It seems so distant now, Gene Roddenberry’s vision of all kinds of people working together, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations.
He had a dream where conflict was resolved, mostly between the US and the Soviet Union, the eternal superpowers who once they worked out their differences, we could really reach out into the final frontier together, right?
We’ve had 50 years now in reality of no space travel, no exploration, no real progress as a species, everyone deadening themselves in their smart phones to kill their time and their souls, a hyper-focus on our differences in race and everything else under the sun to where the only exploration people care about is their own identities to the point where their minds shatter. Our culture’s gone full dark depression and nihilism, and that’s where we really end up in Picard.
In many ways, the writers created the Star Trek that reflects our time, even if it appears unintentional.
Some mild spoilers, but the scene needs to be set. In Picard, the Federation is compromised. Tal Shiar Romulan agents occupy the highest levels of Starfleet, much like the Chinese are spying at the highest levels of the US government.
There’s no sign of bold explorers. Starfleet captains are following orders to murder people who come on board, backed with threats from the corrupt government the entire ship will be destroyed with all hands if they don’t comply. The government doesn’t listen to its heroes at all, in fact, it uses the media to destroy them if they speak out of line. The greatest of us are retired, dying, or gone
And we’re on the precipice of being completely replaced by AI.
As much as it’s a bleak universe, it really represents the total state of America right now. It’s hard to imagine the utopian vision of exploration.
One can look at this and say it’s sad, that Trek is dying the same death as our culture, but it’s the reflection and it’s sadly accurate to what happens to empires at the end. Whether the US or the Federation, they eventually collapse under their own weight.