The Importance of Star Trek: Insurrection in 2021
Star Trek: Insurrection is a movie that exists. It’s not disliked on the same level of other Star Trek movies like The Final Frontier or Nemesis, but it’s also not beloved like The Wrath of Kahn or First Contact. Admittedly, I love Insurrection because I love all Trek movies. But I can’t, in good conscience, make the argument that Insurrection is an amazing piece of cinema. If I had to rate the movie, I would give it a solid six out of ten. It’s not atrocious, but it’s not fantastic. Having said that, Insurrection is a much deeper film than I previously thought and one that is very important in these times.
Not to give you a full history lesson of how I arrived at this new appreciation, but it all started when I was hanging out, one random weekend, listening to the song “Union” by Black Eyed Peas (I love them and make no apologies for doing so). The song is about how we all need to come together to change the world. For some reason, this got me thinking about what Insurrection means in the context of 2021.
You see, one of my major gripes with the film, at least previously, is that the story takes place during the Dominion War. This, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing (continuity and canon required this) but by setting it during the war and not connecting the Ba’ku story to the larger war, you can’t help but wonder why Picard and the gang are in some random part of the galaxy worrying about the Ba’ku and not on the front lines worrying about the Dominion. After all, they have the most advanced ship in the fleet, and billions of people are dying.
Yet, when thinking about it in 2021, I realized that Insurrection is stronger for its timing in the Star Trek chronology. By setting this film during the Dominion War and not connecting the plight of the Ba’ku to the Dominion conflict, you realize what its full message is. The film is not only telling us that a wrong doesn’t become right if it is only done to a small number of people, as said by Picard with his, “How many people does it take, admiral?” but it’s also telling us that a wrong should never be ignored, even if it happens during a crisis that is far more pressing. To put simply, the Ba’ku being forcibly removed is still wrong, and something that people should fight against even amidst an intergalactic war.
Now, if we translate this into our modern-day terms, the Dominion War is like the COVID pandemic, and the Ba’ku being forcibly removed from their home is like the murder of George Floyd and the 215 bodies of indigenous children found in unmarked graves at a residential school. This isn’t a perfect analogy, but it works for our purposes.
With both of these aforementioned egregious human rights violations (to put it mildly), we didn’t say, “Yeah, that’s bad, but we shouldn’t be focusing on that because of COVID” (well, some people did!). Instead, we saw Black Lives Matter protests erupt worldwide in response to Floyd’s murder and we saw protests of Canada Day, and now a newly implemented National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. In neither case was the COVID pandemic used as an excuse for inaction or to diminish the severity of these injustices.
I don’t know if it was intentional or a happy accident, but either way Star Trek: Insurrection has an important message that means even more in these times, and one that we seemed to have listened to. Like the crew of the Enterprise fighting for the Ba’ku during the Dominion War, we fought for Floyd and the 215 bodies of indigenous children during one of the greatest crises in living memory. We still have a long way to go, but at least we’re heading in the right direction.