The Trepidatious Trekkie (or Why I Haven't Seen Into Darkness...)
"Have you seen the new Star Trek Yet?!?!"
Since the movie came out last week, I get asked this question a minimum of 5 times a day. My trekkie reputation precedes me, and all the non-trekkies bombard me with this question. Every time I answer the same way: flinching. "No..." "What?? WHY NOT???" The WHY requires a long explanation, so I usually just mumble about having a baby and no sitter, but the answer is much more complicated.
My parents separated when I was very young. My mother remarried rather quickly. For the first half of first grade (while my mother was relocating to the sunshine state), I spent the longest uninterrupted stretch of my life with my father that I ever would. My clearest memory of those months? Sitting down at the kitchen table for dinner (where my dad had a 32" CRT TV... I don't think my dad owned a CRT smaller than 32" ever) and watching the continuing adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise. My father and I both grew to have a tremendous attachment to the Next Gen show. Later, when Voyager moved over to UPN (and my dad didn't get UPN in St. Louis) he would have me tape episodes for him to watch. I got so busy with important teenage things that by the time I started college, I'd lost track of Trek (besides, who watched Enterprise, anyway? Nobody wanted a damn prequel...).
Then my (to become later) husband moved out to Orlando, and had no cable (or, really, money) in his first apartment. So we wandered down to the local library, where you could check out ENTIRE SEASONS of Next Gen on DVD. My husband grew up with a different school of Trek (he was raised more on the movies and Original Series), but getting to rediscover Next Gen together really became a bonding experience; it was "our thing." Then we both ventured into uncharted territory together: Deep Space Nine. Months and months were spent working our way through these series, loving them even when they weren't that great.
I'm not certain when we went from just loving the shows to being Trekkies. Was it when we started accumulating unusual Trek merchandise at conventions? Maybe it was the 36+ hours I invested in my extensive Star Trek tattoo piece?
As the popularity of Trek seemed to dwindle (along with the selection of related merch at conventions) we decided to "level up" in nerddom and attend one of the official Trek conventions out in Vegas. While there (after 8 glorious years together) Ian proposed (not at the actual convention, though, apparently we have our limits?).
Let's take a moment to explain what my love for Trek is. Obviously, I have sentimental attachment to the franchise (as I've outlined above), but the reason it appealed to me in the first place was largely because there was nothing else out there like it. Sure, there's action and suspense in places, but that is not the spirit of Trek. To quote Jean-Luc Picard "The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity." Trek is cerebral, thoughtful, exploratory, sci-fi at its very best. This is not to say that all Star Trek is great. IMO, the best that Trek has to offer are Next Gen seasons 3-7 and (most of) DS9 seasons 3-7. My love for Trek has NEVER been about the movies (some are ok, some are frankly awful), or the original series (though I respect its influence, and some of the groundbreaking social commentary it contained). I can say, with complete sincerity, that meeting the cast of Next Gen was right up there with the day I got married and the birth of my child.
So in 2008 (despite the hubby's and my undying devotion), our franchise was dying. No shows on TV and Paramount was ready to shelve it. Then JJ Abrams came along and decided to try to breathe new life into the franchise and make a movie. While I was THRILLED that there would be new Trek, I was a little tiny bit worried about Abrams involvement since I was NOT a fan (Lost, Ugh, don't get me started). I was willing to put aside ALL my Abrams feelings if it meant my franchise would be revived. How hardcore are my husband and I? When one of my students told me he could get us into an advanced industry screening of the movie... in Manhattan... the hubby and I were booking plane flights within the hour. So there we were, in a packed theater of people, watching our first new Trek in YEARS. I Ooooh'd and Ahhh'd and laughed. When the movie was over, I turned to my husband, eager for his input. We were both reasonably pleased with most of the movie, myself more so, but I was never as attached to the original cast as my husband (who loves the original cast movies). So dedicated are we to the life of our franchise, we went back to see this movie 6 times in the theater (sometimes buying tickets for it, but then sneaking over to a different theater just so Star Trek could get our money). What motivation could there be for such insanity? My student interviewed me on camera and asked me a question along those lines and I will tell you now just what I told him.
Trek, for true Trekkies, has never really been about the movies. It's about the show. If JJ Abrams can generate enough interest in the franchise that I can get a Trek show back on the air? Then it's worth it.
When the Abrams Trek came out on Blu Ray we were quick to purchase our collector's editions. I'm not sure what happened in the span of time to going to the theaters and seeing the blu-ray, but some of the shine definitely wore off. We started to dig into the particularly large plot holes. Zoe Saldana continues to be horrifically miscast. The whole tone of the movie really wasn't Trek at all: it was pretty much Star Wars, complete with gratuitous ice planet Hoth scene and nonsensical Cloverfield Alien nemesis. What started to eat at us more than anything was the idea that Abrams and (as I call them, the Unholy Trinity) Kurzman, Orci, & Lindelof had, in one swoop, completely wiped out the timeline (uggghhhh time travel in sci fi movies) for all the Trek I had grown up with and loved. In the stretch of time between that first movie and this one, members of the Unholy Trinity have done nothing to restore my faith in them. Lindelof (a.k.a. Destroyer of all my husband and I hold dear from our childhoods) has taken a huge shat on the Alien franchise, Kurzman and Orci continue to spew out Transformers crapola, Abrams produced one shitty TV show after another along with the largely disappointing Super 8. Then little tidbits about potential story lines for the new Trek came out and I got more and more nervous.
Khan. Why did it have to be Khan?
The first trailer had my husband spitting fire when we caught a glimpse of a scene referencing the climactic hand-touch moment from the end of Khan (the only cinematic moment that can bring my husband to sincere tears EVERY. TIME. HE. WATCHES. IT.). Wrath of Khan is really the only of the movies that is truly sacred to all Trek fans, it takes a lot of gall to think you're going to improve on that story line. I made a point from that moment on not to seek out ANY POSSIBLE INFORMATION about the movie if I was going to salvage any desire to see it in the theater. I figure the less I know going in, the lower my expectations, the less likely I am to be disappointed (that's my theory behind most movie going experiences these days).
So many people have been telling me how GREAT the new movie is. A student stopped me before lecture (to ask the question, then said) "It's soooooo good!" "Well, wait now, is it soooooo good? Or is it JJ Abrams good?" "....... JJ Abrams good." "THAT is exactly what I'm worried about." Then my work husband (not to be confused with my real husband) came to tell me he'd gone to see the movie. While not the on the level of my husband or myself, Drew is definitely a fan of Trek. "So, what did you think? How was it?" "Well, let me put it this way. It's like someone's raping your best friend, and winking at you while doing it." That, right there, is EVERYTHING that I'm afraid I will be feeling when I go see this movie. It's great that there's this whole new generation of people who are liking Trek, but honestly? This isn't Trek. This is JJ Abrams cutting his teeth for Star Wars (something he and the Unholy Trinity have all admitted to being larger fans of than Trek anyway). However, ALL will be forgiven in my eyes if it means I can get a show back on TV.
Which is why, probably next weekend, with heavy hearts and great trepidation, my husband and I will venture forth where no Trekkie wants to go: to watch Abrams and the Unholy trinity rape our favorite childhood friend while winking at us.