Articles star_trek1

Published on May 23rd, 2014 | by James Ware

Shakespeare, Star Trek, and Worldviews in Entertainment





Entertainment and worldviews are inherently linked. Throughout the history of music, plays, novels, movies, and television programs, ideas pertaining to worldviews have been presented to us.

Entertainment is a graphic demonstration of the beliefs, philosophies, and ethics of the artists behind it and a medium through which ideas are expressed and questions posed. Our analysis of entertainment must recognize these two points. Entertainment expresses ideas. These ideas are not neutral but express a specific worldview.

Entertainment also poses questions. We as the audience must recognize these questions and discover whether the answers presented are true. Even the great William Shakespeare recognized this fact. He wrote, “The purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was to hold as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature.”

The medium of entertainment presents an indispensable opportunity to understand other worldviews. Through a few simple observations, we can recognize these worldviews, and use this knowledge to our advantage.

Characters

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” — As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7

One of the easiest ways to recognize a worldview in a piece of entertainment is based on who is portrayed as good and moral and who is portrayed as evil and immoral.

For instance, in the Star Wars films, ancient Force-using, saber wielding advocates of truth and knowledge, are portrayed as good whereas the Sith, the Jedi’s hateful Force-using, saber wielding deceitful counterparts, are portrayed as evil. This bias emphasizes truth and knowledge as good and hate and deceit as evil.

However, the similarities between the Jedi and Sith methods are worth noting. Both groups use the mystical energy field known as “the Force.”

This Force is impartial as to which side it supports. Both Jedi and Sith can use it as much as their skill and study will permit.

This demonstrates a rater ambiguous morality in the Star Wars universe. Whichever side has more power seems to be seen as the moral side.

This portrayal of morality demonstrates a “New Age” (i.e. Cosmic Humanist) worldview in Star Wars.

Plot

“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” — Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2

As with characters, the plot of entertainment reveals a great deal about the ideas expressed in it. Story is a remarkable device for expressing thoughts.

Gene Rodenberry, creator of Star Trek, once said, “Let me do what we always try to do on Star Trek. Hopefully, entertain you. Perhaps even make you laugh a couple of times. And when your guard is down, slip in a heavy idea or two; because science fiction is a remarkable device for looking at the human condition.”

Every episode of Star Trek had a philosophical, historical, social, or spiritual issue it addressed.

Through the plots of Star Trek, Gene Rodenberry was able to openly talk about ideas that were difficult to talk about in a different medium.

He discussed racism (Let This Be Your Last Battlefield), gender roles (Turnabout Intruder), the nature of reality (Specter of the Gun), religion (The Return of the Archons), the danger of illusions (The Menagerie), and the nature of war (Errand of Mercy) to name a few of the many subject broached on Star Trek.

It was up to the viewers to recognize and think about the program’s handling of these ideas.

The danger in watching these episodes is that, without analyzing these episodes through the lens a proper worldview, false ideas can be subconsciously planted in your mind.

It is very important to always absorb entertainment while actively analyzing its ideas.

When we have the mindset of analyzing our entertainment, we can truly enjoy it.

Discussion

“Now my charms are all o’erthrown” — The Tempest, Act 5, Epilogue

Through the analyzing of characters and plot we can use a proper analysis of entertainment to our advantage.

A year ago I volunteered for my local historical society.

Through my volunteer work I was able to meet a young gentleman named Cody.

One morning Cody and I were discussing Star Trek, a common point of interest. This conversation led to discussing Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, The Golden Compass, and Harry Potter.

Although I am not a fan of the latter two franchises, I was willing to discuss the ideas and questions posed by them.

This line of reasoning eventually concluded in an exchange about the nature of evil, God, and finally Christianity.

If I had not been familiar with the underlying issues presented in Star Trek, we would not have discussed Christianity.

My point is this; Christians should never be complacently entertained.

While we are enjoying the latest Star Wars film or reading a Shakespeare play, the ideas presented in these entertainments give everyone an opportunity to understand and analyze the worldview within it.

Do not let this opportunity go to waste.

I conclude with William Shakespeare’s words, “The purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was to hold as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her image, and the very age and body of the time his form and prescience.”


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Photo courtesy of 1darthvader and Deviant Art.













About the Author

is a 17-year-old from central Illinois. He loves God and wishes to do what he can every day to reflect His light. He has a burden for his generation and wants to awaken them from their slumber of low expectations. Besides writing, he enjoys researching worldviews, reading theological books, and taking long walks on cool afternoons. James is the oldest of four brothers.



  • Trent Blake

    Awesome James! My brother feels the same way. In fact, he is even getting his Master’s degree in Film Studies so he can make movies with the right message. So many people just recite what they hear just because it seemed cool or smart in the movies. Excellent article!

    • Trent,

      That’s awesome! We need Christian filmmakers who will use the powerful medium of entertainment to express the right ideas! Thank you for commenting!

      Signed,

      James W. Ware

      • Trent Blake

        It may seem like an uphill battle, but, if God is for us, who can be against us?And greater is He who is in us then he who is in the world.

        • Trent,

          Amen! God empowers us to share His Truth with all our gifts! We just need to leave ourselves open to the ways He wishes to use us!

          Signed,

          James W. Ware

  • QuietFox42

    So true! If you consider yourself a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, or any like them, you have a huge opportunity to talk to people about Christ through their “fandom.” Do it!

    • QuietFox42,

      Thank you very much! Any pop-cultural connection with the world, whether sports, news, or entertainment, can be used as a wedge to open a conversation for the discussion of spiritual things. Thank you for commenting!

      Signed,

      James W. Ware

    • Trent Blake

      Amen, Fox! And I think that applies to a lot of topics as well. It could be sports, politics, you name it. If you have something in common with someone, then that’s an opportunity to share your faith.

      • Basically, if you think someone might be annoying you by talking about one topic ALL THE TIME, talk to them about it and turn the conversation around to Jesus. Believe it or not, it’s incredibly easy!

        • Trent Blake

          Amen!

  • RJ

    Good Job! this rocks!

    • RJ,

      Thank you very much!

      Signed,

      James W. Ware

  • Kaira PrairieFrogs

    That’s one of the things I love about certain shows such as Doctor Who. If you watch with your brain on, there are many things you can learn—whether I disagree or agree with the point made in the show, it makes me think and work out why I believe what I believe.

    It is very important never to always watch and read intentionally, to grow your mind. Very interesting article.

    • Kaira,

      Yes! Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, and most other science fiction is packed full of deep ideas. Every time we are entertained it is an opportunity to learn and examine other worldviews. I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Thank you for commenting!

      Signed,

      James W. Ware

  • Seth

    Great article. It’s just the way Paul addressed the people in Athens in the Book of Acts, by pointing out the Ultimate Truth, Jesus, from their own poets. Today, it’s not just poets but writers, filmmakers, comic artists, lyricists, etc. I’ve had the opportunity to share the Gospel using Breaking Bad, Watchmen, My Neighbor Totoro and more. We must point men from all General Revelation to Special Revelation as detailed in Romans, for the Glory of Christ.

    Great article James! Keep it up.

    • Seth,

      I realize that my method is hardly original. It has certainly been tried throughout history and demonstrated to be effective! I’m glad that you found the article affective and identified with it! Thank you for commenting!

      Signed,

      James W. Ware

  • I had the pleasure of reading this article before it was published. Its author has offered excellent insight into how we can use entertainment for our edification.

    • Wes,

      Thank you for your kind words, my friend!

      Signed,

      James W. Ware

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