By now, you’ve likely heard that CBS and Paramount have finally, after decades of silence, released a series of guidelines for Star Trek fan films to follow and not get sued. Unfortunately, the guidelines were written by a group of over-caffeinated lawyers and licensing employees with little to no understanding of the concept of Star Trek fandom. In short, these rules would essentially obliterate nearly all past and current Star Trek fan films and series.
From their announcement on StarTrek.com, CBS seems almost proud of themselves, feeling that they’ve done fandom some kind of favor. And even though nearly 200 (as I write this) comments have been posted with about 90% highly negative reactions, I doubt that CBS or Paramount will see the devastating reality of what they’ve done…
Four weeks ago, I wrote a very impassioned op-ed decrying that Trekkers should be fans and not lawyers. I am now going to turn myself into a complete hypocrite and become an armchair attorney myself…partly because of the shameless reason that it seems to boost readership of one’s blog but also because I think there’s a fascinating details about the latest Axanar lawsuit news that’s not being reported at the moment.
(Okay, I admit that Star Trek Beyond is not technically a fan film. But I’m willing to make an exception if you are.)
There we were last Friday night, several hundred people all crammed into a room where, 50 years ago, the original Star Trek series was filmed. We were all standing shoulder to shoulder, staring at a large projection screen on which the new trailer of Star Trek Beyond was about to be shown. A short introduction from Simon Pegg was played first, and we saw the new trailer.
After the train wreck that was the first trailer released back in December, this new one was so infinitely better that I could hardly believe it was the same movie. And while I still wasn’t completely convinced yet that the new film wouldn’t suck, I was now cautiously optimistic.
JJ Abrams and Justin Lin have every reason to think like lawyers. After all, they make a lot of money from Star Trek, and if there’s a chance something will damage that brand and result in Star Trek making less money, that affects at least part of their livelihood.
So why did Abrams and Lin put pressure on Paramount and CBS to settle and end their lawsuit against Axanar? It’s because these two producers, as fans themselves, know something that all the lawyers involved in this lawsuit (and many of the fans following it) seem to have forgotten: being a fan should be FUN (just change the “a” to a “u”), and when fans have fun, franchises thrive.
Now, wait just one cotton-pickin’ minute! Didn’t I say that the Prime Directive of this blog site is THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD FAN FILM??? So how in the name of the Q Continuum do I justify giving each fan film a rating?
Here’s the PRIME DIRECTIVE of this blog site: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD FAN FILM. Oh, I know there are fan films out there that are downright painful to watch. But you know what? At least they tried…and they succeeded. Sure, their final effort might not be Oscar-worthy, but—dammit, Jim—they made themselves a real fan film!