Never Insult a Trekkie: A Lesson for J J Abrams

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.

(Click here to link to a larger gif)

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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?

Startrek-voyagehome

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.

spock-leornard-nimoy-star-trek-tos

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.

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22 thoughts on “Never Insult a Trekkie: A Lesson for J J Abrams

  1. I did not see this interview – talk about putting one’s foot in their mouth – maybe his whole leg? I will have to check this out – aside from this though, I saw the movie and it was astounding! Awesome really. I love Star Trek – grew up with it actually – I will not let anyone’s stupid – not thinking comment – upset me:)

    Live long and prosper!!

      1. I just don’t think we should have to draw lines in our brain in order to enjoy the things we’ve grown to love over the past 30+ years. The core of a product should be maintained. I like Abrams’ movies for the most part, but I’m really disappointed in his version of ST.

  2. Sammie Leo

    Saw only a segment of the interview of him removing a shower scene of Khan from the movie. That was on Buzzfeed. Didn’t see the whole interview. Maybe I should go see the whole interview again.

  3. I saw the interview with Mark Kermode on TV and just about the time JJA started to talk about ST was the time that he started to crumble.

    He knew it had all turned from love to ashes.

    From what I could see/intuit/get wrong/see with the divine inspiration of a mindreader – he looks like he needs to be loved as he speaks – and to be credible as he speaks – and he kind of knew he had crossed into somewhere where he was no longer the boy/man with the magic touch.

    But I would never criticise him for feeling as he does. It’s his right to not be a big fan of ST.

    And he might make a humdinger of an ST film. Or maybe he made it already? I don’t keep up with this.

    Is that the Royal Mile in the header image?

  4. Reblogged this on naomidlynch and commented:
    Bearing in mind I’m not a Trekkie, per se, but I am and always have been a Sci-Fi fan, and I totally understand the sentiment here….

    I also love Sci-Fantasy, and am partial to a bit of High Fantasy as well.

    When a movie is made of a beloved book/comic/TV show, there will always be those who rail against ANY changes.
    I usually ignore them.

    There will be those fans who complain bitterly that the filmmaker did not crawl into their head and produce a film based precisely on the way they imagined things, because their way would have been better…
    I usually ignore them too.

    There will be those who dislike the necessary plot and story changes that must take place in creating a film, due to the simple fact that what makes a great movie great is very different from that which makes a good book/comic/TV show, and you cannot slavishly reproduce something from one format in another successfully.
    I take those complaints with a pinch of salt, but i watch the creative process carefully in these cases.
    A good deal of craftsmanship and sensitive is required of a director and producers to do this well, and it is my opinion that it not only requires a great filmmaker to make a great film, it takes a true fan to pull off a great conversion, someone with as much affection for the source material as the people who will flock to see it. For someone to do it well, and produce a fantastic movie while remaining true to the SPIRITof the book/comic/TV show is challenging and risky, and when they manage it they should be applauded.
    But…. it baffles me when someone is handed that responsibility, the midwifery of a beloved piece of our culture, and that someone does not even pretend to understand what made it beloved in the first place….
    Ok, so yes, I saw Star Trek, Into Darkness, and it was a pretty good film, but to be honest I didn’t see the previous movie, nor half of the more recent tv shows, so I had no particular expectations.
    But I understand that a lot of people did, and to have J.J.Abrams essentially slap them in the face by saying that he really didn’t care about them or what it meant to them is a wee bit disingenuous. You would think that since fans who buy tickets to his films are directly responsible for his success and his position of power and privilege in the film and TV industry, that he might have had at least a little empathy for the people who put him there.

    So. Completely agree with the last statement of this post: “……I wish he had respected that, if only on TV. I wish he had invested a little more effort in keeping the magic alive.”

    1. Excellent response! I completely agree that remakes should hold the SPIRIT of the original, not being held to directly copying. I’m so glad you understand my frustration–the lack of respect for the original spirit. I’ve heard the film is actually really good (I haven’t gone to see it yet), but this still really bothered me. I’m not even a trekkie. Just a casual fan. But like you, I like scifi and fantasy and I’ve accepted a lot of remakes into my life. But I found the lack of care with which he said this frustrating. Thanks for the reblog! Please do visit again 🙂

  5. I was never really into Star Trek either, until I watched both of the movies J.J. directed. I think he did a great job, and I’m actually interested in the series now because of him.

  6. Kro

    JJA has taken the essence of the original ST, that is the exploration of humanity by contrasting it with the non-human (Bones vs Spock for example, or human vs Klingon), and replacing it with pointless large explosions. No charm, no substance at all. Unlike the original and TNG, JJA’s efforts are utterly forgettable.

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