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I realized yesterday that I'll soon be confronted with what will probably feel like a strong need to see the Star Trek Into Darkness film when it releases this spring. Which involves the extremely rare action for me of actually going to the cinema. But so formative to my geekiness was original-era Trek, that I tend to still pay attention when a new product comes out, even a weak TV series like Enterprise or a total disappointment of a film like Nemesis. The most recent movie-going that Jeff and I did was in 2009 when we went twice, for the Abrams Star Trek movie (because it was the new Trek movie) and for Avatar (because we were curious about 3D, which I did not end up liking that much).

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I haven't even seen a lot of home video in recent years, but I have occasionally made a point of catching up on a few things now that I have streaming capacity on the TV (love ya, Apple TV!). For example, I recently saw the latest of the Nolan Batman films. It was too dark, by which I mean that most scenes were literally not adequately lit; too noisy, by which I mean that the sound design was bloody awful; and it barely made a lick of sense. This week Jeff and I watched Scott's Prometheus, the Alien-universe prequel-type film from last year. I find that I might just not be able to suspend disbelief and open my imagination widely enough to apprehend the preposterousness of this film. Is there going to be a good story ever again in SF film, or will it henceforth never be anything but visuals and noise? Last really good SF story in movie form I saw: Boyle's Sunshine which I happened to watch on DVD the same day in 2009 I saw the Star Trek movie. Then just yesterday morning (yeah, I have been lolling about ill with a nasty cold, wasting vacation days from work to recover), I watched Steve Miner's 2008 film Day of the Dead, which is a direct-to-video abomination billed as a "remake" of Romero's 1985 film. I happen to adore Romero's film, and while I know it's not everyone's cup-a-tea, when compared side-by-side with Miner's version, it is the deepest, richest, most nuanced thing ever. Holy fuck, was that remake bad! It has frak-all to do with the Romero film other than rehashing some character names, and is just generally horrible. But now, as I write this, I wonder how much worse it really is than Prometheus: it is a very low-ambition failure with no apparent effort exerted to make it good, while it looks like they actually tried really hard with Prometheus. I sometimes think I'd rather watch an undisguised piece-of-crap movie than an overwrought and pretentious one that makes no sense.

I wonder which one of those Star Trek Into Darkness will be? Because I bet it won't be great. The teaser trailer kind of tells me that already, and probably tells me everything I really need to know about it: random baddie endangers whole Earth for a probably totally-out-of-proportion reason/Kirk and crew narrowly save the day somehow after lots of exploding. I can probably just skip it and miss nothing important by doing so. But I know I won't because I still house a small ember love for that universe even though it's wronged me again and again and again. And, if nothing else, the current Trek cast is chockablock with cute dudes. So there's that at least: it will be a visual delight. One possibly better suited for homeviewing. Alone.

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I was thinking about the prospect of this film last night while watching an episode of original Trek--the third season entry "That Which Survives." Ever since George Takei came out as gay, and I rewatch episodes of Trek with him in them, I have a quick sequence of thoughts kind of like this: He was totally gay when they were shooting this scene in 1967; that's so awesome; that so fuckin' sucks that he couldn't be out back then!; George Takei is awesome! and so on. While it's fantastic that he is out now--and very vocal in the rights cause--how awesome would it have been for a young kid (such as myself at the age that I fell in love with original series Trek) to have known that back then? To have even have been able to have considered it as a real possibility? Because I am a Trekker from way back, I have carried an ever-embiggening chip on my broad shoulder about the fact that this utopian sf concept, in its many hundreds of hours of TV and film, has never one goddamned time managed to get a gay character worked into the canon universe or even speak of the subject matter in a way that is in the slightest bit grown-up. I was stewing over that last night when I had this brilliant brainstorm: they should make new-Sulu in the new movies gay. It would settle my longstanding complaint and might be kind of a cool homage to original-Sulu actor Takei. Uh, but then this morning I found this recent article online by Dan Wohl where he makes much the same case that I was going to make here, but markedly less bitchily so. So go read his item and come back. Probably skip the reader comments, though, as a slight majority are beside the point or hung-up on some kind of weird geek hairsplitting about whether the Abrams universe is a full-on concept reboot (it is) or if it is an "alternate" or "alternative" timeline created from the "original" universe at the occasion of Kirk's birth (it is not; and I'll be happy to argue it in an extremely pedantic fashion some other time).

The handful of attempts previously in the Trek canon of even approaching the topic of non-heterosexuality, as summarized in the linked article, were few, thin, disappointing and even offensive, and left behind not one single real LGBT character of any type. The TNG episode "The Outcast"--which was celebrated at the time as Trek finally addressing gayness--offends with its built-in assumption that gay people must certainly seek to live in a heteronormative roles in order to be happy. I feel about this the same I way I did several years ago when I was asked by an acquaintance to assess whether it is Jeff or me who is the "woman" in our relationship: extremely annoyed. Also, it goes a wholly unnecessary step further and includes in the "science" of the show a cure-the-gay therapy that takes care of the whole problem and gets those pesky gender non-conformists back in line. Then there was the Enterprise episode where the Vulcan mindmeld was somehow a stigmatized stand-in for either AIDS and/or non-conformist sexuality, but it was so light-handed and timid a tale that I wonder if anyone noticed. (You know how Enterprise could have tackled this rough beast of an issue? Put a fuckin' gay dude in the main cast of characters. Done.) Then there was the lame lesbian kiss episode of DS9, the TNG tedium where Crusher gets kinda squicked out when her Trill friend switched bods from male to female, and the good old evil bisexual chicks of DS9's "Mirror" universe. Egads. And that's about it. So timid has Trek been that even in the supposedly daring "The Outcast" every single member of the genderless race was, in fact, plainly and unambiguously female. I bet they could have mixed that up a bit, cast some small-boned boys among the women, maybe even had one of them be Riker's love interest. That would have been risky and cool at the time. Hell, it would be now! That was over twenty years ago! Jeeezus! No wonder I am so annoyed! There's been zero progress in twenty years!

I want Trek to start having a gay dude in the main canonical cast. Period. I will abandon further following of the franchise if it doesn't get one pretty soon because this future world that has every kind of humanoid-with-weird-forehead creature in it, but yet somehow does not have a single gay person, speaks to me less and less every time a new show or movie appears. And while I'd be delighted with any sort of LGBT person or genderqueer character or any relief at all from the hetero-conformism that is all we have been given so far, I am actually being very specific here in my wish that this character, when he appears, be specifically a gay male. Why? Because I like to think about it grossing the shit out of the ugly, typical fanboys of my generation. While some of them were/are lovely people, so many of them were also grotesquely immature sexually, creepily sexist, rabidly homophobic--and all of that from a cohort of people who should have counted their stars had anyone--female or male--ever wanted to kiss them. Ever. It is these people in particular, the yucky fanboys of old (who often made me feel like an outcast among the most outcasted of outcasts) who I want to see flock like dorky, aging sheep to a new Star Trek film and be presented with the blunt fact of a gay dude in the main cast. But, no, that's not all I want. I want this, too: that main-cast gay dude, in one scene, full-on makes out with his lover in such an in-your-face way that you see their tongues enter each other's mouths and you just know for a fact that they are both boned hard in their Starfleet uniform pants. That would get me back into Trek for sure.
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