With Star Trek in theaters, the main emotion among fans appears to be excitement. But the media seems obsessed with the stereotype of the movie-hating fan. What's going on? We asked a TV news spokesperson.
Weirdly enough, the meme of the fans hating the movie for being too accessible to the mainstream started with this funny Onion clip last week:
As a joke, it was pretty great — especially the idea that real Trek-lovers prefer stiff acting and preachy storylines. Then a few days later, NPR picked up the meme, but with total seriousness. (Listen to the stodgy NPR piece about how "older fans" may skip the new movie here, or read a brief summary here.)
And with that, the meme took off, gaining a new life of its own. There was this particularly lovely cartoon in the New York Daily News, for example (at left). And now it's gotten to the point where TrekMovie.com claims that it's turning away media requests from mainstream media outlets looking to present this stereotype of Trekkers bashing the new movie for making sense:
However just this morning alone I have been contacted by ABC Good Morning America and NBC News, and both of them wanted to me to help provide a fan to put on camera to talk about how Trek fans as a whole are against this film. When I talked to producers for both, neither wanted to hear that those fans were only a small part, and in fact one producer (from NBC) hung up on me when I told him I thought it would be disingenuous for them to report that Trek fans as a whole were against this movie. I suggested to both that they could have two fans on with opposing views or at least represent the ‘negative' fan as being part of just a segment of Trek fandom, but those suggestions fell on deaf ears. Our friend and star/producer of Star Trek Phase II James Cawley tells me that he has also turned down multiple mainstream media requests to attack the new movie.
What's going on here? We talked to a spokesperson for ABC news, and he said that Good Morning America had indeed reached out to TrekMovie for a piece they're planning on running for their weekend edition. GMA is doing a story about how old and new Star Trek fans feel about the new movie, and they're not just looking for fans who hate it.
According to the spokesperson, the GMA producers want to find a range of viewpoints — including people who love the original show and have different feelings about the new movie, but also people who feel the opposite. The point, says the spokesperson, is definitely not to present just one viewpoint. And the GMA producers haven't even decided what the story will be about until they talk to people. However, they're starting out with the idea that there's a divide between old and new fans, and they want to explore that. But he stressed that the GMA producers aren't drawing any conclusions yet.
And I'm sure the GMA producers will be able to find some old-school Trek fans who are uncomfortable with some of the changes the movie makes. But at the same time, I feel as though I know where this meme originates: with the studio. J.J. Abrams has been quoted in articles in recent days, telling old-school Trek fans to "stay away" from his film if they can't handle the fact that it's not the Shatner model. When you actually watch the film, you see that it's actually a love letter to original Trek fans, with literally tons of references to the original show and the movies. Abrams and Paramount know that the die-hard Trek fans will see it five times — so they're probably happy to see mainstream media outlets spreading the meme that this film actually alienates nerds because of its extreme newbie-friendliness.
In other words, the "straw nerd" this meme sets up is not aimed at bashing fans, but at luring in Trek-phobes.