An Open Letter To Star Trek Director JJ Abrams
Dear Mr. Abrams,
Iíd like to talk to you for a moment as a Star Trek fan. It stopped being fun to be a Star Trek fan some time in the 90s (probably when Voyager got lost on television), but hey weíre still around. We do other things these days, we watch romantic comedies with our wife, and when sheís not looking we get excited about Battlestar Galactica; but for a lot of the people who have recently been waiting in line for movies like Star Wars and The Matrix, itís Star Trek thatís their first love. The old girl just hasnít been treated properly in awhile. We have high hopes that youíll be treating her better.
Except some of us were wondering, do you know what you have your hands on here? I ask, because so far your efforts to bring a new Star Trek movie to the screen have been shrouded in absolute secrecy. I understand that you might not want to spoil the entire plot and that you canít exactly announce cast members until theyíve been hired (I'm warming up to John Cho as Sulu by the way), but thatís not what Iím talking about here. The problem you see, is that this is not Cloverfield or Mission Impossible. Those properties donít have decades worth of dedicated fans and history behind them. This is Star Trek. Itís been around since the 60s, and the eyes of millions upon millions of devoted followers are upon you around the world.
I question whether or not youíre aware of Star Trekís fan base, because so far youíve been treating your project as if itís Cloverfield, when in fact it is not. Iíve heard you mention us, your filmís fan base, in several of your interviews; but simply mentioning us doesnít necessarily accomplish anything. Youíre playing your cards awfully close to your vest. As with Cloverfield, weíre not even entirely sure what youíre calling this new Trek adventure, let alone what this movie is about. With Cloverfield itís exciting, because youíre producing something brand new and unknown. With Star Trek, well I have to be honest, itís making us Star Trek fans pretty uneasy.
Itís not that we expect you to hand out copies of the script to Trek fan sites for review. That would of course, be ridiculous. But it would be nice if you found a way to make us feel loved. Ok, not loved. Maybe liked? Respected? Iím not talking about saying you respect us, talk is after all, cheap. Politicians talk. Youíre not a politician, youíre a filmmaker, and a damned good one. No, thereís a way to do what Iím talking about without spoiling your entire movie. In fact itís been done before. You donít even have to come up with anything new.
Have you met Peter Jackson? Hopefully youíve at least seen his films. On Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson found himself in a situation similar to yours, with legions of longstanding, devoted fans nervous about what he might do to their beloved characters. Yes, I know those characters really donít belong to Mr. Tolkienís readersÖ but after so many years showering them with adulationÖ well in a small way donít they at least a little? So Mr. Jackson did something exciting. Rather than going out of his way to hide what he was doing from the nervous people who desperately wanted to buy tickets to see his films, he invited them in. Maybe youíve heard of a site called TheOneRing.net? Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema used this and other websites as a way to bring fans closer. Before the film even began production, we had an idea of what was going on. By the time they were shooting, we were deluged with cool little trinkets from the production: Still shots of Hobbiton under construction, pictures of suits of armor, Elijah Wood in hobbit feet. It was exciting. It excited LOTR fans, and then they in turn excited others. Soon whatever nervousness they had about what Jackson might be doing melted away, to be replaced by absolute adulation.
Or perhaps you know Bryan Singer? He found himself in a situation similar to Peter Jacksonís when he began making Superman Returns. He was making a movie based on an iconic character with legions of fans around the world. Unlike Jackson however, he had spoilers to protect. Lord of the Rings was already available as a published book, so in essence we all knew what we were going to see. But Singer had a story to keep secret, things he wanted to surprise us with when we got to theaters. Yet, amazingly, using the website BlueTights.net, he did the same thing. He invited Supermanís fans to come along with him, to share the wonder and joy of making, a flat out cool Superman movie. BlueTights.net was regularly updated with amazing images and video from both the filmís pre-production and post production. A video of Superman simply throwing a baseball received tons of attention. Suddenly the thought of Superman returning seemed a lot better, to anyone who might have doubted that we needed the big blue boy back. And he did it, without spoiling whatever secrets were contained in his film.
Now I realize that in the past, Star Trek has certainly not taken place on the scale that a Superman or a Lord of the Rings movie has. Past Trek films have been modestly budgeted Sci Fi affairs. However I hear your aspirations for this one are different. That your budget is one of heft, that youíre going for something massive and truly epic, the beginning of a new and exciting era of Star Trek. Our question isÖ did you want us to come along with you? Because itís kind of hard to tell. I know youíve said some things about wanting existing fans to be happy, but you always seem to follow it with a speech about bringing in new fans as well. Itís not that we donít want 12-year-olds excited about Trek. We do, we really do. But youíre making us nervous. Itís starting to feel like youíre only saying you want us along, while secretly youíre plotting to paint the Enterprise pink and then scrape us off and dump us in the garbage.
Itís not because of anything youíve done really, or because we donít like your ideas for the movieÖ itís just that we donít know about anything youíve done, or any of your ideas for the movie. Itís my understanding that your Star Trek film starts shooting next month. November 5th is it? Surely youíve constructed some sets by now. Maybe tried out a uniform? Picked out a few phasers? Well I guess what Iím asking isÖ can we seem them? Maybe just a Federation cufflink or something? Iím not talking about anything big here. How about a picture of Zachary Quinto trying on his ears? He mentioned that heís picked a pair out. Is there a captainís chair yet? A sketch of a captainís chair maybe? Boy Iíd love to see that. I know, it seems silly, but letting us see such small details as theseÖ well weíd all feel a lot better.
The good news is that itís early, and you have plenty of time to give us all a group hug if you want to. Maybe youíre already planning to. Will Zachary Quinto be video blogging with you while he puts his makeup on in the morning? Perhaps thatís a bit extreme. Youíre in a great position really, because all Trek fans need are crumbs. Start feeding us crumbs and weíll embrace you. Keep the curtains drawn, and we might end up turning on you. And maybe you donít care, maybe you really donít want Star Trekís legions of fans along for this new adventure. Iíd understand. Weíre getting older. We no longer ride skateboards. Iím sure all the market researchers tell you weíre irrelevant. You donít need us. You need high school kids. Alright, itís up to you. But hey um, if you want us along, just let us know when youíll be by to pick us up. Say hi to Leonard for us.
Shatner Fan For Life
Not nerdy enough to understand any of this? We've translated it for you. Read the cool kid edition of Josh's open letter.
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