The Final Frontier: Obama is Spock!

From an article at Salon

“I am a first-generation ‘Star Trek’ fan, and I’ve long argued that many of my deepest political convictions emerged from my experience of watching the program as a young man growing up in Atlanta during the civil rights era,” declares Henry Jenkins, co-director of the MIT comparative media studies program and author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. “In many ways, my commitment to social justice was shaped in reality by Martin Luther King and in fantasy by ‘Star Trek.’”

Obama, Jenkins points out, positioned himself in the primaries as a man “at home with both blacks and whites, someone whose mixed racial background has forced him to become a cultural translator.” In this sense Obama even surpasses Spock, whose struggle to reconcile his half-human, half-Vulcan genes is a continual source of inner conflict. In one episode, the entire Enterprise crew (except for Kirk) is infected by alien spores that turn them into doe-eyed flower children. The “cure” is anger — thus Kirk is forced to provoke his first officer to rage. He succeeds, spectacularly, by insulting Spock’s racial pedigree: “All right, you mutinous half-breed! You’re an overgrown jackrabbit! An elf, with a hyperactive thyroid! A simpering, devil-eared freak whose father was a computer and his mother an encyclopedia!”

Confronted with a similar insult, Barack Obama would probably just laugh. “The Vulcan side of Obama, the core of his character, hasn’t changed [since the election],” Jenkins believes. “He’s tough, he’s cool and he’s rational.” His appeal stems from the self-aware integration of all aspects of his personality: black and white, wonk and poet, athlete and aesthete.

Website | + posts