Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some premature thoughts on Star Trek

I know it's really early to be doing this, but I'm a fan and this is what fans do.

First off, I hated the first batch of stills that were released. Hated them. The cast looked like it was made out of plastic and the bridge looked like the 90s (I see why people compare it to an Apple Store, but to me it looks far more like their precursors). Then came the still of the redesigned Enterprise, and I liked it a lot. Same with the pictures I've seen of USS Kelvin, which are very cool indeed. The trailer I was kind of iffy on--it looked way better than the stills did, but the content kind of turned me off. Then again, it was aimed more at non-fans than at people like me, so I probably shouldn't read too much into it.

More substantially, I've been somewhat disturbed by the script pages and reports of preview scenes where Kirk sees Uhura for the first time in a bar, tells her she's ordering a lot of drinks for a woman and then has to be the gallant man protecting her from a bunch of dudes harrassing her, because the future is the 1950s. My immediate reaction when I found out that Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who I then only knew from their screenplay for shitty Transformers, were writing the movie was to think, "Oh, great, they won't be updating the sexual politics at all then, will they." Because Transformers pretty much hates women. But then I started watching their Fringe, which is touch and go as far as quality (though I do have an irrational love of it) but which has a strong female in the lead role and which generally seems at least OK with the concept of feminism, if not actively feminist in itself, and I calmed down a bit. These new things I've heard about scenes with Uhura--not to mention the shot of her taking her shirt off in the trailer--have me anxious again.

On the positive side, as my friend, bandmate, and soon-to-be-housemate Chris pointed out, the mysterious thing the villain Nero is doing on Vulcan could be really interesting. It is pretty cool that they're putting Vulcan in jeopardy--and that it's a Romulan doing it. Some kind of ancestral lands thing? Even if that turns out to be less interesting than it could be, I think between not focusing on Klingons, having a Romulan as the villain, and apparently making us worry about the fate of Vulcan, it sounds like they're putting the focus on some of the more interesting aspects of the Star Trek universe. I would prefer going in a more speculative, philosophical, first movie direction, but if they're going for a more Wrath of Kahn atmosphere*, it seems like this is the best possible direction they could go in.

One thing my friend Jon (who is also excited) said, though, which struck me as pretty smart and probably true, is that from what we've seen so far it's hard to imagine this movie inspiring a whole new generation of scientists and engineers the way the original series did, and that it seems more likely that it'll inspire a new generation of fanfic writers. I mean, obviously, Star Trek's cultural moment of inspiration is long over (both because it was of its time and because it changed things so much, and in such a long-term way, that the need for scientific inspiration isn't really there anymore), but it is sad that the creative forces behind the franchise no longer seem interested in the big concepts and the scifi sensawunda and nifty science stuff the way they used to. On the other hand, JJ Abrams IS definitely interested in that stuff, judging from Lost and Fringe, and if there's one thing he's good at, it's surprising me with how much I enjoy his work. So we'll have to wait and see, I guess.

Of course, since it's still far too early to even be engaging in this speculation, "We'll just have to wait and see" should have been the entirety of this blost.

*I'm one of like two people on Earth who thinks The Motion Picture was incredible and The Wrath of Khan was so-so.

PS Barock-Plastik part 2 has not been canceled. It's coming one of these days.


miriam beetle said...

by the way, i never told you that your project of watching & writing about the original series came about six months before i watched a big chunk of the original series over a couple of weeks (because the blu-ray dvds of it came out, & mike's friend the trekkie didn't have a blu-ray dvd player to watch it on at his house. prior to that, i'd never seen a full episode of tos).

& the stuff you said really affected the way i watched it, especially your eclaration that it is all about the girl ensigns. another of your promised pieces i'm still waiting to read :)

(aaahh! i also feel obliged to tell you my word verification is "poryou." your blog clearly wants me to get over my martyr complex.)

Ethan said...

Oh you porthing!

One reason I haven't gotten around to writing about Star Trek's lady issues is that there's so frickin' much to write about. It's overwhelming. But one of these days, you'll see a book in the bookstore, in the television, gender & women's studies, AND science fiction sections, bestseller in them all: Gender and Star Trek, or, Gene Roddenberry Hated Women, by Ethan muthafuckin' Robinson. I, um, promise.