Act 3: WRECKreation…
“cracked clown mirrors reflecting
His story in a mirror, darkly”
Scene 5: Hollywood isn’t out of ideas… because it never had any
Strolling the streets of Paris, my wife and I were overwhelmed by the incredible smells of fresh bread from the corner Boulanger. It made us salivate, drew us in… we couldn’t resist. This Parisian baker didn’t create or invent bread, but he had just baked it that morning. It wasn’t new, but freshly presented to our senses. Bread can feed, sustain, and when it’s fresh it draws you in… but that baker wouldn’t claim he’d done something “new”.
Likewise, the goal of storytelling is not something new, but something fresh. The storyteller is like a baker bringing something fresh for that day, for those who enter his artistic bakery… but if he makes claim to something new he isn’t giving credence to a meganarrative, or to a master Storyteller, or to the truth that the underlying foundations of his story have been repeated for generations and generations. Although toying with new technology, TRON director Steven Lisberger admitted he was really just applying ancient ideas and Greek myths, simply applied to the fresh oven of technology and computers. It’s the same story baked into a new time and place. To claim it’s “new” or “original” would be hubris. Let’s face it: some of us take our stories way too seriously.
I attended a friend’s birthday party and sat next to one of his workmates. The 2009 Star Trek movie had come out and he was practically crying into his beer about how J.J. Abrams had ruined Star Trek for him. He passionately laid out how the meticulous continuity of the Trek universe had been detailed—every facet explained, every series connected, how all the books and multimedia built the mythos and its nuance—and how in one fell swoop this new film just stomped on it. He even confessed that some prior series installments, like Voyager and Enterprise, had been less than stellar – painful, even – but he’d “stood by it”. Now, he lamented, they’d destroyed the canon of Star Trek.
Canon of Star Trek? Seriously?
It was amazing to see so much emotion and investment in this man, and yet convicting (I’ve held equally passionate attachments to fiction in my life). The above description reveals the importance of a canon to him, and by enduring the “bad” TV installments he’d apparently even “suffered for his gospel”. Now a director revealed his love to be the fleeting fiction it really is, and he’s devastated. He even said he needn’t bother watching his favorite film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (and he’s right on one point, it is the best) because, as he claimed, now: “It never happened.”
Um… I hate to break it to all the Trekkers out there, but… yeah. It never happened! It’s the fiction of your life, not the foundation. This comes from an avid fan of the original series who owns the series, all the movies, Captain Kirk’s Guide to Women, several action figures, and even “Tiberius” cologne. The truth remains: like Tarzan, or Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek needed refreshment. It needed freshness in a new century, time, place and context where our iPhones are smaller and more equipped than a tricorder and communicator combined. The great characters or concepts needed rebirth.
I suppose we could have “technically” left Star Trek to fade and opted for different window dressing over the same basics. You know, like changing Zorro’s name to Batman and putting him in a black car instead of on a black horse. We could take Han Solo and his Millenium Falcon and rename them Mal and the Serenity. Let’s face it people: Bugs Bunny in a dress is still Bugs Bunny.
We need to repent, whether it’s the stories we yearn to create or just the stories we love. I remember an episode of The Simpsons where Homer hangs on to his sub sandwich until it’s rancid and moldy, making himself sick by returning to it for sustenance. If we cling to our favorite fictions like this—as foundational things instead of simply useful things—we’re holding onto the formerly fresh bread until it’s moldy, useless and even toxic. These fictional loaves come and go. They exist for our stewardship and enjoyment, not to sustain our days…
or “how I learned to stop worrying and love the redundancy”
Act 5: The Proof is in the Praxis
or “a little less conversation, a little more action please…”
Act 6: A Word on Soiling Yourself, part one: getting your boat out of the harbor
or “punchy and saucy to the glory of God”
Act 7: A Word on Soiling Yourself, part two: in flagrante on Friday the 13th
or “sex, sorcery, and the strigoi shuffle”