I was flipping through the channels on the TV the other night and stumbled across Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
It got me to thinking about standards.
God that is a terrible movie. Hands down the worst of the Star Trek movies. (And if you’re thinking to yourself that there’s only one Star Trek movie, go wipe your nose and change your diaper, kiddo, and delve into the ancient history known as the 80s, or even better, the 60s too.) Now I’m not about to rank the Star Trek movies and then justify those rankings here. Not what I want to blog about.
(But it’s II, VI (a very close second), IV, III, I, V, in case you were curious.)
I remember seeing that movie in the theater, leaving it pretty steamed, and then reading people’s impressions on the internet (yes, the internet existed back then – we had these awesome things called newsgroups – look them up). And a comment one chump made has hung with me all these years. It was something to the effect of:
“As a movie, it was terrible, but as an extended TV episode, it was pretty decent.”
No, no, and no.
What the hell? It sucked. Period. As a movie, as a TV show, as a concept in some fan-fic’ers imagination. It blew multicolored chunks, which in turn squeezed out multicolored turds, which turned around, fed on each other, and blew even more multicolored chunks.
No amount of spin can change that fact.
But this comment raises an interesting question. Are all Star Trek fans loyal to the franchise to the point of idiocy? Yes, they are. Well, some of them, anyway. And I say this as a huge fanboi, so stop trying to cram me into a red shirt and put those phasers down.
A more interesting question is this: what (differing) standards do we hold our types of entertainment to? Can a terrible book be a half decent novella? A burst hemorrhoids of a short story an avant garde poem? Or, conversely, can a brilliant novel be a horrible movie?
Scratch that last one – it happens all the time.
The thing is, some people seem to have relative standards, which makes no sense to me.
(Pirates of the Caribbean IV fans claiming Jonny Depp made it worth sitting through, I’m talking to you!)
A story is a story, no matter the format. And it’s awesomesauce, fecal stew, or somewhere in-between. I don’t see how the presentation of a story to the reader/listener/viewer can change that simple fact.
The plot is tight, clever, and coherent, or it isn’t. The characters engaging, entertaining, and complex, or flat and uninteresting. The setting well-crafted, adroitly portrayed, or implausible and phoned in. How can the format of the story have any impact on the quality?
Seriously? Am I missing something? Because in my youth I managed to write a whole bunch of short stories, poems, and novel rough drafts so awful that they could be used in the Cthulhu mythos to summon terrible, ancient evils that would end our tiny, insignificant world. If switching the format can transform them into awesome, angel-summoning cash machines, I wanna know it.
Also, because in my universe, Star Trek V sucked no matter how you looked at it (unless you were lucky enough NOT to look at it). As a huge fan, if there is a way to view that movie and not want to gnaw my own leg off as a distraction, I want to know it. Need to know it.
So do you use different standards depending on the medium of the work in question?