Life

The 1956 classic Forbidden Planet tells of a scientist studying the long-dead alien homeworld of a race he calls the Krell. Millennia more advanced than humans, the Krell had created a massive machine which could quite literally turn their very thoughts and desires into reality. The day they activated the machine, their civilization died because they had failed to account for the subconscious desires that still lurked in the back of their fantastically advanced minds.

The internet is our version of the Krell machine. Thousands of years from now, when the next dominant species, or some group of alien explorers, comes to exhume the remains of our crumbled stab at civilization, they will find a species that imploded because they gave themselves the power of easy knowledge and instantaneous communication.

As with some many things, Douglas Adams understood the dangers. His description of the Babel fish (a small creature which allows perfect communication irrespective of language) from Hitchhiker’s Guide concludes with this paragraph:

“Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

We don’t have the Id to blame. The internet has revealed once and for all that we are all, at our core, monsters.

No, not the Justice League reviews (which I’ve just been reading and which are, fascinatingly, worse than mine… whoulda thunk?).

This weekend marks the beginning of the next Big Writing Project. I would tell you what it is, but then… eh, you know. Just suffice to say, I’ve got hundreds of pages to crank out, rewrite, argue with the Unicorn over (since we’ll be co-scripting), etc. It’s plot-driven stuff, which makes a nice change from Diminuendo, but also means carefully keeping a lot of balls in the air.

Not those balls. Go wash out your brain with soap.

Geez…

There are days when I can motivate myself to do anything. I can write an entire script, direct, shoot and edit a film, act, create… I can move all the furniture in the massive space we’ve built from one side and back without complaining… paint, do electrical and put up drywall.

It’s cake.

Then there are the other days. I’m sure the balance is the same, but now I find I remember the latter more than the former.

Let’s talk about this atrocity exhibition called Star Trek: Discovery. Shepherded by two of the most talentless hacks the Hollywood system has ever rewarded for their hubris, STD is everything Star Trek was meant as a weapon against; it is dark, hateful, filled with utterly unlikable characters and a complete lack of hope. It’s almost as if Kurtzman and Goldsman decided to do a series set in the Mirror Universe without telling anyone.

Discovery is, in every sense of the world, awful. After 50 years, Trek has become dystopian. How the fuck did that happen?

Full disclosure; Star Trek ended for me in 1991.

Undiscovered Country was far from a great film; it had much of the forced humor that has led to Voyage Home aging so badly, a forgettable plot, and a cast that mostly seemed tired rather than excited for one last run. Still, it was a welcome relief after suffering through Final Frontier, and when the original cast “autographed” the film at the beginning of the end credits, that was good enough for me. I’d achieved closure. Star Trek, as far as I was concerned, was over.

Y’see, I gave up on Next Generation at the end of the second season in ’89. I tried, I swear I did. I wanted to love TNG. As my friend Ken will attest, I sat through episode after episode hoping that this time, the plot wouldn’t fall apart in the last act; the script would make sense; the dialogue wouldn’t be terrible; Wesley would die a horrible, painful death. Finally, I just got tired of throwing pillows at the TV in anger and frustration. The mess I was watching had aspirations of being Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it was much closer to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

I know all the things you’re going to say. The point of this isn’t my dislike of TNG. (Maybe later this year I’ll put up a rant about the reasons why.) For now, you aren’t going to convince me, and I’m not going to convince you. Let’s move on.

Each successive Trek series lowered the bar. I’ve seen 2 1/2 episode of DS9, and that was enough to realize I hated it. Voyager was inexplicably much worse, and Enterprise said, “Hold my tranya.”

But as bad as all those shows were, they were still obviously Star Trek. Despite the thick layers of Berman/Braga cheese, they had their hearts in the right place.

Then came JJTrek. I’ve never bothered to post a real review of everything that’s wrong with NuTrek because, frankly, if you can’t see for yourself what a pile of shit it is, I can’t be bothered to talk to you. Not only was JJTrek (and its two retarded spawn) just a terrible movie, it’s also deeply offensive. JJTrek is rooted in a profound contempt for original Trek, its characters and concepts. It’s not an attempt to reboot, it’s an attempt to obliterate.

Now we have Discovery, and the cycle has breathlessly continued. Star Trek was intended as a fictional guide to what humanity could be. The best self Gene Roddenberry believed the human race could become. Now Starfleet are just another band of hi-tech thugs.

It’s true that the first tendrils of this rot are rooted in Trek VI, with the admiralty trying to start a war and finish the Klingons. But they were outliers. The Starfleet of STD seems to be composed entirely of different versions of Commander Styles from Balance of Terror.

The reasons are obvious. Just look at the news. Hope requires more suspension of disbelief than an audience can muster.

If art is the mirror held up to nature, then what else can we expect? Sure, TOS aired during a time of political strife and upheaval, but those people still hoped they could effect change. We all know we’re completely fucked. Think about Starfleet as portrayed in TOS and ask yourself if we’ll ever get there?

Art, in the form of Discovery, says no.

50. Today. Let that sink in.

When I was a teenager, I couldn’t imagine being here. I expected both so much, and so little from my life. What I never expected is what it actually is. I suspect this is true for most people.

My last post, over a year ago, was after our first week of filming on Diminuendo. That film is now finished, and as we seek out worthwhile distribution (a task largely shepherded by others), I’ve had to begin thinking about what comes next. And so, as I wobble into my fifties, I have a stronger desire than ever to keep working.

Of course, most projects begin on the page, my great nemesis. I despise writing, and yet I have so much of it to do if Diminuendo is going to be a foundation rather than a ceiling. As a result, I’m stealing a page from my friend Ben Hoffman’s book. Once, when Ben found himself at a crossroads of fierce transition and a loss of direction, he dedicated himself to Project One, a photography website. Ben swore that he would make one piece of art every day, no matter what else occurred.

And he did.

I’m not reaching for art; I’m just going to write. It might be a rant, a review, a single, wayward thought, but every day for the next year, I’m going to post something, and force myself to put metaphorical pen to paper.

Bob help us all.

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Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what’s right. — Isaac Asimov