Star Trek: Into Darkness is the second-highest-grossing film in that series to date (behind only the 2009 reboot), and with an 87% aggregate rating at Rotten Tomatoes, one of the best-reviewed. But it was met with far greater ambivalence among the Star Trek fan community, where its half-assed political commentary and lazy shoplifting of Wrath of Khan iconography (not to mention the filmmakers’ weird obsession with keeping that angle under wraps) left a bad taste in the mouths of many Trekkies; in fact, at last month’s Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, a fan poll deemed Into Darkness the worst Star Trek film to date. (And these people saw The Undiscovered Country.) On the fan site Trekmovie.com, Joseph Dickerson wrote an editorial about the current state of the series, titled “Star Trek is broken — here are ideas on how to fix it.” And then screenwriter Roberto Orci, who co-wrote the last two films, showed up in the comments section. You can imagine how well that went.
Here’s Orci’s response to the editorial:
I think the article above is akin to a child acting out against his parents. Makes it tough for some to listen, but since I am a loving parent, I read these comments without anger or resentment, no matter how misguided. Having said that, two biggest Star Treks in a row with best reviews is hardly a description of “broken.” And frankly, your tone and attidude [sic] make it hard for me to listen to what might otherwise be decent notions to pursue in the future. Sorry, Joseph. As I love to say, there is a reason why I get to write the movies, and you don’t. Respect all opinions, always, nonetheless.
As The Daily Dot notes, “A little passive-aggressive, but not too bad. Sadly, he didn’t leave it at that…” Indeed he did not; user “boborci” then combed through the comments to pluck out and smugly respond to individual commenters, in a manner that sorta contradicted his claim that he was reading them “without anger or resentment,” or that he does, in fact, “respect all opinions.”
“I wish you knew what you were talking about,” he tells one. “I listened more than any other person behind the Trek franchise has EVER listened. And guess what? Glad I did becuase [sic] it lead [sic] to 2 biggest Trek’s [sic] ever.” He then challenges said commenter to “pitch me a plot,” and when said target mentions the Indiana Jones movies in his response, he gets this little tantrum:
Shitty Dodge. STID has infinetly [sic] more social commentary than Raiders in every Universe, and I say that with Harrison Ford being a friend. You lose credibility big time when you don’t honestly engage with the FUCKING WRITER OF THE MOVIE ASKING YOU AN HONEST QUESTION. You prove the cliche of shitty fans. And rude in the process. So, as Simon Pegg would say: FUCK OFF!
And so on, and so on. Let’s be clear: no good can come from this kind of thing. Yes, the transparency of the Internet has done considerable damage to the wall that has existed for so long between creators and fans. Anyone with a Tumblr can air his or her grievances against a new film or a television show; anyone with a YouTube account can make a video to point out everything that’s wrong with a recent hit. Writers, directors, and actors are on Twitter, and (if they choose to engage) fans can tweet right at them with their praise, their questions, and (most often) their criticisms. Comic conventions have slowly transformed into marketing events, with fans ponying up good money to watch commercials and tweet promotional information, in exchange for the opportunity to see their favorites (relatively) up close and personal, and to pose whatever question or confess whatever adoration floats through their head by the time they reach the front of the microphone line.
The motives of the creators, rest assured, are not entirely pure. Fan conventions and social media presence are, if nothing else, marketing tools; the inappropriate weirdos and random, creepy @-replies are the cost of doing business (as are, it seems, the rapidly encroaching tidal wave of fan entitlement). But creative types also have a responsibility to be rise above nattering, bitchy fans. Sure, it must be annoying to write a movie and have its presumptive target audience turn on it. But there’s no honor in going into comment sections and telling “shitty fans” to “FUCK OFF.” You gotta be better than that, Bob Orci.
Because make no mistake, this article wasn’t delivered to Bob Orci’s doorstep. He went looking for a fight. He had to find this article and decide to engage with it, and he admits as much: “don’ [sic] take me too seriously. if you’ve been on this board for the lar [sic] 5 years (as I have beeb [sic]) you know that twice a year I explode at the morons. today, there seemed to be a congregation, so it seemed like a good time.” News flash, Mr. Orci: it’s never a “good time” to “explode at the morons.” (I know grammar and spelling rules are presumed lighter and looser in online comments sections, but this guy sure writes like someone who penned two Transformers movies.) Let the fans have their place to congregate and complain. You’re friends with Harrison Ford. Don’t you have better things to do?