Even though made strange by the language, symbols, and techniques of science fiction (sf), a popular culture phenomenon like Star Trek is interwoven with the historical moments that produced it. A product of American cultural contexts of the late 1950s and 1960s, Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-69) serves as a popular culture mirror of the times. Bearing a recognizable imprint of the post-war optimism and confidence in scientific progress, Star Trek’s premise of telling modern morality plays gives us access to the historical and cultural forces that informed Star Trek’s conception. Star Trek was also minted with the American self-image of being the protector and defender of the western world, its values and its achievements. Not only is Star Trek complicit in American ideology, but since its stories are science fiction, Star Trek also becomes a means of viewing critically American culture from an intellectually stimulating vantage point. While a product of historical circumstances specific to its point of origin, the Star Trek formula was such that it could be adapted to changing contexts. Consequently, each incarnation of Star Trek can be used as a lens for looking at contemporary American cultural issues and/or American responses to concerns that are of a universal nature.
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