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I know from a dramatic standpoint, the use in episodes and movies of the Star Trek Universe of quotes, music, and cultural reference from sources predating the viewer help make legitimate connections to the characters, but from a CANON standpoint, why is it that no one seems interested in anything humanity has developed as a culture since the mid 20th century?

It would seem to me that the most contemporary instance from human culture is "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf as played by Zefram Cochrane. I haven't found any music or art released after the mid 20th century.

Why hasn't there been any popular human musicians, poets, authors, or quotable historical figures?

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    No money => no culture. Artists have no motivation </troll> – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 24 '12 at 15:22
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    @DVK: Since when do artists have money? </troll> – bitmask Oct 24 '12 at 16:49
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    There are occasional references to various musicians and artists however focusing on them in a show would be pointless since we have no attachment to them. – Chad Oct 24 '12 at 16:59
  • Yes, as I said in the question, the use of the, for dramatic effect is clear, but I'm asking if there is ever an in-universe explanation as to why this was done. – Jared Tritsch Oct 24 '12 at 17:08
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    I meant "most recent" in reference to Steppenwolf, Not Zefram. Edited for clarity. – Jared Tritsch Oct 25 '12 at 14:22
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I wouldn't say so. There's a few of them in the future:

There's three things you also have to remember, that make it seem like human culture is stagnating when it really isn't:

  • The old works - like Shakespeare - are so ingrained in our culture that they're not going to go away any time soon.
  • Upon becoming spacefaring, we would start to get inundated with non-human culture. If you look at the list on Memory Alpha, there's a lot of Bajoran, Vulcan, Klingon, even Cardassian art/music/literature known to us. The best of their works that humans have imported have simply crowded out the great-but-not-quite-best of the new human art/music/literature.
  • Like with Crusher and Frame of Mind, a lot of humans no longer simply indulge in existing works, and want to put some level of creative effort into their entertainment. Besides the prevalence and popularity of holodecks, it's also why theatre is so popular.

Oh, and if the Klingons General Chang (who quotes Shakespeare) and Chancellor Gorkon (who makes the claim) are to be taken seriously, then Shakespeare's works are also originally Klingon. They were just imported to human culture as well...

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    Now THAT is a constructive answer! Why was this Question closed? That's what I was looking for! Bravo! – Jared Tritsch Oct 25 '12 at 14:07
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Izkata's answer is the most important here: there are many references to Human-led events and cultural works between now and the period in which Star Trek is set. But I'd also like to add that, from the perspective of the characters on the show, the distinction might not be as important as it seems to us. Remember that Humanity is now just one race among many in the Federation: there may not be as strong a distinction between "Human" culture and Federation culture at large.

Imagine a citizen of Richmond from the 1700s looking at modern American culture and exclaiming, "what happened to the culture of Virginia? No one ever talks about the achievements of Virginians, or of the great artistic works coming from Virginia! Do Virginians not have any culture at all anymore?"

It's not that such a person would be right or wrong, it's that modern American culture is simply more homogenized than the question assumes: an author or musician from Virginia today might move to New York or California after college without a second thought, and will generally just be referred to as "American." Specific genres or styles may be associated with certain regions, but generally artists of the 21st century aren't strongly associated with their home states. (Hell, many Canadian actors and performers go their whole lives with their audiences not even realizing what country they come from!)

Similarly, "Human" culture in the 24th century might not be terribly distinguishable from Federation culture in general, and the crew of the Enterprise may not see any reason to make that distinction. Undoubtedly there are still great Human artists, but just as a list of Country music singers today might casually omit any Texans, a list of great Federation artists might casually omit any Humans.

  • This seems to be an excellent answer to a different question. – O. R. Mapper Apr 29 '16 at 22:16
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A close friend of mine developed the hypothesis that artists are integral to Federation design; new art is in constant evidence in their furniture, buildings, fashion, and engineering design. The hypothesis is artists are tapped early and fundamental to the Federation, as evidenced by frequent design changes.

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