IDIC - Fact or Fiction?

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Open Letter
Title: IDIC -- Fact or Fiction?
From: Roger N
Addressed To:
Date(s): June 1979
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: Star Trek, Blake's 7, Science Fiction Fandom, Space: 1999
External Links:
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IDIC -- Fact or Fiction? was an open letter written by a UK Star Trek fan named Roger N in 1979. The letter was printed in two places: in an issue of the newsletter for Starship Excalibur, and in the Star Trek Action Group newsletter (issue #35).

The letter used the canon concept of IDIC to stress how important it was that Star Trek fans show tolerance and acceptance towards other British science fiction shows on television. In particular, it referenced fans' resentment that they were at the mercy of the BBC's programming decisions, which had produced not only stress but also jockeying for preferential position.

In retrospect, the letter can be seen as an ironic comment on fandom pecking order. After all, fans of print science fiction had traditionally given Star Trek fans a hard time regarding fannish legitimacy. Yet, by 1979, many Star Trek fans clearly felt confident enough to turn round and do unto others what had been done to them, i.e. respond negatively to the appearance of newer TV-based science fiction fandoms (specifically, Space: 1999 and Blake's 7).

Text of the Letter

I have heard recently that the producer of Blake's 7 has been receiving a lot of abusive letters from some Star Trek fans, telling him to take Blake's 7 off the air, as (in their opinion) it is rubbish and to put on the old repeats of Star Trek in its place. I've also heard that it is these same fans who put pressure on ITV to stop making Space 1999 as it isn't as good as Star Trek.

It appears (if these rumours are true) that some Star Trek fans seem to regard Star Trek as the be-all and end-all of science fiction and so, therefore, no other science fiction shows should be allowed on TV. Such an attitude is ridiculous and is extremely petty minded. I always thought Star Trek fans wore more mature than that and were above such childish prejudice.

Gene Roddenberry fought long and hard for the freedom to enable him to make Star Trek as he thought and knew it must be made; is that freedom now to exist only for Star Trek and nothing else? If so, then that freedom is not freedom at all, but a repressive tyranny, which comes dangerously close to the attitudes portrayed in the totalitarian Federation in Blake's 7, where no view except the official party view is allowed to be expressed. We must not let such bigoted ideas pollute our 'movement', they will only bring discord and enmity into our ranks and spoil any standing we have with the general public, as well as making it harder to get the BBC to show more of the old Star Trek episodes.

Remember, we don t have the multiplicity of TV channels that the Americans do; if the BBC decide they've had enough of our abusiveness and retaliate by refusing to show Star Trek ever again then we don't have any other station to turn to and it will be entirely our own fault if we do.

The IDIC philosophy states that a thing is not necessarily wrong because it is different. There is room for everyone to try to create now science fiction shows and no-one should deny them that right. The British vegetarian society's motto is 'Live and let live', perhaps it should be ours also. Let us welcome new science fiction shows and not try to force them off our screens; other producers and writers have things to say as well and may have something of value to contribute to the genre and to society as a whole.

I think it was Sondra Marshak who said that now Star Trek has finished on television we have to look for those 'little pieces of gold' that Star Trek had so much of, in other TV shows. If we deny ourselves the opportunity of finding such gold, then we could bo a lot poorer as a result.

We have something good in Star Trek; in a world like ours, which is constantly being torn apart by prejudice, standards and values such as those shown on Star Trek are almost unique, and if they are to mean anything, then they must be seen to be what they are, namely, universals, and not the exclusive property of one particular series.

We should be striving for harmony, not discord, and avoiding narrow-minded attitudes. The science fiction world is big and with science and technology advancing all the time, now vistas of thought and expression are constantly being opened up. We can all contribute to it in our own way, adding, as Leonard Nimoy puts it, 'to the universal bank of reality.' Let us behave in a civilised way, a democratic way, applauding that which is good, and offering constructive criticism to that which is bad, but abstaining from condemning shows simply because they are not Star Trek.

If we can act in this manner, then we will gain more than we will lose in the way of friendship with other science fiction fans and with assistance, and possibly free publicity, from the BBC. There are enough militant sectional factions in society today without us creating more within our own field. If you don't like a particular programme, then don't watch it, no-one is forcing you to. All I am saying is, give others a chance to be creative; they have just as much right as Gene Roddenberry.

Yours, in the true spirit of Star Trek,

Roger N

Reactions and Reviews

... I especially agreed with the person who wrote the article about it not being necessary to put down any sci-fi that isn't STAR TREK. I've always liked other sci-fi, but I must admit that none has ever had the the impact that ST has had for me. Although I've seen more than half a dozen of the Blakes Seven episodes (due to my work) I don't find it too bad; there are lots of inconsistencies, but basically I like the story-line for the series, I think it' s just a pity that they had to have BBC budget: But I would welcome a third series ... [1]
After reading [Roger N's] letter in N/L No. 35 may I endorse his comments 100% and add something regarding the so-called STAR TREK fans who write to the BBC in an abusive manner. Through the newsletter can I ask every responsible STAR TREK fan to write to the BBC and apologise if they have received abusive letters and state that the type of person who writes in such a vein is not typical of STAR TREK fandom. Say that a true follower of Captain Kirk and his crew also appreciate other science fiction that the BBC presents and whilst always hoping for STAR TREK's return, a genuine fan does not write abusively if it is absent from our screens. Ask the BBC to try and ignore any letters that are not polite and constructive in regard to STAR TREK and only sensible letters, whether in criticism or praise, are truly representative of Trek fandom. The BBC have been very good to us when everything is taken into account, even though we have had to wait two years this time for a fourth showing, but it is back and that is the most important thing. It has not reappeared on our screens due to silly and abusive letters and to make sure we get more repeats let us tell the BBC that we do not recognise abuse any more than they do. [2]
I certainly agree with the article by [Roger N] about accepting other science fiction shows as well as STAR TREK. It seems that this narrow-minded attitude that says that a certain interest should have greater priority than any other also exists as far as sport is concerned. It seems ridiculous that 50-minute shows such as STAR TREIK, SPACE 1999 and possibly BATTLESTAR GALACTICA are regarded by the British TV companies as the sort of programmes only to be shown to fill up holiday periods or early morning slots. Are the TV companies afraid that if such shows are screened at peak viewing times that the sports fanatics are going to complain? What is 50 minutes compared to 38 hours a week of sport? Although BATTLESTAR GALACTICA may not be pure science fiction, like STAR TREK, sci-fi buffs in this country should be given the chance to see for themselves and form their own opinions. [3]
I applaud [Roger N's] article. Excerpts should be written down in a book of rules for all underage, or new, STAR TREK devotees - for while most of us don't need to be told how to act, unfortunately there's always those few 'bad eggs' in the group who will give us all a bad name (We have them down here, too - Australia) and thus cause outsiders to ignore STAR TREK's integrity. These few people are very small minded, with no awareness or room for mental or spiritual growth and one feels so sorry for them. With their narrow-minded wowserish attitude, they are missing out on the meaning and beauty of IDIC. It's as though they don't understand Gene Roddenberry's concept at. all: If they could only realise that they are doing more harm than good by their actions. They're not helping at all, because STAR TREK stands alone, it doesn't need any help! --especially of the sort mentioned in Roger's article. STAR TREK is Science Fiction! And we need all Science Fiction to bounce our own ideas off a yardstick to measure with. What happens the Human race, if people cannot expand their minds? [4]

References

  1. from STAG #36
  2. from STAG #36
  3. from STAG #36
  4. from STAG #36