Star Trek: How Hollywood Made the Nerdy Cool

How did Hollywood turn a series stereotyped as nerdy into a cool, epic blockbuster film?

It appears that “nerdy” is one of the latest trends, with the word plastered on clothing and merchandise, and, while the people who follow the trend usually aren’t nerds by definition – “an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby (” – the nerdy has undoubtedly made its way into mainstream cinema.

Types of people often stereotyped as “nerds” are comic book collectors, avid fans of franchises such as Star Wars and Star Trek and, to an extent, gamers; they are known for their enthusiasm, investment and cosplay and have often been represented humorously in film and television. But as one of the biggest TV shows in America, The Big Bang Theory, features four science nerds, interested in comic books and Star Trek, it appears Hollywood is capitalizing on successful franchises and the nerdy trend.

Superhero movies adapted from comics from Marvel and DC, such as Batman, Spider-man and the Avengers, have been popular for decades, and understandably so, with their heroic, and sometimes unlikely, protagonists and powerful villains. But as the second Star Trek film is frequently advertised on television, the internet and print, it is surprising that a franchise thought to be reserved for devoted “trekkies”, is so popular. It’s one of the biggest films out at the moment, so how did Hollywood turn Star Trek, a series often dismissed as nerdy and goofy, into a mainstream blockbuster? Roobla speculates on some of the actions that may have been taken to.


1.  The spectacle is prioritized

Anyone who has seen the infamous fight between Captain Kirk and an enemy from the original series (named ‘worst fight scene ever’ on Youtube) will know that creating a spectacle was not a priority for Star Trek, it was about the story, characterisation and the interaction, scientific exploration, and the different planets and species.

Into Darkness is the opposite; it favours the spectacle, opting for explosions, disaster, epic fight scenes and action. Its modern technology allows for excellent visuals, which it utilizes to show off, but which ultimately makes it similar to most blockbuster films. Star Trek is undoubtedly unique, and by conforming to typical Hollywood standards, the film is unable to achieve the same level of uniqueness.


2. Relationships are focused on

Star Trek: Into Darkness emphasises the relationship between Captain Kirk and Spock, by constantly questioning and reinforcing their friendship and how they work together. It couples the duo in a traditional Hollywood ‘buddy’ pairing, which actually works quite well.

In addition, Spock and Uhura are in a relationship, although it is merely hinted in the original series; it seems that no Hollywood film is complete without a romantic relationship, although this pairing seems forced and odd.


3. Scientific knowledge is converted into humour

While the original series’s emphasis on science isn’t completely translated into the film, it does feature elements in weaponry, the Enterprise, technology and planetary exploration. In addition, some of the characters are rightly shown to be highly intelligent and their scientific knowledge is communicated well. However, it seems that this knowledge is often turned into humour, probably with the intention to entertain the masses and people who are not interested in the mounds of information Star Trek presents.

Spock’s statements about the ‘highly illogical’ are usually humorous responses to the free-willed Kirk and his spontaneous decisions. Scott’s concerns about dangerous items on the ship, and their possible chemical reactions, is an hilarious rant by an angry Scotsman, and Bones’s position as a caring doctor, with ultra-modern technology to scan bodies, translates as an obsessive and overreacting sidekick.

The humour is good, but it comes at the expense of all the interesting information and knowledge present in the original series, the film has done well both commercially and critically, but we wonder how avid Star Trek fans feel about it. Ultimately, we believe it can be appreciated as a typical Hollywood adaptation, and its changes understood as a commercial decision, which have undoubtedly worked.

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