President Obama Flashes Vulcan Salute (Twice) At Correspondent Dinner – Is Trek Cool Again? |
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President Obama Flashes Vulcan Salute (Twice) At Correspondent Dinner – Is Trek Cool Again? June 20, 2009

by Staff , Filed under: Humor,Trek Franchise , trackback

Last night was the annual Radio and TV Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington DC. Traditionally it is a light-hearted evening attended by the current President with comic entertainment. The Daily Show’s John Hodgman was the entertainment who focused on President Obama’s ‘nerdcore’, including Star Trek credentials. We have video below, plus an infographic analyzing how Star Trek is ‘cool again’.


Hodgman declares Obama ‘first nerd president’
In the below video of Hodgman’s routine, there are multiple references to Star Trek as well as other pop culture nerdy references. The refs start around 6:50 and are peppered after that, including two moments where Obama shows a Vulcan salute (at 9:30 and 13:40). The last minute or so is an homage to Star Trek II.


Star Trek Cool Again?
This is just latest recent example of Star Trek showing up in media. With Star Trek being the number one box office of the movie so far and with it showing up on chat shows, SNL, awards shows and in politics, it seems that Star Trek is mainstream and (dare we say it) cool again. In fact this week SciFiWire decided that this subject was worthy of a handy infographic. 

SciFi Wire analyzes Trek coolness factors


Thanks Marko and Drew.


1. Keith - June 20, 2009


2. JeFF - June 20, 2009

It’s good to be cool… Trek LIVES!

3. Mr. Anonymous - June 20, 2009

Ha. Awesome. =)

4. marvin - June 20, 2009

final few seconds of that clip are beyond words

5. Denise de Arman - June 20, 2009

Somebody pass Obama some pointy ears already!

6. Jake - June 20, 2009

lol that was great!

7. Alhein - June 20, 2009

That’s awesome!

8. AJ - June 20, 2009

As As far as I’m concerned, “Trek” has been, and always shall be, cool.

9. Plum - June 20, 2009

That whole John Hodgman speech is really worth it. Thanks for posting it Trekmovie, PTM, whomever. :)

And a big Vulcan salute to the President of the United States!

10. MP - June 20, 2009

The masses are finally realizing Trek’s vision has a lot to offer. Awesome.

11. Anthony Pascale - June 20, 2009

Guys, this article is just like all other articles where we report on Star Trek showing up in popular culture. It is not an excuse to turn this into a partisan political fight. Please no political trolling. If you feel very strongly about politics and want to attack some politician or group, there are tons of political blogs and sites for you to do that.

This site is about Star Trek. This article is just bout Star Trek showing up in the mainstream and being ‘cool again’

12. Clinton - June 20, 2009

Guess the pie chart was made up before Trek showed up at the Country Music Awards, too.

Trek Rulz!

13. Sam Belil - June 20, 2009

Star Trek cool again??? Are you kidding me???
Star Trek has ALWAYS and will ALWAYS be cool!
Remember this is a franchise that has existed for 45 years!
What Abrams and Company did in a brilliant way was make it relevant again, and of course capture the masses!

14. Odradek - June 20, 2009

that hodgman guy is brilliant

15. Not First! - June 20, 2009

Not bad for a PC!

Anthony, sorry about the technology partisanship!

16. Matt D - June 20, 2009

The last time Trek felt impoortant and cool was in the peak of the TNG years. “Best of Both Worlds” era.

It’s good to be back.

17. Will_H - June 20, 2009

Yeah, just because Trek’s been around doesnt mean its been cool for the entire time, and yeah, I think the only time it was really considered cool at all were the best of the TNG days and also when First Contact came out. That was, at least in how accessible it was to the non-Trekkies, the closest thing to this new Star Trek. And it does help to have a president who’s a big and vocal fan of it, especially one who’s approval ratings are rather good.

18. Gummy - June 20, 2009

And this is news?

19. JIM - June 20, 2009

it was always cool, but now the others know it too

20. VZX - June 20, 2009

ST09 just passed ST:TMP on Friday as the highest attended Star Trek film of all time. My guess it will top out at about $250 mill.

It also looks like Up will pass it up in about 10 days, and Transformers 2 will probably pass up both of those. Still, it was nice to have Star Trek as the top movie of the year for a month.

21. screaming satellite - June 20, 2009

its 1982-86, 1990-91 (and 1996 sorta) all over again!!

22. Richard Daystrom - June 20, 2009

So when is he going administer 23rd Century answers to 20th century problems that don’t involve massive taxes?????

23. JWM - June 20, 2009

#22 – as funny as that is (and I thank you for the laugh), I hope you’re prepared for the tidal wave of hate that is going to overwhelm you.

As a philosophical question, does it follow that Star Wars fans should all love Reagan because he loved Star Wars and made public reference to it?

And personally, I’m really sick of the whole “Revenge of the Nerd” angle that people take whenever something with a sci-fi sensibility is successful. X-Files supposedly showed that nerds were cool. Star Trek is *once again* supposedly showing nerds are cool. Current cultural history is replete with these moments.

But they occur at specific points that the series/franchise/story detaches itself from its hard-core nerdiness and makes an effort to be less nerdy by default — example: Star Trek IV. Even Star Trek VI, which wasn’t even thinly veiled as socio-political commentary, but rather current history with phaser effects and pointy ears.

X-Files moved into the realm of the government conspiracy during the 1990s, when everyone was realizing that politicians were no longer even thinly veiling their corruption and self-serving nature.

And this iteration of Star Trek, as much as I really, really enjoyed it, lacked the “sci fi core” that a die-hard fan of real science fiction seeks. So, it was viewed as good and accessible, and by being accessible it is by definition less nerdy.

And yet none of us are less nerdy – because we grok Spock, debate bitterly about canon details and regard these characters more as friends than fiction.

And just because Obama likes Trek doesn’t make him, or us, cool or correct in anything. It just means he’s younger than the average president and smoked less weed than Clinton.

24. Mike Ten - June 20, 2009

I like your pie chart, especially since it is the classic TOS Enterprise and not the JJprise. Not a dig against the new movie, I just like the original Enterprise design better. I miss the glowing red nacelle caps….

25. Vedek Bariel - June 20, 2009

Obama even does the salute properly, unlike one of the movie’s writers. I couldn’t believe that pic in the latest Trek mag.

26. MORN SPEAKS - June 20, 2009

Not trying to get political, BUT this is my favorite President!

27. Tony Whitehead - June 20, 2009

Not Cannon! The nacelles are upside down!


(always wanted to do that)

28. Eric - June 20, 2009

I want to see President Obama in some alien makeup playing the Federation President.

29. Doughboy - June 20, 2009

And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!

Does this mean Obama is a big Dune fan?

30. Richard - June 20, 2009

Eh. Obama’s not the arbiter of “cool.” I give more credence to Wired and The Onion.

31. 750Mang - June 20, 2009

Obama doing the Vulcan salute is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

32. Anthony Pascale - June 20, 2009

OK one more time I ask people to stop trying to turn this into something political. TrekMovie has long held a policy of reporting when Star Trek shows up anywhere, be it SNL, MTV, Country Music Awards or a political event or whatever. It is not an endorsement, just a fact. We would report this regardless of what party the politician is, In fact earlier this week we put up a video of a Republican talking Trek.

This all shows that Star Trek is bi-partisan. Do not troll this thread with partisan and personal attacks, that is not what Star Trek is all about.

33. Shunnabunich - June 20, 2009

Shai-Hulud, a thumper, the Water of Life. :)

34. Brad - June 20, 2009

That was hilarious!!

35. Rastaman - June 20, 2009

Great references throughout.

36. Capttravis - June 20, 2009

#33 – I remembered ‘thumper,’ but the other two were way past me. Well done – doubly well done if you didn’t Google it first :-)

37. Trekkie16 - June 20, 2009

That was awesome and I loved the Obama and Superman picture. I think Obama should be in the new movie in a cameo role as a Vulcan. Maybe him and Spock Prime can have a scene together.

38. Hat Rick - June 20, 2009

Isn’t John Hodgman the guy who plays “PC” in the Apple commercials?

39. cagmar - June 20, 2009

Yeah, “It was actually good” in the pie chart kinda got me thinking. STXI was definitely a good movie (no 8/10, mind you) but was it actually decent Star Trek? Not really.

I’m not sure that movie was at all Star Trek. Star Trek I think was originally about taking issues and ideas and wrapping them in sci-fi and fights so nobody censored them. Later, it became about openly exploring those things and engaging with theory, philosophy and history, without having to hide it under action. I think… this new ST movie was kind of the opposite. It looks like the team got a run-of-the-mill action pic and dressed it up in sci-fi … but that’s not Trek. They’re missing the middle part, where the action and sci-fi service intellect and social discussion. In STXI there was no idea. JJ et al kept saying they wanted it to relate to today — but how does it relate, except that it’s telling me audiences don’t like to wait or think and that bangs and colour are all that matters…

I’ve heard many times that one cannot write smarter than he or she is in reality. We’ve definitely got creative, energetic people in charge… but how smart can they write? Guess we’ll see.

40. Hat Rick - June 20, 2009

I’ve not only downloaded the soundtrack for the current Star Trek movie, but played my favorite parts about twenty times apiece. No exaggeration. I’m wearing out my MP3 player. The new movie — it stays with you. The music alone, stays with you.

I don’t have any doubt whether this new movie is Trek. It is.


As for the Obama toast, it is not only Trek-wise, but a classic good-natured reference to nerdishness, geekiness, and the tendency of certain people, yours truly hopefully included, to avoid making prejudgments simply because we are all too busy learning about the infinitely complex world in which we all must live rather than deciding we know enough about it already to blindly condemn others for transgressions, whether real or perceived.

There is a reason that so many smart people are nerdy, and it’s not because the world is such a simple place.

I’m a PC. And I’m a Mac, too. And so should we all.

41. Shunnabunich - June 20, 2009

#36: Thanks, it was indeed from memory. I just about wore out those books when I was a kid. :P

42. Rosario T. Calabria - June 20, 2009

Hodgman’s whole bit was outstanding! Definitely worth it to watch the entire clip.

Cool to see President Obama flash the salute again..and again. I tell you what though, I was expecting Hodgman to transition from that pic of Leonard Nimoy as Spock to the photoshopped Obama/Spock one.

That would have just capped it all off perfectly.

43. Timncc1701 - June 20, 2009

Trek will remain cool despite Obama’s attempts to hitch his star to it.

44. S. John Ross - June 20, 2009

Trek will remain cool despite JJ Abrams’ attempts to hitch his star to it.

45. Trekkie - June 20, 2009

Star Trek will always be cool.

But Obama saluting Star Trek is even cooler.

46. alberto - June 20, 2009

my congratulations to new star trek cast!

47. Spockish - June 21, 2009

You have to realize that why some trekkers go semi orgasmic when there GOD does something Trek like they are delighted more than you could imagine. They can have their fun now, it’s just how long can it last.

We have to remember it may be centurys before it happens again.

Star Trek is getting much attention now due to it’s newness and unique aspects, in time the shine may fade, but the real test is can JJ and crew keep the Trek Emblem polished, bright and shinny for more years than he puts into it.

Gene Roddenberry had these talents, and I do hope JJ Abrams was granted with the same talents. Either way may JJ and crew live long and prosper.

48. Andy Patterson - June 21, 2009

By Crom! Star Trek was always cool to me.

49. Kirk's Girdle - June 21, 2009

I remember Crom, the Thumper and the Water of Life. Couldn’t remember the Fremen name for the sandworms though

50. Mike - June 21, 2009

Star Trek has never been cool including right now. Yeah, sorry.

51. Kirk's Girdle - June 21, 2009

The references to Obama’s gangly frame and obviously prosthetic ears were hilarious.

52. Mike - June 21, 2009

49. I forgot thumper. The sandworm is Shai-Hulud.

53. Liz - June 21, 2009


54. hawaiowa - June 21, 2009

Interesting on how some of the Trek jokes garnered the most laughs, and notso as a mocking satire. Trek is firmly embedded in US culture and perhaps it is time for it to become popular overseas. I have a sense that Trek is as popular in many countries as Kikkaider is in the US, namely that no one has heard of it, or it is not relevant to their culture to the degree that it is recognizable. Now, there is a popular film that is bringing it home using the most basic language that can transcend culture: archetype. The use of the ‘monomyth’ in this iteration of Trek perchance gives it greater recognizability.

I can remember the warm feeling I had in the mid 1980s when some of the ‘middle-east’ countries started up BBS Trek RPGs. This vindicates the ‘geek’ label for Trek, as in the mid-80s, the majority of those who were computer-literate *were* geeks, the internet wasn’t a big AOL-infested shopping mall for Joe Everyman, blogs didn’t exist, and Trek was popular with the Info Services set; so naturally the geeks overseas were warm on Trek.

Seeing Trek this visible on the cultural spectrum is a good thing. Although negative ‘anti-hero’ stereotypes are more accessible, in the long run they are diminished because a culture can sustain the formulation of them only so long, because the impetus of mediocrity which makes such ‘negative’ stereotypes so popular eventually exhausts itself. Translated: Trek *does* represent some of the best things in ourselves, encourages us to excel, encourages us to meditate on the currency of our social and culture situations, and simply inspires us to eschew mediocrity. Although the new movie didn’t encapsulate all of these in its brief two hours, it did bring across a sense of taking a catharsis (the potential for good outweighs the presence of Evil) and running with it. It would be a easy to draw an analogy between Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” and Trek’s particular branding of optimism.

But overall, this trending of Trek is not so much the result of the movie but perhaps is the product of a culture which is evolving *back* into a modus of ‘striving’ rather than ‘settling’ for success.

55. The first nerd President | Random Fate - June 21, 2009

[…] to for the link to the […]

56. sean - June 21, 2009


“Star Trek I think was originally about taking issues and ideas and wrapping them in sci-fi and fights so nobody censored them”

Nope. It was about bringing the wild west into space and entertaining people for an hour. Anything else was secondary.

57. TJ Trek - June 21, 2009

Although I do not agree with the president on a lot of things, this was a cool video. Thanks for posting it.

However, It was almost better when Trek wasn’t quite as out there as Star Wars, Is anyone feeling me on that.

58. joeschmo - June 21, 2009

Obama’s not cool but Trek definitely is!

59. joeschmo - June 21, 2009

oh and #50……you Trek hater! :)

60. bobd - June 21, 2009

#22. Richard Daystrom:

1. Taxes are the price you pay for living in a civilized country. If you and your Libertarian pals don’t want to pay taxes, please go move somewhere with no police or fire department or roads or courts and enjoy.

2. He HASN’T raised taxes.

61. TrekMadeMeWonder - June 21, 2009

Let’s not forget to consider Nimoy’s tale of how the salute originated.

Excellent pie chart by the way.

62. Partially Bigoted Zealots - June 21, 2009

Easily the best part of the speech is referring to Obama as the Kwisatz Haderach, immediately followed with “Hello nerds.”

63. JusticeBoy - June 21, 2009

So many Dune references! I loved it!

Don’t tell my two kids, Paul & Alia!

Seriously. I named my kids Paul & Alia.

64. Sci-Fi Bri - June 22, 2009

whens the dune movie coming out?

65. Leonel - June 22, 2009

Awesome that Trek is cool again!

I was at a friend’s recently, celebrating her son’s graduation from 6th grade. Her older 16yr-old son also brought friends over. The kids started talking about how cool Star Trek was, I was floored.. felt great!


66. James Heaney - Wowbagger - June 22, 2009

Awesome. Love John Hodgman. And–whatever my political leanings–I’ve got to admit, he’s probably right. Obama is definitely more nerdy than, say, George W. Bush! :P

67. Dovile - June 23, 2009

54. hawaiowa said:
“I have a sense that Trek is as popular in many countries as Kikkaider is in the US, namely that no one has heard of it, or it is not relevant to their culture to the degree that it is recognizable. Now, there is a popular film that is bringing it home using the most basic language that can transcend culture: archetype. ”

I couldn’t agree with you more.

I’m for one of such countries where noone has ever heard of ‘Star Trek’ that you’re speaking of (Lithuania, anyone?). None of ST series has EVER aired here and NONE of the 10 previous movies were shown at cinemas; the first 5 ST movies were shown on TV once (and so very late in the evening, that I really doubt anyone watched them but me), and ‘Nemesis’ only twice. Only 4-5 ST novels were ever translated from English and published here (with wrong covers, BTW – as in a DS9 cover on a ST Orig. novel), and NO other merchandise whatsoever. I myself became acquainted and fell in love with ST quite accidentally and only due a satellite TV (SAT-1 channel) from Germany where ST is a similar cultural phenomenon as it is in the US.

So, if just a couple months ago you said ‘Spock’, ‘Enterprise’ or flashed a Vulcan salute over here, noone would’ve got the reference. But now the new movie comes in and it is quite well received, and hopefully it has made some people, who have seen it, curious about more from ST universe too.

68. Chris Rod - June 23, 2009

i love it! the ending gave me CHILLS!!!
Obama is SPOCK!!!!

69. ROBERTO - June 24, 2009

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