In light of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, I wanted to share a few thoughts about, some of which have been simmering in my brain for months, others which are new today.
In all the interviews I've done for "Fangirling!" I've always tried to ask interviewees what their first fandom or first experience of fandom was. Going into the project I expected very diverse results, but a surprising pattern emerged early on among many people I talked to, which was even more interesting because it matched my own experience. Indeed, it seems a huge amount of fans of my generation first learned the ways of the geek at the same temple: Star Trek.
Whether their parents were fans of The Original Series, or like, me, they first learned to love television storytelling by watching The Next Generation with the family, or if they were fans in a different way, the Star Trek franchise has left an indelible mark on so many of us.
The reasons for this I think are simple: Star Trek was about hope. We geeks and nerds and fangirls tend to find ourselves on the outside of the "mainsteam" for one reason or another, whether it be because of our intelligence, our gender, our sexual orientation or race. The Star Trek television shows imagined a better world, where everyone was equal, where poverty, wars, disease, racism and hate were tings we had finally evolved past. Star Trek was about idealism, and also about exploring big societal, political and philosophical questions as only Science Fiction and genere can.
Star Trek not only taught me what television could be, but gave me beautiful vision of what I wish the future would be. Leonard Nimoy exemplified that spirit, though his kindness, his creativity, his support of equal rights and his devotion to his fans. Spock, was the first character to show us, by portraying an alien, what it truly meant to be human.
There reason so many geeks are mourning the loss of Mr. Nimoy is not just because he was a compassionate, beautiful human being, but because he, and the whole Star Trek universe, occupy such a massive place in our childhoods, in our relationship with pop culture, in our understanding of of ourselves as human beings, and in our hopes for what human being can do.
It is heartbreaking that such a light has left the world, but inspiring to see how one life has touched so many and how Mr. Nimoy's legacy will be remembered for years, and live on in all of us who look up at the stars, and dream of not just strange new worlds, but better ones, right here.