December 27, 1999 [Galaxy Quest]

What better present could any Trekkie receive than to find out It’s All True? Galaxy Quest imagines that moment--and it is filled with more Shatner-esque ego and scorn than he managed for that “Get a life and kiss a girl” skit he did for Saturday Night Live.  But the great strength of the SF geek--and more, the Trek-geek--is an earnest obliviousness, a certainty that loyalty trumps everything, including the co-opting heart of marketers and the disdain of a Master Thespian like Shatner.

I am almost a Trekkie--having stopped short of attending the conventions, dressing up, or writing fan fiction.  But wasn’t it Ursula Le Guin who called TV “the box of dreams”?--and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean like Pandora’s: I shake it up and hear nothing rattle around in there--but when I upend it, all kinds of things spill out, not the least of which are those Galaxy Quest aliens chirping like happy finches when they meet their Kirk--and also the washed-up cast themselves, accepting their lives with cynical panic, if such a thing is possible--until they too plunge their hands in the box and pull out the nerds’ dream--and whaddaya know it’s theirs as well; and then the fun begins.
I’m also pretty sure Le Gwin said somewhere--and wouldn’t it be swell if I’d read it in a TV Guide article?--that Star Trek is so popular because it imagines a future one would actually like to live in.  So many SF futures read like dismal vengeance on the wayward present, from John Brunner to Harlan Ellison, even magical Bradbury.  But the pleasure of Galaxy Quest is that you don’t have to wait for the future--kid, you don’t even have to avoid the present, because here it comes, the big spaceship filled with actors playing the roles of their lives--of lives to come, but right here and now, and needing--you guessed it!--your minute knowledge of every little detail of that future. So pay attention, Shatner, you might need those Trekkies someday, who got a life after all: the one you posed and postured through for a few short months somewhere in the Friday night dead-end of TV programming, where only the faithful remain to watch and remember you.


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