After Hours

Sci-fi rant: When did Trekkers jump the shark?

Once upon a time, Trekkies weren't the poster-children for science fiction fandom gone wrong, but instead were just another obscure subgroup with an immersive hobby. Then, in the mid-1980s, something went terribly wrong, and Trek fandom has been the rightful butt of uber-geek jokes ever since.
TrekkieQ: When did Trekkers jump the shark? A: The Klingon Dictionary

Yes, Star Trek makes the list twice, but in this case we're talking about Trek fandom rather than the franchise itself.

Once upon a time, Trekkers (or, if you prefer, Trekkies) weren't universally mocked as basement-dwelling pointy-eared social reprobates who were more likely to have a working knowledge of fictional faster-than-light propulsion systems than they were the mating rituals of their own species. Though it may be hard to fathom, there was an era when Trekkers were seen as quaintly optimistic hobbyists fascinated by a vision of the future that saw mankind as better off socially, intellectually, and technologically than it is now, and who supported an amusing little sci-fi show that had a good heart and was boldly ahead of its time in social commentary, if not production values. Trekkers were no more unusual than folks who passionately followed a sports franchise or popular musical act, though they probably had better costumes.

Klingon DictionaryThen came The Klingon Dictionary, and Trek fandom went beyond mere idiosyncratic subculture and morphed into those reality-detached uber-nerds who get married dressed as aliens and actually spend time learning to speak a fictional language that was dreamed up as a promotional gimmick follow-up to The Search for Spock.

That was 1985. In December of 1986, Trek fandom had devolved to the point that William Shatner was dissing Trekkies on Saturday Night Live. In the 20 years since, despite some really solid TV from The Next Generation, Trekkers have continued their downward slide in the cultural caste system largely because they take themselves--and their show--way too seriously.

Whitewater TrekkieThink it's just a perception problem? Then I'll refer you to Exhibit A: The juror in the Whitewater case who insisted on wearing her NextGen uniform in the courtroom. She seemed honestly baffled by the problem, as if her faux getup from an academy that doesn't exist should have equal standing with any other military uniform. Exhibit B: Even though General Chang in Star Trek VI was something of a Shakespearean aficionado, that doesn't excuse folks actually trying to perform a Klingon version of Hamlet. (At least not un-ironically.) Exhibit C: Building a Star Trek-themed home theater room? Sort of okay. Redesigning your entire apartment to resemble the set of Voyager--and starting a home decor business on the promise of doing the the same to other people's houses? Actually very creepy.

Even The West Wing took time out to lecture Trekkies and I'd be the first to repudiate the show for its haughtiness except - as it rightfully points out - there's a difference between being a fan and having a fetish. This is the image, in many ways rightfully earned, of Trek fandom.

The Klingon Dictionary blurred that line between pastime and obsession. And while this may earn me the title of bIHnuch ghobe' hoghobe'r, I can live with it. (No, I'm not translating that. Trust me, there are plenty of Trekkies out there who can explain it.)

Sure, if you're 12 years old and haven't discovered dating yet, learning a few Klingon phrases, mapping out the decks of an undescribed obscure class of starship, or just conjuring up the backstory of an unnamed background character from episode 38 is a bit of harmless pseudo-intellectual fun. If you're still doing it in your late thirties at the expense of holding down a job or developing a meaningful relationship, you need help. The kind the Klingon Dictionary just can't provide.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

136 comments
shorty6363
shorty6363

I'm not sure where you found the picture of me, but your article was sent to me twice this morning. It rather made my day. Regards, Brandi (the Trekkie in yellow)

bruce_l
bruce_l

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, or knows about it for that matter. Believe it or not several years ago I actually saw a classified add placed by our state's department of human services (Oregon...) in which the state was looking to hire someone fluent in 'Klingonese' to work with welfare recipients and others seeking the states services... (hey, I certainly don't have an adequate enough imagination to make this up...)

jhillend
jhillend

OK, and these fans are different from the football fanatics who tatoo the team logo on their heads; the folks from the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) who dress up in medievil garb and actually believe that they are kings, princesses and scribes; baseball fans who believe that players don't take performance enhancing drugs? Yes, some of the Trek fans get a bit overboard. Bit?

wordworker
wordworker

I think everything Jay said proves that Star Trek fans have not jumped the shark - they ARE the shark.

RAnthony
RAnthony

Any Trek fan that cares whether he's called a Trekker or a Trekkie is automatically a Trekkie; and the 'get a lifers' amongst the Trekkies make up a very small percentage of Trek fandom on general. Deriding the whole of Trek fandom for the excesses of the few is no different than deriding all of sports fandom for the actions of the face painters in the endzone of every football game; and declaring that thereby all sports fans are no better than the average ignorant Roman citizen cheering the violence at the coliseum while waiting for their promised loaf of bread. Something I take great pleasure in doing every chance I get. ...what was your favorite sports team, again? -RAnthony http://ranthonysteele.blogspot.com

Tig2
Tig2

I know that my fellow Trekkers will disagree with me on this but we all went for the lemming look in a couple of places. Klingon Dictionary? Yep. But that is an easy one. I personally own a copy of Leonard Nimoy's album. While it will lead you down the road to bleeding ears, William Shatner's "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" will insure hemorrhage. I don't admit this loudly or often, but I still own that... "music" and likely will digitize it. I am ashamed and will apologize to God later...

bill.the.rocket.scientist
bill.the.rocket.scientist

You know, I am getting sick of the losers who themselves have no social life other than the barflies who hang around as long as said loser is buying taking pot shots at Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Science Fiction and Fantasy in general. These social savants, speaking ex cathedra from their local sports bar, are quick to condemn Trekkies, Gamers, Geeks, and anybody who exercises their gray matter for some purpose other than watching millionaires lose football games as socially retarded nerds who shall never lose their virginity. The fact that these self-appointed arbitrators of social status usually end up going home with something requiring at least two sixpacks to appear marginally acceptable is of no import to them. I really don't care if Jay Leno thinks I am gay just because I watch Star Trek and I actually enjoy Broadway musicals. (And after the strike he should consider hiring some new writers. He keeps recycling the same "fat-ass" "how gay is that" "OJ Simpson" "Bill Clinton" and "Michael Jackson" crap that nobody else pays attention to.) Trekkies have not jumped the shark. Making fun of Trekkies is old news. Try doing something original.

suziep12
suziep12

THANK YOU! As a true geek and SF fan, I have always felt that what I have called, "The Shanter Speech" is important for not just Trekkers, but all SF fans that quickly lose control of their lives. I also recommend saying the following mantra over and over again: "It's just a show.....It's just a show....." I have also posted this mantra on various SF borads including Stargate and Dr Who boards after some rabid fans have threatened to fire bomb my house, car, etc. after I have expressed my personal thoughts and opinions on their shows.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

The uniform was 'real' yet the phaser (a WEAPON) was not? That communicator, as with any cell phone or other unauthorized communications equipment would have been a big no-no too. She wanted to play real, so throw the dum-dum into the slammer. Fine by me. BTW: TNG trek did more to preach one mindset (and slanted other viewpoints) than to truly be tolerant. So there. Nah nanny-naa nah. :D

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

OK, let's all admit that some fans of anything and everything can and will go overboard in favour of it - look at some of the people at the grid iron games etc in the USA. But having harmless fun around it is perfectly OK. The woman who wants to wear a trek uniform into court, so what, it's a lot better looking than some of the clothes people wear into court. If the court has an issue with it, then let the court pay for the person to get a nice outfit that both are happy with. By law, as long as what you're wearing doesn't violate any modesty laws, any laws on concealed weapons, or any laws on impersonation, then it's fair go - wear what you like. It's no worse than those people that wear football sports outfits while out and about, to show they support a particular team, they go about looking like a player. Regarding the person with the trek room, how many homes have you been in where a strong football supporter has the team name stamped on everything in sight and is in the team colours - I've seen dozens over the years. Learning Klingon, it's no worse than those people learning Esperanto - both are languages not used in normal life or anywhere in real life. If you and a friend both know either, you can have a conversation without letting too many other people in on it. Come to think of it, you should see how esoteric some specialist conversations become when they slide off into acronyms and tech short cut. Jay, most of your posts are good, but this one is simply garbage, unless you intend to follow it up with similar attacks on extreme supporters of football clubs, basketball clubs, political associations, unions, bridge clubs, authors, book universes (watch out Harry Potter fans), movie fans, etc.

JCitizen
JCitizen

hear Klingonese in the open (unencrypted) over the radio, and they will go - Huh? I can see why Trek became a religion for some; after all look at the message: Incurable optimism, limitless universe without end that never runs out of interesting adventures(heaven); humanistic morality tale, the Prime Directive. Hey!.. and no one has killed anyone else over it - yet! And even Germany hasn't outlawed it - yet.

vgraybeard
vgraybeard

If extreme Treckies strike you as odd, a look at the field of of presidential hopefuls will blow you away.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

Trekkies have been mocked since the 1970s.

tradergeorge
tradergeorge

As someone who has made a loy of money over the years buying and selling memorabilia, collectibles and other items, it never amazes me anymore at what people consider worth spending their time on. More power to the Trekkers/Trekkies. Everyone needs a hobby and this is no worse than any other. The very few who make it an obsession would channel their illness to something else if this was not available. I have seen people who have thousands of salt shakers, or hundreds of thousands of matchbook covers. Or people who play online games to the exclusion of nutrition. I believe that a deep interest in "Trek" phenomena is relatively benign.

lwvirden
lwvirden

I guess I always thought the trek fans were over the edit - from the time they argued over being called trekies vs trekkers. However, I don't see there being any more difference in the behaviors above than fanatic sports fans, or tech fans, or politics fans, etc. One could divide the world into those who are passionate about some subject, and those who are too boring to be remembered...

jpc1958_98
jpc1958_98

Hey, any Trekker that looks like the hottie in the skin-tight outfit near the top of this article can beam me aboard any time!

rdelval
rdelval

Trekkers are no more unusual than folks who passionately followed a sports franchise, but had to move on to Fantasy Football.

wszwarc
wszwarc

Photons and Phasers may obliterate my bones but my shields are up so you can't hurt me... Nyah nyah ...Nyah nyah nyah.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Geez, the original article is four years old. If you're still into Trek (as many TechRepublic members are), you might enjoy more of the Trek and SciFi discussions here. Just enter 'Trek' in the Search box in the upper right. The 'Worst Episodes' discussions are a current set of discussions; 'Best Episodes' will follow.

JCitizen
JCitizen

; he does a weekly segment on similar actual news stories, and that one would have been a real hoot!

seanferd
seanferd

The shark that everyone wants to jump... :^0

cubeslave
cubeslave

Sports are far too entrenched in general society for most people to realize that Geekdom is Geekdom independent of subject matter. I forget where I initially heard it, but I love the description of Fantasy Football as "Dungeons and Dragons for people who make fun of people that play Dungeons and Dragons."

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I don't think God will require an apology for that. As far as I can tell God has an excellent sense of humor. ;)

seanferd
seanferd

Proud Mary keep on boirnin' If I only had a hammer.

seanferd
seanferd

Just can't afford a couple people anymore? Next they will be reclaiming server space. Everybody let's go thank See BS. Apparently, you can send messages to editor@startrek.com, in the hope that "someone at CBS" will read them. They've milked the franchise for all it is worth, and now they are going to "cut their losses."

JCitizen
JCitizen

I never suffered any nerd rejection when I was in secondary school - people were too scared of me to make fun of me. Good thing my mom sent me to the staff psycologist to make sure I didn't go Charles Whitman on everybody! He laughed after just a few minutes talking to me and declared there was nothing wrong with me. None the less I had to suffer through the testing procedures. Ha!

seanferd
seanferd

Why don't you copy/paste us a sample? I'm entirely too curious. Is the article or thread seen as a bashing attack? I would think that modelers would not be so offended. Maybe you could point out to them: The article's author is frequently shown wearing an NG Starfleet command uniform. I have noticed that you can't see most of it on this thread. Actually, I've just looked around, and can no longer find an image of Jay in uniform. WTH? Anyway, he's still the Trivia Geek. Well, I guess I've just decided that anyone who is hyper-defensive any comment regarding their interests has "jumped the shark". Oh well. And I said "hyper-defensive", as in little or no provocation required.

kehill50
kehill50

Well: I guess I was still "locked" in that "wormhole" thingy as a result of an imbalance in the matter/anti-matter chambers. Had heard of the Trekkers, but it just sounded so "Politio-Correcto-Yuppie-ish" (...probably gonna burn on this one ...) but we can all, co-exist in the same Universe. And with that, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . * . . . . . . . K . . . . . . . . * * . . . . . . K K . . . . . . . E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . * * * * . . . . . @ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . COMMAND: su cd CONDITION RED!!!! KLINGON AT O45 FIRES PHOTON TORPEDO! KLINGON AT 270 FIRES PHOTON TORPEDO! KLINGON AT 285 FIRES PHOTON TORPEDO! COMMAND: m 270 4 COMMAND: t 0 n KLINGON DESTROYED! COMMAND: m 180 6 COMMAND: dock STARBASE SHIELDS PROTECT ENTERPRISE..

brad
brad

I enjoyed Star Trek's attempt to remain true to physics (at least when it looked cool on screen). But, it is also a heavy user of poetic license. As vast distances of space are traveled at Warp speeds, isn't the Enterprise actually traveling forward (relatively speaking) in time? I mean, the starlight we see takes a long time to reach us. Perhaps many thousands of years. As a ship leaves Earth and approaches a star at speeds faster than light, it would reach a star that is thousands of years older than witnessed from Earth. Hence (relative to what is witnessed on Earth) the future. What happened to the theory of relativity in Star Trek? Has there even been an episode that addresses this?

seanferd
seanferd

I think God would have appreciation for a very broad spectrum of things. I don't think God is as humorless and narrow-minded as some folks like to think. :)

ganyssa
ganyssa

or favourite, if you like - I Can't Get Behind That, more of a spoken word thing with Henry Rollins a few years ago. I cannot go to YouTube from work, so I make no warrants, but Google claims the video can be found here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM6pYG1DQ4s

Tig2
Tig2

Or I will send you the MP3s. I am awesome in my wrath!

Phil Haney
Phil Haney

Wouldn't Paramount be in charge of StarTrek.com? They own the franchise, not CBS. (Ok, I just did a "whois" lookup on startrek.com, and Paramount is the registrant and CBS is the technical and administrative contact. Go figure.) -Phil "Quini, quidi, quici" - I came, I saw, I played a little quidditch.

skardykat
skardykat

Here's a rather lenghty reply in the sci-fi forum from a guy who's a dyed in the wool Star Trek fan. He went on to duel with another guy in the forum... basically validating the entire point of the original blog. Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:06 pm Post subject: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I prefer Trekker, thanks. That's the phrase I grew up with. Plus, the "Trekkies" movies put a pretty negative spin on that particular word. Plus, I have a life. That whole article reeks of snobbery. A) Barbara Adams - the "Star Trek Juror" - was already a bit off well before she showed up to trial in her TNG Uniform. 2) Klingon Shakespeare is just... wrong. I get the intent of the use i ST:VI, but that's about it. So, gotta agree here. III) Why is it any creepy for someone to have the theme of Star Trek in their home theater/living/family room, but it's totally alright for people to decorate their houses with jerseys from various sports teams, implements of sports (footballs, baseballs, bats, etc...) and other sports paraphrenlia - that those same sports fans have likely never used? I mean, it's bad for me to want to put a Trek post on the wall, a starship model or two on a shelf, an action figure of my favorite character and one or two prop models up for display? But it's totally alright for some dude to want the sweaty uniforms of their favorite atheletes hanging from the walls? Or people who have a theme of any sort in their living room/family room are alright to do so as long as it's not "Trekkie" related? I know dudes that are so obsessed with sports that they can quote baseball game stat's from the 1940's - before some of those same dudes parents were born - , their idea of trying to wow a chick and get her in bed is to stare at her breastages all night and make lewd suggestions, have season tickets to [Insert Name Of Sports Team Here], would rather go to those games than spend time w/their significant other at a party or non-sports related event where there might not be very many sports-dudes and are generally about as shallow as you can get - if it doesn't involve sports or tits. That's totally alright, sure. Just don't be a Trekkie who has an imagination. Yeesh.... I can laugh at my habits and obsessions along w/the best of 'em and really do see the humor here. However, it always seems like SciFi geeks in general and "Trekkies" in particular are always hung out like this whenever someone feels like making a rant about folks who aren't in the "mainstream" of society. _______________________________________ A rebuttal: _______________________________________ Griffworks wrote: That whole article reeks of snobbery. And Trek fandom doesn't? To the Trek afficianado, (note I lump Trekkie and Trekker together) no other science fiction exists. And let's just get this straight: Star Trek, in all its incarnations, is NOT science fiction. It's fiction - actually, more towards fantasy - just no science. Red Dwarf had more science. Give me a Heinlien space opera any day ..... My major beef with all the red-shirt-wearing-wannabees is that there is an entire universe of s/f out there .... and you people are tied to a version of the 1800s Bristish royal navy in space, like it's all there is. ___________________________________________ another post... ___________________________________________ Ripping on Trekkers/ies is like insulting overweight people; it is still socially acceptable. One of the biggest slaps to the face in the last few years was the movie The 40-year Old Virgin. One of the big messages of the film was that in order to get the girl he had to rid himself of his comic book and SF collection--things that made him happy. Now I adore my wife, but if that were ever a condition to get a woman in bed, much less marry her, I would have told all parties concerned to take a hike. It smacks of prejudice and selfishness to ones' own narrowminded viewpoint of how they think the world should be. F' 'em. I have a collection of over three thousand Trek items alone and still love the series. I have also gotten laid, married, own a house, have a great job that does not involve selling comic books, have a nice retirement building up and have never, ever, even once lived in my parents basement. So, people who have that kind of opinion about us Trek lovers can just bite me . I really don't think too much of them either. And as for jumping the shark, I haven't even dipped my toes in the ocean. ________________________________________ Some use less puncuation than others... ________________________________________ I am also a big SF fan. I don't care if the word trekkie or trekker is used. Somewhere on one of my Star Trek DVDs, as we all know, Gene Rodenberry himself said they are all trekkies because he invented it. He was right. Like many different typres of Sci-fi Some I discovered because of this board (Red Dwarf) Others I have loved since I was a child (SW, Galactica, and Trek) Most importantly I have my share of Sci-fi stuff and some is better than others. Same goes for the shows All of them I also like the Cleveland Browns and many forms of racing My personal favorite type of racing is boats Some of my fleet can be seen in my kitchen My wife put it there and has always denied that it was her idea Some guys put up hnting trophies and sports stuff. I freely admit I own more Trek Stuff than any other genre. It pales in comparison to many Nascar or baseball collections I have seen. I own a copy of the first Klingon dictionary but I don't know a word of it. I was into the Fasa game when I recieved it as a gift from someone and I used to make up names for my klingon fleet. Every time I think about learning the language I remember how hard it was for me to learn German and also that my time would be much better spent learning Japanese which would serve me very well profesionally. (didn't do it) My point is that thw wackos get all the press. I don't own any Trek clothes. My son has a couple of T-shirts. I don't wan't my house to look like the inside of the enterprise. In the movies not even Captain Kirk wanted that! I don't care what the wackos do either. I do my thing, they can do thiers as long as they aren't hurting anybody. Keep in mind that anybody learning the Kligopn Hamlet is still learning Shakespeare. They can have their fun. You guys are right about sports fans. I hear more about Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr., Barry Bonds and Micheal Vick than I ever do about Captain Picard or Yoda. So what? My chances of piloting the Enterprise are exactly the same as my chances of playing QB for the Patriots. I used to say that until a lady at work brought in a picture of herself sitting in the seat of Ryan Whatshisname's race car with him standing there. I prefer not to think about it.

brad
brad

Scratch that. Traveling at the speed of light to a destination 1,000 light years away would take 1,000 years. Faster than light speed would effect relative time travel. Sorry for the confusion.

seanferd
seanferd

Shatner and Rollins? I can't believe I never heard of this. Insane. Thank you ganyssa!

seanferd
seanferd

Ripping from vinyl, I mean. Do you have a modern commercial solution, or is it something you put together yourself? And yes, I would like the mp3s, but don't dig them up on my account. If you happen across them at some point, that would be nice. If you sometimes enjoy pain (or amusement), see my "See also:" post below, if you haven't seen this little gem already. Happy holidays to you, Tig. I hope that your post-holiday things go well for you.

Tig2
Tig2

The Nimoy. So far. It's all pretty painful. I avoid the Shatner. I am old now and must avoid things that are painful. They hurt. But I am also plotting who gets the vinyl. "Lucy in the Sky" appeared on the "Golden Throats" LP. Never should have been published, but it was. It gave AWFUL a whole new meaning. But Nimoy was something else. When Leonard sang "If I had a Hammer", he sang it with FEELING. You just wanted to give him a hammer. And nails. And wood. And the blueprints for a coffin. He was sincere- and I mean SINCERE. The same goes for the rest of the album... that I actually own. Dear peanut gallery- shut up! Having a conversation here! If you want them, I will dig out the MP3s of dear Leonard. You can't be a REAL Trekker without them!

seanferd
seanferd

Also, that is really not much of a threat, as I would listen to them! One of my friends, way back, had vinyl with a collection of these tunes. We all loved them. Shatner is just so... Shatner. Why did he get all the Beatles and Dylan stuff? Nimoy was entertaining, but some of the tunes they gave him were duds, IMO. He should have gotten a Tom Lehrer cover or something. At the moment, I cannot recall very many of the tunes these guys did, but it is easier to remember Shatner's, because he has been so frequently lampooned, and not infrequently by himself.

seanferd
seanferd

The forums there do seem pretty interesting, it is nice that they are not all modeling related, as I don't do it. Too bad some folks have to take such offense. I mean, if it doesn't apply to you, don't be offended by it. Maybe it does apply, and that is why some are so offended. Maybe it is a reading comprehension problem, I don't know. I say MAYBE. He77, I could be offended too, if I really wanted to be. edit for: if

JCitizen
JCitizen

if you lend credit to that rag anymore. If I come up with a more credible link I'll try and post it. Thanks absolutely! :)

seanferd
seanferd

Relativity is largely irrelevant here, as the ship is actually traveling in "sub-space". Space-normal speeds are still restricted to subluminal velocities. I have never heard mention of how long it takes to get to near- lightspeed using impulse engines only. When calling for thrust, fractions of total engine power are used, and no final velocity is mentioned (e.g. "one-quarter impulse"). Kind of like the nautical "engines to one half, although "make turns for twenty knots" -type terminology is also employed. In Trek, only relatively low impulse speeds are mentioned, as measured in kps. How's that for geeky?

JCitizen
JCitizen

using gravity to prevent the paradox of speed of light travel, where the faster you appoach the speed of light the greater your mass becomes. If you warp(curve) space like gravity does, in a space ahead of the ship - gravity itself pulls/pushes you along like a planet on an orbit, as your mass increases the gravity pulls/pushes at a greater force until you reach previously unachievable speeds. Not unlike falling toward a black hole but without the deleterious effects.

lucien86
lucien86

Its all a lot more complicated than that. If Relativity was true in the ftl region then in some contexts you would be right and time travel would be a problem. - But this is a pretty big assumption, -it all really depends on the shape of the ftl universe. A place where Relativity is little more than guesswork.

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