Tuesday, July 14, 2009

battle of the geeks

Okay, now remember how I said in the sidebar over there that you would soon find out how much of a Nerd I am? Well, now is that time.

See, there's this show called Star Trek: The Next Generation that I have always been totally enamored with. No, I'm not a Trekkie, I have never been to a Convention, I don't own any pointy Vulcan ears and I don't speak Klingon. But the show? It is awesome.

Now, it has recently come to my attention that there is, apparently, among the Super-Super-Way-More-Nerdy-Than-I-Am-Nerds, a huge rivalry between fans of Star Trek and those of Star Wars. Now, I like Star Wars. I do. They're fun movies which were pretty darn innovative when they were first made. (I'm not going to bother making fun of the newer three, because hello, original Star Trek series? Cheesy.) But I still maintain that The Next Generation is superior to the older Star Wars movies. Let's compare characters.

1. The Main Protagonist

Star Wars: Luke Skywalker.
I don't have anything against Luke. But honestly, at the beginning, Luke is kind of whiny and annoying. Then he mysteriously becomes an entirely different character (I know, I know, he's channeling The Force) and he kind of loses all personality and is a little boring. Sorry.

Star Trek: Jean-Luc Picard.
Okay, Picard is just The Man, and that's all there is to it. Awesome Shakespearean accent, awesome Patrick Stewart acting. I'm going to show my nerdiness when I quote Tasha Yar (after her DEATH), "A man with the heart of an adventurer and the soul of a poet." And may I add: never, ever whiny.

2. The Token Hotshot

Star Wars: Han Solo.
Okay, there's no denying that Han Solo is the coolest character in Star Wars, at least from my perspective. And Harrison Ford is generally always an entertaining actor. But Han? He is totally a self-absorbed mercenary at the beginning. He does redeem himself, fortunately... but still.

Star Trek: William Riker.
Will starts off the series as kind of a friendly jerk, but then he gets older, puts on some weight, grows a beard, and mellows out. He's all friendly and good-natured (and also a total womanizer but apparently that's okay because it's The Future), but constantly demonstrates that he is a Hotshot with Mad Leadership and Tactical Skills. He gets offered positions as captain on various starships like three billion times but decides to stay on the Enterprise, which is admittedly a little contrived, but what are you gonna do?

3. The Token Female Character
Star Wars: Leia.
Leia, like her brother, is all about Total Character Shift midway through. She goes from being a white-robed, weird-hairdo-ed damsel in distress ("Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi!") to being kind of kickass, riding around on speeders and zapping storm troopers. A little weird, don't you think? Also-- bizarrely incestuous romantic gestures, anyone?

Star Trek: Beverly Crusher.
Dr. Crusher runs around sick bay, shattering gender boundaries left and right. She always makes the diagnosis (thanks to the handy-dandy tricorder thingy), and when it's a brand-new never-before-seen illness, she just figures out a cure all by herself. Also, there's some romantic tension with Picard thrown in for good measure, but no incestuous moments. Fortunately.

4. The Token African-American Character
(hey, blame the times, not me.)
Star Wars: Lando Calrissian.
Forgive me if I misunderstand the plot nuances, but isn't Lando kind of a slimeball who betrays his "friends" and hands them over to the bad guys? Despite his inevitable subsequent redemption? Man. The dude even just looks kind of sleazy, doesn't he?

Star Trek: Geordi LaForge
Geordi, on the other hand, is never a slimeball. (In fact, none of the Enterprise crew is ever anything but totally honorable, dutiful, and caring. If that's what the future will be like, then I'm all about it.) He knows a ridiculous amount of crazy things about quantum physics and stuff, but is charmingly inept when it comes to relationships.

5. The Token Know-it-all Robot Character
Star Wars: C3PO
C3PO is annoying, and everyone knows it. For one thing, he may speak a lot of languages, but he doesn't know nearly as much as he thinks he does. Also, he's a total wuss. And far too shiny.

Star Trek: Data
Data, on the other hand, knows exactly the amount of information he thinks he does. And he's always doing heroic things like offering to use his own body to shield other crew members from electricity, fire, and who knows what else. And trying endearingly to be more human.

6. The Token Whiz Kid Character
Star Wars: R2D2
Okay, R2D2 isn't exactly a whiz "kid," but he (she? it?) serves the same function. And he is oddly appealing, and saves the day frequently, but.... wtf? Why can't he talk? Wouldn't it be easier to just program a robot to talk than for everyone to apparently learn his "language" and translate his beeps and buzzes for the benefit of the audience?

Star Trek: Wesley Crusher
Wesley is almost unbearably geeky and naive for the first couple seasons, but he gets better as he gets older (and gets rid of that awful 80s rainbow-stripe sweater). And he has an IQ of like, 340.

7. The Token Scary Warrior-Type Character
Star Wars: Chewbacca

Again, what is up with the lack of dialogue? Obviously Chewie understands English, so why can't he speak it? I mean, seriously, how weird would it be if you had a friend from another country, and you both understood each other's languages, but you each insisted on carrying on your side of the conversation in your own native tongue?

Star Trek: Worf
Man, if you think the rest of the Enterprise crew is all about being honorable, they've got nothing on Worf. And when the other Klingons are mocking him for hanging out with humans? He just growls and takes it, because he's a freakin' Starfleet Officer, even though you know he would otherwise smash in their skulls. With his bare hands.

8. The Token Mystic Character
Star Wars: Yoda
I'm not dissing Yoda. But is there any particular reason he has to talk that way?

Star Trek: Deanna Troi
Fine, she's an empath, not really a mystic, but close enough. Admittedly, not as awesome as Yoda.... but definitely way hotter. I don't know exactly why she doesn't have to wear the Starfleet uniform like everyone else, but I suspect it has something to do with her rather impressive cleavage.

So there you have it. Not only evidence that Star Trek beats out Star Wars, but also evidence of the frightening magnitude of my geekiness. Be afraid, be very afraid.


  1. Haha this is very helpful. I haven't seen Star Wars and I always thought Luke and Hans Solo were the same person. Oops!

    Finally, I have started to watch Battlestar Galactica because Salon.com called it the best show ever made, and I like it. It's not that sci-fi but is way deep. You know, like me.

  2. Hi,

    You should know that we're not "Trekkies" anymore. We now refer to ourselves as "Trekkers". I haven't read all of your blog yet, but I will. In the meantime, why are all of the Star Wars characters prefaced as "Tokens", but not so when referring to Star Trek characters? By the way, C3P0 and R2D2 are the comic relief characters in Star Wars, a fairly common gimmick used by story tellers, particularly in tense action films. Star Wars is a classic good versus evil kind of story. It's about exploring the characters in the ultimate struggle, both individually and collectively. You may have noticed the not-so-clever use of white and black to differentiate between the two. Of course, outlaw characters like Han Solo and Obiwan don't keep to the color scheme because they don't portray either side necessarily. Star Trek is about the human potential and the optimism of Gene Roddenbery. Although, what I wouldn't give to own a hollow deck. What a great way to explore and live history. On the subject of useless characters and know-it-all goodie-goodies, can we talk about the uselessness of Deanna? OMG, if she said "I'm sensing great pain!" one more time I was going to puke! What a useless observation. No kidding Deanna, since the situation involves a life-and-death struggle, I detected that sensation without the benefit of being a Betazed or having empathic powers. You would think she could come up with something a bit more insightful. Of course, I blame the writers for her lack of depth at times. Although, I have to admit, she did get better as the show aged. I like some of what you've written, but, as I questioned in the beginning, your use of "Token" in reference to Star Wars characters suggests a bias towards Star Trek. Recommendation: I suggest, if you haven't already, go see the new Star Trek movie that is the new prequel to the whole Star Trek genre. It's, in my opinion, better than any Star Trek movie I've ever seen, but stays true to the original characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scottie, and the rest.

  3. Michael,

    The "token" bit was meant to be a preface for each pairing below, so was intended to apply to both. You know-- token hotshot for Star Wars: Han Solo; token hotshot for Star Trek: Will Riker. My apologies if that was unclear.

    And I have seen the new Star Trek movie, and liked it a lot. Actually, the movie that inspired this post was Fanboys (I'd include a link but apparently can't in the comment section), which is where I first heard the "Trekkers, not Trekkies" bit, so I admit your first sentences made me laugh.