What’s So Wrong With Being a Trekkie?!
I’ve had the conversation several times. I tell someone I’m a Trekkie and they say, “You ARE?!” Like they’re shocked as all heck. “Yeah, sure,” I say, “Star Trek, great show, love it.” They shake their head.
Ten minutes later the same person is telling me about their favorite episodes. Because that person is a Trekkie too.
It’s amazing, really. Even after I tell them I like Star Trek they put on a show of being surprised and repulsed, as if even though I admitted I’m a Trekkie I might take it back and try to make fun of them. Then a few minutes later they decide it’s safe and, often in a hushed voice in case someone overhears them, they talk my ear off. It comes out all in a rush because I’m the only other Trekkie they know. That’s ’cause all their other Trekkie friends are in the closet too. Being a Trekkie is not the kind of thing you admit.
You don’t admit it because we all know that Star Trek isn’t mainstream, right? It’s Cassavetes, not Spielberg. It has a small cult following. There’s a tiny group of really committed people that watch it. It’s no X-Files, that’s for sure. Back in the ’90s The X-Files was the biggest, baddest genre show there ever was. It transcended sci-fi and picked up a huge mainstream audience. So awesome is its continued popularity that, after a lackluster final season and six years off the air, 20th Century Fox dropped $30 million to make a new X-Files movie last summer!
But, wait a second...
Star Trek has a new movie coming out too. And, Trekkies? Paramount gave J. J. Abrams $150 million to make it. Either Paramount producers are gambling that the small Trekkie cult is so obsessed they’ll buy five times more movie tickets than the larger X-Files audience, or those producers know there’s a huge, committed, MAINSTREAM audience out there that wants to see some freakin’ Star Trek.
I mean, JEEZ! A hundred and fifty million bucks! Either everybody you know is a Trekkie or somebody in Hollywood sure thinks they are.
If you look at the popular genre franchises that people aren’t too ashamed to admit they like, you’ll see even more proof. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was so popular it was recently resurrected as a comic book from Dark Horse, the third largest comic book publisher in America. Big deal. Star Trek comics have been published for decades by DC, Marvel, IDW, Key and Malibu, among others. Battlestar Galactica and Stargate SG-1 are capitalizing on their success with made-for-TV and straight-to-DVD movies. Firefly got the full cinematic treatment. The X-Files got two theatrical releases. So? Not counting the new movie, Star Trek has been in movie theaters TEN TIMES, and nine of the movies were huge financial successes. Lost, the most popular genre show currently on television, is going to call it quits after its sixth season. Star Trek ran for 28 seasons and nobody seriously believes that it won’t be back on television some day. And if you check the résumés of those other shows you’ll see that none of them have a cartoon, a dozen video games, the largest series of novels ever written, a Las Vegas theme park and a Save Our Show campaign that actually saved the freakin’ show!
Star Trek isn’t “cult”. It isn’t a niche market. It is mainstream and it is big time. Its fans are legion.
Star Trek is about hope. It came out of the ’60s, an era of hope, and back then it was on the cutting edge of the geek chic. In a recent Entertainment Weekly article J. J. Abrams said that he intend to make his Star Trek every bit as epic, optimistic and uplifting as The Dark Knight was epic, pessimistic and depressing. According to Zachary Quinto, the new film’s Mr. Spock, the movie is thematically the perfect entertainment for Barack Obama’s America. Obama said, “I grew up on Star Trek, I believe in the final frontier,” in a speech last March. We’ve come full circle. We’ve weathered a jaded, cynical era and now, look!, change is the new watch word, hope is cool! It’s 1966 all over again.
Trekkies, you’ve survived the dark ages and the zeitgeist is back on your side! Get with the image adjustment, already! You aren’t a little, underground fan movement. As far as geeky fandom goes, the only thing bigger than Star Trek is professional sports. If you geek out for tribbles, it’s time to come out of the closet. It’s time to take your shameful stash of season box sets out of that cupboard you keep them in and display them proudly on the shelf with your other DVDs. Cut out the self-loathing and pitch in to give Trekkies a more friendly face. You are NOT a few hundred overweight nerds with Coke bottle glasses and poor hygiene who can discuss inverse tachyon beams and your favorite Kazon sects for hours but can’t hang in there for twenty seconds when you’re talking to a cute girl. You ARE tens of millions of cool, healthy, totally normal people. Odds are that if you aren’t a cute girl yourself you know one. Odds are she’s a Trekkie too. You like Star Trek the way you like any number of other TV shows (though maybe a teensy weensy bit more) and you shouldn’t give a flying fig who knows it.
I mean, for God’s sake, Trekkies, look at who’s President! The world has changed. There’s so much hope in the air that people are dancing in the streets, hugging complete strangers! This May, a major movie studio is spending $150 million to take you out on a really, really fancy date and praying to God they’re good enough to impress you. Behave like you’re worth every penny of that money and a whole lot more. It’s high time. You’ve arrived, my friends. Act like it!