Thursday, October 20, 2005

Full of Shat

I suppose you either get William Shatner, or you don't. I do get William Shatner. I love William Shatner. He's an icon to me and many in my generation.

Here are a few reasons for my man-sized (but hetero...) Shatner lovin':

1. He starred in a 1970s movie called Impulse lensed in the "language" (ahem...) Esperanto.

2. Remember when he sang "I Want To Sex You Up?" at some music awards show back in the early 1990s? Prince was there. Guns'n'Roses was there. But who does everybody remember? William Shatner!

3. KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! Has there ever been a better cinematic spasm than Shatner's energetic scream to the Eugenic Superman in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?

4. In the 1977 movie Kingdom of the Spiders, Shatner is attacked by tarantulas, and lets himself be covered by dozens, maybe hundreds of the buggers. There are a whole lot of reasons I like this movie, but the fact that Shatner let himself be buried in live spiders - makes the movie scary. It sells the threat in a way that stunt doubles just can't. It could have been different. In Frogs (1972), Ray Milland never got in THE SAME SHOT as the attacking frogs. But no, Shatner goes for the gusto here. In fact, I think he enjoyed rolling around with the spiders a tad too much. I highly recommend this movie...

5. In last year's hysterical reality TV show, Invasion, Iowa, Shatner had the audacity to have some corn-fed local girl (about 18 years old, I think), be his love interest in the fake sci-fi movie he was "producing." She actually spoke the following line to Shatner: "I would rather carry your seed, than the seed that destroys the universe." Every man dreams of hearing that.

6. Denny Crane.

So what's up with my public expression of love for William Shatner? Why now? Well, I've always adored the guy, but my friend Chris, over at his blog, Wat Tambor's War Journal, posted a really thoughtful meditation on Monsieur Shatner this week, and it got me thinking about Captain James Tiberius Kirk and the actor who so ably portrayed him.

I am not ashamed in the least to admit that I am a William Shatner fanatic. I think the man, his career, and his personality are more compelling than any other celebrity out there. I will watch anything the man does. (Yes, one of these days I will get around to watching Groom Lake).

I also firmly believe that his charisma is a large part of why Star Trek is so successful and enduring. Jeff Hunter was a fine actor, but come on folks, it just wouldn't be the same without Bill.

Something struck me about Bill and his career last week after I watched the newest Boston Legal. He is the only actor I can think of who has explored the different stages of his own life through his high profile performances. Bill has a way of directly addressing where he's at in his real life through his fictional characters. In our current youth-obsessed culture, it is comforting to see that there is life and contemplation beyond your twenties.

So somebody tell me, does Patrick Stewart get this kind of love?

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Everything goes better with Bill.

    Say it with me, brothers and sisters: "Everything goes better with Bill." Feels good, doesn't it? Of course it does. It feels good because something deep within us instantly recognizes the simple, beautiful truth of it. Know the truth. Know the Shatner. Everything goes better with Bill.

    No tears for Caesar,
    -Tony Mercer

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  2. Hey Tony!

    Forgot the best reason to love the Shat. He can turn the name "Spock" into a multi-syllable word.

    SSSS-PAAAA--CKKKK!

    I recommend everybody stretch out the name "Spock" just like this several times a day.

    If I'm ever caught off-guard in a discussion with Kathryn, I just pause and say "Sspocck.."

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  3. Anonymous9:54 PM

    Good one! I also dig the way he can run "Mister Spock" together as a single word. "Analysis, Mistaspock"

    -Tony

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  4. INCUBUS is actually the movie filmed in Esparanto, and it was in 1964, before his role in STAR TREK... actually, it plays like a really arty OUTER LIMITS episode - which makes sense, since the same people were involved.

    Not throwing dirt on IMPULSE, however. The Shat is memorably sleazy in this, and teamed with Harold "Odd Job" Sakamoto... it moves the film to a new plateau of gonzo cinema.

    And to complete the Shatner "I" Trilogy - THE INTRUDER, directed by Roger Corman, and written by Charles Beaumont. If you haven't seen it yet, go find it now.

    It's sort of poetic justice that Bill's "singing" has been a major force in his career resurgence in the last decade... long considered a joke, actually sitting down to listen to THE TRANSFORMED MAN and watching his "Rocketman" performance from the mid-70's, there's ample evidence to state that Shatner could qualify as a "performance artist" long before Laurie Anderson hit the scene in the 80's to define the term for hipsters... The Shat mined that ground long beforehand, and listening to HAS BEEN, proves that he could tackle a 'serious' music career... as long as he has Ben Folds as producer.

    Lastly, the Spader-Shatner combination in BOSTON LEGAL has borne delicious fruit and has provided a decent grounding, better than in previous Kelly productions.

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  5. good calls abound, robert. i'm so averse to one hour dramas not involving violence and horrorscifi that i can't bring myself to check out boston legal, but i'm thrilled spader, a favorite of mine, has regular series work. that he got to collabo with cronenberg in the ice cold classic crash was something of a dry wet dream for me.
    also, i agree that its funny that a laurie anderson (who i love) gets massive prestige for "performance art" while shatner has a camp reputation...says something about how art is perceived based on labels and associations.

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