Passing On a Torch

I recently introduced my kids to “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Here’s another dad, writing about introducing his kids to classic Star Trek.

But they aren’t just younger versions of me; they pick up on stuff I didn’t at their age.  After a few episodes, The Girl asked “why don’t the girls get to do anything?”  She was right, of course; other than Uhura, who was basically a switchboard operator, the only female characters were love interests for Kirk.  I told her that back when the show was made, people didn’t really understand that girls could do what boys do.  The Boy noticed the soft-focus whenever a love interest was on screen; I had to explain that they thought that women were prettier when blurry.  (Sometimes they’ll pull that trick even now with Kate Walsh on Private Practice.)   We haven’t even discussed the women’s uniforms yet; I don’t quite know how I’ll phrase that one.

But 60’s quirks aside, I think the kids pick up on the underlying humanism of the show.  It isn’t about might making right, or just fighting the alien of the week.  When Kirk fought the Gorn — you could barely see the zipper in back — the action sequence ended with Kirk refusing to finish off the alien.  He was rewarded for taking the ethical high road.  I could see that the kids were both happy with that, and a little surprised.  It wasn’t the easy, triumphant conquest that it could have been.  Several tough scrapes have been resolved with someone making a choice to rise above the conflict.  The kids like seeing that, and I like them seeing that. —Inside Higher Ed.

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