Film Commentary [5-31-99]
Trek Fandom Glorified- - Trekkies
Genre: Documentary


Trekkies is a documentary relating to the phenomenon of the fan culture of Star Trek. Produced and narrated by Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar of Star Trek: the Next Generation who was killed in the first season by an oil slick). She interviews not just the fans but also the actors and how fandom has affected them.

Among the people profiled include:

Barbara Adams (right), a Lieutenant Commander in a Star Trek club, who works for a quick-printing company. She caused a media frenzy when she wore her Starfleet officer's uniform to the Whitewater trial in Little Rock, Arkansas, after she was chosen for jury duty. "I am a Starfleet commander," she tells Crosby in the film. "I wore my uniform during jury duty, as anybody in the military would." She doesn't wear her uniform to work but does wear her Lt. Commander's pips and communicator badge and a variety of Star Trek gadgets, including a communicator, phaser and tri-corder on her belt. She insists that she be called "Commander" by her fellow workers.

Gabriel Koerner, a 14-year-old Bakersfield, California, fan with a large collection of Trek-related merchandise and self made props, is well spoken and seems to be the most intelligent fan portrayed in the film. He has attended 28 conventions and has a profitable business trading Star Trek and sci-fi collectibles. He has also created some impressive visual effects on his computer for the Star Trek movie he is planning to make. During the film, he is the recipient of several hand-made Starfleet uniforms which he criticizes for having minute flaws that depart from his standard of authenticity. "The piping around the collar is the incorrect width, of course, and some of the materials are incorrect. But actually it's quite good -- for a rush job."

Dr. Denis Bourguignon, an Orlando, Florida, dentist who has turned his office into Starbase Dental, a memorabilia-filled, Star Trek themed business where his wife Shelly and staff work in Star Trek uniforms. Only one patient didn't like his Star Trek dental experience, but he wasn't happy about his bill either. One of the dental assistants recalls refusing to wear her uniform for over a year, finally giving in only because "he told me I had to." How he has managed to keep this up without the studio shutting him down for copyright violations is beyond me.

The Greensteins, David and Laurel, of Woodland Hills, California, who dress -- as well as their black poodle, Tammi -- in Starfleet uniforms. The adjoining bathroom has Starfleet towels. David states that he'd have his ears surgically pointed to resemble a Vulcan's, but that it is just too expensive. His wife's reaction: No way! David even wears his uniform grocery shopping. He states that "Some people will want to say 'Get a life!'" he says, "But this is a part of my life."

Glen Proechel, founder of the Interstellar Language School, where students learn to speak Klingon.

Joyce Mason, who talks about her 7-year stint as host of Talk Trek for CRN Radio.

An auctioneer of Star Trek memorabilia tells of a fan who bought a half-full water glass used by a virus-plagued John de Lancie, the super-being Q from Next Generation. The auctioneer warned he buyer that Lancie was ill and to be careful with the water. The buyer promptly gulped down the germ-laden water proclaiming that he now had "the Q virus."

It's hard not to laugh at the sight of several Klingons clopping down a Los Angeles sidewalk, telling Crosby about the miniature golf tournament they'll host next week. They then enter a fast- food restaurant and order a meal. When the clerk is asked if this is the first time he has served Klingons, he casually replies "No."

Then things start to get weird, like the man in Canada who has built a motorized life-sized model of Captain Pike's life support chair. He then tours the town, wheeling along sidewalks and through traffic with just his head sticking out the top of it.

By far the most bizarre and probably a killer/stalker-to-be is the woman who states that she is not a "trekkie" but a "Spiner Femme" (as in Brent Spiner, who plays Data), who has taken hundreds of photos of Spiner at various Star Trek conventions, and even a picture of her pictures. She confidently states that she can see the hill on which Spiner's house is on the other side from her balcony. You can tell that she's a few bricks short of a load and its just a matter of time before she snaps.

Some of the interviewees acknowledge that they're different and take pride in their diversity. What some of them can't understand is how a guy wearing the uniform of his favorite sports figure year-round can call them weird for dressing for Trek. This is certainly a good point. The fans run the gamut from casual fan to over-the-top geek. Sometimes it can seem a little like it's mocking the fans, but it really is a homage to those who live and love the Star Trek ideas.

The interviews with the cast are just as entertaining as they relate their encounters with their fans over the years. One of the strangest is the fan who opened up a box displaying a syringe and asks James Doohan (Scottie) for a blood sample. Doohan then relates how he again met the same individual 20 years later, who promptly opened a box with a syringe and again asked for a blood sample. Other members of the cast describe the fan letters they receive explaining how Star Trek has changed the fan's lives for the better (one of the best is Michelle Nichol's story of how a current NASA Astronaut was inspired by her performance in the original "Trek").

Crosby herself goes through her garage which is full of items sent to her by fans. Such items include artist renderings of her having sex with Data and other handcrafted items, including her favorite of a needlepoint rendering of her character.

One of the funniest passages in the movie involves a discussion of Trekkies v. Trekkers. No one can agree on a definition. Neither the fans nor the actors who portray the characters in the series.

Trekkies runs only 87 minutes, but it seems even shorter because it's so enjoyable. It is at times absolutely hilarious. Not covered in the film due to the fact it was made in 1997 is that the current King of Jordan, who inherited the throne earlier this year, is a big time Trek fan. He has apparently flown many members of the casts to Amman over the years, as well as visiting the sets in Hollywood. Whether or not an Islamic country can be governed under Starfleet ideals is yet to be seen.

Trekkies is dedicated to Bones, a tabby cat dressed in a Dr. McCoy uniform and entered into Star Trek costume contests by his veterinary student owner, Daryl Frazetti. Bones died after the filming.

Grade = A


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