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Star Trek vs Star Wars
What's with all the fuss?

By Munawar Mobin
Toons: ER Ronny

Back in 1966, when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were rocking the pants off the good folk of Earth in the music sector, Gene Roddenberry, came up with the American sci-fi television franchise known as 'Star Trek'. And thus began an insane obsession among the people; fans were made, hearts were stolen, and lives were forever changed.

“I started watching Star Trek just ten years back,” says Fayad, one of the 'die-hard' fans we caught crawling out of the woodwork. “It was around the year 2000 and even watching it then, which was pretty recent compared to when it first came out, I could see how much of a drastic effect the TV series had on people.”

Ten years late, George Lucas came up with Star Wars, blowing out of proportion almost everything the good people of the '70s thought about space. The only problem was that most of the people had learned about space, aliens and galactic travel from the Star Trek franchise, and following or believing in Star Wars' methods and theories about intergalactic life was like switching from one holy book to another, but following the same religion.

The Rivalry
The situation did not work well; and fans, geeks, nerds, people-above-40-still-living-with-parents - everybody retaliated in their own way. Some would argue, some would write essays pointing out the mistakes made by their rivals [to this day, many people post passionate arguments on their blogs] and some battled it out with costumes at Comic-Cons.

After many films, games, TV shows, Star Trek died down and so did the initial hype created by Star Wars, but their fans stayed loyal and true. Then came about a stage when all they did was fight over which franchise harboured the better set of characters, which movie was better, whose dialogue was more iconic, which franchise was the best, and of course when pitted against each other, who would win, the Empire or the Federation?

Who would win?
When it came down to technology and development in that field, Star Wars trumps Star Trek. The Death Star from Star Wars packs a bigger punch that the Borg Tactical Cube in Star Trek, with the Death Star being roughly 20 billion trillion megatons. Boba Fett's Slave I has a better arsenal and acceleration that the Enterprise, with the sublight accelerator for Slave I being two and a half times better than that of the Enterprise. The Empire is complete with Fighters in the air to match Trekky Attack Fighters, but on ground level, the Federation holds nothing compared to the Empire's army of ground troops, consisting of droids, AT-ATs, AT-ST Walkers, etc, not to mention Stormtroopers, though their competence is debatable.

The Federation dies out in terms of population as well, with them having 2 trillion people to fight against Star War's 2000 trillion.

A difference in philosophy
Star Trek follower, Tawsif, says that while the numbers are against the Federation, it doesn't work to prove that the Empire could squash it, because the science and philosophies are fundamentally different. “Star Trek is built around the science of a new generation, one where the ultimate goal is to explore and mark every bit of space possible; it is space exploration at its finest, with a variety of science fiction that makes sense, at least much more than the lightsaber does.”

Apparently, this is a common argument, one so famous that every true Trekky or Star Wars fan has been a part of it some time or the other in their lives. The classic Star Wars response goes like this:

Star Wars is based on a place 'far far away' in a distant galaxy, thus it is more fantasy than science fiction. With its institutional hold in history being firmly rooted in the 'fantasy' genre, Star Wars technology can make whatever sense required, because the franchise isn't about technology. Star Wars is about a group of people and how they connect with each other, how the past can always be rectified and how you can always change from evil to good. It's an attempt to portray the fight versus good and evil on the canvas of space.

Why do they care?
There are many ways fans show their faith and belief. Some dress up, some fight, while others just buy expensive merchandise; whatever it is, they always keep going. When asked why there is so much love for either one of these franchises, most people respond the same way. They are places to belong, as groups that everyone can be a part of, without any separation. It's a way of being part of something much bigger than oneself.

Ehsan, currently working for Grameenphone but still adamant and vocal about his love for both Trek and Wars, gives us a different perspective as well as his choice. “After fighting over who will win what, who will destroy who, for me, it has boiled down to one perspective which has helped me choose which one I like better. I realised that if I wanted to belong in either one of the universes, to really be there, a part of the story, I would pick Star Trek.

Star Wars is based on a certain group of characters, as all films, but the series is always too focused on the main characters and never gives importance to any of the others in the background. When Luke blows up the Death Star, a lot of close friends who were not important to the story perish in the space fight. However at the end of the day, the viewers are shown that Luke is distraught over simply damaging his robot, R2D2, rather than his friends. However, in the Star Trek universe, I could survive, because every member of the universe is respected. I wouldn't have to be a slave to a series heavily reliant on destiny.”

This sort of passion is what drives the different fan bases. However, Farhan, who happens to be a fan of both, thinks the point of the fight is moot. “Star Wars and Star Trek should not be put up for argument. One is a TV show based franchise, while the other is a series of movies. One is about space exploration, while the other is about gaining power and ruling the stars already discovered. Star Wars is based on principles, it's a teaching tool for the lessons in life. The Force is a medium to represent the greater force that is always at work all around us. Star Trek on the other hand, is about living in peace and tolerating others.”

A common enemy?
As with all pop culture fan clashes; no one ever wins. No one knows if the Federation can overthrow the Empire, no one knows if the great Captain Kirk could beat the crap out of beloved Luke; and no one can ever know, because they are two different franchises.

George Takei had recently said that we should stop this 'Star Wars vs. Star Trek' debate and unite against the common enemy, Twilight.

Well, whichever path this world takes, live long and prosper and may the force be with you


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