This week, as a tribute to the long and fruitful life of Leonard Nimoy, Pop Conscious will discuss the impact of one character, namely Spock, on pop culture, and on fandom. He taught so many of us about the importance of listening to both logic and the heart, and about the true meaning of friendship. What is it about this character and the Star Trek universe that has moved so many to a sort of religious devotion? And is there really any such thing as a final frontier? Listen as Malayna and Stacy, along with team member Michele Coles, take the discussion where no man has gone before!
Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the re-booted feature film incarnation of “Trek,” is excellent in the role. (Nimoy himself said so.) Quinto must know that however much he brings to the role, he will only be its custodian. Spock is Nimoy. Nimoy is Spock. It is, as Spock himself would intone, only logical.
Nimoy often insisted otherwise, especially as the show went from canceled outcast to global phenomenon. He even wrote a book with the title, “I Am Not Spock” (1977) that was bought by millions of readers who didn’t buy the title for a nanosecond. By 1995, he cried “uncle” by publishing a followup autobiography, “I Am Spock.” In the years before and since, he carried his character’s legacy with the grace and class he exhibited in other areas of his life.
And the life of Leonard Nimoy, irrespective of Spock, was a rich and varied feast. Those two “Spock” books weren’t the only things he’d published. A couple of books of poetry are also credited to him as were a collection of photographs celebrating what he termed “the feminine aspect of God.”
Which reminds me. Nimoy had a hand, so to speak, in creating one of Spock’s most indelible traits: The “live-long-and-prosper” split-finger salute that Nimoy had borrowed from an approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter in the word Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.
Roddenberry didn’t think of that. Nimoy did. And in doing so made an implausible character as much a part of our waking dreams as members of our own family.
He also directed movies, two of which were part of the “Trek” franchise: 1984’s “The Search for Spock” and 1986’s “The Voyage Home.”
I got to meet him when the latter film opened. It was at a press conference that was part of the promotional junket in Los Angeles and Nimoy was very un-Spock-like in his jocular, freewheeling enthusiasm for the movie (which was, in fact, one of the very best, certainly the warmest, of the big-screen “Trek” iterations.)
TREKKIES – the documentary film – http://www.trekdoc.com/ 1997
Not every idea is worth a TV series, and of these only a few are hits, spinning off sequels and eventually movies. Rarest of all is the TV show that somehow reaches beyond mere entertainment, creating some kind of looking-glass in which we see ourselves.
Why this particular show? What meaning has this show had in these people’s lives? What kind of spiritual or psychological impact does it have? Does the show’s message hold some kind of utopian ideal for the future? Does the show somehow create a way for people to feel they “fit in?” How has it inspired real life scientists, doctors, astronauts, and engineers?
The subjects profiled in the documentary span the entire spectrum of fans, from non-uniform wearing doctors, scientists, and teachers to Trek-uniform-wearing Dentists, Jurists, mothers, kids, and others.
- One was Gabriel Koerner is the fourteen-year-old from Bakersfield, California, who has attended 28 conventions so far. He and his “Star Trek” club are planning to shoot their own “Star Trek” movie. And Gabriel is creating special effects on his home computer that make some of Hollywood’s best work pale by comparison. Now 32 yrs old and a visual effects artist nominated Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects – Series
- a dentist in Orlando, Florida, who has trademarked the name, “Starbase Dental,” and whose office has a “Star Trek” theme. He, his wife Shelly, and his entire dental staff wear “Star Trek” uniforms while working on their patients.
- A woman who rarely leaves home without her rank pips, tricorder, phaser, and communicator badge, even appearing for jury duty dressed in uniform.
- Joyce Mason hosted a radio show called Talk Trek, starting every episode by saying “Hello, Gentle Beings.” Cable Radio Network with nearly 2.5 million listeners from about 1990 to 1998. Both Joyce and her co-host Evelyn de Biase were featured in the documentary Trekkies. She ran the Wm Shatner fan club and helped create his “Wells Fargo Hollywood Charity Horse Show” which William Shatner runs each year.
- David, Laurel, and Tammi (their poodle) Greenstein, of Woodland Hills, California share a love of “Star Trek.” David wears his Starfleet uniform on a regular basis, and has a house full of “Star Trek” memorabilia. He is so enamored of the Vulcan approach to life, he has even considered plastic surgery to give his ears Vulcan-shaped points.
Toward a Rhetoric of Scholar-Fandom – TANYA R. COCHRAN
Office of Graduate Studies
College of Arts and Sciences
Georgia State University
Trekkies and Joss Whedon fans!
The miracle is this: the more we share the more we have. – Leonard Nimoy
That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence. – Leonard Nimoy
I’m touched by the idea that when we do things that are useful and helpful – collecting these shards of spirituality – that we may be helping to bring about a healing. – Leonard Nimoy
Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it’s not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special. – Leonard Nimoy
My folks came to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien. – Leonard Nimoy
My dream concept is that I have a camera and I am trying to photograph what is essentially invisible. And every once in a while I get a glimpse of her and I grab that picture. – Leonard Nimoy
My wife and I are affiliated with a temple here in Los Angeles. We feel very close to the congregation and to the rabbi, who happens to be my wife’s cousin and who I admire greatly. I talk to him regularly but I consider myself more spiritual than religious. – Leonard Nimoy
You know, for a long time I have been of the opinion that artists don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. You don’t necessarily know what kind of universal concept you’re tapping into. – Leonard Nimoy
Other times, you’re doing some piece of work and suddenly you get feedback that tells you that you have touched something that is very alive in the cosmos. – Leonard Nimoy
GENE RODDENBERRY from /www.goodreads.com
“We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.” – Gene Roddenberry
“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.” – Gene Roddenberry
“I handed them a script and they turned it down. It was too controversial. It talked about concepts like, ‘Who is God?’ The Enterprise meets God in space; God is a life form, and I wanted to suggest that there may have been, at one time in the human beginning, an alien entity that early man believed was God, and kept those legends. But I also wanted to suggest that it might have been as much the Devil as it was God. After all, what kind of god would throw humans out of Paradise for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. One of the Vulcans on board, in a very logical way, says, ‘If this is your God, he’s not very impressive. He’s got so many psychological problems; he’s so insecure. He demands worship every seven days. He goes out and creates faulty humans and then blames them for his own mistakes. He’s a pretty poor excuse for a supreme being.” ― Gene Roddenberry
“Ancient astronauts didn’t build the pyramids. Human beings built the pyramids, because they’re clever and they work hard.” ― Gene Roddenberry