Remember when sci-fi movies were about blowing up aliens and attacking Godzilla? Those days are gone, my friend. Thanks to Battlestar Galactica and District 9, the genre now exists to please the intelligentsia. The latest victim, the Star Trek sequel.
While some attributed the lightness and hope of this summer's successful Star Trek reboot to residual post-Obama good feelings, it was really just a classic genre pic, with zoom around the galaxy, sword fights, explosions and time travel. Not so for the sequel. Re-creator J.J. Abrams, who is writing the script with Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, says their sophomore effort needs a message.
The ambition for a sequel to 'Star Trek' is to make a movie that's worthy of the audience and not just another movie, you know, just a second movie that feels tacked on...There needs to be relevance, yes, and that doesn't mean it should be pretentious. If there are simple truths—truths connected to what we live—that elevates any story—that's true with any story."
Orci echos his sentiments and says that they're looking for the right issue to base the second movie around.
We got a lot of fan response from the first one and a considerable amount of critical response and one of the things we heard was, ‘Make sure the next one deals with modern-day issues.' We're trying to keep it as up-to-date and as reflective of what's going on today as possible. So that's one thing, to make it reflect the things that we are all dealing with today.
Just as Battlestar used a bunch of humans wandering through space to tell a story about the Iraq war and religion and D9 shed a new light on apartheid, racism, and awesome alien space suits, Star Trek now wants in on the contemporary allegory racket. We must say that is pretty rad. We love to blow shit up, but when you blow shit up with purpose, you get the thrill of blowing shit up, but don't have the residual guilt of watching something totally idiotic. The way aliens heads explode when you run over them with a warthog in Halo can be like, a metaphor for the way people's head explode when they are run over by a tank in the Middle East. Or something like that.
There are a few other properties out there that could use some similar intellectual gussying up if their writers ever want to get the time of day at the Soho House. Here some suggestion of how a little well-placed subtext can rescue these shows, and their crews, from their own stupidity:
The Hills:Discussing whether to help Kristen throw her birthday party, Audrina tells Heidi that there isn't room for enough people at the club. They tell her the only solution is for her to to decide who isn't allowed in the club and murder them when the place is overcrowded.
Metaphor: The health care debate and death panel misinformation.
Gossip Girl: Blair finds that putting on her headband makes her feel great and tingly all over. When she wants to buy more headbands, she discovers they are illegal and that the U.S. government is in a long, protracted, and expensive battle to keep headbands out of the country and off the streets. She becomes an advocate to free all the headbands and starts a march that has lots of bongos, puppets, and hacky sacking.
Metaphor: The war on drugs and efforts to legalize marijuana.
Family Guy: Peter's stupid conservative neighbors tell him that their dog Brian was not really born in America, but in Kenya, and they claim to have the kennel papers to prove it. If what they say is true, then Peter must put his dog down and then burn him in the public square while walking counterclockwise around the flames to prevent the spirits of evil from invading the country. He doesn't know who to believe.
Metaphor: The Birther movement.
Man Vs. Wild: While out in the wild, Bear Grylls meets an aimless Sherpa. The two fall madly in love. Bear brings the Sherpa home, but everyone denies their love and won't let them get married. They even go so far as the pass a law that forbids reality show hosts from marrying Tibetans. Everyone is really sad.
Metaphor: The gay marriage debate.
Wheel of Fortune: Every time a contestant wins the jackpot, he is given a trip to Guantanamo Bay! It's such a great vacation that they can't tell anyone what happens there or when they're going to be back. But while they are there, they get to enjoy lots of activities that include water. Now they wish they had picked Z, X, Q, and U for their extra letter, then they never would have guessed the puzzle.