Moving BEYOND Anger (my decision to fan up)

Beyond AngerCBS and Paramount ruined my 50th Anniversary!!!  The whole year–January to December–they just ruined it.  First, no sooner had Christmas ended, they sued Axanar, my favorite Star Trek fan film ever.  And in doing this, the studios split fandom into a Hatfield and Dr. McCoy feud.  Then, just when I thought the anniversary year might be saved after all when J.J. Abrams announced the lawsuit would be “going away” and fans allowed to make their films…WHAM!…ridiculously Draconian guidelines were created by the studios that seemed purposefully designed to end Star Trek fan films as we know (and love) them.


I was so pissed that I started the SMALL ACCESS campaign on Facebook to protest these new guidelines and try to get them revised.  Hundreds and hundreds of fans joined me on my impassioned quest, sharing their anger and frustration, as well.  Some threatened a full-on boycott of all things Star Trek: the new movie, the new TV series, novels, licensed merchandise…you name it.  They suddenly wanted nothing to do with Star Trek anymore.  And several of them were encouraging me to do likewise.

Small Access bannerFor the record, the SMALL ACCESS campaign was never about a full-on boycott.  The idea of SMALL ACCESS was actually meant as a way for fans to watch the new Trek TV series while still sending a financial message to CBS.  By viewing episodes together in small groups with a “designated subscriber” and everyone sharing the subscription cost, CBS stood to lose 50-85% of potential revenue for their streaming service from fans who participated in our campaign.  Certainly not enough to kill Star Trek (unless we somehow made it to a million members or something), but potentially enough to get noticed…or so I hoped, and still hope.

I understood that some people who joined the SMALL ACCESS campaign wanted to do a full-on boycott, which was fine.  I certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone else how to protest.  Boycotters were welcome to be part of the group; it just wasn’t the stated strategy of the SMALL ACCESS campaign.

As the premiere of Star Trek Beyond got closer, I noticed how angrily some people in the SMALL ACCESS group were talking about the new movie, about the other two rebooted films, about Paramount and CBS, and about fans who weren’t planning to boycott it entirely.  I read those many comments and arguments, and it got me to thinking about what this year would have been like were it not for the lawsuit and the new constraining guidelines that threatened most–nearly all–Star Trek fan films.

Trek Anniversary magazine coversThis was supposed to have been the 50th anniversary of a cherished sci-fi franchise that had been left for dead nearly 47 years ago.  At a time when there had been no new Star Trek in theaters or on television for three years (since the disappointing–to some–Into Darkness), we were now getting both a new movie AND a new TV series, plus an explosion of licensed merchandise alongside a flood of marketing and media coverage of our beloved franchise.  Heck, just last week, special Star Trek anniversary editions of major magazines like Time, Newsweek, and Entertainment Weekly graced newsstands.  Had the lawsuit and guidelines never happened, this year would have been a fanboy nirvana for my inner (and outer) Trekkie!  Heck, I’d even spent a preposterous amount of money on a 5-day pass to Creation’s 50th Anniversary Star Trek convention in Last Vegas this year…a way to celebrate my own 50th birthday just a few months early.

And that was the catalyst for my “Come to The Great Bird” moment…

I thought long and hard about that convention.  I’d already bought my tickets, and I wasn’t going to NOT go.  And therein lied the rub!  What was I going to do when I got there?  Sit in a corner and mope?  Walk past dealer table after dealer table with my nose in the air not even looking at stuff for fear of giving my dollars to prop up a licensee of the evil studio empire?  Picket in front of the Rio Hotel in the 120-degree desert sun?  None of those options seemed to be worth a $500 convention ticket.

T-shirtsI was making myself a T-shirt on the Spreadshirt website to advertise FAN FILM, and I thought about making one for SMALL ACCESS, as well…with the parody CBS logo I’d designed with the “thumbs down” in the middle.  After all, I was angry!  People would see my shirt, and maybe they’d ask me about it, and I’d tell them…oh, I’d give them an earful!  I’d wear my anger on my shirt with pride, I would!

Then the words of a short, wrinkled, and green CGI Muppet of a Jedi master from a different sci-fi franchise began to echo inside my brain…

Yoda quoteFear?  Check.  I had it the moment I first read about the copyright infringement lawsuit.  Would Axanar never get made?  Would other fan films suffer the same fate?

Anger?  Check.  I was SOOOO angry about the lawsuit and the guidelines.  I had the snarky blue T-shirt already in my shopping cart!

Hatred?  I was getting there.  Certainly others had beat me to it, whether it be directed at CBS and Paramount, at J.J. Abrams and his over-caffeinated version of Star Trek, at Alec Peters and Axanar for angering the sleeping god, or just at other fans for not sharing the same opinion.  I was so close to hatred, and that would lead to…

Suffering!!  (At least according to Yoda and George Lucas, but I believed them both).

But who would be suffering?  CBS and Paramount?  They don’t know me from a hole in the wall.  I could walk around in that T-shirt all weekend long, and no one at the studio would care.  I could completely boycott the next movie and TV series, and really, neither studio would give a hoot.  Right now, there are just over 1,200 people in the SMALL ACCESS Facebook group.  If each of them boycotted the new movie, that might cost the studio $12,000-15,000…out of $40-$60 million.  That’s barely a rounding error!

As for boycotting the new series completely, would that have any noticeable effect?  It all depends on how much larger SMALL ACCESS becomes.  Will we be thousands of people?  Tens of thousands?  Right now, watching in small groups would cost CBS between $36 and $50 per year per person.  A full boycott only increases that potential loss to $72.  So fans don’t really have to boycott the new show completely to make an impact.

“Then really,” I asked myself quietly, “who is suffering from me boycotting Star Trek completely?”  Not the studios…

Just me.

Y’see, even through “The Kelvin Timeline” wasn’t MY Star Trek, I actually enjoyed both of the previous two movies, and I suspect I’ll enjoy the new one (it’s getting some very positive reviews…even from hardcore fans).  And heck, I’ve sat through some pretty painful fan films (but remember the FAN FILM FACTOR PRIME DIRECTIVE: there’s no such thing as a bad Star Trek fan film!), and if I could do that, watching Kirk fight a ridiculous red scorpion on an ice planet or seeing Dr. McCoy cure death isn’t all that awful.

Jayden trek photosAnd more than that, my five-year-old son LOVES Star Trek!  We watch TOS episodes together each night while I exercise.  We dress up in uniforms and take pictures at Vasquez Rocks (what he calls “Star Trek Rocks”) and at Starfleet Academy in Sherman Oaks.  And we’ve been doing this since he was a baby.  He’s sat in the captain’s chair at the offices of Rod Roddenberry.  He’s sat on the lap of LeVar Burton…even though Jayden has no idea who that guy was; he’ll know when he gets older.  (And yes, I know I’m bragging.  My blog…I get to brag.)  He’s played with phasers and communicators and shuttlecraft and Trek action figures for years.  He’s even a member of the the STARFLEET international fan club.  And I love that, at least right now, my son loves Star Trek as much as I do!

Over the past few weeks, Jayden has been seeing an increasing number of posters and billboards around Los Angeles advertising Star Trek Beyond, words he can read while also noticing the USS Enterprise and someone who looks like Spock.  He knows there’s a big, new Star Trek movie coming out, and of course he wants to see it…with Daddy!  Why wouldn’t we?  We saw The Force Awakens together in the theater and watched each non-JarJar Star Wars movie together.  We watch Star Trek nearly every night.  Why wouldn’t we go see this big, new, exciting Star Trek movie?

How would YOU explain the concept of an angry boycott to a bright-hearted five-year-old?  Actually, don’t tell me because I don’t really want to know.  I just want to watch Star Trek Beyond with my boy and see his eyes light up with wonder.

And that’s NOT to say that everyone needs to follow my lead!  Indeed, this blog I’m writing today is not meant as a sermon or some “revelation” trying to draw others into the light.  It’s simply me explaining what happened in my own mind to bring me to the place I am right now concerning Star Trek and my relationship to it.

Creation Las Vegas 50And so I’ve decided that I want to enjoy the 50th Anniversary Creation Convention, really enjoy it…despite it being Creation, my ticket costing 500 bucks, my room costing more than a thousand dollars for five days, and despite the fact that one of the things that I cherish most right now–fans funding and producing their own Star Trek stories in amazing (and sometimes not-so-amazing) films–is being crippled by a series of overly restrictive guidelines written by people who just don’t understand what a valuable marketing resource fan films are to their franchise.

Despite all that, I want to see the new movie with my son…even it it means–gasp!–Paramount gets $25 of my money.  I just want to forget all the fear, the anger, and the hatred for five days in Las Vegas and be a Star Trek fan again…to gush and cheer the actors, buy way too much overpriced unnecessary crap in the dealers room, walk down the hotel hallways proudly wearing my way-too-tight TOS Kirk tunic with the vice admiral braids on the sleeves.  I want to enjoy the company of friends and fellow fans who share the same love I feel and who just want to celebrate this amazing show that, despite all odds, is still going strong five decades later.

And with that, I clicked the “remove item” button for the blue SMALL ACCESS T-shirt in my shopping cart.  The protest will still be waiting for me again when I get back from the convention on Monday, and there will still be ample time in the months ahead to fight the good fight to save Star Trek fan films from the evil studio executives.

But for those two hours while I watch Star Trek Beyond with Jayden, and for those five days in Las Vegas, I’m just going to be that drooling, giddy Trekkie fan boy.  I’m going to “fan up,” if you will.

After all, the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek is a once-in-a-lifetime event.  And if I miss it simply because of my own choice to be angry and hateful, then the only one suffering–when all is said and done–will be me.

3 thoughts on “Moving BEYOND Anger (my decision to fan up)”

  1. Go, enjoy your movie with your son. Your relationship with him is far more important than any fandom, or boycott or anything else. Cherish that. It’s a wonderful and beautiful thing. I understand completely.

    As for me. I won’t be seeing it, or buying any Star Trek merchandise, or watching the new television series. That works for me. As for the hate leads to suffering, I will counter that with Captain Kirk’s own comment: “Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!” I’ve rejected the whole Jedi creed since I first heard it as being a denial of the human condition.

    1. It wasn’t a magic wand, though. I moved through a very deep and troubling path over the past several months (and I’m still not completely out of it). I’ll see your Kirk quote and raise you a Kirk scene–at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Kirk spends most of the movie being unable to forgive the Klingons for the death of his son David. But at the end, Kirk lets go of his fear, anger, and hatred, having his son’s faith in goodness and peace restored within himself. It’s not for everyone, though, and perhaps the human condition is destined to be one of holding onto pain and guilt. Such a pity, though…

  2. The Studio is out to make money . Star trek in it early film did well but started to go down after the Last 2 Next Gen movies. The Original were not big box office.
    Yes the find love them as well as hated as well too. The last of the Next Gen left a bad taste for many fans and they did raise a fit.

    The Studio responded with No movie or TV shows . They re-booted out a want not just a need to make money. The reboot came fast after BSG did well on TV.

    JJ took the ideal of the reboot o highest form. He re-invented it in alt universe .. He knew he could not jump in a Recast Trek and do those Classic eps or Movies with a lot of fans going nuts.
    Hell i got kick off a Trek forum for week after Enterprise went off i said the best way to go was to reboot and recast everyone.. Wow the hate I got from that.

    I mean people want find me and beat me up for even suggesting they Reboot and recast the TOS.
    But as Spock would say “It was only Logical way to go.”

    I could see it was needed but other were just really not wanting it.
    Then I found New Voyages and it was great..The had not problem as fan production play the TOS parts.
    I thought if the fans can do it The Studio should too.

    I see the JJ as Alt trek so does JJ i think he never wanted touch it so not anger the fans but still this what got Yes his version is “Action Trek” Yes it what every thing an Action sci-fi”

    I can do boycotts they just do not work unless you have well organized group world wide and some money to spend it too Lots of it.
    Boycotts are not about just getting a lot people to support you by not going to the movie or buying the toys.
    It getting the money people worry they could lose investments..

    That takes way more than current fans could muster as you can’t even get then all to agree on what is Trek.
    It’s not just Trek it near any good Sci-fi franchise with good following . Say the re-booted Firefly.. could you hear the screams on that?

    Look at the BSG classic vs the reboot.. both side are looking the new Movie and both want their version.
    The list could go on.
    I’ll see this movie when I ca but at best it will be a cheap blue ray remaster extended version just because I rather see the re-cut that what came first on many movies .

    I loved going opening days for a lot movies but it not the same as it was 20 years ago or even 30. Movies are fun to go to I love being around like minded people but the cost of ticket today isn’t cheap and I just like watch what spend funds on.
    Ya I’m cheap but hell if I not sure I’m going like it I hate wasting time and money.

    If you go to see Beyond you are not sell out you want to know what is going on. you want to be entertained and you want to see a movie you hope is good.

    I mean look how people bitch about the Transformers movie and Bay yet they rake in $$$ and that what Paramount want and really really needs.

    The companies ta own trek are made up some really old guys .. really not a lot of the young and those are the one that want hammer fans.. they won’t be hear forever.

    Fan Films are going be limited for bit.
    Axanar will get made and fans will recover and things will change again..
    Ya i hate change too I hate it way more than many but that how everything it.

    The new trek TV show will not do well in pay streaming and get kick to CW and do about a year to 2 years. It will be in the TOS movie verse(they say)
    There should be NO Enterprise as it was decommission at the end the last Kick crew movie . If they do the screwed the canon again .
    The last movie was the retirement of the ship and the passing of the torch to what ever came next (Shatner said so him self and so did Nimoy )

    I may self think No one ship or crew should be highlighted in and new show it should be about all of the Federation and all.
    . But that won’t happen CBS we reboot TOS and bring the Big E and a hole new crew and screw the time line again as well as core fans.

    Supporting Paramount and CBS is hard But doing way to show them errors in how they treat fans can work but you have on mission to do it.

    First you need to find support from the inside.
    Not everyone C/P feel fans are getting the right respect
    Two you need to get few Major names and you need those that invest in both C/P.

    If you get that you get the attention of those who in power to kill thing like law suites and bad guidelines .
    If you do those thongs you get it fixed .

    But yelling and screaming and boycotting and being mad will not work.
    Yes you have right to be mad but If you let it rule you. You can’t think you can’t do that you can not effect change at all.

    You have to be in this for long run too as change does not happen at warp speed as well.

    Fans have shot tempers and long memories. We need to learn to control the tempers and to play well with people even if you don’t like what like 100%.

    have great weekend and for those at ComicCon have an outstanding time.

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