12 June 2008

Confession Time

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge Star Trek nerd. I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of seemingly all things Trek (no matter how hard I try to forget Nemesis, or every meta-muta-hyper-allo-genic particle Voyager ever spat out). It doesn't go so far as specific ratings of different types of phasers, but I do know that there are different types, and can somewhat reliably name them on sight.
You get my point.

This is not my confession.

This is: I don't hate Wesley Crusher (anymore). I used to. I loathed him. Likely to be trendy, but just as likely out of jealousy, or maybe because of some part of myself I saw in that rainbow-sweatered space nerd. But now I respect him.
It was the late 80s and since I'm old enough to have remembered when there was just Kirk et al on TV and only 3 movies, this "The Next Generation" thing was really cool. It still is really cool as I watch the re-runs that look like they've been cleaned up for their run on Sci Fi. There was the Enterprise, and a captain and hot alien chicks, and cool science fiction stuff and this nerd kid.
Was I supposed to identify with him?
The big thing back then were newsgroups. One I recall is "alt.wesley.die.die.die". There was little love in the fan base for the ensign with the MILFy Doctor for a mom. I didn't post, but I knew it existed. And I thought it was funny, and maybe just a little bit on spot.
But why? As evidenced, it was trendy to hate this kid who felt shoe-horned into the productions. He was Voyager's deus-ex Deflector before Geordi had ever re-routed anything to the deflector (that's another nerd post for another day). I admit that at times I get swept up in the flow of things.
Plus, I was jealous. Why'd HE get to fly a Starship, hang out with Ensign Leffler, and go to Starfleet Academy?! (Yes, I knew it wasn't real) This was likely part of the equation.
Finally, I think I saw something of myself in him. I think all the nerds did. Nerds who were nerds before there were "geeks". We likely knew the Enterprise layout as well as Wesley did, and if your VCR was good enough, you knew the command sequences. My VCR wasn't that good, but if it had been...I mean, we didn't have cable, so I had to engineer a large antenna array to pick up a weak UHF signal out of distant PA to watch my Star Trek. Something Wesley would have done with 2 isolinear chips and a few microns of Anti-matter.
Which is why we hated him, why I maybe hated him, because he was me, or at least it would have been me if I lived in the 24th century and my mom was a doctor and my dad had died when I was 5. But he faded out of the series, I went away to college, and life became Life.
Years passed and I still love me some Trek; yes, even Voyager, and not just because of 7 of 9.
I stumbled on wilwheaton.net and Wil's ongoing series of articles / reviews of old TNG episodes from his (hilarious) persepective --if you want the link to the articles, you can google or you can comment and then I'll share them--. And then I realized that I didn't hate Wesley, or by some weird extension, "Space Nerd" Wil Wheaton. Underneath my pubescent loathing there was a spark of "I can do that too, just watch me!" Not enough to work for NASA or anything, but I'm doing okay, thank you very much.
I recently read his web-log posting where he depicted the telephone conversation with (now deposed Trek producer) Rick Berman, wherein Mr. Berman informs Mr. Wheaton that his scene has been cut from ST: Nemesis. In reading that I remembered thinking how neat it would be to see Young Wesley again getting a few lines of dialog. What had he been up to since fading into Space Time with the "Traveller" (seriously, creepy vibes all over from that guy)? Where was he headed? The rest of the plot was, in a word, bad, so this brief interlude would have made for a campfire moment, a la ST:V. Instead, well, the less said about Nemesis the better.
So thank you, Wil Wheaton, for having the cojones to be Wesley.

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