Fan theories and embarrassment at Star Trek screenings

Fan theories and embarrassment at Star Trek screenings

Brief news time.

I am hard work on a brand new podcast that will supplement the blog, tumblr and my newsletter. It will be a mix of a talk-show format (with guests down the line) and scripted storytelling. I promise absurd satire and super dumb, dark comedy. Keep an eye out for the launch in the next two weeks-ish.

Nonsense post time.

Let’s talk about ways one can use their ‘director’s eye’ to embarrass themselves.

The ‘director’s eye’ is the ability to break down stories into their base protein building blocks, to separate the cloth and see the color and texture of the individual threads. This is the most useful skill a storyteller has.

It also makes you a crazy person when you watch and read things. You call the ending of a movie on minute ten. You anticipate bewildering plot twists because a seemingly innocent object has been given importance. A reaction shot makes you laugh a full five seconds before the dialog punchline is delivered, and everyone else laughs.

And then, in my case, there were the reboot reads.

Genre franchise reboots are weird. People are mad they are being made. People are not mad they are being made. The reboot crew wants to be left alone, but also wants you to watch because THEY are ALSO called Robocop! Or Cowbows of Moo Mesa.

You’ve seen Room 237 right?

I can use that ‘director’s eye’ to read into meaning where there isn’t necessarily any, just like the people in Room 237! In fact, reboots are one of the places I’ve most enjoyed the reads I’ve come up with.

Here’s a couple of example:

Serenity – Browncoats are internet freaks and sellouts.

The movie continuation/reboot of beloved space western Firefly has a supporting character named Mr. Universe. Mr. Universe is so obviously a representation of a fan that it hurts. He spends all his time alone in his room watching the internet. He has a sex doll. He says things to the crew of Serenity like:

Zoe, you sultry minx. Stop falling in love with me.

He is likable enough, but his relationship with the crew reads as meta very easily. Mr. Universe is the internet! He loves Firefly! He helps them when they get stuck, with his ability to watch beheading videos on Consumption Junction.

And of course, if you know the events of the film, and if you subscribe to this read on the character, then it also means that internet fans would sell out their heroes the minute someone flashed a sword, or offered them computer upgrade money.

Star Trek (2009) – the reboot fights a physical manifestation of the old franchise.

I’m proud of this one. Perhaps too proud. I’ll explain what happened after I make my case.

The J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot had some challenges. Namely:

  1. A massive old franchise built up of hundreds of hours of television and movies
  2. They needed to introduce new versions of the characters and a new tone in a couple of hours
  3. They had a rabid, fifty-year-old fan base of people who REALLY liked the old characters

Upon a couple of viewings of the 2009 reboot movie, I noticed some amusing parallels. In the 2009 Star Trek:

  1. A massive spaceship from the old Star Trek universe shows up and starts blowing up everyone
  2. The new characters have to fight this ship
  3. This massive metaphor spaceship is piloted by a fanatic obsessed with Spock

Get it? Get it??? Oh man! The read is super concise – there is no event in the movie that counters it. Old-universe Spock ultimately shows up and reveals that the fanatic evil captain is mad because Spock ruined the old universe. Fanatic evil captain has been biding his time for years, not unlike a fan waiting for a new Trek series/movie after Nemesis and Enterprise.

And so on.

Anyway, I went to a Creative Screenwriting Magazine screening of the movie with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzmann back in 2009, and attempted to ask in the QandA if these parallels were intentional.

I have not listened to the recording, but based on the awkward silence from the rest of the audience, and their confused answer (which was about time travel), I do not think I got the point across. Afterwards, my friend Dan made it a point to tell me, “You blew it.”

Come to think of it, I haven’t tried to read Star Trek Into Darkness yet. I imagine the result would be…interesting.

Okay, big takeaway conclusion paragraph.

These are all made up. Don’t take any of these seriously. Just a fun exercise in interpretation.

And also, if you are going to ask a question at a QandA, best to write it down ahead of time. And keep it short.