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Trekkie

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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]

NotesEdit

  • 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"Edit

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) It even held true as late as 2009 when Conceptual Illustrator John Eaves became the only regular production staffer who had worked on prime universe Star Trek productions – excepting Industrial Light & Magic's staffers, who had previously worked on the Star Trek franchise and were still in the employment of the company at the time – to be officially hired and credited for J.J. Abrams' re-imagined Star Trek. Though Abrams steered clear from hiring any former Star Trek staffers in order to be as unencumbered as possible for his vision on the franchise, he was aware that some consistency needed to be observed, or as Production Designer Scott Chambliss has put it, "I brought John in because he knew the story and lore, what should and shouldn't be done. The ships in the Starfleet Armada to go to Vulcan were influenced by John's knowledge." (Star Trek - The Art of the Film, p. 58)

However, as time progressed, being a fan was increasingly frowned upon by studio executives and show 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."" [X]wbm

How sensitive producers and executives were on this issue by then, was discovered by Drexler in an incident, occurring when he sought out Mike Okuda for a position on the art department staff,

"When TNG premiered, I was blown away by the production design. One thing that really impressed me was the new LCARS interface prominently displayed all over this new amazing starship. It was clean, direct, and ingenious. I wondered if it was done by that guy Bob was talking about? That guy who came all the way from Hawaii? Man, if it is, he is not just a lucky cat, but he is one COOL cat. Turns out he was both.

"Dick Tracy had finished up, and I knew what I had to do. I made a bee line for Paramount Pictures and Trek makeup guru Mike Westmore. TNG was starting up its third season, it had found it’s legs, and there was no way the Enterprise was leaving spacedock with out me this time, and it didn’t. Mike Westmore and I liked each other instantly, and I was on board. The first week I was there, I saw Mike Okuda on stage, getting a cup of coffee at the craft service table. I think I probably embarrassed him because I gushed like a little kid over his brilliant work. I sensed that the unbridled praise made him a little uncomfortable. Over the next few years I got to know Mike, Rick, and Richard James, and made regular visits to the rarified air of the art department. I knew that this was were I had to be. This was the place. One day during the fifth season I approached Mike about what the odds were of making the jump to the art department. I started off with my usual enthusiasm for Star Trek. Mike looked around nervously and motioned me to follow him down the curved corridors of the Enterprise D. He was leading me away from ears that might overhear our conversation. I did not know yet that being branded as a fan by the guys who inherited the show from R&J could be detrimental. At the far end of the corridor, and away from the production crew, was the entrance to the ship’s hangar bay. Mike slipped his finger tips between the two heavy doors, and pried them apart revealing the new shuttle with its aft gangway hatch open.

"I stepped inside the hangar and looked around wide eyed, as Mike dragged the heavy doors of the shuttle bay closed with a thump. This was truly impressive, the bay was complete and enclosed. It was fully immersive, and with that beautiful shuttle sitting there, I WAS on board my dream ship. Mike tapped my arm and quietly motioned me into shutlecraft. He took the pilot seat, and I took the copilot seat. As I peered through the canopy of the craft, out into the enclosed bay, the situation went from immersive to immersive within immersive. I’ll never forget that day. Mike and I spoke about what the odds were of me getting into the art department (pretty slim). We also spoke freely as fans of the show for the first time. It occurred to me later that we had unwittingly recreated a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey where Bowman, and Poole shut themselves into one of the Discovey's pods to evade HAL's prying ears." [X]wbm

As to underscore Drexler's statements, 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." [1] Yet another production staff fan, Visual Effects Supervisor Ronald B. Moore, fully agreed with Mandel, "It is okay to be a fan of a show or an actor but if you want to work in the business it is probably best to keep ot low-key. I have seen some people go nuts when confronted by a star, director or some other person they admire. In some cases it cost them their jobs. Be professional and you might just earn their respect. If you fawn over them you certainly will not." (Flying Starships, p. 125) Another illustrative incident in this respect, also involving Drexler, occurred when he helped out Mike Okuda applying signage graphics onto the Voyager studio model, though he was formally forbidden to do so as he was officially part of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine team. Voyager producer Wendy Neuss caught him in the act, but, as Drexler fondly recalled, "BUSTED! My heart was in my throat as Wendy surveyed our work. She did not make eye contact with me, and spoke only to Okuda. She seemed quite pleased, and Mike thanked her for coming out in the middle of the night to view the finished project. As Wendy headed for the door, she turned, looked at me, and said, "...and thank YOU, whoever you are," and gave me a wink. With that, she dissapeared into the cool California night. Without a word, I looked at Mike wide eyed. "It’s ok," he smiled, "she’s one of us"." [X]wbm Drexler's account had already been related eleven years earlier by Stephen Edward Poe in his 1998 reference book, A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager (p. 325), but at the time Drexler's name could not be divulged, due to the studio's policy.

While not discernible at the time, it was exactly the production Mandel referred to, 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) production 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". [X]wbm, 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." [2] 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...)" [3]

Still, 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 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." Having had "keepers of the flame" around though, proved exceptionally useful for the production of the acclaimed homage episodes TNG: "Relics", DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations" and ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly". The "Relics" episode in particular, caused many production staff fans to come "out of the closet", as the episode writer Ronald D. Moore (who, incidentally, was one himself also, and therefore the main reason why he took over the writing chore for the episode from Brannon Braga, who was not) has also put it, further stating, "A lot of people put in a lot of extra effort and didn't get paid for it and put in a lot of extra hours to make that possible and just bit the bullet because they wanted to do the scene." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 24, issue 3/4, p. 26)

The second, very practical, reason for the studios of being hesitant to hire fans as staff, was the fear of property theft by fans, that actually did occur on occasion throughout the entire run of the franchise, hand held props being the most frequently stolen, or as Archivist Penny Juday has dryly put it, when discussing an early The Next Generation phaser rifle, "These are becoming harder and harder to find, as they have disappeared over the years, as you can imagine!" (TNG Season 2 DVD - special feature, "Inside Starfleet Archives"). In several 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 some of the more spectacular ones, also some of the more costly, the replacement for the latter theft reportedly coming in at a cost of US$15,000. [4] 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 premature 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." Despite being 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. [5] Stone, an on-call studio staffer since The Next Generation's first season, and already been 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.

Yet, 2004 saw a remarkable all-out reversal of the franchise's stance, for which, again, Enterprise proved to be the primary agent. Though having started out with a relatively large audience, the series quickly lost viewer-ship and inspired intense criticism of both the series and its show runners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, with the fan community vocally criticizing perceived violations in established continuity, coming close to disavowing Enterprise as being Star Trek altogether. With the approach of the end of the third season of Enterprise, Paramount and UPN indicated its cancellation and the apparent end of Berman's tenure as the overseer of Star Trek productions. Though remaining credited, both Berman and Braga were indeed effectively relinquished from their position by the franchise at the end of the third season, and all pretenses of not hiring fans as production staff were entirely dropped when their places as show runners were de facto filled for the last season by openly Original Series fans Manny Coto and Mike Sussman in particular. Under their tenure much of the perceived continuity violations was redressed, aided by writers such as Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who, also fans and like them, had an equally thorough understanding of original Star Trek lore. The season as a whole was generally well received – though it did not save the series, as its cancellation had been already decided upon –, and it was commonly understood that it were their efforts, together with those "keepers of the flame" such as Curry, Moore, Drexler and Okuda already working on the show, that had, at least as far as the fan community was concerned, "saved" the Star Trek status of the series within the franchise.

ParodiesEdit

  • 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 Edit

  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 alsoEdit

External linkEdit

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