Monday, December 24, 2012

Trekkies Documents The Fringe Aspect Of An Interesting Subculture In The U.S.

The Good: Decent interviews
The Bad: Focuses on the fringe of the subculture
The Basics: Trekkies could have been a groundbreaking documentary, save that the director and host/documentarian focuses on the fringe of the subculture.

I am a fan of the Star Trek franchise. In fact, I eagerly identify as a Trekker. I had started my small business geared around Star Trek collectibles when the documentary Trekkers was being filmed and it was around that time that I started to truly identify with the culture.

Ironically, last night was the first time I sat down and watched the documentary Trekkies. It is worth noting that there is a difference between Trekker and Trekkies. Trekkers are the folks who know the show is a television show; we enjoy the franchise, we collect the collectibles, but we know it is not real and we have a life outside our favorite hobbies. “Trekkies” are the stereotypical unhygienic, obsessed fanatics who give Trekkers a bad name. “Trekkie” is, in fan culture, the derogatory – the “N word” – for the fans, relative to Trekker. So, I did not have high hopes for Trekkies.

Trekkies documents well; it is a true documentary, with no judgment made (explicitly) on the subjects. However, the subjects of the documentary exhibit a bias. Trekkies includes interviews with a Star Trek talk radio show, a transvestite male fan, a fourteen year-old fan who yells at a friend who calls during his interview (and once got in trouble at his Catholic school for wearing his costume), a dentist’s office designed to mimic a Federation ship, and others (like people who go out in daily life wearing their Star Trek uniforms).

These interviews are mixed in with Denise Crosby’s interviews with cast members and convention promoters/dealers. The cast members that Crosby interviews are remarkably gracious and they tell stories that are not available in other movies, shows or DVD bonus features.

Trekkies is interesting when Crosby and director Roger Nygard focus on the interviews from the celebrities and people behind the scenes of the conventions. The documentary exhibits a strong bias against fandom by focusing early on people like the juror in the Clinton trials who appeared for jury selection wearing her StarFleet uniform. By the time the film gets to interviewing a person who dresses their cat up in a StarFleet uniform, the movie has lost most of its cohesion.

Outside the bias, Trekkies suffers most from lacking a specific and careful focus. The movie meanders from interviews of celebrities to fans to writers of Kirk/Spock fanfiction without any real focus or finesse. The documentary is not horrible, but it is not going to attract legions of new fans or make Trekkers admit they would be associated with the Trekkies shown in this film.

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.
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