Obama's analogy to "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" has sci-fi fans befuddled
In his press conference today, President Obama said he was unable to perform a “Jedi mind meld” with Republicans in Congress in order to convince them that they ought to trim spending and avert the sequester. However, the president — with much else on his mind — has conflated two sci-fi franchises.
In the “Star Wars” films, a “Jedi mind trick” is a way of using hypnosis — perhaps accompanied by a subtle hand gesture — in order to convince someone of something contrary to fact. Most famously, Obi-Wan Kenobi convinces Darth Vader’s stormtroopers, about to steal C-3PO and R2D2, that the two fleeing robots “aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
A “mind meld,” in “Star Trek,” is performed by Vulcans in order to convey history, thoughts and information, as well as to learn about the subject’s motivations. In “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” Spock mind-melds with two humpback whales in order to tell them that the passengers of the “Enterprise” wanted to help them save Earth.
President Obama is often compared to Spock, the mind-melding Vulcan who is certainly not a Jedi, though he has rejected those comparisons. However, he is a fan of the series, making the “Live long and prosper” hand sign in the Oval Office with “Trek” star Nichelle Nichols. Perhaps he’s trying to distance himself further from Spock by blithely mixing up the two rival sci-fi franchises.
Nerd culture is predictably unhappy with the misstatement:
Epic fail Obama. Jedi Mind Meld. You can't bring two warring factions together by just combining stuff. Way to exacerbate the conflict.— Molly Huggins (@mohugs) March 1, 2013
Jedi Mind-Meld: facepalm.— Becka Wall (@beckawall) March 1, 2013
Seriously, Obama, Jedi mind meld? I can't believe this. How can you mix up the amazing Star Wars with Star Trek. Fuckin gross.— Lauren :] (@LaurenAshleeyy) March 1, 2013
The Jedi Mind Meld may be in some shitty SW expanded universe book you've never read.— NewbieDM (@newbiedm) March 1, 2013
It's "Jedi mind tricks," or "Vulcan mind meld." Fool.— John Finsrud (@JFinsrud) March 1, 2013
One person who has to be happy about this “Wars”/”Trek” fusion? J.J. Abrams, who is set to direct the new “Star Wars” film along with his “Trek” sequels.
Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_ More Daniel D'Addario.
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