John Wheeler: NASA's asteroid deflecting mission resembles 'Star Trek' episode
Science fiction is good at showing future technology but often not as good at showing future society.
FARGO — NASA's successful asteroid-deflecting mission this week brought to mind an episode of the television series "Star Trek" in which the Enterprise crew manage to deflect an asteroid headed for a populated planet. In the episode "The Paradise Syndrome," the inhabitants of this asteroid-endangered planet are meant to be extraordinarily similar to indigenous Americans.
However, in standard 1968 television style, these characters are played by non-indigenous actors with heavy, reddish, artificial-looking makeup. They speak in a monotone, staccato voice pattern like most other television actors portraying indigenous Americans at the time. What little we are shown of these people's culture is never anything other than the classic, television depiction of Native Americans in Westerns at that time. Isn't it interesting that science fiction so often can depict future technology but just as often remains mired in the display of societal characteristics of the present?