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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

3 Comments

  1. them0vieblog.com
    July 1, 2015 @ 12:44 am

    Very thoughtful, and entirely appropriate piece. Doesn't gloss over Roddenberry's unfortunate tendencies, but doesn't overlook or ignore his positive contributions either.

    Great piece.

    Cheers,
    Darren

    Reply

  2. K. Jones
    July 1, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

    I think … this is weird to word … I think Roddenberry was at least somewhat self-aware. Not necessarily self-critical, or reflective mind you, but aware that he was a product of his time and that the sorts of stories he liked to set in his flawed attempts at utopianism (that we critically pan every time) at the very least wouldn't be the same stories people continued to tell years down the line.

    I don't think he'd have been as slavish to his own faults as a creator as some of the O.G. fans who became writers might've ended up becoming. For instance, moving backward with a reboot doesn't strike me as a particularly Roddenberry move.

    "Levels and areas that were beyond me …" is a hell of a thing to say, but it's as pithy as anything I can come up with.

    Roddenberry was a bit of a cultural dinosaur even in the long 80s when he was trying to exert a bit of control on TNG. But even dinosaurs die hard, because if culture was beginning to shift in the outset of the 90s (totally was), it was still not until like way later, like nowish, when those of us who were children absorbing those cultural lessons grew up and could apply them before anything really started to get done about it.

    I can at least imagine he had the foresight to realize that Star Trek, and TNG in particular, would be a foundation stone in that path, and even if he, old boy's club, lecherous, stereotypical dude that he was laying some of those stones at the beginning of the path could yield some crazy results down the road.

    Reply

  3. Daru
    July 6, 2015 @ 11:00 pm

    One of the things I have found fascinating about this blog Josh has been learning more about the truths behind the fictional Roddenberry that fans have lauded – it's been a revelation.

    In the end I don't think any less of him, as you say it seems in the end he may have learned from his own creation, and that in itself is an example of living inspiration.

    Reply

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