Remembering those who truly went where none (in the living room) had gone before.
By Larry Nemecek
How’s your Star Trek summer going?
Well, I’m trying really hard to be upbeat today.
It’s taking all of my Roddenberry-esque “faith in humanity” juice to stay on the sunny side right now … after an apparently random, and completely opportune, theft of a case of camera lens gear from our documentary shoot last Sunday night. Bummer, dude. On our modest budget for The Con of Wrath in Houston, such a hit -- out of a closed but unlocked truck, in between load-ups and right by a front door in a “good neighborhood”! -- will hold us up a few weeks for a replacement and the funding. It really can get you down.
And then it struck me. Ironically, I’m in the same headspace, in a way, as the very folks we are chronicling: the active fans of 1980s Houston who poured their young hearts and souls into the historic dream of the Ultimate Fantasy show, only to have a big chunk of it famously “stolen” by a variety of still-uncertain reasons. Along the way, they too suffered, mourned… and then picked up and went on with their fandom and, ultimately, their daily lives. So too will it be with our little crew.
Not surprisingly, “suffering for your art”—or your passion!—was one of the very issues that had just cropped up this weekend in a reunion of our ‘80s-era Houston “first fandom”: namely, whether today’s digital-savvy, media-soaked fans appreciate what that first wave of relentless and oft-ridiculed Trekkies accomplished. Or, to be fair, whether they even can appreciate how much it took… so that not only was Kirk transplanted to the big screen, but with a groundswell that allowed offshoots like Picard, Sisko, Janeway, Archer and even “alt-Kirk” to blossom. And, along the way, gave root to a movement that defined just what a modern “media franchise” and its fandom could look like.
It’s a franchise that’s sure on display this year, eh? As this incredible anniversary year unfolds for all of us in Trekland, I too will cop to admitting how incredibly spoiled we all are….as history still writes itself.
I mean, first we get reunions of the Next Generation cast at various cons, topped by the full group at an historic and emotional 25th anniversary moment in Calgary. Then the spectacle of all five captains, finally together in Philadelphia -- and coming up again at Destination Star Trek London this October -- helping end the drought of major Trek events for UK fans. And don’t forget the 30th anniversary of The Wrath of Khan… nor the awarding of Walter Koenig’s Walk of Fame star in Hollywood this fall, completing that honor circle among the original cast and Gene. Even if you were not or cannot be there in person, these moments nowadays are all shared online -- and we’re spoiled, yet again!
Of course, with no weekly televised Star Trek to take up all our bandwidth any longer, the upside of the “movie-only” era means that these kinds of moments take on all that much more impact for fans. (Though it won’t be long til a certain little movie goes from grabbing Internet rumors to major headlines between now and May 2013.)
But Linda, my veteran Houston fan, has a point: would we still be marking all these media birthdays and 45-plus years of boldly going if no one had been crazy enough to take what Gene & Co. ignited and just not let go? To have burned with passion all those years -- and long before any geek revolution or fangirl frontline made it so cool, right there in public? Not all of First Trek Fandom’s exploits were as infamous as the Con of Wrath, but it was the week after week, month after month devotion to a cause all across the country and much of the world that survived and spread -- and in an era when paper and not pixels drove communication! Just think about it.
It’s one of the themes I hope to explore with you if we get the chance to meet up at this summer’s cons, especially San Diego Comic-Con in July and Creation Entertainment’s big “Vegas Trek” in August. Click HERE to check out my con schedule.
I mean, it’s totally fine to just consume your passion, get your Trek fix and enjoy it all. Don’t feel badly: underneath the glitz and gizmos, I’m betting very few ever stop to ponder how much Star Trek has affected their own life -- and why they hang on so tightly to it (and read blogs on sites like here!). Much less consider all those who did the very same thing before them, and passed it on.
So, how about now: Are YOU a pioneer way-paver who saved a little show via licking stamps and writing fanzines? Or maybe you’re a TV watcher who came to all this never knowing a week without fresh Trek -- and perhaps feeling a bit old lately? Or are you an overwhelmed student of Blu-ray, Netflix, or even J.J. Abrams offerings in the giant Wall-o-Trek?
Instinct would tell me our readers here skew to the latter… but regardless of your entry point, let me ask: As you make your daily online reading stops, do you ever feel thankful for those who truly did go where none had gone before?
Larry Nemecek, author of The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Star Trek Magazine columnist and longtime editor of Star Trek Communicator, is currently producing The Con of Wrath, a documentary about the most “glorious failure” convention ever. He will also host the “Hollywood to Vegas: Trek Film Sites” tour for Geek Nation Tours in August; click HERE for details. Larry shares his years as Star Trek author, historian, consultant and insider at conventions and on larrynemecek.com. His posts and original video chats with all your favorites are at Treklandblog.com, plus @larrynemecek on Twitter and Larry Nemecek’s Trekland on Facebook. (PLEASE LINK per below)
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