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These awkward 'Star Trek' moments might be its greatest legacy.

A celebration of the little things that make the future 'Star Trek' envisioned such an inspiration to us today, on the show's 50th anniversary.

These awkward 'Star Trek' moments might be its greatest legacy.

One of my favorite things about "Star Trek: The Original Series" is how unashamedly awkward and goofy it was.

I don't mean campy, though I do love that about it too. I specifically mean those moments that are just straight up awkward and goofy. Those moments where the characters were supposed to look cool and badass, but — due to a combination of the technology of the time, the low budget, and the use of stage fighting techniques — they ended up looking silly.

Yes, the secondhand embarrassment when watching these scenes is real, and for some people those moments make it impossible to suspend disbelief enough to immerse themselves in the show. But, to me, those are some of the show's most human moments, and one of the things I love most about it.


Like, Kirk thinks he's a badass — and in the world of "Star Trek" he is a badass — but when he fights, he looks like pretty much any normal human would look while trying to be cool in a fight.

GIF by "Star Trek."

And when a mission calls for spontaneous dancing — to defeat a small army of android sexbots using illogic, as it were — dancing may not be Chekov's calling but dammit if he doesn't give it his best.

GIF from "Star Trek."

When McCoy finds himself in a gladiator game, he doesn't suddenly and miraculously become a master swordsman through the magic of TV editing. He just does his best!

GIF from "Star Trek."

In "Star Trek," when something urgent happens, there's NO TIME FOR COOL RUNNING. You just gotta haul ass. Like Spock.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And when you gotta get from point A to point B without being seen, sure, there's probably a way to make it look cool, but you know what? In real life, it'd be hella awkward too.

GIF from "Star Trek."

These awkward/goofy moments weren't always deliberate, but they make "Star Trek" feel more real.

A highly produced, crisply edited version of "Star Trek" would make these scenes look cool, coordinated, and well-choreographed. There would be more close-up shots, edits would cut on the action, and McCoy would be as skilled with a sword as he is with a hypo.

But I like these moments of awkwardness. Human beings are nothing if not generally awkward, and I find it incredibly reassuring to think that even in the 23rd century, there's no graceful way to get shot in the face with happiness pollen by an alien flower.

GIF from "Star Trek."

Capt. Kirk never seems more human than when he's fighting the Gorn. It's awkward af, but I love it. If you found yourself being forced to build a makeshift cannon while simultaneously fighting a lizard monster in the desert heat and wearing polyester pants, you'd be about this graceful too.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And if you ever found yourself trapped in a real-life Halloween house, being chased by a creature that is clearly a giant house cat (that also sometimes takes the form of a human woman, but is actually an insect-slash-bird-looking alien) while carrying a magic wand and jumping on a makeshift trampoline, yeah you'd wish you were anywhere near as graceful as Kirk is here. And he's not graceful at all.

The cat is the thing sticking it's head through the door. Blink and you'll miss it. GIF from "Star Trek."

There's a moment in one episode of the show where Spock almost gets hit in the head by one of those weird futuristic hexagonal door frames while exiting a scene. I can't find a GIF of it, but I LIVE FOR THOSE MOMENTS.

Call "Star Trek" low-budget, call it campy, call it bad acting — call it whatever you want. These are the little moments that, when coupled with a grand vision for the future, allowed a franchise launched five decades ago to still resonate today.

They aren't the big philosophical moments that "Star Trek" is known for. These are the relatable moments.

They're small, human moments — some scripted, some accidental — and they're one of the unsung heroes of what makes the world of "Star Trek" seem, to me at least, possible.

Sometimes you have a day where your job sucks and you end up like Sulu — holding a dog in a unicorn costume, staring out into nothingness wondering how this is your life.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And other times you find yourself doing busy work in the background of other people's lives, while they save the day.

GIF from "Star Trek."

It's relatable!

These moments were largely due to budget and special effects constraints of '60s sci-fi television, but even with a bigger budget, the "Star Trek" films kept those moments alive.

There was 100% a cooler-looking way to shoot this scene. Spock is wearing jet boots! Jet boots are awesome! But this scene is awkward af.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And they knew it. That's why it's there.

GIF from "Star Trek."

The first "Star Trek" reboot even had a scene that — unintentionally or not — paid homage to this classic awkwardness.

GIF from "Star Trek."

Sure, Kirk could've taken a hypo to the neck without missing a beat, but he didn't. He made a weird face. Because he's human.

50 years after "Star Trek" first aired, it's these moments that give me hope for our own 23rd century.

"Star Trek" presents a utopic vision of the future that is sleek and shiny and has jet boots and food replicators and transporters and phasers and intergalactic space travel and racial and gender equality (or '60s-era versions of it anyway), but it's also a future where people are still people (and, by "people," I'm including Trek's entire spectrum of nonhuman races) — and people are awkward, even while accomplishing great things and saving the universe time and time again.

A future in which everyone looks cool all the time might be fun to watch, but doesn't feel as tangible. The vulnerability of looking silly while achieving great things is incredibly human and makes it seem possible that we as individual people in 2016 can help bring the best parts of the future "Star Trek" envisioned to life.

GIF from "Star Trek."

One of the show's greatest legacies is the way it has inspired real change in the real world — from iPads and cell phones to saving the whales. To me, these small moments, more than anything else, make the grand vision of the future "Star Trek" presents — equality and justice for all — something that could happen, if we work hard enough to make it so.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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