Monday, August 24, 2009

Dude, just let it go...

I'm a Wil Wheaton fan.

Seriously. Not just a Wil Wheaton but a Wesley Crusher fan, which I know puts me on the bottom rung of Star Trek: The Next Generation fans, just right above that mucus left behind by Denebian Slime Devils as they crawl across the ground.

For thems who haven't been out of their cave since the late 1980s, Wesley Crusher was the vicariously youthful representation of Gene Roddenberry on the aforementioned TV show. The child of the Chief Medical Officer (and later paramour of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, winkwink, nudgenudge say no more), Wesley was what producers thought every kid who watched Trek wanted to be - the local Brain Trust, pilot and general plot complication. It worked for maybe 2 episodes, then got silly, then got REALLY silly, then Wesley grew up, got laid, became angsty, then finally a time-traveling demigod and all was set right (at least in the Trek universe).

In reality, I think it was really a way for Gene to write himself into the show as this teenage wunderkind, helping all the incompetent adult officers by saving their collective asses on a weekly basis. Easily fifty of the brightest minds in the Federation Starfleet running the Big-E (not to mention a hideously intelligent android), and the Great Virgin of the Galaxy has to save them by pulling a non-oscillating neutron flow spin resonator out of his butt at minute 42:30.

On the heels of his casting in ST:TNG was the release of the film Stand By Me, based on a Stephen King novella (blogger's note: King's best work is always non-horror fiction--it's true--everyone writes him off as this cottage industry of weirdness, but author fellating aside, King does his best work writing about real people doing real things). SBM put Wil on the map so to speak, and while it was a landmark role for him, reading his blog and books puts forth the premise that even talented child stars who avoid the drugs, crime and general failboat driving still have trouble making it work in the industry as adults.

One common theme I read about in Wil's blogs and articles is his work on SBM. It's there often enough that to me, it gets a little annoying. It's a blog about his life, SBM was a big factor in his life, and I get that but really. It's in there even today, yet another recollection of a) how cool it was, b) what a change it made in his life and career and c) how his sense of wonder about the movie business still resonates with that feeling he had making SBM so many years ago.

Maybe I'm a bit distanced since I'm not an actor. I think back to what I took pride in at age 14 or 15 and it involved little more than rolling a good Dungeons and Dragons character and trying to picture what cup size Julie (the overdeveloped girl in my freshman class) would be in this week. At some point I guess I'd stop being nostalgic and try to use my current expertise to win roles. Reliving Trek on a weekly basis I get completely. It was a much larger chunk of his career, put him on equal footing with arguably one of the best actors of that generation, plus the Wes Crusher character is still topical; it is maligned and castigated to this very day by angry fanboys who feel it cheapened ST:TNG. Yes, going back on old classics is one thing, and I can understand why Scorsese and many others keep going back to films like The Godfather, or why George Lucas will always be judged by the first trilogy he did 30 years ago, but SBM...I don't hold it in the same category. Like the Jay and Silent Bob characters of Kevin Smith, sooner or later you need to let that ship just sail.

And also, not to be a preachy guy, but Wil, dude, count your blessings. Let's just do a rundown of those gentlemen from that film:
  • One died in a drug overdose outside of a nightclub, dead far too young given his talent.

  • The fat kid got skinny and procreated with Rebecca Romijin, arguably one of the hottest women on the planet, and it makes a helluva lot more sense than the Ocasek/Porizkova hookup. Now he's going to become an attorney (we hope) and not in some parallel universe where actors all eventually become lawyers, doctors and politicians.

  • The other two were in a series of teen films about vampires and romance, and both of them were on the rocks for years with drugs, booze, women and lack of options, finally opting out for a hideous reality show that was anything but.
You and Big Jer are definitely at the top of the heap in this one, no question. Roll with that and take pride in your current achievements. We all know what you had to go through to get there.

But then again, maybe I just had to BE there.

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