Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Star Trek Stuff

I decided to post yesterday's entry over at the Raving Toy Maniac's Buzz board and it was funny to see folks totally missing the joke. My point was that a number of the same complaints leveled against the new Star Trek film, could very well be applied to the sacred cow of Star Trek movies -- my beloved Wrath of Khan.

When I first entered the foray into Trek's universe of fandom, it was clearly understood that continuity, when scrutinized, does not hold up very well. We liked the stories. When Star Trek: The Next Generation exploded into a phenomenon popular enough to spin itself off, a new type of fan emerged. A fan that held some vaunted notion that the entire pantheon of Trek was some kind of consistent whole and armed with Michael and Denise Okuda's Star Trek Chronology and Star Trek Encyclopedia to prove it. Unfortunately, this is now the majority of the active fans seen on the plethora of message boards and blog comments across the electronic frontier.

The fandom just mentioned tends to hold the story's ability to entertain secondary to how it fits with what's come before. The Okudas' books were terrific references, but they made assumptions in many cases (and conjectured in others) to make things fit when it wasn't readily clear what or when something occurred. Yes, the authors actually worked on the shows, but the shows' writers weren't tied down to these items. For instance, both editions of the Chronology stated that Kirk's five-year mission ended in 2269; a character in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Q2" mentioned that it ended in 2270. Message boards were on fire that night with accusations of Voyager's writers and producers not knowing what they were doing (again). This type of thinking carried over of course with Star Trek: Enterprise, but I'd be here all day telling you about it. I'll just say that it got really really ugly.

The stories should be paramount (pardon the pun), not how lock-and-step the story elements fit with previous installments. Is it really that jarring if the stripes on Spock's sleeves don't match with the previous week's episode? Back In The Day, part of the fun in all of this was trying to figure out ways to explain the inconsistencies. Unfortunately, the fandom seems to have forgotten that this was supposed to be fun. Thankfully, general audiences have been receptive to the new film and hopefully, fandom will benefit from this New Blood entering the fray like I did back in 1987.

Next time: My review of Star Trek.


Karen said...

You miss one critical thing here. There are many grades of fan between "I don't really care about continuity" and canon-worshippers. I'm one of 'em, and my opinion roughly falls around "let's not throw 40 years of back-story out the window in order to appeal to the hot demographic". But, well, you've heard all my arguments before.

De said...

I don't tend to see too many folks in the middle of the spectrum posting to message boards and blogs. I really don't.

I'm not saying that your opinion is wrong; I just didn't have as much a problem with the film as you did. This isn't the first time Star Trek has been obviously tailored to 18-34 males. Star Trek Nemesis was the most egregious example; much more so than this film.

But, the last 15 years has indeed brought out the type of fan that I described. Part of me believes (as I lack the empirical data to prove it) that once the Okudas said that the novels "don't count," the novels stopped appearing on the New York Times Bestseller List. Once again (if my supposition is correct), the quality of the stories took a back seat to whether or not it was part of Trek's "canon." To this day, I run into other fans who refuse to read any of the novels because they "don't count."

Sheesh, I should have written another friggin' blog post.

Siskoid said...

I definitely fall in the middle somewhere. To my, nitpicking continuity is just good fun, and the stories do come first. So I tend to limit serious criticism for continuity DECISIONS, not mistakes.

But I think my record probably speaks for itself (if you have the patience to get through it).

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