Dear JJ Abrams: Star Trek Fans Need A Hug
Dear Mr. Abrams,
I’d 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 we’re still around. We do other things these days, we watch romantic comedies with our wife, and when she’s 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, it’s Star Trek that’s their first love. The old girl just hasn’t been treated properly in awhile. We have high hopes that you’ll 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 can’t exactly announce cast members until they’ve been hired (I’m warming up to John Cho as Sulu by the way), but that’s not what I’m talking about here. The problem you see, is that this is not Cloverfield or Mission Impossible. Those properties don’t have decades worth of dedicated fans and history behind them. This is Star Trek. It’s 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 you’re aware of Star Trek’s fan base, because so far you’ve been treating your project as if it’s Cloverfield, when in fact it is not. I’ve heard you mention us, your film’s fan base, in several of your interviews; but simply mentioning us doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything. You’re playing your cards awfully close to your vest. As with Cloverfield, we’re not even entirely sure what you’re calling this new Trek adventure, let alone what this movie is about. With Cloverfield it’s exciting, because you’re producing something brand new and unknown. With Star Trek, well I have to be honest, it’s making us Star Trek fans pretty uneasy.
It’s 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? I’m not talking about saying you respect us, talk is after all, cheap. Politicians talk. You’re not a politician, you’re a filmmaker, and a damned good one. No, there’s a way to do what I’m talking about without spoiling your entire movie. In fact it’s been done before. You don’t even have to come up with anything new.
Have you met Peter Jackson? Hopefully you’ve 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 don’t belong to Mr. Tolkien’s readers… but after so many years showering them with adulation… well in a small way don’t 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 you’ve 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 Jackson’s 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 Superman’s 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 film’s 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 you’re going for something massive and truly epic, the beginning of a new and exciting era of Star Trek. Our question is… did you want us to come along with you? Because it’s kind of hard to tell. I know you’ve 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. It’s not that we don’t want 12-year-olds excited about Trek. We do, we really do. But you’re making us nervous. It’s starting to feel like you’re only saying you want us along, while secretly you’re plotting to paint the Enterprise pink and then scrape us off and dump us in the garbage.
It’s not because of anything you’ve done really, or because we don’t like your ideas for the movie… it’s just that we don’t know about anything you’ve done, or any of your ideas for the movie. It’s my understanding that your Star Trek film starts shooting next month. November 5th is it? Surely you’ve constructed some sets by now. Maybe tried out a uniform? Picked out a few phasers? Well I guess what I’m asking is… can we seem them? Maybe just a Federation cufflink or something? I’m not talking about anything big here. How about a picture of Zachary Quinto trying on his ears? He mentioned that he’s picked a pair out. Is there a captain’s chair yet? A sketch of a captain’s chair maybe? Boy I’d love to see that. I know, it seems silly, but letting us see such small details as these… well we’d all feel a lot better.
The good news is that it’s early, and you have plenty of time to give us all a group hug if you want to. Maybe you’re already planning to. Will Zachary Quinto be video blogging with you while he puts his makeup on in the morning? Perhaps that’s a bit extreme. You’re in a great position really, because all Trek fans need are crumbs. Start feeding us crumbs and we’ll embrace you. Keep the curtains drawn, and we might end up turning on you. And maybe you don’t care, maybe you really don’t want Star Trek’s legions of fans along for this new adventure. I’d understand. We’re getting older. We no longer ride skateboards. I’m sure all the market researchers tell you we’re irrelevant. You don’t need us. You need high school kids. Alright, it’s up to you. But hey um, if you want us along, just let us know when you’ll be by to pick us up. Say hi to Leonard for us.
Shatner Fan For Life