There has been a degree of outrage over the potential of an R-Rated Quentin Tarantino helmed Star Trek movie, with some even calling for it to be pre-ordained as a non-canon outing.
Regardless of the backlash, of this movie is made it must be considered canon.
The first and most overlooked fact by those who are upset by this potential project is that Tarantino is not just a ‘Hard R’ director being courted to make a Star Trek movie, he is a Star Trek fan who has actively pursued the idea of making his own entry in the franchise. He comes to the table with a love and reverence for Star Trek that we have rarely seen in the previous directors of the franchise.
For as long as there have been Star Trek movies they have been helmed by men who have not fit these criteria, beginning with The Motion Picture, which was directed by Robert Wise, who had at that point only seen a few episodes of the series and had to be given a dozen to watch by the studio before filming,
"Eisner announced that Academy Award-winning director Robert Wise would direct a film adaptation of the television series titled Star Trek—The Motion Picture. Wise had seen only a few Star Trek episodes, so Paramount gave him about a dozen to watch.–Wikipedia"
By the time they were ready for a second entry the franchise had been handed over to producer Harve Bennett, who had never seen an episode and began watching the series in preparation for the project, luckily for fans Harve saw the potential in Khan and pursued development of a movie with him as the villain, he then hired Nicholas Meyer who had also never seen an episode of the series, fortunately the two managed a movie that almost always features in the top two, if not flat out number one spot in fans hearts.
We started with non-fans, surely the rest were all helmed by die-hard fans right?
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By The Search for Spock Nicholas Meyer wanted nothing to do with the franchise anymore and Leonard Nimoy was tapped to direct, this marked the first time the series had a director who had seen the show, but it was also Nimoy’s first time directing a theatrical feature film. He would also direct The Voyage Home, and thanks to a clause in their contracts that cemented William Shatner as the director of The Final Frontier.
With the financial and critical failure of The Final Frontier and several poor ideas leading to a shakeup on the production side Nicholas Meyer was convinced to return for The Undiscovered Country.
By the time The Next Generation movies rolled around the franchise appeared to have learned their lesson, tapping TNG veteran director David Carson for the first, Jonathan Frakes for First Contact and Insurrection.
Unfortunately they lost that momentum with Nemesis when Stuart Baird, who was not only not a Star Trek fan, but also seemed to have somewhat of a disdain for it, and it showed in the final product. Most recently the Kelvin timeline was created by a Star Wars fan in J.J. Abrams who was courted for his vision and ability as opposed to his alignment. Fortunately we had a bit of a bounce back with Justin Lin who has been a lifelong fan but got a bit of a bad shake on the marketing.
That’s six out of thirteen directed by non-fans, and three more directed by actors who we can say have had mixed feelings at times about the franchise.
Not exactly what you’d expect is it?
"I’m definitely a fan of the original series… in particular a fan of William Shatner’s. That’s my key into the series – William Shatner.– Quentin Tarantino on The Nerdist Podcast"
Tarantino is a Star Trek fan.
It’s been well documented for years prior to the actual possibility of Tarantino directing a Star Trek movie that he has been a fan all his life, more so of The Original Series than The Next Generation era, but a fan none the less. So when we’re faced with a fan wanting to bring his own Oscar Award Winning style and his own passion to a movie franchise that’s in desperate need of a creative kick-in-the-butt how can anyone ask that he be pre-judged as non-canon?
Star Trek The Original Series: The Gamesters of Triskelion
Besides that an R-Rating can mean a number of things, granted we have a large sample size of work from Tarantino to tell us that he is definitely what you would have to call a Hard-R director, he doesn’t tip toe across the line. But an R generally means Violence, Nudity/Sexuality, Mature Themes/Substance abuse, and Course Language.
ALL of those things are in Star Trek already.
Doubt it? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.
Kirk regularly beat the crap out of aliens, that is when he wasn’t in knife fights.
In The Next Generation we watched Commander Remmick explode in Conspiracy, we saw Data strangle a Borg, and many other examples.
Deep Space Nine featured war with a pair of dictatorships, and themes of slavery, genocide and terrorism.
Do I need to continue?
Star Trek already has violence.
Star Trek The Original Series – The Cage / The Menagerie Part II
Nudity and Sexuality
Does anyone remember Orion Slave Girls? This is literally from the very first episode of Star Trek, The Cage, and these animal like highly sexualized slave girls continue to appear in the universe. By the third episode of Star Trek The Next Generation we already knew that Data was fully functional with the highly suggestive scene he shared with Tasha Yar.
Do we need to talk about the “uniform” worn by Counselor Troi? How bout the skin-suits worn by the likes of Seven of Nine?
Ok then let’s just talk about quarantine, after all before the invention of bio filters the crew of the Enterprise had to wait in quarantine after returning from an away mission. Sitting alone in a boring room with nothing to do…. oh wait, let’s get them naked and have them rub oil on each-other instead.
Make no mistake about it, Star Trek has nudity and sexuality, maybe not full frontal, but for its time it has always pushed that particular envelope.
Mature Themes / Substance Abuse
I don’t need pictures for this one do I?
The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine literally had bartenders on staff. Voyager, Enterprise and Discovery have all had scenes with alcohol abuse.
And The Original Series…. Well….
So let’s agree it has alcohol.
Let me guess, you’re damn sure Star Trek has no cursing before Tilly’s F-Bomb.
There’s a trick to this one, in that they absolutely weren’t allowed to swear on TV, well except in Klingon, but that hardly counts. But let’s remember for a moment that the language we use today and consider tame wasn’t the same fifty years ago, and Star Trek has pushed that particular envelope all along, from McCoy’s use of son-of-a-b***h to his borderline racist rants about that damn green blooded Vulcan to Scotty telling the damn computer ‘Up your-shaft’ to Spock saying they aren’t the hell your whales.
Captain’s Janeway and Sisko use damn and hell just about every fifth word, showing an increase in the use of this sort of language. Obviously we know Tilly dropped an F-Bomb on Discovery. So to a degree the use of curses, of course language, has always been there.
And let’s never forget what caption goes with this image:
Star Trek Generations Data ‘OOOOOOH, $***!!!!!’
Make no mistake about it, the elements are there.
Don’t get me wrong, nothing in Star Trek so far has deserved an R-Rating, but let’s not pretend the elements haven’t all been there at one point or another, and whether you agree with them or not they are a part of the franchise. Even if they weren’t each new iteration has introduced something completely new and even unique, whether it’s an Android, a war, a new species or another piece of the final frontier the franchise has had to reinvent and grow all along, who’s to say Tarantino’s vision of what it can be next is any less valid than yours?
Whether R or G, Tarantino must be canon. If you don’t like it, you can skip it. I for one want to see it before judging it and freaking out about it… That’s if it even gets made.