Monday, November 07, 2016

Ask JKM: Trek Against Trump?

A reader, Brian, writes:

"John, what is your opinion of Trek Against Trump? Don't you find it totally inappropriate for celebrities to broadcast such one-sided political commentary?"

Brian, thank you for the question.  

The short answer

The last time I checked, celebrities could absolutely avail themselves of the freedom of speech, just as you have the freedom of speech to dislike and respond to what they say.

There's the stench of hypocrisy on those claiming that the Star Trek personnel over-stepped their bounds by speaking out against Trump.

If I'm correct, Scott Baio, Antonio Sabato, and Will Robertson -- lame celebrities, I agree, but celebrities nonetheless -- all spoke out for Trump at the Republican National Convention.  

If it is okay for them to speak in an official capacity, at an official Trump/RNC event, it is certainly appropriate for actors, writers, and producers involved with Star Trek to speak up, in an unofficial capacity, against him.

I didn't hear any pro-Trump pundits saying "shut up and sing" when it was Scott Baio's turn at the podium.

I often hear or read Republican pundits tell Barbara Streisand, Martin Sheen, and other liberal celebrities to shut up and focus on their art. But then they turn right around and get behind folks like celebrities Ronald Reagan, or Arnold Schwarzenegger.

That's the definition of cognotive dissonance right there.

Being a celebrity doesn't mean you give up the right to speak freely about your political beliefs.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with people who have been involved in Star Trek expressing their disdain for Trump's value system.

If Chachi gets to bash Hillary Clinton in prime time, the Star Trek camp can bash Trump.

It's a two-way street.

Don't forget to ask me your questions at


  1. The only problem is that Baio is an individual and Star Trek is a franchise. Baio did not appear as a member of Happy Days Against Hillary. I wonder if Paramount/CBS had to okay the use of Trek instead of the individuals that worked on Star Trek doing this without using a franchise in a political context. I can not imagine Disney allowing Star Wars Against Trump. Mark Hamill just spoke up against Trump, like Baio against Hillary, as an individual American.

    Anyway, I am just glad this will all be over tomorrow.

    John is right about one thing, if you don't vote tomorrow you have no one to blame but yourselves.


    1. Sheri3:52 PM

      SGB, I'm with you all the way. Individuals and groups airing their political views? Yes. Doing so in the name of an intellectual property's brand name, implying everyone associated with it is of the same views? No.

  2. Sheri9:35 PM

    John, I may I quibble slightly on one point? I have no problem whatsoever with celebrities as individuals, or even groups of celebrities for that matter, making their political views known. They have the same right to air their views as anyone does. I only object to the use of "Trek" in this instance because it suggests that everyone associated with a copyrighted intellectual property must be of one political persuasion. They are a group of individuals borrowing a brand to imply there are no competing views within that brand. I think that's wrong.

    In the first place, it is too broad an association--not *all*, or even most people associated with Trek are necessarily involved with this group, but the label suggests no competing points of view. Further, Star Trek consists not of a monoculture but a multitude of shows, movies, novels and games, authored by many, spanning decades and encompassing numerous views. For all the "Roddenberry's vision" mythology people like to promulgate, the fact is Gene Roddenberry himself evolved his views over time, just as anyone does, and the Original Series drew on the points of view of numerous screenwriters and producers anyway. I think it's not wrong to wish that in this instance, the folks involved in TAT had labeled themselves something else. But of course, others are free to disagree.

  3. I'll just go ahead and respectfully disagree (with two of my favorite readers/people). This isn't technically "Star Trek" against Trump, which would be about the property and copyright. It's "Trek" against Trump, and there's a world of difference right there. So the argument that it represents the official franchise is based on perception, not fact.

  4. Sheri2:25 AM

    Exactly, John! Perception is everything. The distinction between "Star Trek" and "Trek" is a distinction without a difference where the impression given is the point. We'll agree to disagree, but this is exactly why I think this gets into dangerous territory. They certainly didn't infringe on the brand's copyright legally, but they managed to cloak themselves with the brand's mantle nonetheless. If I were a well-known individual of an opposing view who was connected with Star Trek, I would object.