Thursday, August 18, 2005

I forget -- is it Trekkies or Trekkers who are canon?

Why are the Trek boards so full of really dumb discussions of canon and Trekkie vs Trekker lately? Yeah, they pop up every so often, but they seem to be everywhere right now. And what's really annoying is that each new poster who comes by to add his or her two cents is just doing a drive-by posting, regurgitating the same misunderstandings and misinformation that have been already been corrected. They aren't reading any of the other posts.

Ultimately, these are probably the two lamest and geekiest discussions I ever get myself caught up in, because I have enough sense to avoid the "Could the Enterprise beat a Star Destroyer" and "Who's the best captain" arguments. So why bother? Well, because canon and T vs T aren't matters of opinion, they're matters of fact, but fan after fan, in the need for self-expression without thought, treats them as matters of opinion, passing on myths and misunderstandings.

I've already had my say on the matter of canon, and much to my delight other people refer to it during recurrences of the canon thrash. Allyn Gibson's "personal canon" rant takes care of the other half of the canon problem.

Now, Trekkie vs Trekker...

I think my first exposure to the idea that the two terms actually had different meanings may have come from the documentary Trekkies, in which someone selling stuff at a con goes on to give definitions of the terms that I had never heard before. Then I came across one of those "You're a Trekker if this, you're a Trekkie if that" lists floating around the Internet.

So there are two theories about the difference between the words. One has to do with one's degree of fanaticism; the other says that that Trekker is a "politically correct" new term invented by people when TNG caught on and people didn't want to be known as Trekkies.

They're both wrong.

A Trekker has never been anything other than a Star Trek fan who doesn't want to be called a Trekkie. A Trekkie has never been anything other than a Star Trek fan who doesn't mind being called a Trekkie.

It's easy enough to clear up the "new fans = Trekkers" myth. For that matter, if you read the stuff below, it doesn't differentiate between types of Star Trek fans, either. This is not from the era of The Next Generation. It's not from the movie era. It's from nearly thirty years ago, which I strongly suspect is before many of the participants in these discussions were born. Fans weren't using the Internet or AOL or anything like that back then, so the "Trekker" meme had to have been floating around fandom for some time before it appeared in the magazines scanned below.

From the first couple of issues of All About Star Trek Fan Clubs Magazine, published in 1976 and 1977:

Call yourself whatever you like. But don't make up your own definitions. I'm a Star Trek fan, myself. Never cared for either Trekkie or Trekker.

(Now playing: Malka Spigel, "Like Machines," My Pet Fish.)


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