Star Trek: It's time for the sign

As the new Star Trek movie gets set to launch, fans are ironing their Enterprise uniforms and practising their Vulcan salutes. SCOTT KARA talks to some Trekkies

Scott Bartlett is well aware of the stereotypes that go along with being a Star Trek fan - or a Trekkie or Trekker as they are known.

There's the depth of knowledge about Star Trek history and technology generated by five different televison series and 10 previous films. There's also the dressing up as Enterprise crew members or the desire to speak fluent Klingon ...

Modern fan culture started with Star Trek followers who got their own movie in the 1997 documentary Trekkies.

Yet Bartlett, the chief executive of internet service provider and telecommunications company Orcon, doesn't conform to any of these fan cliches - although he does have a model of the Starship Enterprise sitting proudly on his bedroom dresser.

"I've never done the dress-up thing but I've been a Star Trek fan for years," says the 28-year-old proudly, though he is a little cautious about discussing his passion for the franchise: "You are determined to destroy my sex life aren't you?" he worries aloud more than once to TimeOut during a chat.

You'd expect a guy who's head of one of the top telcos in the country to be obsessed with the technology and sci-fi aspects of Star Trek. But no. While he dreams of the day warp drive becomes a reality for everyone, he's more into the sentiment behind Star Trek and "the hope".

"Star Trek is uplifting and spirited. It says the future is going to be awesome. The future isn't something to be afraid of. By my nature I've always been an optimist about how cool the future is going to be."

He admits his fascination with Star Trek doesn't have a direct impact on his day job, but there is a crossover.

"The internet brings people together, and social networking helps produce more collaboration among communities and drives culture. I don't think we're going to need warp drive anytime soon, but if we can have more people who view the world in the way Star Trek portrays it, which is where you're not fearful of technology and you want to use it for good things rather than bad, then that'd be great."

Like Bartlett, 43-year-old Aucklander Brooklyn Povey doesn't dress up or speak Klingon but he's a staunch Captain James T. Kirk fan - he owns a resin model that has never been opened and probably never will be.

His passion for Kirk is perhaps best summed up by his healthy disdain for Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart), the captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation from the late 80s.

"Picard's main line was, 'Make it so'.

"Pffft. 'Make it so'," scoffs Povey.

He also has a list of 79 comparisons between Kirk and Picard that was published in a magazine a few years back. "On it there were things like: Kirk never tested the engines he just fired them up. And Kirk would personally throw Wesley Crusher [a young upstart who was under Picard's command] off the bridge."

Povey was drawn to Star Trek in the early 70s when he was seven or eight because the show was ahead of its time.

"It was so unreal, but you could almost aspire to be like them. When you were a kid you always wanted to beam up on to something, or have laser weapons, or a shuttle craft. And Spock's ears were out of this world, and the Vulcan mind-meld [where thoughts, experiences, and memories are shared with another individual]. Oh man, the Vulcan mind-meld.

"All that corny stuff. They don't make it like that anymore."

Bill Geradts, who runs sci-fi, gaming, and comics event the Armageddon Pulp Expo, is another fan. Since he was born in 1971 Dr Who was his first obsession but he says you can't be a sci-fi fan without watching Star Trek.

Last weekend the expo was in Wellington where Geradts ran into quite a few die-hards dressed up in Star Trek uniforms. "Including a Vulcan who I was quite impressed with."

Not that these fans were in character to celebrate the new movie, it's just that events like Armageddon allow these Trekkers to come out to play without being giggled at and ridiculed with mock Vulcan salutes. "How often can you wear a Star Trek uniform and not feel totally out of your element? At Armageddon you can put it on and just be one of the crowd," says Geradts.

He believes this staunch fan base originated in the late 60s when the TV show was canned because of low ratings after a three-year run.

"But an underground movement started up and, if anything, the cancellation of it enshrined the show in popular thinking."

And now there are hardcore fans world wide. Although, laughs Geradts, "there are loyalists and then there are loyalists".

He's thinking of those fans who are passionate about the minute details and the ever important continuity concerns of Star Trek. Like how in the past the Enterprise has been built in space whereas in the new movie it is being constructed on earth. That's enough to have true loyalists up in arms.

"I don't give a s***. I don't care. I just want to see a good movie," says Geradts. "But for some people they are huge on this sort of detail. Little things like that are almost a barometer of being too much of a Trek fan."

Bartlett will be at the premiere today and he's excited because, judging by the trailers, he's picking it could catapult the Star Trek franchise out of geekdom and into the mainstream.

And Geradt's is hoping the 2009 version has the "1960's spark".

"They've been trying to recreate it for years. There was some success with Star Trek: The Next Generation but overall none of them have had the character interaction or fun that the original Trek had. That is something that goes beyond special effects and the Kirk, Spock and McCoy dynamic is something they've been trying to recreate in a sci-fi series ever since."

- NZ Herald

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