Sometimes I think there’s an unexpected value in relating to pop culture on a wholly personal level. For example, there are pretty much just two things from the past 50 years of media that shaped my ethics and worldview: the anti-capitalist, but otherwise almost entirely separate, phenomena of Star Trek and punk.
The above GIF shows the brief few seconds when those worlds improbably collided in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The story was conceived of and directed by Leonard Nimoy (RIP) and involves the protagonists travelling back in time to then-present-day San Francisco to rescue whales, who had been hunted to extinction. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Spock (played by Nimoy) gives a Vulcan nerve pinch to a punk who is loudly playing music from a boom box on the bus. It’s exactly the kind of camp 80s-era Star Trek pulled off so well.
The song was actually written by the film’s associate producer Kirk Thatcher, who recorded the song with the band Edge of Etiquette, which was formed specifically to make this music for the movie. Thatcher also played the punk guy. In the context of a movie about time travel to reverse an ecological disaster, the lyrics are actually pretty smart:
Just where is our future, the things we’ve done and said!
Let’s just push the button, we’d be better off dead!
‘Cause I hate you!
And I berate you!
And I can’t wait to get to you!
The sins of all our fathers, being dumped on us – the sons.
The only choice we’re given is how many megatons?
And I eschew you!
And I say, screw you!
And I hope you’re blue, too.
So when I watch a film like Star Trek: Beyond (which was directed by the guy who made The Fast and the Furious movies about cars exploding, and began production before a script was actually written) I find myself asking “Just where is our future?” For those who haven’t seen the film, don’t bother. The “plot” involves a bunch of sexy rebooted characters blasting The Beastie Boys to somehow blow up CGI aliens in order to save Space Dubai. It’s probably the dumbest possible encore “punk” could make in the Star Trek universe. Don’t even get me started on that horrible Rihanna marketing shtick…
JJ Abrams, Justin Lin, and all others responsible for the desecration of Star Trek, I have one message for you: