Any of you who have been frequenting my Facebook page of late will have noticed an abundance of content related to this man:
The other day at work, my good friend Kim Blaides commented on this bizarre obsession I seem to have with this man and I suddenly realised “By the Suns of Warvan, she’s right!”
So naturally, I decided that it was about time I devoted an entire blog post to the man.
The biggest and most obvious reason I like William Shatner is because I like Star Trek. Well no, I kind of love Star Trek. I always found it more fascinating, accessible and thought-provoking than most other stories about space ships and lasers (especially that other one…). Among other things, there was just something really uplifting about the idea that humanity would eventually find a way out of the ongoing strife and war that dominates our planet and continue expanding into the rest of the universe by choosing to devoting our lives to betterment rather than the acquisition of material trivialities. Most science fiction chooses the grim, gritty, apocalypse scenario and that just gets exhausting. I also loved the minute, almost ridiculous attention to detail that Star Trek had (especially in The Next Generation) in terms of its technology and its politics. Again, it’s just so immersive, it feels real. Even in spite of the dated special effects and some of the stiffer acting. That’s why it’s so heart-breaking when the franchise fails as epically as it has done over the years.
Anyway, right at the heart of Star Trek is its most celebrated starship Captain. There’s never been anyone else like him. As well as encountering the usual bunch of bizarre spacial phenomena, violently aggressive alien beings and self-replicating furballs, Captain Kirk just had an aura of epicery about him that hasn’t been equalled by any of the other captains. Patrick Stewart’s Picard came darn close and is certainly a more well-developed and written character, but there’s just something supernatural about Kirk and the charisma he carries. People accuse Shatner of over-acting in the role (as well as saying Each. And. Every. Word. As. If. It's. Its. Own. Sentence.) and let’s face it, he probably was…
…but how can you not love him for it? Throughout the three short seasons of Star Trek, Shatner remains utterly watchable and fascinating, thanks in no small part to these two men:
The intense Bromosexuality between Shatner/Kirk and his two right-hand-men is and was the highlight of Star Trek. When all is said and done, their ever-enduring friendship is the shining highlight of the franchise. The towering inferno of hilarious awfulness that is the afore-linked fifth movie (which was directed by Shatner himself) is almost single-handedly saved by a handful of characterisation scenes between these three men that are probably definitive in that regard.
Anyway, back to Shatner.
In the 1960s, he was heavily criticised for being a massive, self-indulgent diva. His ego became so inflated that he ended up thinking that a side-dish career of spoken-word song covers might be a good idea.
He clearly had lost the plot.
At this point you’re probably thinking “You still haven’t really explained why you’re so fascinated with him.”
The reason, my Furious Fans, is that he gets it. He really, really gets it. Unlike other actors famous for their self-indulgent divatude, Shatner revels in it, he bathes in it, he’s practically revamped his career by embracing it. He knows how amused people are by his outward ridiculousness but instead of trying to hide under a veil of seriousness, he makes overblown WarCraft ads where he uses unlikely colloquialisms, he posts intimate video logs about his personal thoughts and opinions and most importantly at all…
…he has brought his music career to a level unforeseen by man, God or Chuck Norris himself.
I should mention the new Star Trek movie.
The movie, for me, while extremely fun and engrossing, lost any of the depth or futuristic wonderment Trek is supposed to have. It was all fast-paced, flashy action, flying in the face of the tense, slow-building tension which has always been the staple of Star Trek.
The film was saved by its perfect casting, however, and this is mainly because of relatively unknown Chris Pine as a younger Jim Kirk.
The reason for this however isn’t because Pine plays James T. Kirk really well. Pine’s Kirk bears little resemblance to his television counterpart.
The real reason Pine succeeds is because he’s playing William Shatner. Everything about his performance celebrates the awesomeness of Shatner’s career and general badassery, to the point where you aren’t distracted by the new actor at all. He’s managed to pay tribute to the original actor while making the role his own at the same time, something that’s very hard to do.
Hopefully my fascination will make a little bit more sense to those of you who were, until now, dazed, confused and irritated by my constant referencing of him. The man is an Action Badass in the most realistic sense of the word. Everything he does and says is interesting, be it entirely serious or steeped in silliness. This picture sums William Shatner up better than any other picture possibly could.
This article has been heavy on links and YouTube embeds, so in the spirit of that, I’ll leave you with what has become (in the short time that it has existed), my favourite Internet mash-up video, ever.
BONUS FEATURE: There's no way I can make a tribute to William Shatner without posting a link to his most famous scene.