Fandom in Things That I'm Grateful For
- June 16, 2017, 7:46 p.m.
I finally had a day off today and I spent most of it watching a 6-hour documentary on the making of the original set of Star Trek movies. I really don’t know how people feel about Star Trek any longer, I’ve sort of closed myself off to interactions with fandoms especially since they’ve become so brutal and vulgar in the last 10 years.
There’s a lot of discussion about cultural appropriation and how certain pop stars do that at the expense of their fans. I wonder about the reality behind those things because the truth is, all forms of art, if not directly inspired, are prompted by something else. Nothing is ever wholly original and if one believes it is, that’s usually because the source that prompted it is simply unknown by the person making the claim of originality.
I’ve seen people recently complain about Miley Cyrus while lifting up P!nk or whomever, and the fans of these artists are vile and vicious towards the fans of another artist simply because of a difference of opinion. I mean, I never cared for Kid Rock, but I’m not going to call someone names just for liking Kid Rock.
I remember sitting in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood shortly after I’d first moved to Los Angeles because I’d been told by a friend that they were screening Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at the theatre for its 25th anniversary. All I wanted was to see it on the big screen, little did I know what was ahead of me. There was swag bags for everyone in attendance. Trading cards, t-shirts, coasters, mugs - all emblazoned with the faces of these television characters I’d grown to love in my youth. And then they announced that there was a special guest in attendance, and a hush went over the crowd. I remember looking at the 40-something man on my left and then to the young 20-something girl on my right as hour heads spun around the room trying to figure out who the guest was… only to see it at the back of the room.
Being led by one hand and propping herself up with a cane with the other hand hobbled in Majel Barrett, the wife of the creator of Star Trek, who appeared in nearly every series as one character or another. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, she was the mother of my favorite character, and so I especially loved her. She thanked everyone for coming, in a withered and tired voice, and expressed so much love for us, the fans, for keeping Star Trek alive five years after the last film had premiered, two years after the last television series was canceled, and was confident that it would continue because of us. Then she sat down in the row just ahead of mine about two seats to the left, and the movie began.
It was such a visceral experience and I felt energized by her presence. The movie was just as entertaining as it had ever been and I was newly astounded at every twist and turn of the movie. Even at the ending, which I knew was coming and I knew would be resolved in the next movie, I was overcome with tears.
When the lights came up, people asked us to remain in our seats as Majel got up and made her way out. I thought it was nice of her to join us but it was late and she probably wanted to get on her way home. Finally, we all stood up and filed out, rather slowly. As I got closer to the door I discovered that Majel hadn’t simply left, she was standing next to the door to shake everyone’s hand and say thank you. Not only that, but standing directly next to her was Kirstie Alley (who was in the movie); she had secretly snuck in and decided to follow Majel’s lead in greeting everyone at the showing.
When it came my turn to shake my hand, I was overcome with tears. The man who had sat next to me was sniffling, too. Majel shook me hand, said thanks and smiled into my eyes. So did Kirstie (this would be the first of many times I run into Kirstie Alley in Los Angeles).
I took my Star Trek swag to my favorite bar just up the street. It was Big Fat Dick night and some of them peered at the bag I clutched hungrily to my person. But a friend of mine asked where I’d gotten it, after I’d told him and started to tear up, he put his hand on my shoulder. He could see how much it had meant to me.
I had spent little time thinking of Star Trek over the last five years. I didn’t own the movies any longer and hadn’t seen any episodes of the show in ages. But I’d had books and posters and a cardboard cut-out of Deanna Troi in my room as a kid. That’s the wonderful thing about people in LA, we aren’t necessarily bowled over by every celebrity we see since we live with them day-in and day-out, but when we run into that obscure celebrity that made us believe in the magic of Hollywood or the inspiration of sports or the imagination of literature and we are bowled over with emotion, nobody mocks you… (except for that one time where I mentioned loving Pauly Shore) They stand there and bask in it with you because they have or will have that same experience.
So stop hating people for having different tastes than you. Stop telling other drag queens to kill themselves because you think Valentina shouldn’t have been eliminated! Stop calling people who love Lana Del Rey whores and pill-poppers or Katy Perry fans white supremacists. Be grateful that they love something as much as you love whomever you love.
KissOfLife! ⋅ June 18, 2017
Aww, this is beautiful. Being a boy from country Queensland, the idea of living in LA just seems like it couldn't be any more opposite. I guess you would see celebrities quite often. I'd be bowled over seeing any of them because where I'm from, I'd see one train go through in the distance maybe once per year, let alone all these figures on the TV going about their everyday lives. I remember Kirsty Alley's TV show airing back im the day. I don't know a thing about Star Trek though.
Fawkes Gal ⋅ June 22, 2017
Awww, this was a lovely read. I'm so glad you got to have that experience with her.
Fandom can be such a lovely shared thing. It's a shame when people turn it negative.
Deleted user ⋅ June 30, 2017
I am a huge Star Trek fan still :-) I love all the old stuff and the new ...