I am a fan, not a fanatic, when it comes to Star Trek. I grew up watching the Enterprise float around a Styrofoam universe and I have a special place in my heart for William Shatner, despite the whole thing of him being William Shatner. Still, I’ve never been to a convention or a Klingon-translated wedding. I don’t own any kind of Starfleet getup and I never really got into Next Generation (the geeks in the gallery gasp!). I still, however, think J J Abrams is a dick for what he said.
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Yeah, it’s shocking right?! (Geeks in the gallery gasp, again!)
Let me level with you—Maybe Star Trek doesn’t fly your space ship. Kirk getting it on with aliens and Spock’s pointy eyebrows turn you off. Fair enough—I don’t hold it against you. Honest, I don’t. Scifi is not for everyone, the same way Twilight is not for me. If someone tried to convince me to appreciate Bella’s whiny little pouting voice, I would get a bit hot under the collar. Maybe you’re shrugging your shoulders right now, pursing your lips and declaring, ‘So what? So he doesn’t like the original series. Neither did I and the new movie was kickass. Why should I care?’
Well, dear movie-goer, this is why you should care:
The Star Trek franchise is one of the most lucrative in the history of film and television. Collectibles, Memorabilia and Games have grossed approximately $4 billion while the Films & Series themselves post revenues of approximately $1.76 billion. That’s a lotta moula.
Why? Why is a crossover science fiction show that began in the sixties and has been successful despite producing a movie about a whales in the eighties making so much damn money?
Let me tell you a little something about Trekkies. They are not your average fans. They aren’t your average teenage girls lining up to pout and whine while waiting for Stephanie Meyers to sign their little black books. Scifi fans love their worlds. For them, the moment doesn’t end when the program does. It is alive in their imaginations forever. If science fiction has taught me anything it’s that every world has its wonders. And as long as you look at those wonders in your own world with the eyes of a galaxy-travelled newcomer, you can appreciate them all the more. Star Trek was the first thing—before teachers or experiences or anything—that taught me to appreciate life and to philosophize about what is all means. And I love it for that.
But enough sentiment. The important part is all that moula we mentioned earlier. Sometimes keeping the magic alive means spending a lot of money. And if you’re going to spend that money, you’re going to be a purist about it. Hitch your wagon to the right teleporting-cart, you know what I’m saying? (the geeks in the gallery nod)
So when these dudes who travel half way around the world and spend hours picking out face paint, you can see how they’re going to be pissed that the man handed one of the highest grossing franchises in the history mankind, the man handed a ship that has been a part of their lives for years, the man handed a storyline that has informed their philosophical development as human beings—that man goes on the Daily Show and has the balls to say he’s actually not that into it? Is he kidding?
He’s just alienated (haha, because this is a Star Trek post) the purists who were going to spend the most amount of money on whatever memorabilia his reboot produces. He just made the most dedicated fans in the world angry that he disrespected the thing they love and treasure.
Doesn’t he get that? How stupid do you have to be?
And furthermore, we’re giving this guy Star Wars? Come on universe! Give me a break!
And sure, you can say he made up for loss of profit from that niche market by making the film more accessible to the average moviegoer. Fair. Maybe he did. But what does that mean for the values of Hollywood? Are the fans only as good as the money they’re willing spend. If a niche market that really loves something isn’t as financially impactful as your average mother-in-law who will throw away her ticket stub while reminiscing about the coming-soon commercials, then is that niche market not worth pleasing?
Maybe we’re dipping too far into sentimentality here. I get that Hollywood is a business. Jobs depend on the success of a film, or the failure. But it still makes me sad that a guy like J J Abrams is so confident in the business model of his film that he doesn’t think twice to shit on the original version, the version that made all the moula he collected even possible.
You can say a lot about Star Trek. It’s geeky, cheesy, too philosophical, overacted, the costumes are ridiculous, etc—but it captured the imagination of generations of viewers. It made the universe a bigger, more potential place. And I wish he would have respected that, if only on tv. I wish he had invested a little more effort in keeping the magic alive.