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Trekkie

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Trekkie
noun (pl. Trekkies) informal A fan of the US science fiction television program Star Trek
– From the Oxford English Dictionary [1]
Trekkies are forward looking people.
Robert Justman, interview on the TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "The Beginning".

There is an old debate about the term Trekker which in a sense means the same as trekkie, although the differences in terms are also debated among trekkies/trekkers.[2]

Notes

  • The term "Trekkie" seems to be the one most used in English-speaking countries.
  • The term "Trekker" is preferred by some Star Trek fans as the term "Trekkie" is considered to be a derogatory term. One joke is that Trekkers "know it's just a TV show" versus Trekkies, in reference to William Shatner's famous rant on Saturday Night Live.
  • One could argue that Trekkies could be so-called space-travelers: those interested (trivially) in space travel, but there is also a good chance trekkies are simply enjoying the show, just for fun.
  • According to the movie Trekkies 2, Gene Roddenberry once stated at a convention that, "It's Trekkies. I should know. I invented it."
  • A category of fans more related to DS9 and called "Niners", also exists.
  • The political weight of the Star Trek fans made it possible to impose the name Enterprise for the first American space shuttle built for the NASA (OV-101), whereas this one was to be called Constitution in the beginning, after a massive campaign of letters organized by Bjo Trimble produced more than 200,000 requests to President Gerald Ford.

Star Trek production staff "Trekkies"

Many production staffers on the Star Trek franchise were self professed "Trekkies" (or "Trekkers", according to ones point of view) and in the 1970s, early 1980's that was considered an asset as Star Trek: The Motion Picture Art Director Richard Taylor recalled, "To design the models for the show I hired an exceptional team of designers. First and foremost was Andy Probert. Andy was a true Star Trek expert and knew all the mythology of the series. I on the other hand was not a Star Trek fan." (Star Trek: Creating the Enterprise, p. 104)

However, as time progressed, being a fan was increasingly frowned upon by studio executives and the shows producers alike, afraid of being bogged down creatively by vocal, highly knowledgeable "Trekkies". Scenic Artist Doug Drexler, who actually started out in Star Trek fandom, has elaborated in the Trek Radio Q&A interview session of 22 January 2011, "If you were a rabid fan, you know, you kept it low key. The thing was, that when I came on The Next Generation, I wasn't just, I'm not saying I was anything special or anything, I had just come from Dick Tracy. So I wasn't really concerned about, if I was just a day player or makeup artist, if you acted like a geeky fan they wouldn't ask you back. But because I had just got done working with Warren Beatty, and stuff like that and all these actors, that they turned a blind eye to me being that way. And I actually would gush to the actors the next day after a show, you know, and act like a gushy fan. And Mike warned me, I think, a couple of times, but I was, "I don't care."" [1]

As to underscore Drexler's statement, Scenic Artist Geoffrey Mandel noted in this regard in 2002, "The absolute WORST way to get a job at Star Trek is to tell them that you’re a Star Trek fan! When they started Enterprise, they made a conscious decision to bring in some new blood, and not just round up the usual suspects; but in practice, it meant that fans like Rick Sternbach, Tim Earls and myself weren’t asked back. However, a number of fans who had worked on DS9 and had been taking an extended leave of absence came back when Enterprise started, so the total number of Star Trek fans stayed about the same." [2]

While not discernible at the time, it was exactly this production, Star Trek: Enterprise, due to its chosen visual and story directions by executives and producers, that has apparently raised tension levels between the creative (fan) staff and "management" and producers, as was evidenced on several internet blog entries after the fact. The usually very diplomatic Drexler (coincidentally one of Mandel's production staffers who had taken "an extended leave of absence") himself did slip a remark, concerning the design of the NX-class, that he liked "(...) the NX-01, even though it was a frustrating experience. I'm a "canon" kind of guy. I would have liked to have seen the Daedalus style ship. You know...the sphere instead of saucer. The producers wanted it to be a saucer because they wanted it "recognizable". [3], to which Mandel added, "Having been around then, I also know that [the NX-class designers] Doug Drexler and John Eaves did exactly what the producers asked them to." [4] One of the more outspoken critics afterwards, was yet another Original Series fan production staffer, Foundation Imaging's Robert Bonchune, who stated on the decision to have the bird-of prey graphic from the Romulan Bird-of-Prey (22nd century) removed in Enterprise's episode "Minefield", "Oh and as for the BOP drawing underneath, it was rejected for no other reason than, once again, contempt for the Trek, the fans and the Original Series by ...uh."management"...you know who they are. ;-) (Oh and it wasn’t there idea, that didn’t help...)" [5]

Yet, Stand-in Performer Guy Vardaman, also a fan, and who chimed in on Drexler's Q&A session, tried to put the matter somewhat in perspective, "Someone like Mike Okuda and Rick Sternbach, they could be fans, out of the closet as it were, because they were professionals, they got their jobs done. And by the way, it was handy sometimes to have to have a Star Trek fan around when they said "How do we do this?" or "What was done before?" or "How do we pronounce Berthold rays?". It was handy, so it was good to have people, like yourself, that were professional enough that if someone like me came out and said "You know, I actually did watch Star Trek as a kid and I am a fan", I wasn't immediately escorted off the set. They kind off went, "Well you've been here for awhile, and we got a couple of other guys who have admitted to that "disease" and it seems to be okay." So I want to thank you for that." To which Drexler added, "We were really the "keepers of the flame", and defended as much as we could, whenever we could.(...)And if you're lucky enough to be someone that takes things seriously, you can help keep things on track."

The second, very practical, reason for the studios of being hesitant to hire fans as staff, was the fear of property theft by fans, which actually did happen on occasion throughout the entire run of the franchise, hand held props being the most frequently stolen. In a few instances it did even interfere with production. The theft of the type 18 shuttlepod studio model for example, necessitated the build of a CGI model, which became the Chaffee-type shuttlepod, at the eleventh hour. The theft of The Next Generation's captain's chairs on two occasions, necessitating the construction of new ones for both Star Trek Generations and Star Trek Nemesis, was another example, and apart from being one of the more spectacular ones, also one of the more costly, the replacement for the latter theft reportedly coming in at a cost of US$15,000. [6] Leaking behind-the-scenes information during production to the outside world was another aspect of the studio's fear, which has, for example, resulted in the publication of the unlicensed The 24th Century Technical Manual.

Nevertheless, one 1990 incident in particular, has proven to be the watershed event for the studio to harden their stance on hiring fans as staff, as Vardaman and Drexler recalled in the Q&A session, "[Drexler:]They also had serious problems, like, I remember there was a videotape that was made by, I am not going to mention any names, of someone who snug onto the stage wearing a Starfleet uniform, and took videos of himself and going through the sets and giving a tour of the ship. [Vardaman:] And breaking the clam shell in sickbay and messed up our shooting schedule the next day, do you remember that? [Drexler:] Yeah, yes I remember, and that, that really set the precedent." Hesitant to divulge names, the identity of Drexler's person in question, Greg R. Stone, was, in effect, already known for quite some time in the Star Trek fan-community, as his video, in which he identified himself, had, on and off, been circulating on the internet for years. [7] Stone, an on-call studio staffer since The Next Generation's first season, and already involved in leaking behind-the-scenes information the year previously (some of which published in the aforementioned The 24th Century Technical Manual), has not been working for the studio since.

Parodies

  • William "Get a Life!" Shatner trashes Trekkies is a parody [3] played by Captain Kirk's actor on Saturday Night Live in 1986.
  • How to Blend With Trekkies Socially is a sort of recipe showing how to connect socially with this category of die-hard fans called "Trekkies".

References

  1. Trekkie on AskOxford Free Oxford dictionary resources online
  2. Trekker has a different meaning on AskOxford Free Oxford dictionary resources online
  3. Transcript of the parody

See also

External link

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