Shouting Match: Star Trek v. Star Wars


J.J. Abrams’ long-awaited Star Trek finally hits theaters this weekend. And while Star Trek fans, J.J. Abrams fans, and general movie audiences are going to get together and become awe-induced by this rip-roaring sci-fi adventure film, there’s still a Shouting Match to be had. Fat Guys at the Movies host Kevin Carr and FSR’s resident Devil’s Advocate Josh Radde take on the most important intergalactic question facing us: Star Trek or Star Wars?

Opening Statement (Kevin):

I think we can all agree that Star Trek and Star Wars are two of the greatest science fiction adventures that has graced television and the movie houses. (Pause for the upcry of Joss Whedon fans and “BSG” aficionados… okay, let’s move on…)

However, a debate rages among geeks around the world and on the internet as to which one is better. While I dearly love both franchises, I am going to go out on a limb and declare that Star Trek is the superior space opera.

First, let’s look at its pedigree. Star Trek started off as a television series which spawned eleven films (and counting, now that Paramount is preemptively planning a sequel to J.J. Abrams’ masterpiece) and an additional four television shows (not counting that wacky-ass cartoon from the 1970s). Star Wars has only six films (seven if you count last year’s The Clone Wars… and don’t even get me started with The Star Wars Holiday Special or The Ewok Adventure) and just one television show (well, two if you count its own wacky-ass Droids cartoon from the 1980s). Kick in the fact that Star Trek was the first on the market in the mid-1960s, and it’s superior longevity is apparent.

For the most part, Star Trek was free of Ewoks and cute robots. Sure, it preached at us non-stop about everything from racism to saving the whales, but the cuteness level never threatened to kill the series.

The technology in Star Trek is so much better than the battered and wheezing machines of Star Wars. The Federation may not have lightsabers, but they have photon torpedoes, handheld phasers, tricorders and the all-important beaming technology – something even the Jedi can’t master.

And while there have been some weird adversaries in Star Trek over the years, they were more intellectual and thought provoking (like TNG’s crystalline entity and Q) than the bug-eyed monsters and disfigured Sith lords in Star Wars.

And two more things, which I find the most important: First, Star Trek was a sexually liberated show. The characters not only could and did have multiple sexual escapades with various aliens, they bred with them. It was an all-out space orgy when you joined Starfleet. You won’t find human-alien hybrids in Star Wars. No siree. Only uncomfortable deep-tongue kisses between brothers and sisters.

Finally, god rest his soul, Gene Roddenberry left our realm damn near 20 years ago, so there’s very little chance of him throttling his own franchise the way Lucas has to Star Wars since the last century.


Rebuttal (Josh):

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin…

I know you’re new to the Shouting Match arena (hence why you didn’t call me an assburger or a queer; a judgment you reserve for your podcast), but just because you go on your local TV news station and talk to some greasy-haired douche-nozzle about the new Abrams film doesn’t make you Trekkie God. Hell, I’m currently starring in a Sushi Station commercial, but I’m certainly not the world’s foremost authority on wasabi.

You talk about “pedigree” but really all you’re talking about is “quantity” — 11 films? So what? Most of them suck, whereas Lucas friggin’ NAILED three movies in the 70’s and early 80’s (and hit as much as he missed with the new trilogy) that altered the landscape of science-fiction/adventure storytelling forever. I know that there are legions of Trek-fans in the world that love the corny fight sequences and the cheesy effects and the woeful Shatner-acting, but even as a child I knew that Star Trek was just playful masturbation. I’ll agree with you that both franchises have a lot to be proud of and some things to sigh about (Phantom Menace, Whoopi Goldberg, etc.), and there’s not any way that we can cover all the ins-and-outs of this debate in 1,000 words.

So, all I can do is make you look like an idiot. Let’s give that a shot.

Sure, the Enterprise may never come into contact with Ewoks, but they do encounter Tribbles, which are just as cute/annoying. Sure, the machines and vehicles in Star Wars are battered and wheezing, but that’s what gives them personality. Give me the Millenium Falcon any day, my friend. Give me warp speed and lightsabers and ray gun blasters and carbonite prisons and cryoban grenades. You say beaming; I say give me levitation, holmes!

I’d rather incur the strongly effeminate wrath of Khan than the blistering revenge of a Sith. “bug-eyed monsters and disfigured Sith lords” — What kind of chiba you been smokin’ Carr? Darth Maul cannot be seduced by Kirk, Spock’s ass would be Jedi mind-tricked before he could perform the Vulcan mind meld, and I know you didn’t just brush off the most intimidating force in the whole of cinematic history as a disfigured Sith lord. Besides, Star Wars has tons of thought-provoking and intellectual enemies. Dare I say that Ian McDiarmid’s Chancellor/Emperor could talk anyone into joining the Dark Side. He’s like the Dick Cheney of the Galaxy, persuading young Anakin to embrace the power he doesn’t know he has. Plus, he shoots goddamn lightning out of his hands! With Klingons, uh-oh, you might get a little too close to them and their protruding foreheads might inadvertantly give you a throbbing headache in your temple. Hell, even Christopher Lee is more intimidating than Eric Bana.

Space Orgy? Sure, Kirk gets to seduce alien chicks with green hair and a nearly-dreadlocked Helen of Troy, but there’s no fun in that. He’s got lots of conquests, but what does your average fan remember most – Uhuru’s famous interracial kiss with Kirk or the GOLDEN F*CKING BIKINI! Say what you will about Star Trek characters gettin’ it on, but hasn’t Leia’s golden bikini become the standard for nerd fantasy? I rest my case.

I can’t defend Lucas for some of the dubious decisions he made in the 90’s and early 00’s, but as a whole, Star Wars is not just more entertaining, vibrant, and creative, but it’s oddly more subtle as well. They didn’t have to have Luke travel back to the Old West to create a Western feel and they didn’t have to travel to Great Depression Era 1930s to create a grim landscape. Star Wars is an appreciation and celebration for both world history and cinematic history – Star Trek is a wonderful and whimsical adventure series, but I’m sorry it just doesn’t compare.


Closing Argument (Kevin):

Radde, you ignorant slut. Tribbles are fucking awesome. They’re like donuts. You can’t get enough of them. Ewoks, on the other hand are only useful as fluffy padding against Stormtrooper blaster fire and wiping your ass in the Endor woods when you run out of toilet paper.

Star Trek is for intellectuals. It’s the thinking man’s sci-fi series. To mix metaphors, it is the lightsaber of space operas, an elegant series for a more civilized age. Star Wars, while still awesome in its own right, is for a clumsy and random bunch. I’ll defer to our illustrious executive editor Neil Miller, who said to me in a Fat Guys at the Movies production meeting: “Trekkies are peaceful warriors. Star Wars people are just militant about Star Wars.”

Now I’ll concede that Kirk wouldn’t be able to get into Darth Maul’s pants, but he’d charm the robes off the creepy Chester-the-Molester version of Count Dukoo. Spock might fall to a lightsaber, but he possesses a keen mind that wouldn’t succumb to the Jedi mind trick. Plus, with his awesome command of logic, he could bring down Palpatine with nary a blow by convincing him that total galactic domination is just simply not logical. And while Anakin Skywalker may be the W. of the Galactic Empire/Republic, under the not-so-quality acting of Hayden Christensen, he was a joke.

Say what you want to about Shatner’s acting in Star Trek: TOS, but I’m still relieved that Hayden Christensen (or Jake Lloyd, for that matter) aren’t coming anywhere near the Neutral Zone. Christensen’s wooden acting makes him easy prey to any random Klingon, become his lunch before being passed through the savage warrior’s small intestine.

And speaking of Klingons – and any other Trek beings with nasty scalp deformities – I have only three words that demonstrate the superiority of alien races in Federation space versus the Galactic Republic/Empire: Jar Jar Binks.

And now to a Bethany Perryman-inspired sexual angle… I’ll give you Leia’s golden bikini, but the robes and snowsuit in the other two movies lessened her sexual power. In Star Trek: TOS, you have every frickin’ lady in Starfleet in a miniskirt. What’s not to love about that?… unless your name is Josh Radde and you’re itching to see Sulu prancing around shirtless with a fencing foil or Kirk getting his clothes ripped open for the umpteenth time. We all loved Leia as the proverbial girl next door who made us cream our jeans only to find out we’re lusting after our sister… but Star Trek helped mold the burgeoning sexual identity of more than one generation.

Miniskirts, black nylons and go-go boots literally beat the pants off anything that Star Wars has to offer outside of Jabba’s palace.

Finally, let’s just look at the launch pad potential. Star Wars is dead and buried with the Clone Wars television show the only thing we have to look forward to, along with a yet-uncertain live-action TV show and retro-fitted 3D releases of the original films. Star Trek, on the other hand, is rising from the ashes of sci-fi cinema with a sequel already in the works and its glory days yet to come.


Final Words (Josh):

Sure, bring up Hayden Christensen and Jar-Jar Binks. That only proves that you had to resort to crotch blows to stay even in this battle, Carr.

Well my crotch is impervious to to your tactics, and to quote the greatest villain to ever grace the screen: “You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.”

We can go back and forth discussing this matter all month, making personal attacks and eventually pitting turbolasers against photon torpedoes. What really matters which do you prefer: Star Trek or Star Wars?

The FSR Staff is an author similar to Hydra. Its articles have many authors. It has many heads. Please don't cut off any of its heads, we're trying to work here.

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