Galaxy Quest (1999) – Dean Parisot

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The 101 Sci-Fi Movies list (can you believe I’m almost done with this one?!?) brings me this brilliant science fiction comedy starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell.

Airing in the late 70s early 80s the show Galaxy Quest garnered a huge fanbase (in a clear homage to Star Trek). The show featured the heroic crew of the NSEA starship NTE-3120 (NTE stands for Not The Enterprise) Protector, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) as Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, Alexander Dane (Alan RIckman) as his science officer the alien, Dr. Lazarus, Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) is computer officer Lt. Tawny Madison. Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) is Tech Sergeant Chen, the ship’s engineer and young Laredo (Corbin Bleu in the show/Daryl Mitchell when he grew up) is the pilot.

Their heyday has passed but due to the show’s popularity they still frequent cons, and store openings, and it is this con where we join them, and they are in turn joined by Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell) who played a no-name character who got killed off in an episode before the first commercial, your generic red shirt. Despite the fact that most of his fellow castmates don’t like him (for stealing the best lines, cutting them out of episodes), they all admit he knows the show backwards and forwards, and always takes time with his fans.

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That is until an odd group of silver suited folks show up, led by Malthesar (Enrico Colantoni - who created the brilliant and unusual way that he speaks), Teb (Jed Rees) Quellek (Patrick Breen) and Laliari (Missi Pyle) show up. Nesmith mistakenly assumes they are a group of fans that he’s supposed to meet and do a private function with, but that is actually super-fan Brandon (Justin Long).

It seems these folks are actual aliens, who believe the television show is an actual recorded event, and have come to Earth to seek the help of this most famous crew to save their race from the evil Sarris (Robin Sachs), who was designed by the late and sorely missed Stan Winston and his studios.

What follows, as each of the cast members learn what is really going on, is a hilarious take on fandom, science fiction television shows and the good and bad featured in them.

They board the actual Protector, and have to learn to work together more so than they ever did for the show, and the stakes are so much higher than ratings. In the end, it’s the fans who help save the day due to their knowledge and love of the original series, and that speaks to the heart of fandom – the love and knowledge of a television show. It’s brilliant when Nesmith reveals to Brandon that it’s all real, his reaction is something I always wished I could so with Star Trek or Star Wars.

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There are injokes a plenty, sly little nods to archetypes, clichés, and well-known films and shows. It pokes fun, but pays homage to the fans who love these shows, and is also full of heart.

I saw this movie in the theater, loved it, and was delighted to learn that upon its initial release to DVD there was an alternate audio track, completely in the original Thermian – I’d be damned if I could understand it, but it was AWESOME!!

But that’s the point of the movie, it’s awesome, it’s funny, the gags are brilliant (miner vs minor), and it always reminds us to…

“Never give up… Never Surrender!”

Fellow Questarians, what is your favorite moment in the film?

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FANomenon (2013) – Lynne Carter

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Premiering this evening on Global as part of a new series called Obsessions, is this fascinating documentary about fandom, and the revelation of one of the largest driving forces behind it, women. This shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing as Bjo Trimble, a female fan, was one of the major fan forces in helping classic Star Trek stay on the air, with letter writing campaigns.

The documentary explores all areas of fandom, from cosplay to collectors to fan-fiction. It’s a rather sad state that it’s guys who get talked about the most when it comes to fans, because, as the show illustrates, a majority of fans are actually middle-aged professional women.

While bouncing around conventions, the doc also follows around Suzie Beckner.

Beckner is a fan of Stargate: Atlantis, specifically the actor Joe Flanigan who played John Sheppard. She collects his action figures, has his pics, runs a fan forum, and writes fan-fiction about the character and the show. She lives in rural America with her two sisters, in a small town, a place she’s never left. Her only interaction with fellow fans has been online…

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But when an opportunity finally presents itself to not only attend a convention, but to meet Flanigan, Suzie makes the journey of a lifetime.

Carter and her fellow filmmakers have made an objective and honest look at the world of fandom, the good and the bad, and in the world of fans, there is plenty of both.

I’ve been a genre fan for as long as I can remember, from that first time I saw Jaws, to the moment when Star Wars blew my mind, when the first episode I ever saw of Star Trek changed my life that Saturday morning, I’ve seen the obsessive fan, and I’ve seen the casual fan.

This doc looks at both kinds, using Suzie’s journey and her experiences as a window for the viewer. We get to see the people who helped create these fans, strong female and male actors, and their characters.

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It has always amazed me that the strongest female characters to be found in film and television have always been genre characters, intelligent, strong women who give viewers both female and male something to look up to. This is something I still haven’t seen lots of in the ‘mainstream.’ It’s no wonder that so many people, gravitate to genres and embrace them as passionately as they have. They inspire, lead, and fire the imagination. And they have fans because we identify with them, recognize a part of ourselves, or something we want to be.

So it’s time for geek girls and fan boys to learn to share fandom, recognizing that we all bring a love for something to the table, and celebrate it together.

Carter’s film is fun, captivating and honestly, I could have watched a full two hours of it, going into a deeper exploration of the world of fans, their obsessions, their interests, and who they are, because of them.

FANomenon airs this evening on Global as the inaugural episode of Obsessions… what’s yours?

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Fandom’s Underbelly – A Hive of Scum & Villainy.

Fandom.

I always thought it was supposed to be about a shared love of something. Meeting others who had some of the same passions and interests as you, and bonding over those common appetites.

And while this can be true, a lot of the times, this is also just a surface view. Underneath in the deeper waters of fandom, run people thinking they’re the bigger fish in this ocean of big fish.

I’ve seen it get uglier than I thought it could, over something that everyone involved in is supposed to love.

There are websites, forums, chat rooms, twitter feeds all dedicated to these shared loves.

Despite that it always seems to be a free-for-all with people attempting to show that they know more, love the characters more, indulging their own self-importance and delusions to make themselves into some towering super-fan who we general fans should be bowing down to in thanks and awe.

I personally don’t understand it.

I’m not a (and here’s a word I hate to describe any fan) “hardcore” fan in any of my fandoms. I love my Doctor Who, Sherlock, Quantum Leap, Trek, Wars, Lost Girl, Thrones, Bond, Potter, Indiana Jones, X-Men, Superman, Batman, etc. ad infinitum, but I don’t wrap my life up in it and then have to go around showing people how much better I am than them for the way I love these things.

Yet, people not only do that, but they also see it as necessary to tear down things as well, instead of promoting them. Or if it doesn’t appeal to them, despite being about something they ‘love’, not talking about it all.

The amount of people I hear complaining about the way conventions are run, or that there are two differing conventions scheduled on or around the same time (You know what? Pick the one that is the most important to you, go to that one, and engage in it! Have the time of your life! Be happy with where you are, not tearing down the fact that you didn’t get to go to the other one as well. Life is about choices, make yours, and live with it).

I didn’t get to go to a single convention until I moved to TO. I never had the cash, nor transpo to get across the country. So when I got here, and got to attend my first FanExpo, I was agog and enjoyed every moment of it. And that is how I like to go into my conventions, hope, excitement, and ignoring those other ‘fans’ who just seem to be going to make it all about themselves, complaining about lines, how they didn’t get to ask their fave celebrity a question in their Q&A, and making sure that everyone knows how miserable they are, and how much better it was last year.

Now, while I am all for the constant improvement of the convention-going experience, it doesn’t help my current experience if all you’re going to do is whine about what a terrible time you’re having. You know what? Don’t come.

Events like conventions are designed to make money, I get that. Yes, it’s a cynical view, but it doesn’t have to be a cynical experience. So why then do people lament the fact that the guest they really wanted to come wasn’t asked or couldn’t make it? You know what? Instead of throwing the tantrum of a two year old, why don’t you look at all the other things that the convention has going on. And you know what, if you don’t like it, please do us all a favor and DON’T COME.

Sue had an experience with Booster when they were trying to organize the 2nd Flanvention. She threw in her support whole-heartedly, constantly and completely, until they cancelled it, right out from under her. She was understandably upset and frustrated by that. BUT in a shining moment of true fandom, a number of people organized a backup celebration with no resources, no financing and no time to plan… Sue threw her lot in with them, because this was about the mutual love and support of a show/movie, and they went above and beyond, not whining about what didn’t happen, but reveling in the amazing things fans CAN do.

I think it would be good for events like FanExpo, Polaris, Wizard World Comic Con, and the like to perhaps send out email polls before and after their events, or even hire staff to poll convention-goers at entry and exit. This way they can look for ways to improve their events. But to try and ruin everyone’s experience during the convention, that is the height of ego-maniacal self-indulgence.

It happens on forums and twitter as well. Everything seems so nice and supportive on the surface, but then underneath it, trying to rise above everyone else are fans who just have to be ‘better’ than everyone else.

Along with this comes the sense of entitlement and ownership that these fans have about their subject. That it is, was, and always will be only theirs, and the rest of us are lucky to tag along.

That is just inherently wrong, and I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with these people.

Geekdom and fandom, the two are one as far as I am concerned, for the longest time were ostracized and pushed to the peripherals of society.

But now, geekdom has become more mainstream.

And with mainstream comes choice. We are no longer on the fringes of society, we are becoming our own. We are growing daily, hourly, as someone discovers a new show.

But with the growth of this society, it’s taking on some of those traits that caused us to be ostracized.

Fandom has become cliquish. If you weren’t there from the beginning in that ‘core’ group, then you can’t be a real fan. You get shunned, pushed to the side, and you can forget about sharing any ideas you may have for events or the like because you’re new, you weren’t there for the start, what could you possibly know?

I’ve joked with those younger than me, that if you weren’t there in 1977, doesn’t matter if you weren’t born yet, then you can’t be a real fan of Star Wars, you’re a poser. But it was always a joke, and never something I truly believed, I’m simply echoing the mindset that seems to exist.

It’s sad that even our love of something can drive people apart instead of bringing us all together.

This needs to be fixed, because it’s not right.

We are no longer mighty.

We are bickering partisans.