With my friend Liz (who is a science teacher in real life) in the lobby of the Hollywood Theater at “a Steel City Celebration of Star Trek.”
(Note: This blog post was originally supposed to appear last month, but due to technical difficulties that were beyond our control, it couldn’t be salvaged until now. We hope you accept our apologies, and that you still find this updated version of the article relevant. — Chris)
Fifty years ago, Star Trek debuted on television screens across the United States. On September 9, I attended a special screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and For the Love of Spock at Pittsburgh’s historic Hollywood Theater (the very same theater that is featured prominently in the Rocky Horror scenes in the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower) in honor of that anniversary. The event was an opportunity for me to return to my sci-fi roots, because while there are few Browncoats whose coats are more of a brownish color than mine, I was a Trekkie long before Joss Whedon read a book about the Battle of Gettysburg and was inspired to create a space-western TV series called Firefly. So, when it was announced that geekpittsburgh.com was sponsoring “a Steel City Celebration of Star Trek” for the benefit of the Hollywood Theater and Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum (two organizations that have hosted Pittsburgh’s “Can’t Stop the Serenity” screenings in recent years), I was content to leave my browncoat in the closet for one evening in favor of the command gold of a Starfleet uniform (once a cap’n, always a cap’n) and boldly go where I had always so enthusiastically gone before.
Leonard Nimoy (center, as if you needed to be told) with Gene Roddenberry and the rest of the cast of Star Trek at the unveiling of the Space Shuttle Enterprise. (NASA photo)
If you’re a fan of science-fiction, or one who passionately believes that mankind should continue striving to boldly go into the black, then I’m sure that like me, you’re saddened by the passing of Leonard Nimoy this weekend. Unlike so many in his profession, Nimoy never became a parody of himself. He remained relevant throughout his long career– from his early days of guest appearances on shows like The Twilight Zone to his final portrayal of the character that made him a pop culture legend.
The first time I ever walked the floor of a science-fiction and comics convention in costume (at the old Pittsburgh Comicon back in sixth grade), it was as Mr. Spock. As a kid I loved watching Star Trek re-runs, and I identified with Spock more than any other character. Sure, as the Science Officer he got to play with all the cool gadgets, and the ears were kind of neat, but I think it was because every young kid can relate to feeling like they’re different from all the other people around them and having to struggle to fit in, much like Spock did as a half-Vulcan living and working among humans. I don’t think any member of Enterprise’s crew was as complex as Spock, and in Leonard Nimoy, Gene Roddenberry found the perfect actor to show us that.