The media is a kind of energy field – one created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together. You might ask yourself, does that mean it controls my actions? To that, I will happily tell you, only partially. It also obeys your commands.
There were some articles that were bopping around the internet last week, describing an intense verbal altercation between members of the Norwich Star Wars Club and the Norwich Sci-fi Club (a club apparently overrun with Dr. Who fanatatics). The headlines all implied a near fistfight between groups of sweaty underground men and pestilent, underage girls, assuming, of course, that the clubs are composed of the demographics that make up each respective enterprise’s demographics.
The face off was seized by the media and put on nerdy-internet-billboards across the world, then quietly redacted as an exaggeration. Exaggeration it was, considering that one of the Star Wars fans was actually dressed as Judge Dredd, but still. The meat of the article was recut and resold by dozens of news agencies until it was nothing but goulash.
A tiny argument like this one blazed across the internet because of nothing but a headline: Star Wars fans beat on Dr. Who fans. The event (Star Wars fans getting My Little Ponies signed by the hot chick in Dr. Who, probably [this is not true]) is totally unimportant. It was the message of a slug fest that called up all sorts of sci-fi-inspired hatred between members of both camps.
Why? Two reasons. One, nerds are fantastical and self aggrandizing units, inventors of games like Dungeons and Dragons to safely loose all of that vicious, destructive energy that is barely-containable-and-boiiling under their skin. Secondly, and more importantly, nerds tend to have little in their life worth fighting for other than their strange, neurosis-dripping obsessions.
Star Wars fans cannot get over the cheesiness of Dr. Who. Star Trek fans laugh at the audacity of Star Wars, claiming it is “Sci-Fi.” Dwarf Fortress fans bump into three dimensional objects and have a hard time navigating through any opinions of their own. In short, nerds have an immense pride in the things they love because, in general, they have nothing of true worth in their lives.
So, we come to J.J. Abrams. A quick Wikipedia search of JJ describes the following: His first screenplay was picked up by Michael Bay. His first show was a drawn out chick flick. He created Lost and quickly left the project to its own boring and sensational designs, while continuing to cash the paychecks, and somehow was deemed qualified enough to direct both Star Trek revamp movies.
I don’t necessarily understand how his reel qualified him for anything other than Modern Family screenplays, but my affection for Star Trek is pretty minimal. I respect it, but I don’t have Star Trek sheets (I have Star Wars sheets. I sleep in them every night). I thought Star Trek was pretty good, not great. It was an average sci-fi movie, that like all revamps these days, gave very little attention to the source material. Little nods to the classic movies, a Leonard Nemoy cameo, and the boring overwritten coming-of-age, rugged individualism narrative. I feel like if I’d been a Star Trek fan, I would have been disappointed.
However, I am a tunnel vision nerd and did no research on J.J. Abrams until I found out he was also given Episode 7 to play with. And play it will be. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I remembered seeing Armageddon in theaters, that it was one of the first movies that taught me having a catchy soundtrack usually means a movie is held together with dried shit and cellophane. It was also one of the first movies where I saw someone wearing a leopard-print thong. It was not the happiest exposure I’ve ever gotten. Neither was the subway masturbater, but that’s a separate story.
J.J. Abrams does not deserve to direct Star Wars. There are a number of thrones for Nerdom and the Star Wars and Star Trek thrones are two of the most prestigious. He is, in short, a likely pick for directing a mediocre and profitable Star Wars movie, because we have been conditioned for disappointment.
From a humanist perspective, it isn’t fair to the aspiring film makers of the world that the same man has gotten to put his hands on two sacred relics of two very opposed, very defensive, and very old-school fan clubs. One man does not deserve that much power over the future of two hyper-meaningful franchises. It’s bad enough that the Star Wars revamp will inevitably be a watered-down Michael Bay movie; now, we have to deal with the unfairness and disrespect of having that revamp handed to a minimally deserving director, who also got to direct Star Trek.
I’m not saying I think J.J. will do something horrible with the movies. At least, George Lucas isn’t too involved. I just think, ethically, Abrams is being doubly rewarded for something he never deserved. And, I bet we’ll soon see many more nerd fight headlines because of it. This is not a smear piece. This is a reminder that Disney will have the blood of many on their hands because they bought something beautiful and didn’t try hard enough. This is what you get by taking the quick and easy path.