Quick quiz: What is William Shatner's current full-time job?
A) Acting on TV's Boston Legal.
B) Complaining about not being in the new Star Trek movie.
The correct answer is A), but you'd be forgiven for thinking it was B). Ever since J.J. Abrams revealed last year that there was no place for Shatner as Captain Kirk in his upcoming franchise reboot, Shatner has whined about it to anyone who will listen, and frequently to those who won't. Last month, in an act that surely used up the last remaining shreds of his self-respect, Shatner posted a video on YouTube -- the lowest form of human communication -- complaining bitterly about being jilted.
Abrams' position all along has been that they wrote a flashback scene for Shatner, but it didn't feel quite right. Furthermore, Shatner had publicly said he wasn't interested in doing a mere cameo. Now, in the YouTube video, Shatner confirms his non-interest in cameos, then whines that nobody ever offered him one anyway.
Why should they have offered it, Shat? So you could say no? To quote something you once said in a legendary SNL sketch, GET A LIFE.
The first problem with Shatner's Kirk appearing in the new Star Trek is that Shatner's Kirk is dead. He died in Star Trek: Generations. Shatner insists this is no problem. "I brought him back to life in one of my books very easily," he said.
Oh, really, Tolstoy? You managed to find a way to bring YOUR character back from the dead in a book YOU wrote? I haven't read the book in question, but pardon me for being skeptical of the notion that whatever dramatic device you used didn't really just boil down to "I'm too much of an egomaniac to let my character stay dead."
The film obviously cannot bring Kirk back from the dead just for a cameo (and Shatner doesn't want a cameo anyway). A major event like that would require multiple scenes to prevent it from looking like a cheap stunt -- it would almost have to become the central focus of the movie. And that's what Shatner apparently wanted anyway: not a cameo, but a core, integral role. In a movie that takes place when Shatner's character is in his 20s. Yeah, genius, sounds perfect. This is like flabby, decrepit Adam West bitching about not being asked to star in Tim Burton's Batman.
But I don't think Kirk's deceased status is the best reason not to include Shatner in the new film. Even if Kirk were alive and well, Shatner should be excluded because Shatner is a walking punch line, an embarrassing self-parody who long ago gave up the final vestiges of his dignity as an actor.
Shatner seems to have embraced his status as a kitsch icon, a campy, cheesy actor who regularly makes fun of himself. And good for him for seeing the writing on the wall. But the consequence of that is that NOBODY TAKES YOU SERIOUSLY. You are a joke. You have no place in a serious movie about serious characters. Putting Shatner in the new Star Trek would be like trying to make a serious biopic of George H.W. Bush but casting Dana Carvey as the lead.
So this is my message to you, Shatner: Shut up and get back to work. People who want to watch your hammy, self-aware comic exertions know where to find you. Let the rest of us enjoy our sleek, futuristic new Star Trek in peace and quiet.
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Eric D. Snider (website) urges you not to even get him started on George Takei.