Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Star Trek by the Minute 012

Senseless Destruction of Priceless Cultural Artifacts is Fun

Previous: Grand Theft Auto, Pubescent Trekstyle

This segment opens with the wicked step-father ranting over the cell phone to our delinquent hero joy-riding in a priceless 1965 Chevrolet Corvette C2 convertible roadster. In 2235, this car would be a 270 year old world cultural treasure. The rant continues with "You get your ass back home now! You live in my house buddy, you live in my house and that is my car. You get one scratch on that car and I'm gonna whip your ass." Clearly, this is the pubescent James Kirk, who again takes his eyes off the road at high speed to fiddle with the electronic controls on a Nokia® Iphone® wannabe. He actually ducks into the teakwood steering wheel (a $48 option in those days) to reach controls considered unsafe for drivers today, to hang up the phone and crank some rap.

Now some nitpickers would ask: why bring up a playlist on the screen and then start blaring music if no tracks or actions have been selected? Such people clearly don't understand corporate bribery… (ahem) Excuse me please - I mean to say: "product placement partnerships". A blast of the rap intro accompanies Kirk reaching up to release the shiny convertible roof locks, and the top goes sailing away. Apparently, despite decades of experience designing and testing to prevent this well known danger, neither the forward safety catches nor the boot fasteners offered any resistance to dramatic takeoff for the convertible soft top, which lands on the pavement as Kirk the Wildman screams with the lead singer of the Beastie Boys and heroically tears down the road at breakneck speed. We see a young hitchhiker with a book backpack walking along the road, and Kirk starts honking, and yells "Hey Tony!" It seems they are not friends, since Kirk doesn't give Tony a lift and appears to want to show up this somewhat older adolescent.

A policeman appears on a flying motorcycle, pulls up to Kirk and directs him to "Pull over." Kirk then skids off the main paved street to an unpaved side road, and the cop makes a cool aerial bank to follow. In an interview, JJ Abrams declared that the purpose of this scene was to show Kirk as a renegade. Not sure of exactly what his message was, I looked up "renegade" and found "outlaw", and "a disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc." JJ Abrams wanted to heroically portray not just illegal behavior, but perhaps actual disloyalty and betrayal? As a former corporate consultant with decades of experience, I realize that such treachery in service of the organization is how one most quickly earns trust and approval from superiors but this criticism should not be taken as an indictment of capitalism. The mafia, gangs, political parties and most other authority hierarchies have this defect simply as a result of hierarchial power and the fact that people make mistakes. However, I'm astounded to see this hallmark of totalitarianism so openly advocated in interviews and portrayed as admirable on the big screen. In the context of a character endangering himself and others while gleefully stealing and destroying other peoples work and most prized possessions? Amazing... JJ has some real chutzpah. He certainly has "reinvented" the optimism and morality of Roddenberry who, regardless of Savik's cuteness cannot be envisioned pairing Kirk or Picard (the captain Gene wanted) with lyrics like "So while you sit back and wonder why, I got this fucking thorn in my side, Oh my - It's a mirage, I'm telling y'all it's a sabotage". For some reason, I was reminded of Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30 saying: "we need to remember what used to be good because if we don't, we won't recognize it even if it hits us between the eyes". In JJ's words: "This is not your father's Star Trek!" No indeed JJ, what you created is not based in the old virtues of the past of honesty, patience, intelligence, wisdom, and empathy. As the "old" Spock said to McCoy: "Remember."

Next: Ban High-Speed Chases

2 comments:

crone51 said...

Love the whole Corvette scene. In fact it was the trailer that featured this that made me think the new movie was going to be interesting. To me, Corvettes always mean the Mercury Seven. I saw it as a shout out to our first astronauts. Love it. Plus, it could have been a model kit, you know, not an original vette.... But yeah, I kinda gasped in dismay to see it go off the side. Perhaps it can be salvaged and put back together.
Methinks your feelings about TOS are a bit too reverential. I have been watching it over again. It's incredibly silly and the science is as awful as the science of the movie. It's a goofy show! It always has been! I adore it and always will but it's silly!

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"JJ Abrams wanted to heroically portray not just illegal behavior, but perhaps actual disloyalty and betrayal?"

Or, it establishes a contrast and highlights his maturation, redemption, and personal growth after he joins Starfleet and takes command of Enterprise.

I think the guy on the phone was supposed to be his uncle, not a step-parent, but if that was established anywhere it was probably cut before the film was release.

"Apparently, despite decades of experience designing and testing to prevent this well known danger, neither the forward safety catches nor the boot fasteners offered any resistance to dramatic takeoff for the convertible soft top"

As I understand it, convertibles of that vintage would actually do that. Like many things from the 1960's, the safety mechanism was your brain - you were supposed to be smart enough to know better, and responsible enough to not do it anyway. In this case, Kirk just didn't care - he was an angry child lashing out at a convenient target, and damaging that target's property was just a bonus (if not his entire purpose from the start).

The blatant product placement was rather annoying.