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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Fandom is a strange thing. And, ever since the internet became mainstream in the mid-90s, fandom has gotten a lot stranger. It isn’t necessarily a bad strange, but it definitely has its quirks. Many times it is amusing, and other times it is a train wreck. However, I am often quite fascinated by it. I’m sure that isn’t much of surprise given some of the other posts I have written here over the past few years. If I ever pursue a doctorate degree, I should do a dissertation on it.
One of the things that has rattled Star Trek fans since almost the beginning is what they call themselves. “Trekkie” tends to be the go-to nom de plume that gets bandied about. The term “trekkie” became so synonymous with “Star Trek fan” and used so frequently that it was eventually added to Webster’s Dictionary in the early 90s.
The term was also used disparagingly in pop-culture, so the alternate term “trekker” was coined. This was meant to sound more serious in an attempt to make Trek fans more respectable in pop-culture. I guess one of the ideas (as explained by my aunt when I was young) was that “trekkers” are the ones who watch and enjoy the show, but “trekkies” are the ones who would go around and wear the Spock ears and ask very pointed questions on why Harry Kim pressed the same button twice to do two different tasks in episode 35 of Star Trek: Voyager.*
Now, I’ll admit that I get the idea behind the distinction (to separate away from the really hard core nerdy folks), and I prefer the sound of the word “trekker” over “trekkie” (it does sound kind of juvenile, doesn’t it?). At the end of the day, however, who cares? You are still a Star Trek fan. Let’s be honest, “trekker” totally comes off as arrogantly snobbish if you go and correct people. More so, pop-culture will still occasionally make you the object of humorous ridicule, no matter what you call yourself.
It’s like when people continually try to make Aquaman cool in the comics. It’s never going to work. He’ll always be the joke of a superhero who talks to fish to society-at-large. **
But, again, it is one of the quirky fandom things. I suspect that many fans don’t really care one way or another about what they are called (if they even really consider such things to begin with). Take the term “trekkie” or “trekker” and wear it as a badge. Does it really make a difference what you are called at the end of the day?
This entry has gotten me thinking about the documentary Trekkies. I haven’t watched that in years. Perhaps it is time I track down a copy. Could make for a great entry for this feature down the line.
* I made that question scenario up. Good lord, I hope that didn’t actually happen.
**Don’t worry. I still think Aquaman is cool. But, to be fair, he does talk to fish.