I have a great liking for Trek. The old series particularly – you know, the one with Spock, Kirk and McCoy.
I liked it for a lot of reasons. I liked it because of its optimism; its vision of a caring and genuinely hopeful future. I liked it for the comedy. Spock was the straight man, McCoy and Kirk the comedians.
Actually, Spock – as realised by Leonard Nimoy – was pretty funny too. (Lest anybody doubt Nimoy’s brilliance all round – and humour – here’s Nimoy singing the Bilbo Baggins song. And have you seen the Audi advert?)
The new Trek re-boot captures that lightness pretty well – especially Karl Urban, who comes from my city – Wellington New Zealand – and does an exceptional McCoy.
That’s why I’m going to see the new movie.
But it doesn’t make me a Trekkie.
I don’t collect memorabilia, don’t go out of my way to experience anything Trek – I haven’t even seen most of the series, apart from the original one. I watched the early episodes of The New Generation, but it got ponderous. It got pretentious, postured, stilted - the death that happens when a genre is canonised, when it ceases to be entertainment for all and are written instead to avoid offending an audience that is increasingly precious, increasingly intolerant of anything other than what they define as ‘canon’.
To me that wasn’t surprising. Thirty years ago the hardest core Trekkies were categorised as dysfunctional nerds – maladjusted youth unable to cope with the realities of life, seeking refuge in a pre-packaged fantasy world that had gained aspects of a religion for them. Some even believed they were Starfleet officers – something that made them genuinely delusional in a psychological sense. Trek provided them – something – that was missing from their lives. And it was disturbing, in many ways.
Today? I think scfi – and Trek – has been mainstreamed. Geeks won the war for cool – and I think Trek, as entertainment, has a good deal to do with facilitating the transformation. But that doesn’t make geeks into Trekkies of the old school variety. Or people who go to see the Trek movie into Trekkies…does it?
What do you figure on this one?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013