William Shatner defended his 35-year-old sketch from SNL.
Rod Roddenberry, the son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, isn’t a fan of the Saturday Night Live sketch entitled “Get a Life”, where William Shatner has a meltdown on Star Trek fans who are obsessed with him and his work. It was played for laughs, and despite the sketch being 35 years old, Rod Roddenberry was none too pleased with it recently.
Shatner, however, wants Roddenberry to know he isn’t bothered by something that happened in 1986, pointing out that Roddenberry is looking at something from 1986 through today’s lenses. Shatner points out that Roddenberry is engaging in ‘presentism‘, where one looks at historical events through the modern gauge to pass judgment.
While Roddenberry is right that the sketch wasn’t exactly a positive portrayal of Star Trek fans, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an honest portrayal of fans, at least at the time.
Even now Shatner’s words from that sketch have merit. The number of people who get so upset so invested or so abusive over a show that it causes them to dive into extremism is at an all-time high. Be it Star Trek, Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or what have you; the increase in obsession among fanbases has only ticked up. Say the wrong thing at the wrong time and people will come after you on social media, or try to do things like “SWATing” you, or even attempt to find out where you live to harm you.
Even moderate fans have become very combative. Criticisms are often met with remarks like “you just aren’t smart enough to get it then”, or “then you’re not a real fan”, and this isn’t new. This is stuff that Shatner himself has had to go through in his life. That sketch may have struck a nerve but that’s usually only because it’s got a glimmer of truth to it.
Personally, I don’t find the sketch funny, but humor is subjective. That doesn’t mean that I think it’s too harsh either. Even in the ’80s, celebrities were stalked by fans occasionally and had their lives upended. In the SNL sketch, one of the “fans” knew that Shatner’s horse had given birth before he did. How many times have Shatner or other celebrities had to deal with people just like that?
In a lot of ways, it feels like Roddenberry is making excuses for the awful behavior that some in the fanbase exhibit. Like a parent saying “NOT MY CHILD!” when their child is accused of something.
For Shatner to do the sketch, it had to be cathartic in a lot of ways.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t dislike Star Trek or the fans, but sometimes you just need to get something off your chest.
William Shatner nailed the presentism in Rod Roddenberry’s critique
More to Shatner’s point of presentism, Roddenberry is absolutely in his right to not like the sketch, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t looking at it as Shatner described. In the 80s, it was culturally acceptable to poke fun of the nerd. That doesn’t make it right or wrong now, it’s simply a statement of how things were.
More from News
- Rod Roddenberry is trying to obtain the missing Enterprise model
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Dr. McCoy’s medical tricorder becomes reality
- We now know for sure what killed Star Trek 4’s production
- Star Trek’s streaming home, Paramount+, isn’t satisfying fans
- The Writer’s Guild Strike is all but over but Star Trek won’t resume work anytime soon
So to be this upset about it all these years later, it’s rather silly. Shatner is among the most interactive celebrities in the world and clearly values his fans. He’s just not going to let some of the more entitled and abusive ones go unchecked. That’s not a bad thing at all. Being a fan doesn’t mean you have a right to someone’s privacy or life.
Nor should it be the only thing in your world that gives you happiness. I love Star Trek, but if I don’t like something about it, I don’t spend my entire day ranting and raving about it. I have other interests and other hobbies. Being a fan doesn’t mean you have to be fanatical, even if one came from the other.
Shatner’s words, at least the essence of them, still ring true today; don’t get so angry over a franchise. If you don’t like something, that’s ok. if you do like something, that’s ok too.