Trekkies movie - A Fascinating commentary on effects of Star Trek on society and individuals
OK, I'll admit it - I was probably a bit close to becoming a "trekkie" as illustrated by this documentary. This would have been in the late seventies or early eighties. I was a kid who loved the show - almost to distraction. I watched the original show reruns daily and was ecstatic to see the release of the first feature film. I read everything I could find, and had many posters and photos pinned up on my bedroom walls. If I had lived in an area with some kind of fan group, or if the Internet had been in existence at that time, I could have possibly gone over the edge with it. As it was, stuck in a small rural town, it ended up being basically just a passtime or hobby for me which I "outgrew" (I hesitate to use that term, but I think its correct in my case).
To this day I still watch and enjoy the show. I watch the movies when they come out and have thought that about half of them were really good. What I enjoy most is seeing the impact this genre has had on our society. The lingo, the future predictions, and the developments in technology. So I'm basically a fan, although not an obsessed one. My father also enjoyed the show and even into my thirties he'd come to visit me and we'd have dinner and watch the latest episode of "Voyager" or "Deep Space Nine" or whatever. He passed away last year and I really miss that time together.
When I heard about this documentary, naturally I had to see it, as any Star Trek fan would. Trekkies is a documentary that runs 86 minutes. It was created by Robert Nygard and is hosted by Denise Crosby. Denise Crosby was an actress in Star Trek: The Next Generation and it was fun to see her in something again. She was a good interviewer, asking interesting questions and she seemed genuinely touched by the impact of Star Trek. If she wasn't, I don't think there could be any way she could interact with the obsessed fans so genuinely without laughing at them.
I think most people, fans or otherwise, will agree that Star Trek is a phenomenon in the culture of America and even, perhaps, the world. I can't think of any event, entertainment or otherwise, short of war, that has had as far reaching impact than did this creation of Gene Roddenberry. Everyone knows what "warp" speed it, who the Klingons are, how people can be "beamed" around to different places, and a hundred other minute details. Even people who haven't seen the show have experienced this cultural impact.
Trekkies as a documentary is about people. Its not about the show or its production, effects, or plots. It is about how people are and have been effected by this phenomenon. Of course, it is most interesting to show the people who have been dramatically effected. These people are, of course, people who may look "freakish" to general society. Think about when the Star Trek convention comes into your city and your local news does a segment on it. Who do they show? Not the guy who likes the show a lot, looks fairly normal, and stopped by to check out the convention - no, they show the guy in full regalia dressed up like the Andorian ambassador from episode 22 of the original series (O.K. if any trekkies read this I just made up that episode number stuff - its not meant to be correct). So, similarly, the Trekkies documentary tends to show us the people that would be considered the geeks and the freaks.
Still, even though we see these human oddities - the cross dressing guy dressing up like the never mentioned wife of a character from one episode of Voyager, the geeky kid who designs Star Fleet uniforms, tons of aliens of all sorts - Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians, Orions, etc, we get to see the side of many of them that is more human and less freaky. Mostly these are just people who have a lot of fun doing what they're doing. They're not afraid to show it to the world. Many take the important show themes to heart and hope for a better future for our world. So despite the fact that these people are funny to look at and seem odd to some of us, I did get a feeling that the documentary wasn't just trying to do a freak show. They were trying to show us the depth of the impact of the show. Of course, among the fans shown I found some of the people totally beyond hope and wacko. The "Spiner Femme" (intense female Brent Spiner fan) for example comes to mind as a potential stalker escaped from reality.
The film spent a significant amount of time showing people who really took the show to heart and attempt to model their lives around the show. The two main segments in this vein were Barbara Adams, well-known juror in the Whitewater trial who wore her uniform to court daily. I found out a lot about her I didn't know. When the court thing came out I truly thought she was a complete nut, but I see in the documentary that despite her oddities she is a nice person who believes in some ideals and who has taken a fictional show a bit too much to heart.
Interestingly, I feel like Barbara Adams may have a bit of a point when she compares her wearing of the uniform and being called "Commander" at work to sports fans wearing jerseys and stuff. Wearing jerseys and other fan sports apparel is considered normal by our society while she's considered crazy for wearing her own choice of fan uniform. Still I think she takes the whole thing to an obsessive level, which in my opinion is unhealthy for anyone - Trekkie or sport fan alike.
The other person the film devoted a great amount of time to is a dentist who decorated his office in a Star Trek theme and wears (and makes his staff wear) Star Trek apparel daily. I have to admit I was a bit turned off by this as well, since I have a certain amount of expectation that a dentist should appear professional. And I felt that he shouldn't have forced his staff to wear the Star Trek uniform if they felt uncomfortable with it. But he seemed normal on other levels. He was a family man and apparently an O.K. dentist. I'm sure post-documentary he has all the business he can handle, so as a marketing plan this theme may be a good one.
Another large part of the documentary is interviews with cast members about their experiences with this Star Trek phenomenon and the impact of the show. The cast members are all well spoken on how this show has had a huge impact on the world stage. Some of the most poignant involve Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on the original series. Apparently she has had many African-Americans tell her that seeing her on this show gave them the feeling that they could do anything in life and gave them hope for a future where skin color was not such a factor in their lives.
Overall, I enjoyed the Trekkies documentary a lot. I found myself laughing and feeling touched at the same time. I cringed a bit when I saw the people completely engrossed in it and am very glad that I never came close to becoming one of them, yet I know a little bit about the feelings they have and why they are doing what they are doing. Trekkies pretty much hit it on the head, for better or worse. They could have devoted more time to the casual fan like me, who watches every show and might pick up a book now and again but who has never been in a fan club or to a convention - but what fun would that be?
Whether or not you're a Star Trek fan (casual or Trekkie/Trekker/Trekkist/...) you will enjoy this documentary. I highly recommend it if only to be amazed about the huge impact that an television program can have.
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