Susan Sackett – The Secular Humanism of Star Trek

May 29, 2009

Susan Sackett began an association with Gene Roddenberry, creator of the television legend Star Trek, serving as his personal executive assistant for over 17 years until his death in October 1991. She also served as his production assistant on the first Star Trek film and worked closely with him on the next five Star Trek movies. In addition, she served as Production Associate during the first five seasons of the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. She is the author of 10 books about the film and television industry. In 1994, Susan left California and relocated to Arizona, where she got involved with the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix, for which she has been president since 2000. Since 2005, she has been on the Board of Directors of the American Humanist Association, and currently serves on the Executive Committee as Secretary.

In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Susan Sackett recounts her history with Gene Roddenberry, and the influence he had on her, especially regarding the development of her secular humanist worldview. She talks about Roddenberry’s unshakable optimism about humanity’s future, and how that was expressed in his creative efforts. She discusses social justice and political messages written into the original 1960’s Star Trek series, such as racial and gender equality, and allegories about the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. She talks about explicitly secular humanist themes throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, specifically in episodes like “Who Watches the Watchers”. She debates other topics addressed within the various Star Trek series, such as distribution of wealth, overpopulation, and the end of the nation-state, and whether or not there was a Marxist bias in the shows. And she reveals her favorite Star Trek episode, and why it is her favorite.