Trekkies 2 (2004)

Rating:

USA. 2004.

Crew

Director – Roger Nygard, Producer – Michael Leahy, Photography – David Doyle, Music – J.J. Holiday & Billy Sullivan, Visual Effects – Gabriel C. Koerner. Production Company – Neo Art and Logic.

Narrated by Denise Crosby

Trekkies (1997) was a documentary that explored the fascinating behavioural peculiarities that surround Star Trek (1966-9) fandom. The film gained a modest reputation. Director Roger Nygard, interviewer Denise Crosby and several of the original film’s interview subjects return with Trekkies 2.

Trekkies essentially covered the homegrown American Trekker phenomenon; by contrast, Trekkies 2 could be considered the international version of Trekkies where Roger Nygard and Denise Crosby tour the world to ferret out the fan peculiarities there. If Trekkies was a film that took a snapshot of the Star Trek fan phenomenon, then Trekkies 2 reveals that this was a mere iceberg tip in terms of the sheer bizarreness that is out there. And if Trekkies was about explaining Star Trek fandom to a mainstream audience, then Trekkies 2 is a film that has been made for fan audiences and includes aspects that would surely be bewildering to people who have no knowledge of fandom or ever been to a convention.

What is fascinating about Trekkies 2‘s international focus is in seeing the numerous ways Star Trek has been adapted across cultural barriers. These cultural crossovers prove fascinating – like seeing a Star Trek fan film being enacted in German or the visit to Italy where we see people on the way to a convention dressed as Klingons riding on the back of motor-scooters. The filmmakers even travel to Belgrade in Serbia to visit the first Balkans Star Trek convention where it is fascinating to see how the peoples of the former Communist republic and war ravaged country have latched onto the ideals that Star Trek represents of the future being the best possible society.

Trekkies 2 also visits some of the fan phenomena that were unexplored in the first film. There is the trend of the internet fan film that has emerged since Trekkies came out. The filmmakers’ visit the set of one production in Germany and screens some of the film, which shows a highly professional level of effects, and another fan film being shot in Minneapolis. They also visit the one fan phenomenon that Trekkies neglected – filking (the hobby of writing fan-related lyrics over popular songs) – and travel to a filking convention. Some of the permutations and usages that we see that Star Trek has been put to are mind-boggling. In Hinckley in Leicestershire, England, the film crew visit Tony Alleyne who has turned his entire apartment into a starship interior with consoles, transporter pads, even a miniscule toilet with Enterprise keypads (all of which has left Alleyne forced to sleep on the floor). As Alleyne confesses to Denise Crosby, this was a way of him coping with depression after his wife left him. (A visit to England seems to mandatorily require the American filmmakers to have to explain what an anorak is). The film crew visit a Star Trek convention in Bellaria, Italy, where they interview Father Bernie Carman, a Catholic priest who gives mass at the convention and preaches to the fans using the relationship between Picard and Q as allegories for Catholic faith.

Various of the modern Star Trek production staff talk about the strange mail they get, ranging from requests to borrow The Enterprise to go prospecting for gold to a fan who sends in detailed storyboards for encounters between The Enterprise and giant crabs. Elsewhere, the filmmakers visit a Star Trek radio station in Sao Paulo and a stage production of Romeo and Juliet (1594-5) in Los Angeles that reinterprets the play using the Star Trek episode Let This Be Your Last Battlefield (1969) – the one with two warring races that had alternate halves of their faces black and white. In Sacramento, they uncover Star Trek tribute rock bands, including Warp II, the Next Generation band No Kill I, which even boasts a Deep Space Nine splinter group, and the Klingon heavy metal band Stovokor.

Trekkies 2 also catches up with a number of the interviewees from the first film. They revisit Barbara Adams, who gained a certain fame after wearing her Starfleet uniform to the Whitewater trial, while various fans discuss the pros and the cons of what Adams did and whether she went too far and brought fandom into disrepute. The most amusing section of the film is when the filmmakers catch up with Gabriel Koerner, the teenage geek from the first film (who also provides the visual effects for Trekkies 2). Koerner wittily reflects on marriage proposals from other men, appearances on The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004) and questions about his sexual orientation: “I am married to someone who was naturally born a woman but I also refer to things as “Fabulous” and own a sewing machine. You make up your own mind.”

While the first film interviewed most of the principal actors from the Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94), Trekkies 2 is almost exclusively focused on the fans. Having exhausted the supply of principal actors from the various series with the first film, Trekkies 2 is left having to interview minor cast members – Cirroc Lofton, Ethan Phillips, Nana Visitor, John Billingsley, and Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer from Enterprise (2001-5), even guests actors like Tracy Scoggins, Carolyn Seymour, Forrest Adams, Richard Herd, Phil Morris and Casey Biggs, and people on the production side such as producer Brannon Braga. There are even interviews with the likes of Star Trek novelist Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Robert Meyer Burnett, director of the Star Trek fandom film Free Enterprise (1998), and Star Trek archivist Richard Arnold.

Denise Crosby asks some interesting questions of the various assembled fans. To some she asks “Can you go too far?” Nobody offers up any clear-cut answers, instead each fan points to somebody else they consider having done so. Crosby also asks “What is normal?”, which seems to get either of two replies: “What I do is normal” or “Well, what is normal anyway?”, neither of which really answers the question. The most amusing response comes from the fan who wryly observes how fans eagerly speak of there own tolerance but then disdainfully say that those fans over their are not as tolerant as they. The film is also self-correcting and asks some of the fans what they thought of the first Trekkies and engages in some debate over its use of the term ‘trekkies’ as opposed to the fan-preferred ‘trekkers’ and has the modesty to take a few critical hits on the chin for using this as its title.



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