Some Mainstream Media Continue To Misunderstand (and misrepresent) Trek Fans

A couple of days ago we pointed to a funny parody news clip at The Onion which poked some good-natured fun at Trek and Trek fans, and how we were up in arms over how the film was ‘fun’ and ‘watchable.’ Trek fans are self-aware and most seemed to get the joke, but in the last day I have noticed a more disturbing Trend from some in the mainstream media trying to to perpetuate the most negative stereotypes of Trek fans, and what is worse they are trying to get me to help them. More below.

 

Media searching for superfans – but some just want attackers
In the last few weeks I have been contacted by a number of local and national and international media organizations to give quotes and do interviews on what I think of the new Star Trek film and how it is playing with fans (see yesterday’s AP article for an example).  I always tell them what I have stated here: that I loved the movie, but also as a Trekkie had some nitpicks (as we do with all movies). I also tell them that most fans are very excited about this film and what it means to Star Trek, but there is a minority of fans who are skeptical or not in support of the film.

However just this morning alone I have been contacted by ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC News, and both of them wanted me to help provide a fan to put on camera to talk about how Trek fans as a whole are against this film. When I talked to producers for both, neither wanted to hear that those ‘skeptic’ fans were only a small part, and in fact one producer (from NBC) hung up on me when I told him I thought it would be disingenuous for them to report that Trek fans as a whole were against this movie. I suggested to both that they could have two fans on with opposing views or at least represent the ‘negative’ fan as being part of just a segment of Trek fandom, but those suggestions fell on deaf ears. Our friend and star/producer of Star Trek Phase II James Cawley tells me that he has also turned down multiple mainstream media requests to attack the new movie.

I get that fans v movie or fans v mainstream is a good hook and controversy and conflict make good TV. However, after being told by James and I that they are barking up the wrong tree I only hope they get the message and don’t just keep hunting until they find that ideal ‘hater’ to put on camera.

Trek fans have suffered for years with negative stereotypes of being nitpicky nerds who live in their mother’s basements, even though research done Sociology Professor (and TrekMovie contributor) John Tenuto shows that Trek fans tend to be more educated, more affluent, more social and more likely to be married than the population as a whole. Now that Star Trek has a big blockbuster movie and the franchise that we love is getting some new credibility, some in the media want to use this resurgence as yet another opportunity to go after Trek fans as anti-social, whiney, nitpicking lunatics. This is just like the ‘THIS IS A DISASTER’ incident when the LA Times and other sources didn’t get a joke on our message boards and really thought that fans were upset over a Cake! 

The Onion parody poked fun but was funny and not cruel (and often true). But this notion that Trek fans as a whole cannot embrace any kind of change or be open minded to a new take on Trek seems to be part of a meme for too many in the MSM. This mean spirited cartoon in the New York Daily News is another example:

Trek fans by the numbers are in support of this movie
I am not saying this to boast but for context, that this website is the highest ranked (via Alexa) independent Trek site. We are visited by hundreds of thousands of fans every month. From comments and polls and attending fan events, I think I have a good sense of the fan community. It is true that we can rarely agree that water is wet and there certainly is no right answer as to what is the best Trek TV show or movie, but there are trends and there are groups larger and smaller on various opinions. And I can say unequivocally that most fans are very excited about seeing this movie. Of course there are some who are skeptical or even hostile, but this is a minority (maybe down to 10% or less at this point). I have spoken to many fans around the world who have seen the film at screenings, including talking to some of the leaders of various fan organizations and fan clubs, and almost all have come away with positive views to the movie.

This is also evidenced by some actual data.

TrekMovie.com poll taken earlier this week:

When will you see the Star Trek movie

  • Already seen it (5%)
  • Before May 7th (4%)
  • Thurs. May 7 (39%)
  • Fri May 8 (22%)
  • Sat/Sun May 9-10 (15%)
  • Later in first week (6%)
  • Later during theatrical run (5%)
  • Wait for DVD (2%)
  • No plans to see movie (2%)

So only 4% of fans in the poll were not going to see the film while in theaters with only 2% saying they had no interest.

How about some real sales data? Fandango has sent over some of their figures and 91% of their current sales (as of this morning) are for the new Star Trek movie. They are also conducting a poll of Star Trek ticket buyers and 91% consider themselves a Star Trek fan. And by the way Fandango’s Star Trek sales for this week are outpacing their sales for Wolverine from the same period last week.

It isn’t all of the MSM
Just like with Trek fans, the mainstream media is not single minded. There are many reports that get their portrayals of Trek fans right and are more balanced, like the recent AP piece and another good piece in Wall Street Journal. And of course the recent cover story in Newsweek showed that love of Star Trek can be treated respectfully. By the way, I will be quoted in a piece in the Globe and Mail tomorrow in Canada and TrekMovie’s Alex Fletcher will be appearing on Canada AM on CTV tomorrow morning.

 

But, I guess we still have work to do with getting some in the media to understand fandom and Trekkies.

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