On the surface the entertainment industry may appear to only exist to do just as it name calls for and “entertain” the public, its mass popularity and significant presence in the media provides members of the community the opportunity to express beliefs and representations of real world issues through a creative voice. While such messages and values are hidden within the content of movies, television, video games and more, a close analysis of almost any entertainment piece will reveal a deeper meaning often relating to a pivotal event in the world.
The popular television series Star Trek, as analyzed by Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, reveals a variety of allegories relating to events in the actual world, particularly with regards to representation of major political issues of the times in which episodes premiered. Here, a focus will be placed on Sarantakes’s close viewing of the Star Trek episode “The Omega Glory”. This episode, first aired in the waning days of the Tet Offensive (an attempted offensive strike against communist forces in Vietnam), highlights various aspects of American culture during the Cold War. The fighter groups in the episode, the conflicting groups dubbed”Kohm and Yang” which, as written by Sarantake, “are distorted pronunciations of Communist and Yankee,” alluding to the global Cold War conflict engulfing the nation. The Cold War was more than a standoff of global super powers, as even in entertainment, specifically in this episode, it became the topic of discussion, like a mental virus infecting whatever body it could come in contact with.
Along with the War itself came the revived American aspects of nationalism and patriotism, heavily apparent in “The Omega Glory”. Sarantake writes a moment where the national anthem was played and it served the purpose of “emphasizing the patriotic sentiment of the captain’s position.” Along with various mentions of “liberty and freedom”and founding documents like the Constitution and its preamble, an undeniable sense of extreme patriotism is rampant throughout the episode, demonstrating the vast influence of the Cold War even in a sci-fi series.
The Cold War and subsequent containment culture dealt with a variety of critical issues from the threat of nuclear destruction to racial tensions. Purely by the seriousness with which each is taken, a science fiction entertainment series seems an unlikely candidate to further discussion on such issues. However, this sense of unlikeliness paradoxically makes entertainment like science-fiction a perfect realm to delve into political topics without fear of serious repercussion. Many video games, like the Borderlands and Deus Ex series, use this fact to market there games. They are often unforeseen views on important issues and events, making them supremely interesting to consumers.
(Deus Ex series.)
Alongside the fact that these political messages are deeply hidden in the episodes, the science-fiction world adds a perfect “what-if” element to explore several angles of politics that may not be considered on a daily basis. In a world of political correctness and conflation, the science-fiction world represents a universe where the often ignored, yet entirely possible and thought provoking, possibilities lie.