He is the Captain. The first, and many would say the best. William Shatner has been a constant for Star Trek fans over the last 46 years — on screen, behind the camera, and at the conventions. In his later years though, Shatner has picked up a magnifying glass and held it up to the phenomenon that has given him a career and the fandom that has supported and at times, reviled him. Our Steven Sautter was at a roundtable interview with Mr. Shatner during Comic-Con where Captain Kirk set his phaser to philosophize. Give it a read.
On fans and their motives for gathering at Cons:
William Shatner: I wrote a book, on which I thought “Who goes to Comic-Con, who goes to Star Trek conventions?” And I sought to do interviews and do my due diligence about who comes to Comic-Con, what characters and why? And I came to the conclusion in the book, that that they were there to see each other, renew friendships, and have fun.
But when I asked myself the question again and did a documentary about it, I arrived at a much different and much deeper conclusion based on sociology and based on mythology — there is a far deeper and mystical, mysterious, sociological reason for people coming to Comic-Con, dressing up the way they do.
“What are they doing in San Diego, those fools.” That’s not it at all. It’s far deeper than that.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP
Shatner is asked about working with Rod Serling on The Twilight Zone:
Shatner: Well, that’s hindsight. At that moment, everyone was struggling to make a living. Including Rod Serling. Nobody knew, nobody knows… that those things happen. I’m reading a book that’s about 10 years old about how everything exists in a critical state, just waiting to be tipped over by some occasion. And it can be a minor occasion that tips it slightly, or it can be minor occasion that tips it and makes an avalanche.
One snowflake is one thing too many and then an avalanche starts. But then there are many minor avalanches. What starts something that is ground breaking? Was Serling, at that moment, just making a show? Did he tip the balance that everyone now looks back at and says “that was the defining moment”? I think that’s what happens. Star Trek the same way. Did Star Trek come at the right precise moment when science fiction literature was at it’s apex? There were other little science fiction shows that tantalized everybody’s curiosity and here comes Star Trek. And… BANG! It becomes a phenomenon.
Shatner is asked about comparing the timing and popularity of Star Trek to The Renaissance:
What is a Renaissance? Change is happening all the time. We’re in a continuous state of change, and in a critical state of change all the time. Most change, like earthquake faults, moves along these lines and slowly the tension is there until there’s a sudden release. And that’s the earthquake. That happens in every phase of human activity. History in particular. We go along, we think everything is cool. Then suddenly there’s a revelation. But there’s a tipping point…
Shatner then proceeds to relate this to Get a Life:
All these people are coming to a comic convention or a Star Trek convention for various reasons. Their own personal reasons and then they’re imbued by a general need which has to do with mythology. Has to do with an explanation of their lives. And most of them don’t know why they are here. Most don’t know that they’re in the middle of a ritual that is cultural. And that is what my documentary examines.
That’s one of the aspects of Comic-Con. It’s the sense of community. You go out on the streets and there is a sense of ease and joy around, a sense of pleasure out there. There’s no harm in these masses of people. They’re not here to riot or throw trash cans. They’re here to have fun. There’s a general feeling of gentility. Cause everyone that’s come to Comic-Con, that’s spent their money and time to come to Comic-Con, are here for a definitive purpose. That purpose is what I examine in Get a Life.
Shatner is asked if there is a moment from the book or the documentary that stands out:
When I was doing the book, I went around and talked to a woman in Dallas who had multiple personalities. Different voices. All of them, Star Trek. Now, whether it was real or fake, I don’t quite know. But, she wasn’t a well person. And she had this phenomenon of multiple personalities.
Again, from the book, there was this kid who was pathologically shy. He had a cat dressed in a Star Trek uniform. He’s verbal and audible, but the moment the cat is out of reach he sinks back into his inability to talk.
There are other people in the cast of the documentary. It’s a whole new group of people. But it’s the same needs and salvation that they get from coming to a convention.
And there’s a kid who’s suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, Captain Dave is his name. And in his bright blue eyes, you see the lighting. Even though, all he can do is blow into a little tube to guide his wheelchair. But he’s whizzing from one panel to the other faster than anyone else, because of his vitality to live.
Get a Life will be available on EpixHD.com, Xbox, Roku, and other devices on July 28th