24 June 2007


Gene Roddenberry was the creator and producer of Star Trek.

In Harlan Ellison's fascinating book-length diatribe about his feud with Roddenberry over the Trek episode ”City on the Edge of Forever,” he has a passage from David Gerrold, whom I've noted before has good cause to take an unromantic view of Mr Roddenberry, saying:

Gene Roddenberry ... was a TV producer. (A TV producer is an ordinary human being who has made the mistake of falling asleep next to a big green pod filled with money. When he awakes again, he has been transformed into an alien thing that feeds on power, talent, and the blood of the innocent. Now, some people I know have argued with me about this, saying that a TV producer is nowhere near as bad as a lawyer, but TV producers are one of the leading causes of lawyers in Los Angeles. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out.)

At his best, Gene Roddenberry was an inspiring speaker. He knew how to say all the right things. He knew how to speak to a crowd or an individual with equal grace. He knew what you wanted to hear and that was what he told you. He made you want to believe again.

At his worst—well, he was a producer, the American version of a feudal lord. Despite whatever assertions for truth and justice a feudal lord might make, he's still a lord. He might believe he's acting justly, but the way the system is constituted encourages acts of abuse, if not by the lord himself, then certainly by those who act in his name. The lord doesn't have to drive the steamroller; there are lots of peasants working in the fields who will happily do that job for him, without regard to whose home or livelihood they're rumbling over.

Which is to say that I don't take the romantic view of Mr Roddenberry, or Trek, but still commend to your attention Wil Wheaton speaking in honour of Mr Roddenbery, describing him at his best. Even cold, cruel Warren Ellis says, “Really nice piece today, squire.”

1 comment:

Kate said...

Impressive speech by WW, very impressive!