Trek has been innovative from the start--from social issues to cowboys in space to the heavy handed and sometimes silly, but they always, always tried. And it's hard, even for me, to really, really get that we can be pretty damn blase about how Trek did things, and still does things, that no show, no movie, has ever done before.
I think the best part is, I am writing this without having seen the movie, but I am so spoiled so whatever. I am betting like, ten thousand people have made this argument, but like all good arguments, it bears repeating and examinating and also, Trek! This is just fun.
I think when people hear reboot, they hear remake. This isn't a remake. It's the first fully functional canonical alternate universe to, as far as I know, ever be created and then allowed to exist beyond the scope of the original and then gets its own franchise on top of it.
I--don't have words. We've had canonical Parallels (Mirror Mirror) and crossover AUs (Tasha Yar) and oh man, anyone who watched Voyager, remember Kes's storyline that's like canon-reboot-au-overwrite-something? Or Harry Kim's and his ice planet? Or the end of the show? In general, AUs are overwritten by the canon in show, or are true non-fork parallels like Mirror Mirror, and then there is Tasha Yar, which I am going to get back to in a second.
[I have no authority in DS9 or Enterprise, but I'm sure they did it, too.]
I know there are other examples of the multiverse of Trek, but I want to go to that one, because if Abrams didn't watch TNG and the way Tasha Yar and the double universe were handled, I'd be really surprised.
For those who don't know, Yar died in first or second season (I cannot remember), then later, abruptly, suddenly there's this completely crazy ep where the Enterprise is all weaponized! and Wesley Crusher is gone! and they are at war! With Klingons! And Guinan is like this is the wrong universe! And they also rescue some people from the past who are instrumental in helping to bring peace between the Federation and the Klingons in the past, so you see, them hitting Magic Science Thing Of Moving People in Time totally totally caused this mess. Eventually, they go back, and Tasha goes with them, as Guinan gives disturbing hints that in the 'correct' universe Tasha is dead.
Okay, bear with me because to this day the only show I've seen handle an internally created AU coming back to bite is Buffy with their Wishverse crossover.
[Actually, I know there are others, but I am so blanking, and feel free to tell me in comments.]
[Wishverse actually was interesting to me in that with the coming of Wishverse!Willow, it was implied that an overwrite isn't possible; once created, a universe cannot be destroyed, it goes on merrily on its way, or Rule One of the Universe: You Cannot Change the Past Really, Just Make a New Past. But then comes quantum physics and relativity and no. That way lies SGA's end of fourth season and my head hurts. And the second Elizabeth of first season. Just--I am so not ready for that kind of thinking.]
Tasha of AU goes back and becomes part of Canon Trek and then she marries (becomes mistress of? Engages in dirty filthy delicious sex with?) a Romulan and has a kid and this comes back too (TNG, I love you so damn much), but now we're at the end of my badly remembered example and go watch it already. Damn that storyline was awesome.
With the time correction, AU!Tasha's world was overwritten (presumably) and ceased to exist (I know the all possible worlds, but what I'm saying is, that's what the show seemed to be implying happened). In general, when Trek goes AU outside of parallelism--when it forks--it seems to overwrite the AU with the 'canon' again. Trek is really big on time correction. Like Timelords, in a way. But not.
Abrams didn't overwrite. I mean, I am sitting here, kind of wondering how many times it's happened that we are given two actual related canons--not book versus movie or insert your media here--but literally, leaving the original and saying "This exists" and then, with pleasure, saying "And now, so does this. Let's see what happens!" I don't know if any show or franchise could or would have thought to do something that's only obvious now that it's been done. You don't have to overwrite your original to create something new, dammit. You can fork the damn thing.
You know. It's how Livejournal and Dreamwidth and Insanejournal can all exist in the same timespace here. Forks.
Here is the thing: if there was ever a fandom, a franchise that deserved a reboot, that should get to have this, we should have. I have loved Trek all my life; I don't remember a time not knowing what Star Trek was. Trek is so huge--it's hitting me now, in all my time in other fandoms, just how massive Trek really is in both scope and storyline and the sheer amount of canon. And by deserved, I don't mean, the original sucked, lets do better; it's not "Let's retcon and start over". This is not Old!BSG versus New!BSG or reinterpretations of independent canons with no relation to each other.
This is like if someone said, I'd like to base a new franchise on Mirror Mirror and follow that for a while, but better because this canon was created by the original without being rewritten and without rewriting anything else. It's a baby universe and now, we will get to watch it grown up. And let me tell you, as a fan of AUs in fanfic that do this, that the source canon wants to join fanfic writers just makes my year.
I think--and I could be wrong--that a lot of the problems people are having is with the implied idea that the original wasn't good enough, or treating this like it's supposed to be a superior remake, which--I'm sure people do believe that, whatever. People believe lots of crazy things. But when I finally let myself get spoiled and realized what Abrams was doing with this, I just--I stopped and wondered why, why this hadn't been done before. He didn't retcon, he didn't break canon, he didn't overwrite anything that was already there. He created a new canon as a direct offshoot of the old so it stayed itself.
This is what I feel when I see this, when I think about it: Abrams said, this is Trek. And this is time. And this is an AU. Now lets follow along with Trek Mark 2 universe instead of going back and staying in Trek Mark 1--lets see what happens at this fork in the road. It's like if we'd been allowed to this time, instead of seeing the alternate and then return to the original, we get to see how the alternate played out instead of just a glimpse.
We get to follow a canon AU! In its own series! It wasn't snatched away, retconned, rewritten, destroyed, left behind, hit by freaking graviton particles and thank Roddenberry, Seven of Nine has nothing to do with it. A canon AU! It's own series! All Treks existing in spacetime! How fucking amazingly cool is that?
Why is it not Saturday yet? Seriously, I am this close to skipping out on work and just going to watch. So. Close.