Star Wars is Star Wars and Star Trek is Star Trek and never the twain shall meet.
That was the general tone of the Twitterverse this afternoon when President Obama coined a new term at a White House briefing on the sequester crisis. He said his critics think he should use a “Jedi Mind Meld” on the Republican opposition to make them comply. Almost immediately there was a disturbance in the Force, as if millions of geeky voices cried out in horror…but unlike the citizens of Alderaan were not suddenly silenced because we geeks don’t know how to let anything go. It seems Obama blended a Jedi Mind Trick from Star Wars with a Vulcan Mind Meld from Star Trek. Perhaps this is indicative of some greater mental power than that possessed by either Jedi or Vulcans, or perhaps the president has once and for all revealed that he is not our geek in chief. If the latter, then this is surely the most outrageous presidential gaffe since George W. Bush suggested Queen Elizabeth II sat on the throne of England in 1776. (Yes, that happened.)
Here’s a primer for the President: The Jedi Mind Trick is the telepathic technique, often involving slow, hypnotic repetition of commands and a wave of a hand in front of the face of the person you’re trying to trick, to influence somebody to do your bidding. But it works most effectively on the weak-willed. (And some races, like Hutts, are immune.) A Vulcan Mind Meld is the telepathic technique of joining two minds by placing your hand on someone else’s face and reciting “My mind to your mind, your thoughts to my thoughts,” so as to learn what someone else is thinking or read their memories.
There is another possibility, though. President Obama doesn’t need to have his geek card revoked. In fact, he could actually be geekier than any of us possibly imagined. Because the Jedi of that Galaxy Far, Far Away have indeed been known to practice a Force Meld. Yep, the Jedi do have their own Mind Meld after all. But it’s not in any of the Star Wars movies, mind you. It’s from the Expanded Universe of novels and it involves two (or more!) Jedi joining minds through the Force to act in concert. That can allow multiple Jedi to coordinate with greater efficiency while in battle. In fact, it’s something we first saw Han and Leia’s children, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin (yes, named after his grandfather) attempt in R.A. Salvatore’s Star Wars: The New Jedi Order—Vector Prime, in which their Force Meld allowed the three of them to pilot TIE bombers through a dizzying asteroid field. Admittedly, Han Solo didn’t need a Force Meld to fly through the asteroid field in The Empire Strikes Back, but Han Solo is the man, and he doesn’t need any hokey religions or ancient superstitions when he’s got luck and a blaster at his side.
Yes, it could very well be that President Obama is that geeky. After all, the White House's official response to the petition to build a Death Star included the lines "The Administration does not support blowing up planets" and "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?" That geeky.
Still, the fact that there was such an outcry this afternoon about Jedi Mind Meld-Gate shows how, on a deep, primordial level, fans still refuse to accept any overlap between Star Wars and Star Trek. Maybe we’re now (thankfully) past the point that a fan of one can’t be a fan of the other—this geek is very much a fan of both—the way some zero-sum pop culture fans dictate you pick a side between Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, British Hitchcock and American Hitchcock, or, for those of us who were teenagers at the turn of the millennium, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But God forbid you confuse the two! What’s next, Klingons wielding lightsabers? Wookiees undergoing Pon Farr? Luke Skywalker having as insatiable a libido as Capt. Kirk?
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of one franchise or both, the standard line is to keep Star Wars and Star Trek separate but equal. That’s going to be harder to do than ever, folks, now that Star Trek reinventer J.J. Abrams has signed on to direct Star Wars: Episode VII. Not to mention that, in 2012, notorious Star Wars prequel hater and new Star Trek alum Simon Pegg bridged both universes by voicing mummy-wrapped bounty hunter Dengar on The Clone Wars. Now, even Zoe Saldana, the rebooted Star Trek’s Uhura, says she wants to take a trip to that Galaxy Far, Far Away. “I'm getting ready to call [Lucasfilm], I’ll tell you that," she said. "I want to be a sexy something, like a princess from another planet."
Trek and Wars, the twin fountainheads of geek culture have already converged and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. After all, a much wiser being once said, “Always in motion is the future.” And Charlie Chaplin did eventually cast Buster Keaton in Limelight, Alfred Hitchcock returned to Britain to make a movie at the end of his career (Frenzy), and both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera now have experience as oddly dressed, verbally incompetent judges on TV singing competitions. No, Star Trek and Star Wars are fused, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.
But I think there’s one thing we can all agree upon: let’s spend more time thinking about Trek and Wars and less time thinking about the real world.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Shawn Thew/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP Images; Twitter]