Charlie Jane Anders: The Essential Difference Between Star Wars and Star Trek – io9

The later Star Trek series are frequently concerned with the wisdom of command—Picard, in particular, obsesses about choosing the wise path and being a responsible leader. Deep Space Nine and Voyager try to take away some of Starfleet’s awesome power (by showing a crew without a giant starship, or a starship without starbases) but still end up being about Federation values, and the responsible use of power.

This is obviously a broad-brush generalization, and it’s true that both Star Trek and Star Wars were both, in their own ways, products of the counter-culture. Star Trek very much wants to interrogate the dangers of too much state power, while Star Wars very much yearns for the possibility of an enlightened government, the good Republic which is Star Wars’ Paradise Lost.

But I can’t help wondering if this is one reason why Star Wars looms so much larger in the popular imagination than Star Trek: Because we always want to identify with the scrappy rebel against the evil empire. Even when we actually are the world’s main superpower, with unparalleled military and economic might, we Americans like to think of ourselves as still a ragged group of revolutionaries, fighting the American Revolution against the overbearing redcoats. Star Wars plays into our national fantasy of righteous underdoggery, while Star Trek is actually closer to reality.

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