Published on April 6th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
Summary: This lighthearted documentary was ahead of its time in celebrating geek culture and hardcore fandom.
PG | 86 min.
Director: Roger Nygard
Studio: Paramount Classics
In a world where geek culture has become the new cool–where vintage t-shirts and horn-rimmed glasses have replaced a leather jacket and Wayfarers, it’s easy to forget that being a nerd wasn’t always celebrated. As a testament to the sometimes off-putting loyalty of Star Trek fans, 1997’s Trekkies may serve as the first instance of putting the spotlight on 100% genuine nerddom.
In this feelgood documentary, director Roger Nygard travels from Star Trek conventions to small town festivals celebrating the classic franchise and even inside the homes of some of its most diehard fans.
What I respect most about this documentary is that it was ahead of its time in celebrating nerd and fanboy culture.
Today, we know of obsessive fans of everything from Dragonball Z to Mad Men to The Big Lebowski. However, in 1997, this level of fandom wasn’t chic like it is now–instead, it was made fun of and marginalized which is what makes a feature-length movie celebrating Star Trek fans such a unique idea for its day.
Trekkies is a fun movie and that’s what makes it entertaining, you don’t get the sense that Nygard is making fun of his subjects, which would have been very easy for him to do…and also would have ruined the lighthearted feel of the film.
In this documentary, you see everything from a dentist’s office that’s decked-out with Star Trek memorabilia to the Whitewater scandal jury member who rocked a complete Starfleet uniform (complete with phaser!) during the trial. When watching this movie, you can’t help but feel drawn to the lovable group of oddballs at its center. After all, everyone loves an underdog–and horses don’t come much darker than a woman who keeps binders of Brent Spiner candid photos!
I’ve always felt that a documentary is only as strong as its subject and in Trekkies, Nygard was blessed with a large pool of real people that are both interesting and unabashed in their loyalty to the franchise.
One of my biggest complaints with this movies is that I wish they could have tracked down William Shatner, but I’m sure the crew had the same wish. The other reason I didn’t rate this movie a little higher is because it’s severely short (1hr 26 min), on a subject which could have easily made for over 2 hours of content. When Trekkies ended, I wished it had gone even deeper into the world of Star Trek fandom.
Today, being identified as a “nerd” has been socially acceptable for the better part of a decade and with CBS’s laugh track juggernaut The Big Bang Theory recently becoming TV’s top-rated comedy–geek culture is officially mainstream. That said, Sheldon Cooper can suck it because Leonard Nimoy, LeVar Burton, and Brent Spiner perfected that role decades ago.