I may be talking out of my butt here because I haven’t seen the latest Star Trek movie, but here’s why I’m having doubts about the whole “reboot” enterprise. (Warning: There is an unavoidable BIG spoiler coming, regarding Into the Darkness. I will give two more warnings.)
When I saw, the first Abrams’ version, I liked it because it offered the promise of new adventures with the original characters. Not only that, but because it was a reboot – anything could happen. Characters we love could die without messing up the old timeline because the old timeline had already disappeared, which is not the same as saying it never happened. It did. Old Spock is proof of that.
Did I have reservations? Sure. I hated the idea that Spock – moral, upright Spock, was somehow responsible for the destruction of his entire planet – or rather setting in motion, inadvertently, the forces that led to its destruction. That felt like too much for him to bear. But it was an entertaining movie, and the parts I might have thought about went by too quickly for me to think about them.
However, this past weekend the better half and I watched Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home, and combining that with reading meh reviews for Into the Darkness, I’ve been thinking about what might have gone wrong.
We don’t love original, old-timey Star Trek for the cheesy sets, the mini-skirts or the way the computer screens light up. We love it because of the accidental chemistry between Kirk and Spock. We love it because as Edith Keeler said to Spock regarding where she thinks he belongs, “at his [Kirk's] side as if you’ve always been there and always will.”
It’s about the characters, stupid.
And here’s the thing about iconic fictional characters, the more we get to know them, the deeper we love them. Experience changes them. Maybe not in big ways, but in subtle ones we watchers and readers track. We learn information over time. Holmes has a brother, Moriarty is his mortal enemy. There are cases that don’t go the way they should and these leave a mark forever. For Holmes, Irene Adler will always be “the woman.” Picard takes up an alien flute after his probe experience, and is never the same after the Borg’s get him. We know what it means when he plays that flute. Spock takes Jim out of “this damned place” (Spoiler is coming on next page. There’ll be a final warning!) Read the rest of this entry »
Until last week’s merger was born, Mad Men was shaping up for its dullest season. As Meagan continues to assert her independence, Don turns for comfort to a neighbor’s wife. Don cheating. Who would have ever seen that coming?
Now there’s a new hitch, the reality of the merger, proving once again, that Faye had Don’s number – he is all about beginnings. Suddenly there’s Don and there’s Ted and it’s not clear who is on top. Don has no problem with collaboration, as long as he’s in control, but Ted’s very presence undermines him. Roger, in contrast, has found his long-lost twin in his counterpart. The Rogerness is doubled. I look forward to the two of them dropping acid together, but Don is in an immediate pissing contest with Ted, one he may not even be conscious of, and Ted, being a somewhat more functional individual, is mystified.
First, Don makes an afternoon assignation with Sylvia and misses 90% of the first creative collaborative meeting, leaving Ted wondering how good an idea any of this was. Next he makes a “peace” offering with alcohol, that leaves Ted drunk and dysfunctional. Then Peggy, making her loyalties clear, reads her old-new boss the riot act for getting Ted drunk and being an asshole.
Ted goes to his dying colleague for advice, and then gets the upper-hand, piloting his own plane to a meeting with Mohawk Air. All Don can do is sit, terrified in the passenger seat as Ted takes off in a rain storm.
Round one is over. Ted wins.
So Don asserts control, or tries to, in the one place he can, with Sylvia, improvising a set of slightly kinky instructions for her. At first Sylvia is enjoying the novelty of submission, but then, this being real life, and not a trashy novel, she’s kind embarrassed by it, prompting her to tell Don it’s time to end the affair. There’s nothing a stricken Don can say to her because ultimately his domination of her is a game she is under no obligation to play.
The entire series might as well be entitled The Fall and Decline of Don Draper. While we’ve seen him increase his salary, make partner, upgrade his wife and start a super-agency, we haven’t seen him change in any way that counts. He’s grown increasingly out of touch with the times. Last season he couldn’t recognize The Beatles. Maybe he thought marrying Meagan would be his pipeline to the younger generation, but it hasn’t worked out that way. While Ted Chough can use the word groovy and not sound awkward, Roger can drop acid, and Pete can get sideburns, Don hasn’t lost the buttoned down Madison Avenue look even if he was shtupping a beatnik-artist when we first met him. That wasn’t part of Don’s daytime persona, that was his time off from being Don Draper. Don can’t change, because he doesn’t really exist. He’s always been a cardboard cut-out.
How will it all end? It wouldn’t surprise me if one day the man who was never really there, simply disappeared.
Marie Duplessis died in 1848, but has been living in our imaginations ever since.
Born Alphonsie Rose Plessis, the lovely Marie came to Paris when she was fifteen and soon became the hottest date in town. She was a courtesan, a high-class hooker catering to an exclusive clientele – men with enough money to support her in the style to which she soon became accustomed. Between her tastes and her gambling habit, she was high maintenance indeed.
Marie died at age twenty-three of consumption, and Charles Dickens who happened to be in town at the time of her funeral was reported to have said it was as if Joan of Arc was being buried.
One of her lovers “du couer” (as opposed to her paying customers) was the young Alexander Dumas fils. They were both eighteen at the time. Less than a year after she died, Dumas published his novel La Dame aux Camelias a fictionalized version of their story which became a bestseller, and the basis for a play he wrote later (in which Sarah Bernhardt toured for years)/ Verdi’s opera, La Traviata, was also based on story. Verdi changed the names of the fictional characters and had to set it a hundred years earlier as it was considered too scandalous a story to be set contemporaneously.
There are also several film versions including the one with Greta Garbo as the coughing heroine, which was of course sent up (as it should have been) on the old Carol Burnett show (and if around finds that on youtube, please send me the link.
As a fan of the opera, I was curious about the book. While it is considered a “classic,” it’s a slim volume and not one you’re likely to be assigned in a literature class. Certainly, Dumas fils was no Dumas père, and there’s something exploitative about it. While their affair may have involved all the passion of youth, it’s unlikely they meant Read the rest of this entry »