Star Trek: Discovery’s PR Disaster

I’ve always been a big Star Trek fan. I’ve been known at science fiction conventions as dressing up in my screen-authentic Kirk uniform, and have watched every Star Trek series at least twice, some more than that. Naturally, the Abrams film franchise came as a bit of a disappointment to me as it was certainly not the star trek of past– but a caricature, amplifying the “funny” elements of each character, and providing a reference/nostalgia film not unlike the poor remakes of comedies like the Brady Bunch. It was insulting to fans to say the least, and worse when the film Into Darkness was made with a non-sensical plot and bizarre choices like Spock fist-fighting atop a space ship.

Discovery’s launch announcement was clouded with the decision by Paramount to shut down fan films. Fan films had been carrying on the spirit of the original Star Trek, with people pouring in heavy investments into making their own episodes, not taking a profit, and just creating stories that other fans would like. They were getting so many views, and were so successful in their approach, that instead of doing something like monetizing these properties, Paramount went for full shutdown mode to “protect the brand”. Well, what follows is a sad state of devaluing a brand like I’ve rarely seen for a franchise.

Little info came out about ST:D. All we knew was that we would certainly have a strong, female lead — a requirement for any action film these days — and that the show runner said “we’re not sure what level of diversity” she would have. As if nothing mattered but how “diverse” a show looked. This was a bad sign right away because when a program starts talking about this, we as the audience know there’s nothing else being focused on and a poor-quality product is going to be produced that no one wants. See the video game Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Images of the ship came out — a use of something that was designed in the 70s, and it looks aesthetically terrible.

Then the show was delayed. They were supposed to put this out months ago, but CBS was worried about the quality — rightfully so — and so they went back and did some more work. I’m not privy to the internal workings, but I know that delays of this magnitude are rarely a good sign for end products in film.

Comic-Con ran the trailer of the film, and sure enough, what the audience saw was not Star Trek at all, but generic-dark-action-scifi. Like everything that’s come out the last decade, it looked like Game of Thrones in space, or a cheap Battlestar Galactica or Expanse knock off. Fans of all political persuasions scoffed at this — seeing that these creators had no reverence for the original properties by which they took the brand name, and ran with it from there. Don’t even get me started with the needless redesign of the Klingons. Oddly, Fox is putting out a parody show which actually appears more like real Star Trek than this. When the parody show does it better than you — you’ve got big trouble.

Then on Sunday, the actor who plays the captain of the new ship, a character named Lorca (not a great naming job either for that character), made the ultimate PR error. He admitted that the producers of this show don’t care about Star Trek in the least, and in fact, they disregard it. He told an interviewer in the New York daily news: 

“I don’t mean to sound irreverent when I say I don’t care about the die-hard Trek fans,” he told us at an event in Los Angeles. “I only ‘don’t care’ about them in the sense that I know they’re all going to watch anyway. I look forward to having the fun of them being outraged, so they can sit up all night and talk about it with each other.”

He’s taking an enterprising approach to the sci-fi franchise.

“It’s ‘Star Trek,’ but not as we know it,” he said. “There are places obviously where they’ve observed canon to do with things like uniforms and badges and stuff, but there are places where the rules of storytelling are reinvented.”

Well, he sounds irreverent in the least, and the most for that matter. The signal is clear that Star Trek fans are not supposed to like this — because this is not star trek. The storytelling is going to be vastly different than Star Trek, which was almost universally hailed as good and innovative, and now is going to be something fans don’t want. So who are these “new fans” they’re planning on capturing? As much as “you’ll watch it no matter what” condescension is there, Star Trek fans are not going to tune in for a couple of reasons: 1. it’s clearly a show that’s going to put a middle finger to what Star Trek is, while using the brand 2. it’s on a paid subscription service that no one’s using, and Star Trek fans are, I’ll be honest here, on the cheap side.

It’s a disaster. Saying this is a disaster. I don’t even know how ST:D recovers. There are no known cures. It sounds like it’d almost be better not to air the show for brand management at this point, and give Star Trek Continues a shoestring budget and let them make money on their own.

It gets worse in the article:

Isaacs says that the new “Star Trek” will be a reflection of our own world, which is something he has a hard time discussing with his own children right now.

Not only do they hate Star Trek, but they are saying this is going to be very heavy-handed, angry, dark political message fiction. Something useless to all of us in these times. The last thing we want in our escapist show about space ships and lasers. The show is about politics, nothing else, not even Star Trek. Dammit, Jim, It’s a sci-fi, not a political propaganda hour.

Who decided to greenlight this?

26 thoughts on “Star Trek: Discovery’s PR Disaster

  1. I’m one of the biggest Star Trek fans out there, but I’ve been very afraid they’re going to screw this up and politicize it. The more they release, the less interested I become. I’m probably not even going to watch it at this point.

  2. Jon said “I’ve always been a big Star Trek fan.”

    Then Jon said “they are saying this is going to be very heavy-handed, angry, dark political message fiction. […] The last thing we want in our escapist show about space ships and lasers.”

    Did you actually watch ST:TOS? Or ST:TNG??? TOS was the original Message Science Fiction hour for pity’s sake.

    If you really are “a big Star Trek fan”, you might like the Culture Novels by Ian M. Banks. Some of the best Space Opera there is.

    • @ryan

      Some serious gamma condescension you got going there, brah. You might as well put on some black robes and start screaming about heresy. It would be less arrogant.

      On topic: There is a huge difference between the “Message science fiction” of the past and the SJW corruption of today as well.

      • Fiction with a message and message fiction is how I like to put it. You can watch City on the Edge of Forever for beautiful characterization, cool concepts, great plot and tension and not look into underlying messages — you can’t watch Avatar without the SAVAGES GOOD, AMERICA BAD. Which is why one stands the test of time and the other doesn’t.

          • And military bad. I didn’t say I don’t agree mega-corporations bad. I just said the overt, lazy messaging was a movie killer.

          • What I took away was that “mercs employed by mega-corps = bad”.

            It’s been awhile, but I think it was also implied that at that point in the future, the only militaries remaining were “mercs employed by mega-corps”, so, your mileage may vary.

    • Nonono. There’s “Message Fiction” and then there’s “Fiction with a Message”.
      StarTrek:TOS was the latter most of the time, and TNG began similarly, but slid into the former in its latter years.

      The difference is in the heavy-handedness vs the story. TOS was almost always entertaining, but had some political/social commentary within it.

      From the sounds of it in that fella’s quote and what little we’ve seen, ST:D (which is absolutely the most ridiculously under-focus-grouped name in television history) plans on being grimdark, slap you around with it, political/social commentary with a little bit of sci-fi that just happens to occur.

      Not my cup of earl grey, f’shizzles for StarTrek. StarTrek wasn’t the pure fun of Buck Rogers (mmmm, Colonel Dearing), but it was generally fun and hopeful and that’s what fans liked about it.

      This new iteration is an abomination. It won’t get watched. It will fail. And it’ll likely be another twenty years until we get another shot at an entertaining StarTrek show.
      That is all.

      • “From the sounds of it in that fella’s quote and what little we’ve seen”

        “This new iteration is an abomination. It won’t get watched. It will fail.”

        Those two statements don’t follow. But either way, we’ll see. But keep an open mind. Star Trek could use some grimdark. Plus, it’s fun these days to see the right get triggered.

        • It’s also fun to see SJW-panderers like Feig fall down on their face. The triggering will be on the Left once this gets cancelled.

          • It won’t go beyond the first order unless this is such a red herring that people tune in for the train wreck and it’s sooooo fabulously off what they have been selling it as that it goes gangbusters. There’s also the aside fact that the platform is dumb too — hard to make money with an expensive show through that. You have to sell people to buy a service, not just watch a show. It’s a daunting prospect.

        • I’ll watch it. Star Trek is a utopian concept and so grimdarking it inherently makes it not star trek. There’s plenty of generic sci-fi dark action show to watch without wrecking a brand built on something else to do so.

          • IV??? I think we fundamentally disagree about so much that you couldn’t even begin to Venn diagram of our world views, but seriously, Star Trek IV??? WTF??? Was Superman III your favorite too??? 🙂

          • I’d say “double dumb ass on you”. But given the comment history here it wouldn’t be taken in the good fun it’s meant so I won’t 😉

    • Iain. A fabulously imaginative writer. I don’t think he’s my favorite, which I could dissect, but he put everything out there and did not hold back, unlike a lot of the more modern “realism” based books. His influence on the field is missed.

      I’ll ignore the whether i’m a TruFan of Trek or not nonsense. It’s not productive or useful. Like I haven’t heard it before. My screen authentic costumes say otherwise.

  3. “When you play Social Justice, the world loses.” — Injustice Gamer
    Ain’t that the truth.

    STD is Social Justice Fiction.
    Don’t mess with getting an STD; many of the ones today are fatal.
    This one looks no different.

    • I’ve already seen the tell-tale signs. The building pressure from Teh Left consists almost entirely of accusations of racism and insults in the form of a high-school jock screaming “NERD!!!”

      STD (how… appropriate) wasted the only character I liked – Michelle Yeoh – and the main character is so unlikeable and filled with fail, I honestly think the writers were channelling Hillary Clinton. No, really, I do.

      They don’t care that this is shite. They want power and this is just one more example of why they should be in charge and you should shut up.

      There’s an old joke that goes like this:
      Q:What’s the difference between a slut and a bitch?
      A: A slut will sleep with anyone. A bitch will sleep with anyone but you.

      It’s like that with the Left’s cries for ‘diversity’ in ST. Actual diversity means the best man/woman for the job. SJW ‘diversity’ means everyone gets a walk-on part but you – the straight white male fan.

  4. In other words, “We aren’t creative or good enough to create something new that can stand on it’s own, so we’re going to re-brand a classic and dupe you into watching.”

    Similar to generic ketchup. It may be like ketchup, but it’s not good.

  5. That last bit is kinda like what we’re seeing in Comics. “We’re going to make comics that people who don’t like comics are going to read, by abandoning all the things that make people who like comics read them.”

    They assume comic fans will keep reading these no-longer-comics, AND that comics haters will suddenly jump on the bandwagon because they’ve eliminated everything that made comics any good in the first place.

  6. Alt-Left is very retarded when it comes to culture. They need to adapt or get left out of the culture–I mean, can there even be a place for them in Civilization?

    STD is just gonna be Cancer. People just need to accept that ST has evolved — they need to accept that and drive on. I mean, it’s like … Current Year!

  7. My general opinion of NuTrek is I don’t hate it. I liked the three Pine movies and Into Darkness for the most part because it did have a message about warmongering and the War on Terror. However, I will say my biggest issue with Star Trek now is there’s no social commentary whatsoever and way too much lens flare. I’d be happy with the new series if they talked about society even in a tone deaf way (as Trek sometimes did).

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