The first thing I did when I exited my screening of Star Trek Beyond last night wasn’t check my email, or browse Twitter, or even passive-aggressively look at Facebook. Before anything else, I texted my mom. I didn’t expect a response — it was nearly 11 p.m. her time when I left the theater — but I’m a Star Trek fan because of her. If she hadn’t watched the shows, purchased the movies on VHS, or read the books when I was young, I would have never learned to love the voyages of the USS Enterprise. (You don’t choose to be a fan of Star Trek; it’s chosen for you.) I certainly wouldn’t have a bought to ticket to see Beyond — a movie that seems to be immune to buzz, despite extremely positive reviews — on opening night, surrounded by other Trek fans in Spock shirts and Starfleet pins. I felt like I owed her the text. Star Trek has brought so much joy to my life, and although it’s only a silly science-fiction franchise, I think my mom is happy that she passed something down to me.
So, I was feeling good when I returned home after the movie, which, for the record, I really enjoyed. (It’s basically Fast Five in space, an entertaining mix of action and characters who deeply care for each other.) Then I went on Twitter, and all that optimism — that the reboots had rebounded after the disastrous Into Darkness, that my mom and I would have a fun time ranking the films, that although Sulu and his husband didn’t kiss, at least there was a prominent gay character — vanished. Donald Trump was trending.
Trump, a former reality show host with the looks of an M-113 creature, accepted the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland. That doesn’t mean he’s going to sit in America’s proverbial captain’s chair (he still has Hillary Clinton, who has a not-insignificant lead in the polls, to deal with), but Trump has gotten much further than anyone expected. You think that’s scary? Get a load of his speech. Trump painted a “dark, frightening portrait of America,” with special attention paid to “crimes committed by illegal immigrants [and] blaming the rise of ISIS and other problems on Hillary Clinton and Democratic President Barack Obama.” The loaded word “threat” came out of his mouth multiple times, and he claimed that “America is far less safe — and the world is far less stable — than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America’s foreign policy.” Basically, this once great country of ours is f*cked, unless we elect Trump as our overlord.
This was a jarring transition from Star Trek Beyond, to say the least.