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President Obama Talks Importance of Star Trek with Wired

President Obama, MIT's Joi Ito, and Wired's Scott Dadich discuss Star Trek in the Roosevelt Room. Image courtesy of Wired.

Star Trek fan and U.S. President Barack Obama, serving as guest editor for Wired’s November issue, discussed with Wired editor in chief Scott Dadich and MIT media lab Director Joi Ito how he grew up on Star Trek, the importance of the series, and how the Enterprise and her crew are like the United States: diverse, cooperative, and up for any challenge.

Obama, in a sweeping interview about technology and the future, mentioned that he was a “sucker” for Star Trek as a kid. He used to watch the same twenty episodes over and over again.

“I was a sucker for Star Trek when I was a kid. They were always fun to watch. What made the show lasting was it wasn’t actu­ally about technology. It was about values and relationships. Which is why it didn’t matter that the special effects were kind of cheesy and bad, right? They’d land on a planet and there are all these papier-mâché boulders. [Laughs.] But it didn’t matter because it was really talking about a notion of a common humanity and a confidence in our ability to solve problems.”

The President lauded Star Trek’s depiction of a diverse crew working across boundaries, either real or perceived, to solve problems.

“Star Trek, like any good story, says that we’re all complicated, and we’ve all got a little bit of Spock and a little bit of Kirk [laughs] and a little bit of Scotty, maybe some Klingon in us, right? But that is what I mean about figuring it out. Part of figuring it out is being able to work across barriers and differences. There’s a certain faith in rationality, tempered by some humility. Which is true of the best art and true of the best science. The sense that we possess these incredible minds that we should use, and we’re still just scratching the surface, but we shouldn’t get too cocky. We should remind ourselves that there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know.”

Obama felt that a more recent piece of art, 2015’s The Martian, also demonstrated Star Trek’s spirit of coming together to overcome difficulties and solve problems.

A recent movie captured the same spirit—The Martian. Not because it had a hugely complicated plot, but because it showed a bunch of different people trying to solve a problem. And employing creativity and grit and hard work, and having confidence that if it’s out there, we can figure it out. That is what I love most about America and why it continues to attract people from all around the world for all of the challenges that we face, that spirit of “Oh, we can figure this out.” And what I value most about science is this notion that we can figure this out. Well, we’re gonna try this—if it doesn’t work, we’re gonna figure out why it didn’t work and then we’re gonna try something else. And we will revel in our mistakes, because that is gonna teach us how to ultimately crack the code on the thing that we’re trying to solve. And if we ever lose that spirit, then we’re gonna lose what is essential about America and what I think is essential about being human.

Take a look at Wired’s short summary of the President’s remarks dealing with Star Trek, or check out the full interview.

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And Trump likes the New Girl. ;)

THANK YOU, Mr. President, for stating publically what we all have been thinking:)

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

gonna miss this guy when he leaves office <3

Not me.

And now you have the choice between two people who are both liars and idiots. Flip a coin.

Really, weather you like him or not he has been the most divisive president in history. Ask the police. And the economy is lovely. Oh that;s the fault of the people NOT in charge.

Can’t blame Obama for having to clean up all Bush’s messes.

@CaptainSheridan

Its been nearly 8 years… He’s had plenty of time. It’s time to start taking on some blame here.

Not nearly enough time, but we could argue that to eternity and I don’t planning on living that long…

@CaptainSheridan

Better yet… Lets place blame exactly where it lies… On Democrats AND Republicans. Our two party system has failed us.

Every government falls eventually, its only a matter of time I suppose

Yep. Obama could have come up with the cure for cancer and the republicans would fight it tooth and nail…not because it’s bad, but because it came from Obama. Hitler could rise from the dead and run for office and despite his known character, if he won the nomination, republicans would vote for him, because he built Germany into a superpower and they must defeat the democrats at all costs! Integrity and ethics be damned. And the same for the democrats…if a republican comes up with an honestly great idea, it must be squashed…not because it’s bad, but because it’s came from a republican. Sigh. And what’s mind boggling is that there are voters in both parties who are so naive to think believe that the candidates actually give 2 shits about them. They promise the world….can’t work together to come through with anything and instead butter the bread of the huge special interest groups that have donated millions to assure they get favors….whether the constituents want it or not.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

He wasn’t divisive on his own. Mitch McConnell pledged to not work with him before he even moved into the White House. Nuff said about that. Here he talks about Star Trek and working together to solve our problems, etc., and you had to shit on it.

The divisiveness came not from the President, but from the people in our country who couldn’t stand that a black man was the president. Therefore, they did anything and everything they could to slander him with crazy conspiracy theories, and to block his progressive policies.

Domestically, he instituted or pushed for many long-needed changes, such as LGBT rights, which is in fact, constitutional, as the supreme court has affirmed and upheld. His foreign record has been (to me) somewhat less than stellar, but he was handed W’s hornet’s nest of conflicts and problems, and has done what he could do with W’s horrible and dirty messes.

Bottom line, the domestic social issues have been worth all the difficulties of the past two terms. I’d vote for him again if I could, to keep an intelligent progressive at 1600.

LLAP

@Vokar

“The divisiveness came not from the President, but from the people in our country who couldn’t stand that a black man was the president.”

There we have it folks… Where the divisiveness has been coming from all along. Ignorant comments like this. Because you cannot disagree with the policies of a black man and not be a racist.

How about this; take a lesson from Star Trek, walk across the street, greet your conservative neighbor and try to meet him/her half way. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Its amazing how you could love and aspire to such a great concept as what Star Trek presents but yet be so backward and anti-progress.

Bravo…

Vokar [and many others, including myself] consider the racist politics of the Republican Right Wing, safely couched over the last decades in “dog-whistle” commentary and voter response. It is this which is backward and anti-progress to an extreme. They are climate change deniers. They are deniers of rights to women. They are deniers of the vote to legitimate citizens. I could go on.

I am happy to dialogue with conservatives, but not the ones who don’t know their history and deny facts.

“In your heart you know he’s right” applies here much better than it did in 1964.

To be fair, there were some 40+ Presidents that didn’t have a congress dedicated to blocking him and publically gloated about it. They also didn’t have the opposition yell “You lie!” while giving a State of the Union address. Classless move by a rich white party that didn’t want to see President Blackenstein have any success. So call people ignorant all you want. It doesn’t change the facts.

Also, this same party nominated the epitome of rich whitey racist, so there’s that.

Vokar,
I agree completely.

It is so nice having a person of high intelligence in the Oval Office. I don’t agree with everything Obama has done. But in the areas where he has tried to make progress for our health, for our middle- and lower-class, for reform, the Republican congress fought him all the way, and even had the gall to state at the beginning of Obama’s first term that they would not let him have a single success.

At least he got Osama bin Laden out of the picture in the Middle East.

Marja,

“We reach.” ;)

LLAP

If I was an American, I’d be doing the same.

That’s patently false. The comments was made in an interview in October 2010, TWO YEARS AFTER Obama’s election. In the interview, McConnell said “the public had the impression we Republicans overpromised and underdelivered… We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government.” McConnell was speaking about the frustrations of Obama refusing to work with Congress. When asked about it, McConnell said “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president … if he’s willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it’s not inappropriate for us to do business with him. … I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change. So, we’ll see. The next move is going to be up to him.” McConnell in fact cited an extension of the Bush tax cuts — and Obama did strike such a deal shortly after the midterm elections. There is no doubt that McConnell said he wanted to make Obama a one-term president. But he did not say it at the start of Obama’s term; instead, he made his comments at the midpoint, after Obama had enacted many of his preferred policies over the objections of Congress. I believe President Obama has been a good man, but he’s also been divisive on many things at the same time, refusing to work with his opponents… Read more »

Very well stated. And for the record, both parties always have the job of making the president of the apposing party a one term president. That’s just common sense because they have different agendas. What’s the big deal?

he is not the most divisive president in the country.

all the closet racist people came out and showed their true colors when he got elected.

And there’s another one. Keep up the tolerance.

@honey

Exactly!

LLAP

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah! Meanwhile back in the Delta Quadrant….

The only person he’s proved ‘divisive’ to is bigots like yourself. As for his record, check this out, then get back to me.

Hey, can we reel back the urges to assess his presidency, and just agree that his observations about Trek are, generally, spot on?
There….that didn’t hurt much, did it?

Indeed, Phil. Anyone in office is going to be hated by half the populous, and loved by the other half. We can appreciate the man in office warts and all, and agree with his comments about Trek.

I’ll miss him, like a case of the crabs.

So will I-he proved that a black man can do anything and succeed at doing it.

President Obama is a good man.

Maybe in the mirror universe.

/Watch Fox News much

Kennedy would have loved Star Trek

Lincoln would have too.

Politics aside, it’s cool to have the president show some love to Trek.

Regardless of what you think about him, let’s all agree it’s cool having a Star Trek fan in office. I also concur that like Star Trek, The Martian is also a great movie of diversity and human determination. LLAP

I guess you only like diversity of color and gender but not opinion and belief.

Diversity of opinion and belief is great. Diversity of reality is not.

You’ve made three different sneering comments on this story so far. It’s clear that you’re the one having a hard time dealing with opinions that differ from your own. You should work on that.

My ‘sneering’ comments were factual and truthful and that’s what I am concerned with. Exactly what did I say that wasn’t truthful. I didn’t insult anyone including Obama but on the other hand you did with your condescension. Do you really think the country is better off today? And yes I am having a problem with a President and party purposely dividing the country. I know it’s on both sides but he is the President and is supposed to rise above it. Calling everyone who disagrees with him racist is the prefect example. Calling everyone racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, Islamophobic, etc. to anyone with a different opinion is not a good way to bring people together to understand each other. Making people afraid to express their opinion with being labeled the aforementioned. Look at how many people didn’t report on any of the recent attacks solely because they were afraid of being labeled the aforementioned. Please explain his statement before being elected ‘We are 5 days from fundamentally transforming America’. Please answer why you would want to FUNDAMENTALLY transform the country you say you love. Would you say that about the person you are about to marry?

Sometimes that is true about context but not in this case. He specifically said ‘Transform’. Not fix, correct , re do or anything else and I take people for what they say especially politicians that will be responsible for things affecting my life. And based on his beliefs growing up as well as what he has accomplished and tried to accomplish while in office, he well meant ‘Transform’. Think about it, how many times has he praised America for what it’s done. He ran around the world apologizing for us. Please don’t try to put them in context. No country is perfect but what this country has done and achieved far out ways any bad things. Your just making excuses instead of holding them responsible. I could go on about his entire statement there how entirely hypocritical it is but I don’t think you care or will simply excuse it away because you like the guy. Let’s be honest, if you excuse BS then you will just get more of it. Put that in context. Do a little honest research about him. Don’t believe things just because you want to or don’t want to. By the way I’m not here to defend either party but to set the facts straight. To many people like to lie to themselves cause the truth hurts. One final question, can a person claim to be pro woman, gay, equality etc and take money for personal gain from people that are the complete opposite then… Read more »

An apology is not weak. An apology was needed, it was civilized, and it let the world know we don’t think everything we do is perfect.

@G66 I’ll reply to your points in hopes that you aren’t the troll you appear to be: (1) You wrote: “My ‘sneering’ comments were factual and truthful and that’s what I am concerned with.” NO, they were not factual in any way. They were you sneering at people’s opinions, but they had no factual value at all. (2) “Exactly what did I say that wasn’t truthful?” When did I accuse you on untruths, G66? NOWHERE. You didn’t write anything fact-based, so there was no truth value to evaluate. (3) “I didn’t insult anyone…” Nor did I accuse you of doing so. NEXT! (4) “Do you really think the country is better off today?” Yes, by every metric that matters, the US is better off now than before Obama’s presidency began. Everything from the stock market to unemployment, across the board, has improved. In some cases, not much–too many jobs are underpaying, wages are too low in general. But yes, by pretty much every sane measure, we are better off than before Obama’s presidency. (5) “Calling everyone who disagrees with him racist…” This is a false claim, 100% devoid of truth, so it deserves nothing but contempt. It has zero truth value. It’s a lie. It’s B.S. (6) “Calling everyone racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, Islamaphobic, etc. to anyone with a different opinion…” Yeah, this is another bogus claim, another outright LIE that shows you are devoid of honesty in this discussion. Shame on you. (7) “Look at how many people didn’t… Read more »

I, for one, was quite eager to FUNDAMENTALLY transform ” ‘W’s” Amurca, because his America was not one I felt proud to live in.

It’s not disagreeing that gives away the racism. It’s how you disagree. Like interrupting the State of the Union to shout “You lie!”. Why is that racist? Because the GOP member that shouted it disagreed with Obama, but he felt compelled to do that to the first black President, completely trying to humiliate him, disrespect him and letting him know he wasn’t making the “Good Ol’ Boy” Network very happy.

Cool your jets, G66. The post is about the presidents comments on Trek, not his presidency. I’m sure there are plenty of other pages out there where you can vent your spleen about the guy.

G66, Where in my previous comment did I frown or discourage opinion or belief? Apparently you are on a predetermined agenda with a lot of pent up anger. PaulB, John Duchak and Phil also have noticed this. Go see a doctor about this and take care of yourself.

What does the Martian have to do with diversity? Human determination yes. I didn’t mean to claim you discouraged opinion or belief. Now a days whenever someone brings up diversity it’s always about race and gender only. Sorry for the assumption.

It’s been great having a Trekkie in the Oval Office. We should only elect people who can explain the significance of “The Devil in the Dark.” :-)

Given the recent American history, it would be more preferable if they could explain “A Taste of Armageddon”. :P

I chose “The Devil in the Dark” because I think understanding it would help prevent us from getting to the point the Eminarians were in during “A Taste of Armageddon.” While “I’m not going to kill TODAY’ is better than killing, I’d prefer it if we never got to the point where we wanted to kill…

Gene L Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease

…and BOTH Devil in the Dark and Taste of Armageddon were written by…wait for it…

Gene L. Coon!

The Gene who didn’t create ST, but the Gene who gave us the Star Trek we love.

Gene L Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease,

Re:Taste of Armageddon … written by…Gene L. Coon!

Saying Coon wrote A TASTE OF ARMAGEDDON is like saying Roddnberry wrote CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER:

http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf5z09n9vr/dsc/?query=meetings#ref386

simply not the whole story nor the complete unvarnished truth.

Gene L Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease.

Yes, I know! He only wrote the teleplay. Got your attention though. My point is more that Coon gave us more essential Trek than the other Gene. It is inarguably true. The banter, the memorable rules, the villains, Kirk’s personality. All Coon. Problem is that he died in ’74.

Imagine what TMP could have been had he lived, and was allowed to be involved.

Gene L Coon was a U. S. Marine. Stand at ease.,

Re: He only wrote the teleplay.

No, he polished a teleplay. There’s a distinct difference, even if he contributed enough to get joint credit, saying he wrote it without mentioning the other credited author is a gross mischaracterization, especially given the elements of the story upon which we were focusing here, were clearly not a contribution of either Coon’s or Steven Carabatsos, as the STARLOG article and the teleplay’s original author makes clear.

It’s true that Gene Coon is not as widely appreciated as he deserves! Much of what we love about Star Trek is due to this Gene and not the other one.

That said, there were more people involved in writing “A Taste of Armageddon” than just Mr. Coon.

Corylea, Re: there were more people involved in writing “A Taste of Armageddon” than just Mr. Coon Indeed: https://archive.org/details/starlog_magazine-199 “I don’t consider myself an SF writer, but science fiction and Westerns allow writers to say and do interesting things. You can get by censorship. The network’s attention is on the action-adventure format. … At the time, the military was developing neutron bombs. These were designed to kill people without harming the buildings. It was like big business going to war. ‘Don’t destroy the factories — just kill the workers!’ I thought it would be terrible if a neutron bomb were developed. It would take all of the devastation out of war and just leave death. In Star Trek, after the computers are destroyed [by Kirk], the leaders say, ‘If our deaths aren’t registered in the computer, a real war will start.’ Kirk says, ‘Good.’ If they’re faced with that threat, maybe they’ll finally sit down and talk to each other and arrange for some peace. That was the whole idea of the script when I walked into Gene Coon’s office. … The script was written during the Vietnam War. I believed that when you condition people over time, generation after generation, they believe whatever their government is saying is truth. It appalled me that these kids were going over to die in Vietnam. They were just taking their orders and accepting it. Vietnam was the first war that America fought where we didn’t know what we were fighting for. I… Read more »

Thanks, Disinvited; that was interesting!

I”ve always enjoyed star trek.ha!ha!president Obama thought the sets on star trek were cheesy!but,a diverse crew,thats what gene Roddenberry envisioned with that show in those days.from:betsye j.thomas

Hear, hear.

Yes it’s good to have a Trek fan in the White House except we got Spock and not Kirk and as any Trek fan knows Vulcans don’t make good captains.

20 episodes!?

Um…yeah. What’s so surprising about that? There are only about 20 re-watchable TOS episodes, and really not that many more of TNG (if any), so it’s not surprising that Obama, like many fans, watched his favorites repeatedly.

What may Trump like about Star Trek? Mini skirts? Photon torpedoes?

A Deltan female on vacation from her oath of celibacy?

:D Good one…

True

So, pretty much all the things Gene Roddenberry liked? Glad we’re evolved enough to not denigrating this thread into a political sparring forum (sarcasm intended).

I love that he cites The Martian as a movie that shares the spirit of the TV series, despite its recasting of characters of color. I’d love to see Trek movies evoke that film much more than stories about good versus evil and vengeance-seeking villains.

No disrespect towards Obama, but I just never bought into him being “Spock Like”

Believe me, he’s nothing like Spock. lol

And I be you know both of them.

Oh, c’mon. He’s proficient in the Jedi Mind Meld. ;)

People complain about Obama being too “Spock-like” to be President, that they would rather a president more like Kirk. Actually, I would rather have a president be more like Picard.

Anyway, I think it’s cool that he gave Star Trek some props. I also liked his article on going to Mars by the 2030s. Honestly, I think the best way to motivate and inspire the younger generation to go into STEM-related fields is to have a mission to Mars AND a great sci-fi series set in space on TV. Here’s hoping Discovery can be that show!

This is tangentially related, as a private/public partnership to fund space missions, such as landing people Mars, and finding the first Earth-like planet in another solar system. And the name of the organization, of course: Boldly Go Institute. Just another example of the real-world influence of TOS.

http://www.boldlygo.org/index.php

I’m no democrat but props to Obama for talking something bigger than the usual, as former Clinton administration official Bill Ivey put’s it, the usual “conspiring to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry”. Or is this just a big distraction to make Trekkies another mindless voting bloc – if you watch Star Trek you should vote for me regardless of debt, freedom, market, etc. Ugh – we are witnessing the decline of the West. It seems Mars is perhaps the only way to escape the US’s commitment to economic suicide. Let’s go with good job Obama on talking Trek.

I wholeheartedly support and agree with President Obama’s comments about Star Trek.

Cmd.Bremmon October 13, 2016 10:13 am

I don’t normally get involved in politics here, but you seem like a nice person who would appreciate some accurate information regarding the issues that you mentioned. To that end, you should be aware that the federal budget deficit during the Obama Administration has been steadily decreasing for the first time since the Clinton Administration. And when the deficit (and eventually the debt) decreased during the Clinton Administration, it was the first time since the Carter Administration. The point being that over the past 40 years, there can be no rational dispute as to who the more fiscally responsible party has been: Democrats, hands down. In terms of “freedom,” individual rights have dramatically increased as a direct result of Obama’s policies—particularly for minorities (especially LGBT), but also for regular people who live in states that have legalized cannabis use, for example. The “markets” issue is more complicated, but we can cite very large, measurable Obama benefits, such as to the auto and energy industries. This information is all readily available on the internet. But, yes, I too appreciate he’s comments about Trek.

Junior Varsity president likes popular things.

Don’t make your presidents mere scapegoats. Yes, they and Congress can and do have a big impact on what happens in a society, for good or ill, but they are only part of a bigger whole. Think of the part that big corporations, along with powerful, well organised crime syndicates play as well…

Good on, President Obama, for his comments on Star Trek, which are pertinent and apt given this year is Star Trek’s 50th anniversary.

And the powerful, well-organized rich.

Happy 50th Anniversary Star Trek fans. Here’s hoping we get to space without a Eugenics war, or Third World War …

Discovery should try to get him to do a cameo, before he leaves office.

To the moderator of this site, thank you for being fair and diverse by deleting many of my comments and who knows how many from other people and clearly opinions on one side are more acceptable than others. My comments had no curses or personal insults or bad language. We should at least receive an email from you why the comment was removed. So much for the diversity that Star Trek is about. If sarcasm is not acceptable then I presume this emial will be removed also. Thank you.

G66,

It’s not what you think. You are making and assumption that can only occur by ignoring this site’s reminder of this:

http://trekmovie.com/about/comments-and-moderation/

every time you click on “Post Comment.

President Obama’s words are beautiful and resonate deeply with me. I’ve put a link on my desktop and have viewed this video clip several times. It helps me clarify my feelings of who I aspire to be after too many depressing events in news cycles. May President Obama live a very, long time, and prosper.

Why is Trek Movie allowing politics here?

You can keep your doctor, I mean Star Trek.

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