Friday, May 31, 2013

Levar Burton Reminds Us What Star Trek Is

Levar Burton stands up to J.J. Abrams on behalf of Star Trek. Yes, that's right, and he should get his own statue for it. What am I talking about? What is he talking about? Here's the quickly dismissed quote from an interview he did with the Toronto Sun:

"...I'm a little disquieted by things I hear coming out of his camp, things like he would like to be remembered as the only Trek—which would discount everything before he got there."

"There's 'breaking the canon,' which he did (by re-inventing Star Trek's timeline). But there's also honouring the canon. And to pretend to be the only one is really egocentric and immature."

"I just came from a conference in San Francisco with Advanced Micro Devices, and they're working on technology towards building a holodeck. That was Next Generation. And that's part of what Star Trek has brought to the culture. So when JJ Abrams says, There should be no Star Trek except the one I make,' I call bulls---, J.J."

So what is he talking about you ask? Why is this important? Is there any truth to this? Why yes there is ladies and gentlemen...

Part of J.J. Abrams goals with his new Star Trek Franchise reboot was to 'do away with,' have 'erased' in the public's mind the icons of the original Star Trek, starting with merchandise featuring the original icons like William Shatner.

An explanation coming from The Atlantic Wire regarding Abram's issues with the old series:
"You see, whereas Paramount owns the movie rights to Star Trek, CBS owns the rights to the television series (and any future shows in the works). That meant that CBS could and still did create merchandise based on the cast members of the original series. Since people were apparently getting William Shatner's Kirk confused with Chris Pine's Kirk, Bad Robot—Abrams' production company—asked CBS to stop making such products. CBS said no, so Bad Robot "scaled back its ambitions to have Star Trek's storylines play out with television shows, spin-off films and online components, something Abrams had been eager to accomplish." --The Atlantic Wire

What is obviously part of Abrams marketing strategy, coinciding with his "This is Not Your Father's Star Trek" was to create not a reboot of a sense but an entirely new "Star Trek," one which would not be either a continuation nor any kind of 'reinvention,' but a replacement. He wanted this new Star Trek to do away with old icons, old ideas, obviously starting with merchandising, so that the film rights-holders could have their own "Iconic Star Trek" to cash in on, and so they could ignore the old one since they don't have rights to that. What part of this is all about is Abrams desire to 'devalue' the television Star Trek, to make his the absolute publicly acknowledged Star Trek. He most certainly has no concern for the old Star Treks, and Levar Burton most likely had heard this was the case.

What initially appears to be some kind of rights-dipute has wider implications. His job was to make a Star Trek more widely accepted of course, for profiting purposes, but to essentially erase a generation of pop culture which regardless of his attempts is still admired to this day. Somebody needs to explain to J.J. Abrams that you can't really try to erase pop culture like that, with some marketing scheme. You can't, for instance, try to destroy the public's love of Sean Connery James Bond because you want a new iconic Bond. You can't just manufacture pop culture like that. Abrams marketing scheme assumes it can re-fashion not just a look or appearance of a product, but public perception of that product, not to mention the reality of what that original iconic pop-culture element did and how it influenced people and society. Abrams has money in mind here, but it would seem he also wants to control the public perception of Star Trek, channel it, distort it to his own ends, and this blog decrees Levar Burton its honorary Star Trek Hero for his courage to stand up and speak about this--because it is...bullshit.