Cold War and StarTrek

One of the episodes that Sarantakes describes in his essay entitled, “Cold War Pop Culture and the Image of US Foreign Policy” tackles the issues of American intervention. In the episode, which is called “Errand of Mery” tensions between the Klingons on the Federation are rising fast. The Federation learns about a possible Klingon attack on an agrarian planet called Organia and sends the Starship Enterprise to warn the people. After the attack, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock of the Federation are trapped on the planet and become prisoners of the Klingons. However, they are both freed because the Organians use secret powers to force an end to the fight. This episode it supposed to mirror the idea of proxy wars that were fought between the Soviet Union and the United States in other seemingly passive countries. Additionally, Coon makes a point in this episode to demonstrate that larger world powers should not intervene with the development of less advanced societies. His beliefs were “anti-colonial” and, contrary to US foreign policy, he thought that, “there were limits to power, even American power.”

Science Fiction and Fantasy are often genres that are easily molded into political messages. When you create completely abnormal habitats and species, like in Star Trek, it allows the viewer to see their own world though a completely different lens. Additionally, when challenging cultural or political norms it is easy to turn to a completely new world to avoid backlash from those who don’t share your opinion because the world you’ve created in completely unique. Lastly, this genre allows you to exaggerate much more easily because their are no confines as to what is normal is this new world. In someways Science Fiction and Fantasy are similar to satire because they both allow a writer or directer to step outside the confines of what is “normal,” while still addressing mainstream problems.

I don’t watch a lot of science fiction or fantasy movies, so I can’t think of one that knowingly critiques society. However, there is a particularly relevant film called, “Dr. Strangelove,” which could be classified as a mixed of satire and Science Fictions. The film premiered in the mid-60s and is an apocalyptic movie about the atomic bomb.  The entire film satirizes the Cold War by focussing on the idea of mutual destruction. The underlying message is almost a warning that one crazy person can destroy the entire world because of the incredible power of nuclear weapons.


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