When the first Star Trek series was introduced in 1966, in many ways it reflected its time. Which is not to say the 23rd century, rather that specific time of 1966. In some ways it stretched the mores of 1966. I don’t know that everyone was comfortable with this multicultural crew (even though the middle aged heterosexual white guys were ultimately in charge), or comfortable with the first on screen interracial kiss, even if the circumstances included aliens with mind powers causing it.
But in 1966 things were not bad in the United States. Vietnam was escalating, but Tet had not occurred yet. I believe the economy was still in good shape. The Watts riot had occurred the year before, but so had the Voting rights Act, so progress was still being made. What made Star Trek so remarkable, looking back, was that it reflected the thought that government worked. In fact, government was so wise that it’s main law (prime directive) was not to interfere in primitive cultures the government’s employees encountered as they jetted around the universe. Of course, Captain Kirk knew what was best for the noble savages and routinely broke that rule, but we trusted his judgment. Subsequent Trek spin offs have spun these ideas, making them darker and reflecting our post-Watergate, post-Vietnam and even post-Lewinsky era.
The new movie is said to “re-imagine” parts of Star trek’s history (they’re not supposed to meet the Romulans until “Balance of Terror” in the first season), but actual history has already passed Star Trek’s history by (Ricardo Montalban was supposed to be sweeping through South Asia in the 1980’s, instead we got the band Asia and George HW Bush). We’ve come 43 years since Trek first appeared on the screen, a length of time where a person could grow up and become a success. For example, JJ Abrams was born in 1966 (irony?). Maybe Trek has gotten old enough and mature enough for us to appreciate the new while remembering what we like about the old one, and why. After all, by now Star Trek has gotten old enough to move out of it’s parents basement.