NBC and Newsweek Liken Obama to Spock: Both Victims of Prejudice

Concluding a Thursday NBC Nightly News story on summer movies, correspondent George Lewis previewed the new Star Trek film, set to open on Friday, and found it relevant to highlight how “some Trekkies have compared the Spock character, the product of a mixed marriage between a human and a Vulcan, to President Obama.” Those “some Trekkies” would be Newsweek's Steve Daly, author of last week's cover story, “We’re All Trekkies Now,” who proposed in a soundbite: “In a certain sense, Spock the character has dealt with some of the same prejudices and problems that our new President does.”

In the piece for the May 4 edition of the magazine, Daly asserted: “Spock's cool, analytical nature feels more fascinating and topical than ever now that we've put a sort of Vulcan in the White House.” And “like Obama, Spock is the product of a mixed marriage (actually, an interstellar mixed marriage), and he suffers blunt manifestations of prejudice as a result.” Daly also hailed how “with the willfully hegemonic Bush administration now gone, the tenets of [original Star Trek creator Gene] Roddenberry's fictional universe feel very much in step with current events,” since:
The Obama foreign policy, at least for now, emphasizes cross-cultural exchange and eschews imperialistic swagger. That sounds very much in sync with the Federation's Prime Directive, which stipulates that humanity should observe but never interfere with alien cultures (no Iraq-style invasions, in other words).
From the end of the last story on the Thursday, May 7 NBC Nightly News:
GEORGE LEWIS: Some Trekkies have compared the Spock character, the product of a mixed marriage between a human and a Vulcan, to President Obama, who said on the campaign trail last year-

BARACK OBAMA: I grew up on Star Trek. You know, I believe in the final frontier.

STEVE DALY, NEWSWEEK: In a certain sense, Spock the character has dealt with some of the same prejudices and problems that our new President does.

LEWIS: Even as audiences seek escape by their new problems by boldly going to the movies. George Lewis, NBC News, Los Angeles.
A brief excerpt from the May 4 cover story, “We’re All Trekkies Now: 'Star Trek' is way cool. How'd that happen? Because the geeks have inherited the earth, and the White House”:
....Spock's cool, analytical nature feels more fascinating and topical than ever now that we've put a sort of Vulcan in the White House. All through the election campaign, columnists compared President Obama's unflappably logical demeanor and prominent ears with Mr. Spock's. But as Spock's complicated racial backstory is spun out in detail in the new "Trek"—right back into childhood — the Obama parallels keep deepening. Like Obama, Spock is the product of a mixed marriage (actually, an interstellar mixed marriage), and he suffers blunt manifestations of prejudice as a result.

As played by Zachary Quinto, the young Spock loves his human mother, but longs to assimilate completely into his Vulcan father Sarek's ways, eschewing messy emotions the way all Vulcans do. Young Spock is constantly being told by Vulcans and humans alike that he's either seething with inappropriate emotions—indeed, he takes Kirk by the throat at one point—or that he's not emotional enough and shouldn't be so repressed. Obama may or may not be a fan—the White House says he isn't, but Trekkies have claimed him as one of their breed ever since he said, "I grew up on 'Star Trek'—I believe in the final frontier," at a campaign stop last year. If he does check out the new movie, I can imagine he might feel a special empathy for Spock's position, given the chattering class's insistence that he needs to show more emotion, too.

There's one more intriguing allegorical overtone to the new "Trek," perhaps completely accidental. With the willfully hegemonic Bush administration now gone, the tenets of Roddenberry's fictional universe feel very much in step with current events. Whether you're happy about it or not, the Obama foreign policy, at least for now, emphasizes cross-cultural exchange and eschews imperialistic swagger. That sounds very much in sync with the Federation's Prime Directive, which stipulates that humanity should observe but never interfere with alien cultures (no Iraq-style invasions, in other words)....
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center