Simon Pegg on Geekdom and the Real World

Simon Pegg gave an interview in which he said "geekdom" is "taking our focus away from real-world issues."

Well, allow me to retort.

Geekdom is an odd term, but I'll run with it because that was Pegg's phrasing and I can only assume he means anything that involves fantasy, science fiction, comic books and "non-real-world" storytelling. If the concern here is that we're neglecting the social and economic ills of our time because we're too busy figuring out what Hulk is doing in the Quinjet all day long, then I think Pegg deeply underestimates his audience. I am close friends with many people who are geeks and I see firsthand that they're dealing with the real-world head-on. They have families, loved ones, real problems that occupy them for most of the day and night. So, when a movie about a bunch of super strong/smart people fighting aliens or robots comes along, it's a welcome escape from daily stresses for many of us. The value of these films/shows is not in the material's subject matter, but rather in the catharsis it provides us to have our imagination unlocked for a couple of hours.  As with anything, people can take their devotion too far. But from my personal experience, those folks are in the minority. Swap out "geekdom" for sports, cars, music or other pastimes and you'll see that there is nothing particularly unique about this hobby.

I think he also vastly overestimates the value of his profession in motivating progress on real-world issues of importance.  I love THE GODFATHER, TAXI DRIVER, THE FRENCH CONNECTION and many other "serious" movies (these are the films Pegg cited as that which are missing in today's theaters). But have these films affected the real-world apart from being interesting, diverting experiences for their audience? Does what "Popeye" Doyle do to a drug-running Frenchman affect real-world issues substantially more than what the Hulk does to a maniacal robot? Perhaps the tragedy of Michael Corleone's rise and fall (spoilers, Nickbot) inspires deeper emotions than Tony Stark's character arc, but in the end we're dealing with personal taste over substantive worth. The value in entertainment is for an audience to be engaged by the material.

I think Pegg has mixed his personal frustrations as an "artist" with the box office trends of the moment. The funny thing is, serious movies are still being made! And if Pegg wants to do non-genre work, he can direct his agent to find that material for him.

Finally, as he is a person guiding the next STAR TREK film, he should take a step back and realize that his statements draw a line where one certainly shouldn't exist. STAR TREK has inspired discussions on "real-world" issues for decades through brilliant storytelling and potent symbolism in a very non-real-world context. If Pegg is concerned with doing something important with his time, I hope he recognizes that his position, particularly with STAR TREK, affords him an important opportunity to deliver on the things he longs to achieve.

So, stop bitching and make a good Star Trek movie already.


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