Tuesday, May 21, 2013

'Star Trek' and the Culture of Negativity

Contrary to many of my fellow geeks out there, I actually liked J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness. There, I said it.

The film wasn’t a revelation for me, nor was it the worst affront to geek culture since Ryan Reynolds pretended to be a Green Lantern two summers back. But it was a fun movie that helped me de-stress for two hours, which is a pretty spectacular accomplishment when it comes to jittery sumbitches like myself.

This relaxed attitude toward the film might seem odd to some of you, especially since I wasn’t all that kind toward Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 when it hit screens earlier this month. It also might come off as nonsensical since Abrams currently holds the keys to my beloved Star Wars franchise, which returns to theaters in 2015. To be honest, it weirded me out too.

As a geek, I’m typically pretty obsessive about the things that I’m passionate about, and with that fervor has come no small amount of ire directed toward the very purveyors of my fascinations. I was among the Force faithful who cried foul when George Lucas made Greedo shoot first in 1997, and I recall one of my first message board meltdowns being in reaction to Joel Schumacher’s decision to put nipples on Batman. As much as us geeks rally around shared celebrations, last summer’s Avengers flick for example, it’s that consistent indignation that has fueled geekdom for the beginning … and I think I’m finally burnt out on it.

My profound disappointment after seeing Iron Man 3 is a prime example of the bitterness that has permeated nerdiness over the last several decades. Did my unreasonable expectations rob me of a good time at the movies? Was I subconsciously going into the movie ready to dislike it, solely so I could proclaim to two dozen people on my blog that it made me really, really mad? Do we as geeks sabotage our own moviegoing experiences, simply because it makes us feel superior when we complain about how filmmakers “got it all wrong” and “ruined our childhoods”?

I’ve been reading the reviews of Star Trek Into Darkness, and a lot of us geeks in the blogosphere were pretty hard on it, and perhaps some of the venom spewed in Abrams’ direction is justified. But, more likely, that negativity is symptomatic of the fact that we’ve lost some of our ability to enjoy things at face value.

Deliberately, I went into the new Star Trek film without expectations or baggage, choosing instead to escape for a while and eat some popcorn. And you know what? I had a blast. These days, fun is something I never take for granted.

I don’t know if this post has any real message or if I’m just fulfilling a bizarre need to stand on a digital soapbox in front of twenty-something people, but perhaps what I’m trying to get across is that we should lighten up just a little, at least when it comes to going to the movies. Who knows? We might actually enjoy ourselves by accident.