If you are a fan of Star Trek or Star Wars, or if you couldn’t care less for either one but want to see why nerds stereotypically live in their mother’s basements, Google Star Trek versus Star Wars. The hilarious stockpile of time that regularly goes into that discussion aside, there is a more interesting layer to this perceived battle of the franchises. What happens when one Director makes movies in two very different worlds? This question may be as pointless as your last Google search. But in the case of JJ Abrams and his work on Star Trek and Star Wars, i think a hero of the geek world shows his true colors.
JJ Abrams has said in interviews that his opportunity Directing Star Trek in 2009 was to take the franchise and treat it like something he wanted to see. I paraphrased his words, but feel free to click the link and see his quote for yourself. Abrams’ self appointed quest was to make a movie for movie fans, not for Star Trek fans. This was all in hopes of filling seats and putting the franchise back on the map. Up to this point Paramount was making Star Trek for the fans and in this case when they built it, they didn’t come. So, as a fan, i drank the Kool-aid. I knew what i was getting into. Star Trek was going to become a sifted, slack-jawed, watered down bastard; a soulless clone amped up on steroids, designed to make money. And Abrams made good on his quest. Seats were filled and the sequel had a green light before all of the money could even be counted. But Star Trek was now Star Trek in name only. This caricature had boldly gone where every other soulless Hollywood money train had gone before and like the rest of them, it had no substance. Had Star Trek and all of her posterity has been sold out for a one way ticket to obscurity? Only time will tell if my fear has real base in reality. But since there is no other show with a vast collection of movies and spinoffs, its hard to tell if dumping the fans in favor of revenue will ultimately help or hurt Star Trek. I mean there is no other sci fi saga that spans as much time over the big and small screens . . . or is there?
Chronologically speaking, i don’t know if JJ Abrams knew in 2009 that he was going to Direct the historic Star Wars episode VII. But when the world found out, it was a collective gasp in the nerd world as every cosplayer, fan fiction writer, and closeted Jar Jar fan in a galaxy far far away had an aneurism. Disney bought Star Wars and it was as though a billion fans cried out at once . . . and then got the sequel everyone knew they always wanted. Of course Abrams was going to make that movie and let me be among the first to say it will most like be fantastic. But my immediate concern when i first read the news was those immortal words, “a movie for fans of movies, not fans of Star Trek.” I heard them over and over in my head. There are a dozen reason why i didn’t like JJ Abrams’ Star Trek but at the end of it all i, as a fan, felt left behind. And now, the other space movies i love are getting the same Director. There is a whole new fandom at risk of the same fate as me.
As we close in on the release date for Star Wars The Force Awakens, though, Twitter deposited news. But somehow at the same time the news hurt and healed. EW reported on news from behind the scenes and some personal musings of Abrams on the making of the new Star Wars. When i read it, i saw a reference to Star Wars fans, and his true colors shone through. He said that one of the best things Lucasfilm did was embrace the fans; that this was really the fans story. Again, i am paraphrasing but the link will show you EW’s quote. Let the inequity sink in. No really, read it again if you want. I realize there are worlds of difference between Star Trek fans and fans of Star Wars. They are literally worlds apart. And there are are many variables when making decisions in the minutiae of film making. So the perceived failure of Star Trek to meet my expectations can not be blamed solely on abandoning fans. But for some reason, when i compare these quotes, all i see is the labeling of Star Trek fans as shit, and Star Wars fans as venerable elders revered for their impeccable taste. One explanation is that Abrams is a douche. He is a pretentious douche who likes one thing more than the other but is happy to do anything as long as the check clears. Or he is simply unaware that his words have meaning and that he just weighed two fan groups against each other by accident. Or that they are mutually exclusive bytes, apples and oranges, separated over time not meant to be quantified against each other. Who am i to say? But an objective observation of fact could draw an interesting conclusion. Star Trek fell short of my expectation and its Director just happened to leave the fans behind. Abrams’ Star Wars has embraced its fans. I wonder what to think if it hits the mark?