Star Trek is one of those franchises that sinks its hooks deep and never lets go, so it’s no surprise that Gene Roddenberry’s little creation has lasted so long. Today marks the 50th anniversary since the first episode of Star Trek first aired on CBS. September 8th, 1966 was the debut of the crew of the Star Trek Enterprise, with such culturally defining figures like Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones, Chekov, Uhura, Sulu, and Scotty, and other sci-fi in-jokes like red shirts, warp drive, techno babble, “Beam Me Up, Scotty” (which, oddly enough, was never actually said on the show) and the always famous “Live Long and Prosper.” With 13 movies, hundreds of episodes across six different TV shows, and more fan merchandise than could be collected in a lifetime, this is a franchise that has spread across generations as well as geographical borders. Perhaps most importantly, it inspired fans to start zines that included some of the earliest instances of fan fiction, create the modern fan convention, and even proved the power of fandom to TV execs when such a concept had yet to exist. It’s almost hard to imagine what the landscape of geek culture without these innovations and strides.
People across the web are celebrating in their own way. Facebook has special reactions and profile picture skins, Twitter is cluttered with massive tweets of congratulations and people waxing nostalgic, and fans are flocking to the special Star Trek exhibit currently in New York City. There’s even a video of the remaining stars of the various series wishing it a happy anniversary, with all the cheese you could hope for:
I don’t often like to mix my own life into news pieces — it goes against the very structured, very traditional journalism school training I got pounded into my head. But Star Trek is different — Star Trek made me the nerd I am today. My first exposure to the world of starships and the Federation was Star Trek Voyager, with my parents catching an episode whenever we could, watching Janeway at the helm for hours on end. My dad watched the show in fascist Spain when it debuted there, and my parents were watching Next Generation before I was even a thought in their heads. Heck, even as a kid, they would still stick me with a babysitter and go out to see the latest release in theaters. For several summers, my dad and I watched the original six movies of the original series cast in order, even the cringeworthy ones. I have ridiculously strong feelings about what does and doesn’t constitute a good Star Trek story, and Into Darkness is not one of them. Star Trek is a huge part of my life and I can’t help but feel thankful to the many, many nerds and geeks who came before me who kept the spirit of the franchise alive and well so that people of my generation could enjoy it, and I am proud to be doing the same for those who come after. I am ecstatic that a new series will be premiering next year and that this amazing body of work continues to go and, in many ways, boldly go where no franchise has gone before.