I think I’m going to have a series of Trek related posts over the course of the next few days, as my thoughts on various elements of the subject are extensive. So I apologize to people who don’t care about Trek, we’ll get back to regularly scheduled content soon!
The subject of series reboots is something that is quite the hot topic at the moment. From Star Wars to Star Trek to Magic the Gathering to Doctor Who… there are more than a few franchises that have gotten a new start in the 21st century. Even comic book heroes are getting into the act! Today I’d like to discuss a few things about the Star Trek reboot in specific. This topic is largely precipitated by an article that I read on this blog, which discusses another “hot topic” reboot – Magic: The Gathering. In fact, this blog has a number of posts about series reboots in several geek franchises. Basically, his point is that the type of customers that are ranting and raving about changes are not the sort of customers that are good for business.
Obviously, people complaining about the Star Trek reboot have done so for some time now, since the original movie was in pre-production and they learned that someone other than William Shatner would be Captain. In my experience, the older a Star Trek fan is, and the earlier in life they embraced the show, the more likely that they will be against the reboot. Some of their arguments are good. It is a little silly that Kirk went from being a Cadet on the verge of severe punishment after the Kobayashi Maru incident to being Captain of the Enterprise in a few days. There are many things to complain about. These things don’t bother me though.
One of the biggest reasons that people don’t watch or enjoy Star Trek is because of the fans. Sadly, there are too many stigmas about the level of obsession that Trekkies have – that they have no lives, that they live in their mom’s basement, that they’re grossly overweight and never bathe. And yes, this stigma is true for some individual fans. But the large majority of us Trek lovers are not actually that creepy. We have jobs, we have lives, we take showers. Sure, we might dress up in costumes, but have you seen some of the stuff that people wear to football games nowadays?
Let’s be honest:
Football uberfans are every bit as weird as Star Trek uberfans. Dressing up like someone or something that you like isn’t bad or frowned upon in and of itself, unless the people choosing to dress that way are particularly socially inept and/or dirty.
Back to my point. Yes, you will lose some die-hard fans because of the reboot. No, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s be realistic – what fandom wants fans that bitch and nitpick about every single detail of their fandom? Something I’ve noticed on fan sites is that the people who really, truly hate the movie (and not pretending to hate it because that’s what the cool kids are doing) are annoying. They argue and nitpick about everything. They’re not particularly fun associate with.
These are the people who – when I see them at a con – I instantly resent and loathe them. When they question me on a forum because I said “Chief of Operations” instead of “Chief Operations Officer” – I want to smack them silly. There are nearly no benefits of being that rigid and unchanging. One of the keys of success is to constantly be able to evolve to changing circumstances.
That’s not to say that I think we should turn our back on all that is known Trek, and disregard the wishes of the fans. It’s a fine line between being successful as a reboot and just making something that is completely unrelated and untrue to the franchise. Yes, the new Trek movies have more action. But do they stay true to the goals and purposes of the franchise? In many ways, yes they do.
Let’s be honest, there’s no way to get a perfect interpretation of Trek. Trek can never be the same without the old writers, and actors, and Gene. However, the current actors, writers, directors, etc. can certainly do their interpretation of Trek, catering to their strengths (CGI), and modernized a bit. Fans don’t want to see their fandom die off, and the simple fact of the matter is that with younger generations being born in an era after the Trek TV series, fan numbers will eventually die off. These new films bring the old movies and TV episodes back to life. They inspire Paramount to make High Definition DVD releases of the old episodes. It causes companies like Netflix to make these episodes available for everyone with an internet connection. It is a very good thing for the franchise as a whole.
A few years ago, I was lamenting that a lot of older “cult” classics was becoming popular at places like Hot Topic. At the time, I loathed the new fans, people who suddenly thought Clockwork Orange was the best movie ever, and who quoted The Crow excessively. But then I realized that while that does introduce these “kids” (for lack of better term) to the franchise, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it’s annoying when some 15-year-old wears a cheap Clockwork orange tee-shirt, and quotes the movie without truly understanding what it’s about. It’s annoying when they only like the film to laugh at all the phallic imagery throughout. But most of these annoying fans won’t be around long. Either they’ll research more about the movie and they’ll understand more what the significance was, and not just for the giant penises. They’ll be the truly insightful sort of fan that’s a pleasure to be around. Much like I argued earlier about “pretend” geek chicks eventually either losing interest in the “game” or actually growing into a respectable geek woman – “new” Star Trek fans will do the same. This reboot will create yet another generation who grew up on Trek, who dream of being Captain Kirk and exploring the galaxy. Who knows, this may inspire young people to want to be astronauts, to demand that the space program is reinstated. This may inspire them to want to learn, to respect people who are different, and to try to create a world where there is peace.
A world that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of.