So, I watched the new Star Trek film last night, at one of the many local second-run theaters. The tickets there are cheap, but that also means that there’s always a little more shouting at the screen than I generally like. Still, I decided that it was about time for another one of my famous movie reviews, so I braved the masses and went on a voyage among the stars.
(Really, I don’t mean to be so bitter about movie audiences. It’s just that the woman sitting next to me “accidentally” put her hand on my thigh several times. An invasion of personal space to begin with, I’m pretty sure she also had peanut butter on her fingers. Oh well. As the man said, “America, America, this is you!”)
Star Trek: The Power of Love is on the surface a delightful story about spaceships and guns, but it quickly becomes apparent to the more astute viewers (ahem) that Star Trek: The Power of Love is, first and foremost, a love story. A sweet, yet very… intense love story.
It helps to have a grounding in the basic tenants of “slash fiction,” to really appreciate the new film, I think. To be perfectly honest, I was unfamiliar with the term until last night. Or, at least, I had been laboring under a misconception regarding slash fiction. When I got home from the theater, thoroughly entertained though I was, I struggled to put into words some of the concepts rolling around my head, and so I turned to the Internet. A quick search of “Kirk/Spock love” returned some remarkable images, which, while somewhat more explicit than anything in the actual movie, certainly felt honest about the overarching theme: a deep and abiding love between two men on a spaceship.
Maybe a quick summary is in order. I’ll leave out most of the names, because I don’t remember them, and, for the most part, going through particular scenes isn’t necessarily illustrative of the theme of the piece as a whole, so I’ll try to be concise.
The story starts with two young men, separated by light years of space, but united in their passions. Daniel Spock is a half alien (or, another useful way to think of him, half man, half… something else), struggling with the strange and forbidden feelings inside of him. He hides his true self under ridiculous fashions and distracts his powerful intellect with word puzzles and math-based computer games. Jimmy Kirk, on the other hand, is all man, but he spends his days in a flurry of self-destructive stunt behavior, and his nights, as he puts it, “chest deep in alien pussy.” (“You’re not fooling anyone,” offers an avuncular rear admiral.) There is a void in each of the young men’s lives, and like so many before them they eventually are drawn to the mystery, adventure, and dark, confined spaces promised by… the Navy! Fate has thrown his gossamer lasso about their waists, and they are slowly drawn together from across the galaxy.
Fast forward. Kirk and Spock are finally serving together aboard a dry-docked spaceship, answering the admiral’s fan mail and giving tours to civilians, and… they hate each other! What?! How is this possible? I’ll tell you how. Or, more accurately, Spock himself tells us. Drawn across space and time by a bond of love, a svelte and gentlemanly older version of Spock travels from the future to set eyes on his old friend Kirk one final time. He resolves not to reveal his true identity to the younger man, but a night spent huddling for warmth in an icy cave is more than Old Spock can handle. Many secrets are revealed.
Enter the third angle in this love triangle: a jealous and spurned admirer of Spock’s follows him from the future, and resolves to destroy the fledgling relationship between the pointy-eared half man, and the barrel-chested man-boy. And then the adventure begins, each explosion and claxon alarm drawing the young sailors closer together.
See, apparently the “slash” in slash fiction is what isn’t between two titular characters when they hug. If you know what I mean. Like “Kirk/Spock,” “Harry/Draco,” or “Captain Jack Sparrow/Legolas.” It goes a long way toward explaining the powerful tension that always exists in these relationships. They don’t hate each other, they hate themselves and the relationship they can’t have. I’m not saying that this relationship is necessarily sexual. But it is usually sexual. And here we have the old “Sam ‘n Frodo” dynamic all over again, but instead of the tension surfacing through Frodo’s catty comments towards Sam, and Sam’s constant threats of hitting Frodo with a frying pan, it appears in Kirk’s bizarre habit of putting Spock in headlocks for minutes at a time and Spock’s attempts at humiliating Kirk in front of the crew by constantly posing logic problems straight out of the Mensa study book.
It’s thought provoking stuff, and I’m surprised that the audience was as receptive as it seemed to be. But I suppose it was only a matter of time before a studio picked up on this aspect of the Star Trek mythos and expanded upon it with some CGI and b-list stars. I’m all for it. It’s been on our minds for years, whether we acknowledged it or not. I mean, I think I’ve been writing Kirk slash Spock fan fiction for years without even realizing it. Take a look at an excerpt from one of my mini-screenplays. (I always try to write them as screenplays, just in case.)
Kirk sprawls in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise, one leg hooked over an arm rest, his chin cupped in a free hand. He is thinking.
Spock approaches Kirk from behind and sets his hands on the Captain’s broad shoulders. Kirk doesn’t immediately acknowledge the first officer’s presence, but he closes his eyes with pleasure. Spock’s strong hands and Vulcan training make for good shoulder rubs. It’s not for nothing that he has earned the nickname “Roofie-hands” among the crew.
Kirk, finally: I just wish… What are they up to?
Spock, humoring the captain: What who is up to?
Kirk: Good God, man, the Romulans! What have they got planned for the summit?
Spock: There has been no indication that the Romulan delegation has any designs beyond the scheduled negotiations. Perhaps they truly wish for peace this time.
Kirk: They’re fucking Romulans, Spock! You know they’re up to something!
Spock: I do not know that. But, as always, I will trust to your… intuition.
Kirk sighs and straightens in the chair. Reluctantly, he leans out of Spock’s grip and stands.
Kirk: I just need to clear my head. I’m going planet-side.
Kirk: How did you know?
Spock: I… have come to understand what you mean by “clear your head.” Green-tits is a resident of this planet. It was not a difficult deduction.
Kirk, looking for his keys and wallet as he prepares to leave: Why do you call her that?
Spock: Every visible piece of her anatomy is green. Am I wrong in assuming that the tits are the exception to the rule?
Kirk: … No.
Kirk abandons the search for his wallet (which lies under a carelessly placed newspaper on a control console) to move behind Spock, putting his own hands on the half-Vulcan’s shoulders.
Kirk: It’s just a little bit of alien tail. It doesn’t mean anything.
His thick fingers dig gently into Spock’s carefully pressed uniform.
Spock, shrugging the hands away: If you say so, sir.
Kirk, becoming frustrated: You know I hate it when you call me sir.
Spock is silent for a moment. Kirk spots his hidden wallet, and begins to leave. Spock speaks again. Emotion makes the slightest fracture in his controlled Vulcan baritone.
Spock: We should be out having adventures.
See what I mean? It’s pretty tame, but trope is there. It’s always there. It just took a director as courageous as JJ Abrams to take it out of the drawer and display it in a way we can all appreciate.