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The Ownership Quality of Fandom 27.04.2009

Posted by Commodore Mendez in Star Trek Stuff.
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journey2babel

Thus the swine reference. Hey, you know, this could also be a convention with really good costumes.

Dear Swine Flautist,
As regards my leeriness and indeed measured hostility toward the new Star Trek movie, I believe there is another aspect to my Trekkieness that I must admit to: ownership.

I, like you, was one of the loyal many who watched Star Trek: The Original Series way back when—when it was Kirk, Spock, Bones galumphing around the more than four-quadrant galaxy, when it featured wonky FX and aliens in previously-used gorilla suits, when it was the only Trek around, and I loved it for all that it was, and I stuck with it through the lovely animated series, the gloriously geeky and sometimes sadly flawed feature films, and then through the camel-toed Next Generation, the self-righteous DS9, and the horribly deformed Voyager. That did not lessen my devotion. Not even Enterprise could do that.

The studios’ unrelenting need to add to the franchise brought fear to my heart. Yet while its memory was dented and chipped by flawed remakes and sequels—Trek has not yet fallen to the threat of losing its original wonder. Star Wars, I am looking right at you. Do not try to hide behind 007.

In short, I love Trek unconditionally. I call myself a Trekkie proudly.

Now—now all that is threatened.

Because, if the new movie is successful, Trek won’t be just belong to me—and, ahem, a few million other Trekkies. It will belong to the world. The truth is, I don’t want it to belong to anyone else. I want it to stay mine—and a few million other Trekkies’.

J.J. Abrams, an admitted non-Trek fan, seeks to make a movie that appeals to non-Trek fans—so that can find their way into the franchise, he purports. Why? Why do they deserve such consideration? Have they been there from the beginning? Will they wrap their arms around this movie and then go back and dive into the canon? Will they love it as I have?

I held on to my ardor for Trek despite its what the popular culture calls its so-called uncoolness, nerdiness, geekiness. I never cared what the popular culture called it, but I admit I enjoyed loving something that was special, that was marginalized because it was not popular (because popular usually means awful). Loving Trek requires tolerance, imagination, and self-respect.  It’s like being part of a club with some of the wildest and weirdest and wonderful people on the planet—people who wear costumes, who meet at far-out and faraway conventions, who can talk Trek with each other (often bridging cultural and social divides) in any conversation. If the movie is a mega-hit Trek will no longer be a marginalized, specialized thing. The language will become diluted. Other people will invite themselves to the club. It will become popular. It will very likely, then, be awful.

That seems awfully separatist, doesn’t it? But we weren’t the ones who separated ourselves in the first place. The non-Trek fans did that.

I also fear that the movie may, in Abrams’ drive to change its appeal, be just a tarted-up pastiche of Trek, without its edge or drive toward social commentary. Yet because of marketing and modern polish, it become a whole generations’ idea of what Trek is. People will think they are Trekkies—without ever knowing what that title really cost in the first place.

Yours in costume,

Kirstie Alley’s Dedicated Liposuctionist

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