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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Last week, I discussed the William Shatner documentary The Captains. I liked talking about that, so I decided to continue this documentary theme and look at the popular 1997 film Trekkies. Directed by Roger Nygard and hosted by Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar – TNG), the film takes a look at various Star Trek fans and their eccentricities while talking to various people within the Star Trek franchise about how the fans have responded to them. It is such a fascinating look into this fandom that very few really get to truly see.
Trekkies in a little strange in the way that it swings back and forth from being hilarious to sentimental. Everyone featured in the film is real and, to the best of my knowledge, none of it was staged. So the really nutty Star Trek fans that the film profiles such as Barbara Adams (who wore her Star Trek uniform while briefly serving as a juror for the Whitewater scandal) depict them as they really are and how they integrate Star Trek into their daily life.
In the past, Trekkies has been accused of mocking or condescending towards the fans who appear in it. I don’t really agree with that accusation. There are some really over-the-top fans out there who just don’t know when to quit. There is no documentary about interviewing people who like Star Trek, watch it, and might collect a trinket from it here and there. In other words, people like myself do not make an interesting documentary. On the other hand, people such as Gabriel Koerner (also featured in the film), who gets super nitpicky over some tailor-made-for-him costume not being screen accurate enough – there is entertainment value in that. And those people exist. That is where a story lies.
The film is just blunt about it and doesn’t hold back. People who get offended over it are more likely just ashamed of themselves for being like that. Here is the thing that saves the film from being mean towards Star Trek fans: the “nutty” interviews are juxtaposed with others involved with Star Trek expressing their admiration of and personal stories with the fans over the years. In addition, the film goes into how Star Trek has brought together people over their shared interest and using/refining their developing skills towards a Star Trek project. For example, Koerner shows the documentary crew how he is developing CGI animation for a fan film project he is working on. For 1997, the animations look great. The kid was 14 when he did this. 14! *
Trekkies is a great film. It highlights the craziness of Star Trek fans (like the woman who was obsessed with Brent Spiner [Data – TNG] to the point that she her home is within eyeshot of his) and a lot of humor is mined from it, but the film is also very sweet that shows that people are just passionate about the Star Trek and what it means to them.
*It should be worth noting that Koerner would later go on and work on Enterprise as a graphic artist.