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Things, stuff and other miscellany
7th-May-2009 10:58 am
I guess...

I mean saying that you love STAR TREK or even that you're a fan is a dangerous thing to declare. Or at least it has been for the last 43 years. Now it seems that the high and mighty JJ Abrams looks to turn around 43 years of bad feelings with his multi-million dollar opus. Can he succeed? GOD I hope so.

You see, being a TREKKIE comes in shades, though few people outside the fandom can tell the difference. For most people, a TREKKIE is someone who is socially awkward, lives in their parent's basement, wears funny clothes while speaking made-up languages and making weird hand gestures, who has more fun peppering their conversations with obscure quotes than any real substance, and who lives primarily in a fantasy world, possibly unable to grasp the concept that their beloved canon is just a TV show.

Boy, when you say it out loud like that, it sounds pretty horrible. How or why would people choose to live like that?

The fact of the matter is that STAR TREK fandom does have people like that. But that doesn't speak for all of us. And while we're on the subject, why is that so bad anyway?

I am not now nor have I ever been a sports fan. And yet I can hear people spouting out statistics on athletes from decades ago. People have FANTASY sports games... Are you kidding?!?! Now we're just fantasizing about what these players could do?!?! And sometimes we're making MONEY off of it?!? STAR TREK fans are not generally allowed to make money off of FanFic, FYI.

And what about that special brand of sports fan who puts on body paint to go cheer on his/her team? They must CERTAINLY be well-adjusted. And why is it everyone from kids to the elderly can walk around in a sports jersey or hat or with some other kind of paraphenalia and it's considered cool... But a STAR TREK fan who wears even just a pin is subject to ridicule? At least MOST STAR TREK fans aren't walking around in uniform (though it has been known to happen) on a DAILY BASIS. After all, it's really all just clothes, right?

I like STAR TREK. It's been in my consciousness for as long as I've been alive. I don't go out of my way to memorize the lines or anything, but I have picked up quite a few, merely out of repetition. I have a lot of collectibles and merchandise because:
A) I think a lot of it is just pretty cool and helps stimulate the imagination and sense of wonder... And
B) because I am still a kid at heart.

I don't generally go to conventions, mostly because I can't be with people who take it MORE seriously than I do. They're good people, mostly, and well-educated, mostly, but they either talk well out of my depth (intellectually) or they start talking too passionately about trivial bits that are too inane for words (i.e. Which starship has the most efficient warp core design -- true story).

For a lot of the hardcore fans, I feel like this movie is going to be very hit or miss. TREKKIES can be a very touchy lot. The uproar over the promotional use of the phrase "THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER'S STAR TREK" is a prime example. A good grouping of fans went nuts over this turn or phrase.

I got it. Let's be honest for a second here. I have been and always will be a fan of the original STAR TREK. However, I'm not blind to the paper mache monsters, reused sets and props, and occasionally ill-conceived plot devices. Besides which, it was a TV show which, at the time, didn't even know it had canon to honor and so was occasionally all over the place. Point being, while we can romanticize it all we want, it wasn't perfect. And with all that came after it, it did become a bit insular and rather hokey. I think it's a fair enough assessment. The franchise had lost what made it special.

"THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER'S STAR TREK" was nothing more than an invitation to those MANY who found it inaccessible. And yet fans leapt at this as an attack.

Maybe they're onto something... After all most involved have some kind of gripe with STAR TREK. They weren't fans... Never watched the show...

How could these people possibly know what makes STAR TREK great?!?

Because the things that make STAR TREK great are universal concepts. Good storytelling and relatable characters are only part of it. So are humor, action and drama. And of course STAR TREK's ability to shine a mirror at ourselves and allow us to see ourselves in a different light -- the hallmark of truly good fiction.

These are the essence of what makes STAR TREK great.

The TREKKIES who have come out against this new film (without having seen it) are the most hypocritical of the bunch.

Aside from the obvious (that STAR TREK's concept of IDIC -- Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations -- teaches to embrace the differences and preaches tolerance) look at the history of STAR TREK which is all about change. When THE NEXT GENERATION debuted, TREKKIES everywhere sighed that the show would fail because nothing and no one could replace their beloved Kirk and Co.

But not only did it win over some fans and convert some others to becoming EXCLUSIVELY TNG fans, it was even able to wrangle in a new generation of fans who hadn't seen and didn't care for the original series that started it all.

And then DEEP SPACE NINE came about, forgetting the concept of a harmonious crew, embracing war and winning the hearts of even more fans.

VOYAGER tried to bring STAR TREK to it's exploration roots and sense of new. To some it succeeded, but to others it was still a far cry from TOS.

And then ENTERPRISE came in with a premise it never quite lived up to and an execution that was slightly off the mark, but like the Little Train That Could, it garnered it's own audience despite being the first show since the original to suffer the cruel fate of cancellation.

But STAR TREK comes in many forms. It always has and always will. From the fans who write of the sexual exploits of Kirk WITH Spock to the writers of the novels (including William "Kirk" Shatner himself), everyone has their own take.

Heck, this post itself is an evolving work, thanks in no small part to the complexity of STAR TREK.

And that's my point. STAR TREK has always been far more complex than anyone really suspected. And maybe that's been the problem all along. What JJ Abrams hopes to do is wipe the slate clean and turn off all that ancillary noise so that people can hear the true messages that STAR TREK has been trying to tell since that fateful night in September 1966.

I may not like the look of the new props, I may find the uniforms unnecessarily busy, I may find the proportions of the new ship a bit off... but all of that is just minutae. The fact of the matter is, when all is said and done, if this film follows in the spirit of the original STAR TREK, that's what should matter most to me. And if people who NEVER saw STAR TREK before (let alone liked it) finally see the things that we the fans have seen after all these years... Isn't that the true value in what Mr. Abrams is doing?

Maybe once... Just once... For the BRIEFEST of moments... It might be safe to say I <3 STAR TREK again. And maybe... you will too.

If not? IDIC.
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