Long-Lived and Prosperous: Professor Bernardi Discusses Star Trek on its Golden Anniversary

Wednesday, September 07, 2016
CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS -- “They picked up and drew upon, through science-fiction tropes, all that was happening in their world at that time,” says Daniel Bernardi, a 52-year-old professor of Cinema at San Francisco State University who has watched “Star Trek” since childhood. “‘Star Trek’ is, to me, a symbol of that future where we aspire to be color blind,” Bernardi says. In his 1998 book, “Star Trek and History: Race-ing toward a White Future,” Bernardi argues that the show often “advanced a white liberal agenda” by promoting the cause of assimilation at the cost of cultural identity. Even though it “participated in the ‘isms’ of its times,” he suggests, the show often found ways to subtly push back against prevailing social norms, such as emphasizing non-violence in contrast to the imagery of the Vietnam War, which was appearing on nightly news broadcasts. “There were these moments of resistance I could hold onto to give me hope,” Bernardi says.