Star Trek Picard: Can we be aspirational again, please?

Robert B. Marks
5 min readMar 16, 2022

For background: This was originally posted on the Star Trek subreddit under the title “For Picard, can we maybe NOT do what it looks like it’s about to do?”. It was then immediately locked (and apparently removed) by the moderators. This is reproduced verbatim, with the only exception being a minor edit made to a single sentence to fix an editing error. More on the locking and moderator reasons below.

So, I am getting this terrible feeling that what is coming in Picard is going to be borderline unwatchable for me. And, I’d like to say: can we maybe not go in that direction?

To explain: I am a Canadian, living in Canada. Canada is far from a perfect society, but it is one in which we are ever striving to be better than we are. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes it illegal for anybody to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, or religion. This doesn’t mean that discrimination doesn’t happen — we literally have First Nations communities living in 3rd world conditions without access to clean running water, which is an utter disgrace. But, as I said, we are trying to be better, and that is a long road ahead.

But we are also NOT the United States. There are some social issues up here that overlap with American society, but that overlap does not make them equal in nature or severity. We do not have the problems created by the militarization of police, or the cultural legacy of widespread plantation slavery (slavery did exist to a small degree in Canada, but was abolished three decades before the American Civil War, and Canada spent those decades as one of the destinations on the Underground Railroad). We have a multicultural society instead of a melting pot, which means that the immigrant experience is different. So, a whole bunch of American social problems do not connect with me in the slightest. But, that doesn’t stop the American entertainment industry from making them pervasive in a lot of genre media — and, speaking personally, I’m really sick of hearing about it…and I don’t think I’m the only one.

From the series trailer, it looks like Picard is about to give us yet another tour of the iniquities of 2022 American societal ills. And…let’s not. I know plenty about the problems of 2022 — I’m living in that year (and so is everybody else). Don’t give me another tour of American problems — show me a future society in which those problems have been SOLVED.

Speaking as a bona fide centrist, the world sucks right now. What we need isn’t a reminder of that — we need a vision of a future that doesn’t. 1966 was a sucky time to live too — Martin Luther King was fighting for civil rights at a time when a person of colour could be lynched just for being successful (everybody who marched in Selma was taking their lives into their hands). And what Star Trek did was show everybody a world in which these were solved problems — a world with a place of dignity and respect for everyone, no matter who they were. It’s easy to forget just how revolutionary the original series was, but it had a black female bridge officer at a time when black characters were relegated to minor roles specifically so that they could be edited out of the episode when it was broadcast in the southern United States, and an Asian bridge officer at a time when Asians on TV were racist caricatures. Those miniskirts that seem so sexist today were in 1966 a symbol of women’s liberation. The original series was extremely progressive, but it was progressive in a way that gave it a universal message of hope.

That’s what we need right now, not shaming people for iniquities that, in many countries, don’t even apply to them. I want to see a Star Trek that is aspirational again. And here’s the thing: if Star Trek shows me a world in which there is a place of dignity and respect for everybody, no matter who they are, then it’s not only showing me a world in which American problems are solved, but also Canadian problems, and British problems. It’s a universal message again.

So, can we be aspirational again in Star Trek? Please?

After this was immediately locked on the subreddit, I sent a message to the moderators asking for the grounds under which it had been locked. Here is that correspondence up to the point that this was posted(minus the moderator’s handle at the end, for reasons that should be obvious). My query:

So, I would like to know why this post was immediately locked:

It does not contain racism or sexism, or denial of any of the problems of modern society. Nor does it break the stated rules.

So, on what grounds was this post locked?

The reply:

The post is complaining about political messaging that you’re assuming are going to be present in the show. You’re inventing a scenario to be upset about, and ignoring the fact that Star Trek has never shied away from commenting on the politics of its fictional past/our present. Occasionally through allegory, but also more directly in episodes such as Assignment: Earth, Past Tense I & II, Far Beyond the Stars, and Future’s End.

Our sub posting guidelines explicitly state that submissions must be truthful and constructive. While your post might be a truthful representation of where you fear the series might go, it’s still based on nothing more than a few brief moments shown in trailers, and an assumption to fill in the rather large blanks. Further, it is not constructive as it doesn’t present any sort of solution for your perceived problems. Simply complaining about something that might happen because you would prefer to ignore the problems of the present day, as well as Star Trek’s history of commenting on such, does not make for a worthwhile submission.

Hope that clears everything up.

And, I’ll leave you, the reader, to draw whatever conclusions you deem fit about all of this.

EDIT: I will add, actually, that yes, what you are seeing in that moderator reply IS gaslighting.

EDIT: So, it seems that after I decided to call the moderator out for gaslighting (as an emotional and psychological abuse survivor, I have very strong feelings about this sort of thing), not only did they double down on it, but they banned me…and gloated about with a GIF while they were doing it. You read that right — the mods of /r/startrek gaslight and banned an abuse survivor. You can see the correspondence here.



Robert B. Marks

Robert B. Marks is a writer, editor, and researcher. His pop culture work has appeared in places like Comics Games Magazine.