Did Gene Roddenberry Die on The Cross and rise from the dead a few days after? Did he ascend into heaven on a Flying Horse? Part The Red Sea? No? Then why is this man who's been dead for 15 years being remembered as a Saint, Prophet or a Deity... even after he denounced faith in God or Gods?
Kneeling At The Altar Of 'The Great Bird Of The Galaxy? I don't think so...
Birthday Wish, Or Obituary Rehashed?
A webmaster on another Science Fiction site asked me if I would
write a tribute for a man on his 85th birthday. Of all people, that man
was Gene Roddenberry who died fifteen years ago as of this October 24th.
I hesitated at first, saying: Look, I really don’t want to do this… I’ve
written a few articles on this, I took on some of the fans for a while
when they wouldn’t let it go that the last re-incarnation failed to earn
enough ratings points to stay on the air, I’ve written an article on how
they could save the franchise by going back to it’s roots.
I’m sick of the subject of Star Trek, I’m sick of the franchise as a whole, I’m sick of what the fans have turned it into, I’m sick and tired of how this show that was supposed to be space exploration and adventure turned into C-SPAN and Days of Our Lives with characters wearing spandex pajamas with metal broaches. I’m sick and tired of how the majority of the Science Fiction Genre has been dominated by this franchise, and people can’t have a discussion about the realities of space travel with out a stupid “Beam Me Up, Scotty” or “Live Long And Prosper” comments.
Writing a tribute for a man on his birthday years after his death is really nothing more then rehashing his obituary. Why not a tribute to Issac Asimov? Carl Sagan? Frank Herbert? How about having someone write tributes to people who actually deserve just as much of the credit for Star Trek? (Where are the tributes to John D.F. Black, Gene L. Coon, Douglas S. Cramer, Fred Freiberger, Robert H. Justman, John Meredyth Lucas, Edward K. Milkis, Gregg Peters… or any of the other people who contributed to this show? How about the people who didn’t abandon the show after Season Two when the show was moved to Friday Nights and the budget cut, after Roddenberry packed up his office and went to another studio for other projects such as “Pretty Maids, All In A Row?”)
And I said: "Of all the people, why ask ME to do this? I’m not the guy to write a tribute to Gene Roddenberry. If anything, I’m the last person who should do this." This guy responds back by saying – You’re the only who can be objective. (Objective? Have you READ my rants on this topic? I mean, COME ON!)
Great Bird Of The Recycling Bin...
Gene Roddenberry wasn’t the saint people make him out to be. Not to diminish all the wonderful things he’s done. World War II Veteran, experienced pilot, and family man. So I shouldn’t pick on him too much, except for the fact that he used what you call “enlightenment,” “intelligence” and “compassion” sprinkled with some silly costumes and cheesy FX to make a buck. He took a great idea of Mixing “"The Lieutenant," “Wagon Train” and “Forbidden Planet” and made it into something unique with the help of a dozen or more talented people and then took credit for other people's hard work.
Roddenberry took aspects of what is simply the best Science Fiction of that time – “This Island Earth,” The Day The Earth Stood Still and “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,” reformatted them into his Horatio Hornblower’s Cosmic Adventure and Wagon Train through the stars and made those concepts his own with out acknowledging the people or the work those concepts came from.
I argue that the concepts that were done better when they were done first in those movies but are now virtually ignored by the vast majority of the public, no thanks to Mr. Roddenberry. Roddenberry was a visionary in the world of Television because he took what already worked in Cinema and make it more marketable for the picture tube masses.
I won’t even get into what he did to or with the people he worked for… I won’t take the time to rehash the fights he had with writers such as Harlan Ellison, David Gerald, or Melinda Snodgrass. I also feel bad for the people close to him for how they were treated when he was alive and how they now feel obligated to solder on and continue to perpetuate his Saintly image.
Roddenberry is also given too much credit for the world we live in now. Sycophantic fans say that because of Roddenberry, we have personal computers, the internet, cell phones and space travel.
I’m not positive, but I doubt that he had nothing to do with the Colossus computer that the British built in an effort to try and break the Nazi’s key for their Enigma code encrypting machine, which eventually became the origins of the computers we use today. Granted, he should be applauded for being a pilot during the war, then later a police officer and finally a scribe turned producer turned consultant… I highly doubt that this multi-talented man did much in the way of developing the transistor. I’m also sure that Mr. Gore resents Roddenberry taking credit for the Internet.
Roddenberry also had little to do with getting Neil and Buzz to Tranquility Base, since it was Michael Collins who piloted the Apollo Module… Nor do I think he was hanging out with Gene Krantz at Mission Control on any of the mission.
Granted, Gene Roddenberry produced a show where the concept of those items would be common place to the extent to where some people worked hard to make those things real… but Roddenberry is given credit for far too much.
Some of my issues with Roddenberry isn’t just with him personally – it’s with the fans that took the work of someone who made a hit-or-miss Military/Space Exploration drama and try to turn into cast-in-stone prophecy about the centuries to come. Worst yet is the irony that too many of his fans have taken this man who was agnostic at best and was a downright bitter, angry atheist at worst and elevated him in to this holier then thou pious messiah or savior for the sci-fi groupies. Let me elaborate…
God Maker, God's Heart Breaker...
They’ve made a deity out of someone who hated deities and was very vocal about that - There are a few things people have said about Gene Roddenberry that may or may not be accurate – his biographers have conflicting information about Roddenberry’s dependence on drugs and alcohol and his infidelity with his wives. But what’s absolutely certain is his disdain for religion and faith.
Roddenberry spent a lot of time working to convince his followers some pretty conflicting concepts about God. In many interviews, Roddenberry talks about his disdane for faith and people who believe in God, most extreme is the inteverview with Terrence Sweeney titled "God And Roddenberry" (reprinted in his Authorized Biography "Star Trek Creator" written by David Alexander.) In this interview, Gene can't make up his mind: There is no God, HE is (or was) God, we are all “God” as part of some pan-theistic jahovah-buddah, we “create God” by our mere thoughts?
Roddenberry has a legion of fans who followed him as if he were either a laid back and over-indulgent Jim Jones or the proto-type to L.Ron Hubbard, people were clamoring for more wit and wisdom from “The Great Bird Of The Galaxy…” and what did he do with his power and influence, besides rally his followers to campaign to keep his Space Fantasy hot on the back burner while he had other irons in the fire? What was his message?
"Infinite Diversity, Infinite Combinations ... and… oh, and by
the way - there is no God. Get me a scotch while I cheat on my wife
and blow more of the Trekkies money on stupid junk and rally the
fans to save my job because the ratings suck."
Lasting Effects and Redemption?
Was Roddenberry a kind hearted soul with a temper if his vision of perfection wasn’t realized by those around him? Many of the people who wrote about their relationship with him give you that impression. With everything I’ve read about Roddenberry recently, I get the notion that he was a deeply troubled and flawed man that was catapulted as a mere figure head and just an icon for the franchise after he put the wheels in motion. If you're going to praise him, do so for what he did... not for the work those around him while working on the Original show and those that followed.
Did Gene Roddenberry give hope and inspiration for like minded youths? Roddenberry in essence became John Lennon for Space Buffs. Were people inspired to go off to college and become doctors, engineers and more productive citizens, absolutely as you can tell by the anecdotes all over the internet. But you can also see on the internet that far too many people are obsessed with the minute details of his fictional universe then they are getting the real work done to make his utopia a reality and ignore the hard work that’s needed to make Space Travel and Exploration common place.
Roddenberry’s redemption came in believing that the audience were smarter then what the demographic guys said they were. Despite all the horrible things Roddenberry has said about the non-existence of God and cause strife between parents and children – Roddenberry promoted an idea of world peace and had faith in humanity as a whole which could grow and evolve into something better. Some of his motives were questionable, but most of the time his heart was in the right place when his ego didn’t get in the way.
In the end, I have conflicted thoughts about Roddenberry, and I have bewilderment towards his followers who have made him into something he wasn’t, deserved or even wanted.
The Annaversary of Gene Roddenberry’s Birth - August 19th - came and went… and my tribute never made it on this other web site. In fact, I didn’t here from that person until two days ago.
"Did you get it?" I asked.
"Yea… I got it…" S/he replied.
"What did you think?” I inquired.
Avoiding the subject- the other webmaster replied: "UPN is going off the air, do you have something to say about that?"
Trying to avoid the fact that the subject was being changed, I said: "Sure, look for it on The Fedora Chronicles…"
Is Gene Roddenberry your "God?" Tell us about it!