Is the Force With Trekkies? Will Lucasfilm Live Long and Prosper?By Michelle
May 19, 2005 - 9:20 PM
The much-anticipated Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith from writer-director George Lucas premieres today, leading to a spate of comparisons between the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises and discussion about what it means that the long-running television series and the beloved film franchise both seem to have reached the end of their best-known incarnations.
Forbes, which offers a business-oriented perspective, calls the rivalry "more fevered than any other in the universe" and says that Coke versus Pepsi and Red Sox versus Yankees are child's play by comparison. "This rivalry isn't just an imaginary one," adds writer David M. Ewalt, noting that both franchises are multibillion-dollar businesses that bring in revenue not only for motion picture studios but for snack food manufacturers, toy makers and book publishers. Both have also spawned rides at amusement parks and over a hundred CDs of related music and performances.
But The Cleveland Plain Dealer sees the end of an era looming as traditional science fiction is replaced by fantasy and supernatural storytelling. The success of Lost and Medium on the heels of The X-Files may indicate that viewers prefer horror and paranoia to hopeful shows like Star Trek, the article suggests.
While Dateline: Hollywood parodies geek violence spiraling out of control with ST fans and SW fans competing in deadly violence, with fans blinded in the melee taking consolation in their Geordi LaForge visors, Blogcritics.org joked that with Star Wars concluding its motion picture trilogy and Star Trek leaving UPN, the total population of nerds in the U.S. will increase as fans previously holed up with their collectibles come out to reproduce.
Lucas himself warned his fans not to become like his perception of Trekkies, telling fans at a recent convention in Indianapolis not to let the franchise consume their lives. Cinematical quoted the director as saying, "At least that's what they say to fans at Star Trek conventions...I know Star Wars fans aren't like that."
But Wired claims that Lucas is wrong, stating, "Lovers of the Star Wars saga are far, far and away some of the most fervent supporters of any franchise," reporting on fans who spend thousands of dollars on rare merchandise, refurbished vehicles and tattoos to show that the Force is with them, always.
This morning The New York Post declared an end to geekdom. "If you feel a sharp pain today — as if millions of voices cried out and were suddenly silenced — look no further than the guy at the next desk. The one with the Captain Kirk coffee mug and the light-saber pen," wrote Stephen Lynch. With not only Star Trek and Star Wars but The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix no longer producing new films, he joked, "My God. I'm going to have to start dating."
Even Wesley Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton, told Lynch that it was long past time for a break in the two big science fiction franchises. "The end of 'Star Wars' is long overdue — the new movies are an absolute abomination," he declared. "'Star Trek: Enterprise' had little in common with 'Star Trek' beyond the name. There was an explosion of geeky goodness in the last few years, and now it's time to step back, and...well, thin the herd, I guess."
However, Star Trek's loss of its television time slot may be Star Wars' gain. Lucas spoke on Britain's Sky One in a "Feel the Force" Featurette, announcing that his planned Star Wars live action series is going into production. The show reportedly will follow the adventures of some of the lesser-known characters from the movie saga.
This month's Mad magazine says that the real space battle isn't between Star Trek and Star Wars, anyway, but between XM and Sirius satellite radio. So live long and prosper, and may the Force be with you.