Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Why I'd like all Trekkers to live long and prosper

I've much in common with President Obama out of the United States of America. We're both powerful men. He stravaigs about the world straightening out dictators and whatnot, while I work much more quietly behind the scenes, providing a moral compass for the desperate.

But one thing that unites Big O and me more than anything else is that, in our respective youths, we both held a candle for Lieutenant Uhura. The Uhura lass, as you know, was communications officer of the Starship Enterprise in the first and still unsurpassed series of Star Trek.

Her legs were - and, I'm sure, remain - limbs of great beauty, twin pathways to a galaxy where no man had gone before. So you can imagine what a thrill it was for Big Barack to meet the actress Nichelle Nichols in the flesh. The New York Daily News described the meeting at yon White House as "culturally historic" and, last week, published a picture of the president and Nichelle giving the Vulcan gesture of greeting.

The meeting took place in February and, afterwards, Nichelle tweeted: "Pres Obama was quoted as saying that he'd had a crush on me when he was younger. I asked about that and he proudly confirmed it! ... President Obama also confirmed for me that he was definitely a Trekker! How wonderful is that?!"

It is, indeed, wonderful. Somehow, it makes the world feel safer. You couldn't imagine President Ambadanmad out of Iran knowing where to put his fingers when trying the Vulcan gesture of greeting, though I fear he'd fancy shaking hands with a Klingon, or even one of the Kardashians.

Recently, I watched a documentary about a long running Star Trek exhibition in Las Vegas coming to a close and the devastation it caused fans. It was so moving I found myself welling up. I just really felt for these ordinary, oddly shaped people who'd found something outside themselves with which to identify, something that gave them solidarity and also offered a vision of life based on love.

You may laugh at them for being fat and geeky, but that's missing the point. No one laughs at fat people more than this writer. I know it's politically incorrect and a shame an' all, but I've spent my whole life being right on and I can't stand it any more. I've got to have at least one prejudice - two, if you count baldies - and, as long as I stick within the bounds of reasonable slander, where's the harm?

But you won't find me slandering geeks. I'm told they're becoming sexy anyway, and there is something loveable about them. They're so far removed from the Beckhams and Madonnas, all the smooth people with the bendy bodies, that they come as a relief and you find yourself rooting for them

It's no irony that much of Star Trek is about overcoming prejudice. The show featured television's first inter-racial kiss, between the above mentioned Lieutenant Uhura and Captain Kirk. Often, planets featured scary-looking beings with tentacles, starey eyes and peculiar foreheads, and Captain Kirk was supposed to make small talk with them as if nothing were amiss.

The message was that it's absurd to judge people based on appearance. It's a message that continues to have relevance today even if, faced with a planet full of fat baldies, I'd still set my phaser to stun.

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