Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry famously pitched the science fiction television series as “Wagon Train to the Stars,” referencing a popular Western of the time that depicted a core group of American settlers on a cross-country journey. Over time, that simple idea grew into a utopian vision of a post-scarcity future. Roddenberry eventually developed the idea that by the time Star Trek: The Next Generation was set, humanity would have rid itself of petty conflicts and interpersonal beefs. Basically, he envisioned a future where humanity worked together to solve planetary (and interstellar) problems without anger or ego. All this is to say that Star Trek is not only continuing to sell NFTs, but it is also adding more of them and fans are super not having it.
More specifically, Paramount (which owns the rights to Star Trek and produces the large roster of shows currently on air) is creating a non-fungible token (or NFT) platform called Paramount.xyz in conjunction with Recur. Recur is one of the leading/most notorious platforms for NFTs currently, founded by Zach Bruch. According to them, Recur “remove[s] boundaries on fandom by creating chain-agnostic NFT experiences for the world’s biggest brands.” In this case, Paramount and Recur are working together to remove boundaries on fandom by charging fans $250 dollars to receive an algorithmically-generated Star Trek-style starship NFT. Fans can also have further boundaries removed by paying a higher sum for the “Admiral pack,” which has a higher likelihood of the generated NFT as looking like a traditional Starfleet style ship. After all, nothing says “removing boundaries” like tiered levels of access determined by monetary wealth, right?
This is not Paramount’s first step into the world of Star Trek-branded NFTs. The company had previously sold blockchain NFTs on other platforms, but the development of their own proprietary marketplace and digital storage shows that they are all-in on the idea. Non-fungible tokens have become a massive talking point in pop culture and tech circles in the last year. Proponents of the concept (being essentially individualized pieces of data that can have traceable, unique ownership) see them as a former of investment without centralized government control or regulation, akin to cryptocurrency. Critics consider them massively environmentally damaging (because of the amount of energy needed for an NFT creating an enormous carbon footprint) and extremely prone to fraud and theft. Additionally, despite the heavily-promoted idea of them being a democratizing form of investment and commerce, they still tend to be developed and controlled by privately wealthy individuals and corporations. Like, you know, Paramount. Here’s what some of the outraged fans have to say:
And here’s a particularly good summation:
Star Trek has long differentiated itself from many other science fiction franchises with its more positive outlook on the future of humanity. Recent series like Picard have overtly concerned themselves with themes of environmental catastrophe and social inequity. It is pretty difficult for fans to not see Paramount’s increasing promotion of NFTs as directly contrasting this. And that makes it pretty difficult not to be angry.