black and white. People are complex. Cats are not the opposite of dogs, there is a beautifully wide diversity of skin colors across the globe, “male” and “female” are not the only genders, and one does not have to pick between Star Wars and Star Trek.