Saturday, December 29, 2012

Denise Crosby Gets Her Trip Around The World Paid For To Make Trekkies 2.

The Good: Illustrates worldwide appeal of Star Trek fandom, Moments of rebuttal
The Bad: More of the same bias from the first film, Buries opposition
The Basics: Denise Crosby travels around the world, but adds little that is fundamentally new with Trekkies 2.

While Trekkies (reviewed here!) was not something I was into when it was released, I knew enough about it to keep myself out of Trekkies 2. I was at the Baltimore convention, Shore Leave, featured in Trekkies 2, so unlike the first volume of these “documentaries” (it is hard not to call it a mockumentary the way interviewer Denise Crosby sometimes asks questions with an incredulous tone and a very biased expression on her face), I actually knew many of the participants in Trekkies 2 and I watched some of the movie being filmed.

So, it was with no small amount of disappointment as I watched Trekkies 2 for the first time last night and discovered that some of the most articulate, reasoned, and reasonable voices Crosby interviewed were relegated to b-roll during the closing credits, as they tried to stand up for their subculture and speak out about what a disservice Crosby did to fandom with Trekkies. In fact, Trekkies 2 makes a passing effort to actually address the difference between Trekkers and Trekkies. Sadly, that debate is truncated – in fact, Richard Arnold, who relays Gene Roddenberry’s apparent feelings on the matter comes across as either a simpleton or a jerk the way he tells his story given that: a. Roddenberry may have created Star Trek, but he did not create Star Trek fandom, nor did he control how the subculture identified itself, and b. Gene Roddenberry may have created Star Trek, but the bulk of the franchise (by quite a bit) was built following his death (and it had been that way when Trekkies 2 was released). So, whatever Roddenberry’s thoughts on the matter were, they were not the absolute standard that Arnold tries to make them sound like and Crosby and director Roger Nygard edit the film to support – as are several others throughout the film.

Instead, Trekkies 2 is more of the same mediocre-at-best filmmaking that made up Trekkies. Ironically, however, Trekkies 2 features fewer of the celebrity voices – though a few of the members of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (though noticeably absent from this little film franchise are Rene Auberjonois and Armin Shimerman) and Star Trek: Voyager casts who were passed over for the first documentary and members of the Star Trek: Enterprise cast (which did not exist when the first documentary was filmed) are interviewed – and no unique profiles of fringe Trekkies. Instead, significant portions of Trekkies 2 are diluted with Denise Crosby dining and creating travelogue-like segues between her international (mostly European) convention destinations.

Trekkies 2 explores the international phenomenon of Star Trek fandom as Denise Crosby and her team of documentarians visit conventions in Germany, England, France, Brazil, Serbia, Arksansas, and Baltimore, Maryland. Crosby documents an apartment built to resemble the inside of a Federation starship, a fan whose father lost his job to build the set of a fan filmed production, and various amateur filmmakers and filkers. Crosby participates more directly, talking to the camera for blasé segues (idly wondering what she will find at a French convention as she rides the train) and asking questions more directly of her participants.

One of the highlights of Trekkies 2 is how Crosby returns to re-interview two of the participants of Trekkies. Crosby has no stated love for the fans – some of the actors she interviews, most notably Casey Biggs, clearly adore the fans and appreciate the celebrity their roles on Star Trek have afforded them – and her documenting style frequently insinuates a contempt or indifference to them. She does not seem to care about how Trekkers or Trekkies are portrayed, so long as they are participating. So, for example, one of her subjects eagerly talks about how he makes computer models for space ships; Crosby never clarifies that he is not working on idle projects – he is part of a special effects team that works on television and movies and people who more casually enjoy contemporary science fiction special effects sequences have likely enjoyed his work!

Ultimately, though, Trekkies 2 flops because it does not significantly add to the dialogue and it makes no attempt to redeem itself or its predecessor for the bias it portrays. However, the longer Trekkies 2 went on, the more I found myself thinking that if this were a documentary about another subculture, like contemporary “Christian” culture – detailing the gatherings, literature, services, and specialized music – that so shabbily treated its subjects, there would be an outrage from many groups. Fortunately, Trekkies 2 had such a limited appeal and distribution that it did not reach enough of the subculture (or mass culture) to raise the blood pressure of fans around the world. And as I, and several of the people I know who participated in Trekkies 2 as interviewees, see how the subculture was treated here, we hope Paramount will be done with allowing Denise Crosby to exploit us for her mealticket. Far too often, it seems like that is all Trekkies 2 is.

For other documentary reviews, please visit my reviews of:
The Furious Gods: Making “Prometheus”
The Cream Will Rise
The Big One


For other film reviews, please check out my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment