In an attempt to find a silver lining in this world of pandemics and social isolation, my family has virtually come together in a way that is very different than how we used to be. If someone had asked me a year ago about my family, I would have said that we were close and liked the time we spent together but we would often go weeks, if not months before getting together as a whole. Now, we frequently ask questions, play games, share pictures and more on a family group chat. We also get together on zoom to celebrate birthdays or to play games. In addition to all of that, we also watch movies or documentaries and then have zoom sessions to discuss our thoughts. The most recent “assignment” was to watch the movie, Galaxy Quest, one of my brother’s favorites. I had not seen it previously.
If you are not familiar with the 1999 movie, IMDB describes it in this way, “The alumni cast of a space opera television series have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help. However, they also have to defend both Earth and the alien race from a reptilian warlord.” Clearly, it is a spoof of Star Trek to a big extent as the movie opens with these actors dressed in their tv show costumes at a fan convention. The actors are tired of playing up the show, their roles, etc. and are less than thrilled to be at the convention. While all of that was entertaining to me, I was drawn more to how the fans were presented.
At this convention, fans of the show are thrilled to hear the actors talk about the show and cannot wait for the autograph session to begin. After all, many of them have very specific questions to ask their favorite cast members. Interestingly enough, many of these questions are so specific that the actors do not know the answers. Many of them focus on some scientific or technical piece to the show that implies that they do not know the exact line between what is real and what is fantasy. The actors often blow them off, thinking that they are less than all there. As you might imagine, this disappointed me. It felt like every stereotype of fans out there. They are presented as weird, at best, and socially awkward, at worst, as they are unable to read people or maintain a grasp on reality. The word obsession comes to me as these fans, especially the younger ones, were so fixated on details that they presented as crazy. Why must fans be shown in this way, I wonder. Obviously, in this case, they are supposed to add to the humor and I’m sure that they do, to some extent. After all, most fans I know have a good sense of humor and can laugh at themselves but still…do representations like this harm fans? Do they create unfair stereotypes and stigma?
As the movie progressed, these fans reappeared and were actually very much needed as the main characters, the actors, needed the knowledge that fans had at their fingertips. My fan self cheered. See they were not crazy, I thought! They are knowledgeable and that their information was essential to the survival of all. Fans to the rescue! This made me feel lots better. Maybe the weirdness isn’t so much that but a special skill, a superpower of sorts, at least I would like to think so.
So, all in all, the movie started out rough in terms of fan representation but got lots better. This, of course, makes me wonder if there is a setting, a time in which all of the Duran Duran knowledge that I and other fans have would actually come in handy?! Can anyone think of any example of that??
I am a Trekker, and this movie is an absolute favorite. I felt it was a love letter to us in the quality of script. and the actors. In fact, I was that fan, so excited to be there and speaking to Mark Lenard, that I asked a question that referred to a interview he’d done as Sarek, on the Inside Star Trek album. Why I thought he’d remember that small project I don’t know. It’s probably that the characters were real to me, and important in my life, and so I assumed they meant as much to the actors portraying them .So I wasn’t offended by that characterization of fans, because while yes, most of us are intelligent, some of us blur the line between fantasy and reality more than others.