The Amateurization of Star Trek

I support amateurization. And if I was the creator of a fictional franchise I would support it even more. Fictional franchises, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord Of The Rings, etc, seem to embrace the involvement of their fans. I believe, in the case of Star Trek, that it has kept the franchise alive for nearly 50 years.

I was raised on Star Trek and Star Wars. My dad took me to a few Trek conventions as a kid. Looking back, it seems pretty weird. But at the time it seemed perfectly normal: the cool stuff you see on TV existed right there in front of you in real life. Except it wasn’t real, it was extremely devoted and passionate fanatics. These are the hardcore fans that embrace the creativity of the genre and keep the fictional universe alive even during “down” times. Think about it, Star Trek could not have survived without all those insanely devoted fans. People will always be into it, and it’s because of amateurization. People were into it then, and they still are.

About 8 years ago, some hardcore Trek fans pooled their own resources to begin production on the “New Voyages,” a series of fan-made episodes intended to continue the original Star Trek series from the 60’s. Interestingly, Paramout and CBS have yet to acknowledge the existence of these productions. There is no official explanation as to why Paramount would turn a blind eye to the most extensive case of copyright infringement in the franchises history, but soon after the New Voyages began, Paramount canceled Enterprise, the last running Trek TV series. The franchise would lay officially dormant until the reboot of 2009. Unofficially, the self-funded “New Voyages” (now known as ST: Phase II) continue. (I will admit that I watched one once and the acting was C-list at best, but it looked like they were into it).

It’s my opinion that amateur productions like the Star Trek New Voyages have allowed these franchises to exist for decades. What better way is there to get involved with something you like than to become a creator? Fans can live the roles of their most admired heroes. My 8 year-old neighbor was making Pokemon cards with his friend this plast weekend. They’ll remember that forever.

The biggest difference now is that amateur producers are able to post their creations on the internet for other to see. This allows for the possibility for fan communities to grow stronger than ever before. Star Trek is no exception. I searched “Star Trek Enterprise” in Youtube, looking for a news clip on why the series was canceled. Instead, I found endless pages of fans showing off their models of the starship Enterprise.

I’m feeling close to the event horizon of this black hole, so I might have to stop here. In conclusion, it seems the fictional franchises with the most long-term success are the ones who have embraced the amateur works of their fans. It just seems to be good for business.


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