A trekkie is a term sometimes used for avid fans of the Star Trek television franchises. Some fans take offense at this term, however, and prefer to be called "trekkers." There is significant dispute on this point, however, with some fans considering "trekkies" to be people who are obsessed with the show and, "have no life," while someone who is just a big fan is a "trekker." Others use the term to mean any fan of the franchise, and to add to the confusion, Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek, referred to all fans as trekkies. Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the beloved Mr. Spock, prefers the term trekker. "Trekkie" is the more commonly used.
The first trekkies were probably members of the fan organization, STARFLEET International, started in 1974. Many loved the first Star Trek series, and especially its attitude toward global and universal responsibility. The show tended to be similar in nature to the goals of cultural anthropology, to watch, but not interfere with other cultures. It is fair to say, however, that the original series often interfered with other cultures, particularly in the way the captain of the ship took liberties with various female aliens.
The series was the first to promote cultural equality, however, and it was noted for its inclusion of a black woman, an Asian man, and a Russian as important members of the ship. In this way, Star Trek had really gone where “no man has gone before” in its promotion of racial equality. The series was short-lived, but inspired a huge fan base. Shortly after the demise of the series, members of the cast began to appear at fan conventions, and eventually, conventions devoted solely to the series developed.
A trekkie could simply be an interested fan who attended local conventions, or he or she could be someone who really took the Star Trek world quite seriously. A dedicated fan might give himself an official Star Fleet title, as was noted in the alternate juror of the Whitewater Trials in the US, who in real life asked to be addressed as Lieutenant Commander. He or she might also be part of a group building a life size star-ship model, or might build one of his or her own.
People outside fandom, or Trekdom, began to consider the trekkie as synonymous with someone who walked around with rubber Vulcan ears, and who might be slightly distanced from real life outside of Star Trek activities. While it is true that this kind of fan clearly exists, and may travel across the country to attend multiple conventions, most simply enjoy being fans of the different series in the franchise. A “normal” trekkie might attend conventions, may be part of a fan organization, and may have a title or character that he or she dresses up as when appropriate. This can be taken quite seriously by some fans; some who go dressed as Klingons, for example, have learned the Klingon language and will often converse only in it.
For those outside the fictional world, attending one of these conventions is an interesting study. Outsiders will see a mixed example of both the rabid, and the more rational fan.
The original Star Trek and the many follow-up series have created a new legion of trekkies. Star Trek: The Next Generation especially has inspired many new fans, as it furthered the ideals of tolerance. The quirks of the rabid trekkie are apt to promote intolerance or at least good-natured parody.
The film Trekkies and its sequel Trekkies 2 are documentaries that follow the lives of the more rabid fans, while the film Galaxy Quest affectionately pokes fun at them. William Shatner’s appearance on Saturday Night Live also took a jab at trekkies in a skit. Shatner played himself in the skit and began to insult his fans at a convention, telling them that Star Trek was a TV show, and they should really get a life.