Saturday, March 6, 2010


Note to J. J. Abrams: as MUCH as I love the movie you made, the funny thing about my consumption of Star Trek in general, and my consumption, even, of your Star Trek movie in particular, is that I didn't really buy into it for the Star WARS excitement you're on about so much in the extras.

I'm not one of those Trek fans who goes particularly rabid about the whole Trek-versus-Wars thing (which I wasn't even aware of until I was like thirty or thirty-five, this is how disinterested I am in SW really). But the point, for me, is that Wars never got me. It never hooked, me, I can't generate interest in it, in the same way I can't generate interest in watching televised sports. I just don't get IT, myself.

People go on about SW's mythology - and I am a mythology geek from way back - but, oddly enough, the mythology thing is actually my problem. I don't mind reading myths, because in reading one's brain can backfill and create character, setting, and one's own interests. For a movie, that's served up concretely - and yet character doesn't get looked to, all too often. So SW, for me, is as rarefied as myth is without the production assistant in my brain - but without the depth of character, and investment in them, that reading allows me to create. So I see SW, and I see amazing visuals peopled (and aliened) by carboard cutouts. Meh. It's better than golf, but even the syndicated Stargate series feel to me more accomplished with characterization.

Not long ago, out for an evening and talking with some Wars nerds in between dancing with my friends, one guy brought up the point that Trek, since it consisted of so many series, and since it was served up in our homes, and since it contains such a range and depth of storylines, some episodic and some more overarching, has simply more *material* to get one with. I'd say that's fair, leaving aside anyone's inevitable argument that if one really gets into the whole media universe of material for both - because, in the end, the starting points, what is served to us without our having to go out and really seek "more" than is major-released, or weekly-broadcast, *do* come in different proportions. Everyone with any exposure to much pop culture at all has grown up with one or half a dozen series of Trek beamed constantly into their homes - even those luddites among us without CABLE, for goodness sake, have access to syndicated versions of Trek in its many iterations; whereas, really, Wars is available pretty much via the movies, in terms of stuff we don't have to go look for. The sheer hours-to-hours proportion of what's been produced in Trek versus Wars is pretty massively Trek-intensive. I grew up with Bones in the background. Lando I'd have had to go out to find. So, easy peasy. I became a Trek fan, if even out of sheer laziness/inertia (or lack of the latter).

And, of course, being a contrarian, I would naturally have always been one to resist the whole "saw it five hundred twenty-seven times" thing Wars had going for it in a way Trek only generated much later. The repulsion from that was built in (and not least because, seriously, Wars had WARS in the title, which was a very real turnoff for the nine-or-whatever-year-old GIRL I was when it came on the scene.

This brings me to the point of why I should have become a Trek fan at all, and that just having it piped into the house, available, hardly explains this.

And, to be sure, when I was really young, Trek probably annoyed me. It was all boys, but for Uhura, and of course she was a woman of science, of extreme articulation, of all those things I found most intimidating and impossible to even aspire to when I was a little girl. She didn't attract me, she barely registered with me, all I saw as a kid was guys and fear and dreary old hollering and fighting.

When I was little, Bewitched was my thing. I Dream of Jeannie. Elizabeth Montgomery was more of a Barbie (as lovely a woman as she was) - she was pitched right at my level, my interests. She was easy, she was remarkably beautiful. I wanted to be her, and I wanted magic powers. Like Dollhouse much later, these shows about women were fantasy stuff. I wanted to be gorgeous, magic, and possessed of a fabulously mod, funky apartment like Jeannie's bottle. Heh.

Trek was always around; my brother must have watched it, though he was no more of a big fan than I was, and certainly isn't now (in those dark-ages days of the 1970s, kids, there were only three channels; one tended to take what there was, and syndication allowed ubiquity in those days). I got older, got into M*A*S*H. I got older, I became an Arthurian nerdling.

I still remember exactly the weather, the day in spring, the visit to my Aunt L., when just she and I went to a bookstore in Northern Virginia, and I found "The Crystal Cave" and "The Last Enchantment".

Now Arthuriana is some intensely male-oriented literature. Guenevere-schmenevere, this stuff was all about boys. And Mary Stewart ... a woman ... wrote from the point of view of a MAN! A boy, then a man, then an old man. All about men. And I loved it.

Blame Mary Stewart, then, for my becoming a woman who writes first-person male warrior kings, I guess.

Anyway, it has got to be Arthur who opened me up to male entertainments ... and battle scenes.

Okay, and d*mnitall to heck, I STILL just loathe battle scenes. Seriously. It's ridiculous. I have worked hard to make them the best - perhaps my adversarial attitude toward them makes them my own personal victories to win - but I will never genuinely "appreciate" them, not in the sense of enjoying them for themselves. I don't fast-forward through them in movies, and I don't skip pages through them in books, but that is because I am a completist, and have certain OCD tendencies in my entertainment consumption habits. It's not because I have warmed to battle scenes.

All right. Anyway, so Merlin opened me up to the reading-entertainment possibilities with male characters. How I ever went beyond that into the viewing-entertainment possibilities of men, I genuinely don't know. It took me a long, long, LONG time - and doesn't even owe to the men in my actual life. My dad was a James Bond guy, but never into Star Trek. My brother wasn't action/adventure oriented particularly. I did have guy friends, many of whom by high school were certainly Trek geeks, though that was not much of a draw; it stayed in the background. My friend Mark got me into Douglas Adams, so maybe that's a start.

However it happened, Trek seeped into me only VERY slowly. By high school, still not really a fan. In college, maybe it was in syndication again; I know I consumed Little House in those days, almost as if it were tolerable stuff (it really wasn't, but it wasn't the news and it wasn't kids' programming - and, again, only the three channels, and FOX, back in those days).

But, too, in college, The Next Generation also came along. I guess that must have really been the grabber, for me. Women were much more prominent by then, and the universe was interesting to see. I still remember the pilot episode, watching the world they were creating.

And *that's* really the thing. The world building. I was fascinated enough, by then, by the process of writing - even not understanding it - that this finally, fully "got" me. And TNG's world had kids, politics I finally understood, palatably presented, exciting makeup of course, and of course ongoing storylines. I was readily addicted.

Even still, I wasn't much surrounded by other fans. Fitting in with my contrarianism, and my preference to consume entertainment either solo or only with those I am most intimately connected with, I finally became a Trek fan all by myself. My boyfriend-then-fiancee'-then-husband was no more a fan really than any previous men in my life, though he was happy enough with my becoming one. Neither one of us much noticed as it was happening.

And so, I was twenty-five or so by the time my geek- and fan-dom were really established. As E put it when we went to the movie, it had always been "part of my DNA". But pulling it deeper into my makeup was a longer process.

I have, here and there, tried to get into Wars - though fairly passively; watching it if it was on, and just the once going to the theater (ohh, JarJar ... not an auspicious first actual attempt, that one).

But it's Trek I do care about. Call part of myself. Squee over, become excited about - invested in.

So, J. J. ... nice as your commentaries and things are (and there are some cruddy ones out there, it's not like I don't know - see also "Nemesis" - ugh), please shut UP about Star Wars. For those who just don't care (and, yes, for those who actively dislike Wars, from the loyalty/competition between the two universes), it's actively distracting. We came for a Trek flick. Maybe let's focus on that, when discussing it. Eh?

All righty then.

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