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Thursday, February 05, 2004

To Boldly Stay Home in Bed

Lileks kicks the crap out of Patrick Stewart, because Stewart opened his mellifluous piehole to hock up some Rocks Have Rights vomit about how space travel is "arrogant" and how we shouldn't mess up the nice clean universe until we've learned how to keep our beds tidy and our shoes shined.

Lileks begins:

Great job, Pat! Nice of you to wad up all the goodwill you've accumulated and flush it down the toilet.

But this is nothing new for Stewart. Back when ST:TNG was about to launch, Paramount (or some associated entity) put out a press package, which included a few quotes from Stewart. When he was asked how it felt to be playing an American icon, he said something along the lines of (and remember this is a paraphrase from a badly-decaying memory): An American icon? What do you mean? Oh, yes, there was a previous series called Star Trek; I'd almost forgotten. And that was iconic? Do tell. You know, I find it quaint that you Yanks have heroes still. Most other cultures have outgrown that.

Well, as you might imagine, this was a less than auspicious way for the new series to begin, so Paramount (or whoever) rushed out a new press release with a more pallid, though palatable, quote.

Sorry I cannot be more explicit. This would have been in '85 or '86, not only before the Web, but when dinosaurs still stalked the Earth. It was in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, probably in Eric Mink's TV column. I am geek enough to collect Star Trek clippings, but if I kept that one, it's somewhere in storage at the moment.

(Actually, here's a Stewart interview with the "Cranky Critic" which backs up the first part of my recollection:

Cranky: When you were offered the part of Picard, you knew that you were offered the opportunity to create what could become an icon...
Stewart: [surprised] I did? I knew that?

Cranky: You had no idea that Trek was what it was?
Stewart: No idea. Believe me, I was an absolute innocent. My kids had watched it. I'd heard some of these phrases but I had no idea of the role that it played in the contemporary culture of North America. Or indeed worldwide, though, since it's become bigger since then. When I was offered the role I was staying in the guest room of a friend's house in Los Angeles. When I came back that night he had stuck on my door a little note which said "Can I be the first to congratulate the new American icon?" I didn't know what the hell he meant by that.

So at least it's true that he didn't know, when he auditioned, about the power of Star Trek and in this ill-conceived press package he was rather dismissive of it.)

I seem to recall that Mink wondered what chowderhead had allowed the original to go out, and figured this did not bode well for the new series. I was very disappointed.

But, as we all know, the series did not suck. Though it didn't recapture the beloved spirit of the original (for me, anyway), it was in many ways better than the original, and so lumbered on for seven years, occasionally bad, occasionally brilliant, usually good.

And I agree with Lileks: if all those shiny-souled actors like Stewart are so concerned about the problems down here, they can give up their ludicrously-inflated salaries to fix them. Whenever someone tells me that it's stupid to waste money on space, I always wonder if they're the kind of person who thinks baseball players are underpaid, or will fork out a wad of dough to see Britney tongue Madonna.

(Yeah, yeah, I know, free enterprise and all. I can dream, can't I? I dream of of a world where space exploration has all the money it needs, and Janet Jackson has to pay people to look at her personal hardware.)