Categotry Archives: Blog

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George A. Romero 1940-2017

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In the wake of losing someone you respect, it’s hard to pay tribute without making it about you. What they meant to you, how they changed you, what you owe them, how sad you are. The key subject in all those sentiments is never the lost, it is always the loser. So instead of any personal reminiscence or reaction to the death of George Romero, I offer my love and sympathy to George’s wife, Suzanne and his family. To everyone else, a simple reminder. George A. Romero invented the modern zombie. Not the comedy variants that moan for, “Braaaains” or the squealing raptor like super zombies of later years, both of which are descendants of George’s original dead baby. George gave us patient zero. Before Night of the Living Dead (1968), zombies were specifically tied to Haitian voodoo mythology and generally used as metaphors for slavery and subjugation. It was George’s idea to combine elements of voodoo legend with a voguish fascination for cannibalism and the mythic communicability of lycanthropy and vampirism. It is from George’s epoch defining mash up, that everything else derives. Whether fast or slow, brain preferring of whole body inclined, ruining Shaun’s day or seven years of Rick Grimes’ life, everything that came after Night of the Living Dead owes a debt of gratitude to George. I don’t think it is said enough or acknowledged by those who have adopted his ideas. The remakes, the rip offs, the pastiches and the tributes all stand on the shoulders of this giant. Remember that, remember George A. Romero.

Simon Pegg 2017

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A Word About Canon

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Well, this has been interesting. What was initially intended as a moment of progressive affection has drawn comment and debate from the unlikeliest corners. What is heartening is that the vast majority of comments have never questioned the decision to include an LGBT character in Star Trek, just whether or not it should be existing characters or new ones. Those who have whined about the secret agenda of the liberal left, spreading ungodly perversions, through the evil mouthpiece of homosexual Hollywood, can go fuck themselves (apologies to serial masturbators if you find that offensive, we get so little support from the mainstream media).

The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.

So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.

With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear. Sure, we experience time as a contiguous series of cascading events but perception and reality aren’t always the same thing. Spock’s incursion from the Prime Universe created a multidimensional reality shift. The rift in space/time created an entirely new reality in all directions, top to bottom, from the Big Bang to the end of everything. As such this reality was, is and always will be subtly different from the Prime Universe. I don’t believe for one second that Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t have loved the idea of an alternate reality (Mirror, Mirror anyone?). This means, and this is absolutely key, the Kelvin universe can evolve and change in ways that don’t necessarily have to follow the Prime Universe at any point in history, before or after the events of Star Trek ‘09, it can mutate and subvert, it is a playground for the new and the progressive and I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.

Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality. For those who have joined this debate in the spirit of discussion and forward momentum, it’s been a pleasure to see your reactions. For those who have seen it as an opportunity to sling abuse, or be rude and presumptuous, please take a long hard look in the mirror and remember we are discussing the personal details of a fictional spaceman. In the words of Martin Blank, who are you mad at? Because it’s not me.

I am so excited for you all to see Star Trek Beyond, whether you’re a 50 year veteran or this is your first time around. We made it with love and we made it for everyone.

LLAP

SP

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Big Mouth Strikes Again

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Categories: Blog, news

From the wonky opening that brought you “Fuck you Star Trek fans” and “Phwooar, Princess Leia”, comes this … “Nerd culture is the product of a late capitalist conspiracy, designed to infantalize the consumer as a means of non-aggressive control.”

It has come to my attention (thank you google), that the excellent website, Io9 picked up on some controversial comments I made to the Radio Times, which can be summed up in the above headline. Now, maybe I was being a little bit trollish, I can be a bit of a Contrary Mary in interviews sometimes. When you do lots of them, you get sick of your own opinions and start espousing other people’s. Having said that, the idea of our prolonged youth is something I’ve been interested in for a very long time. It’s essentially what Spaced was about, at least in part.

One of the things that inspired Jessica and myself, all those years ago, was the unprecedented extension our generation was granted to its youth, in contrast to the previous generation, who seemed to adopt a received notion of maturity at lot sooner. The children of the 70s and 80s were the first generation, for whom it wasn’t imperative to ‘grow up’ immediately after leaving school. Why this happened is a whole other sociological discussion: a rise in the student population, progress in gender equality, the absence of world war; all these things and more contributed to this social evolution. What fascinated Jess and I was the way we utilised this time. For Tim and Daisy, not having to grow up in the way their parents did, simply meant a continuation of their childhood. For Daisy, it was the pursuit of her girlhood dreams and fantasies. For Tim, he channeled his childhood passions into his adult life, cared about them as much, invested in them, the same level of time, importance and emotion. His hobbies and interests defined who he was, rather than his professional status.

In the 18 years since we wrote Spaced, this extended adolescence has been cannily co-opted by market forces, who have identified this relatively new demographic as an incredibly lucrative wellspring of consumerist potential. Suddenly, here was an entire generation crying out for an evolved version of the things they were consuming as children. This demographic is now well and truly serviced in all facets of entertainment and the first and second childhoods have merged into a mainstream phenomenon.

Before Star Wars, the big Hollywood studios were making art movies, with morally ambiguous characters, that were thematically troubling and often dark (Travis Bickle dark, as opposed to Bruce Wayne dark)*. This was probably due in large part to the Vietnam War and the fact that a large portion of America’s young men were being forced to grow up very quickly. Images beamed back home from the conflict, were troubling and a growing protest movement forced the nation to question the action abroad. Elsewhere, feminism was still dismissed as a lunatic fringe by the patriarchal old guard, as mainstream culture actively perpetuated traditional gender roles. Star Wars was very much an antidote to the moral confusion of the war, solving the conundrum of who was good and who was evil. At the heart of the story was an ass kicking princess who must surely have empowered an entire generation of girls. It was a balm for a nation in crisis in a number of ways and such was that nation’s influence, the film became a global phenomenon.

Recent developments in popular culture were arguably predicted by the French philosopher and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard in his book, ‘America’, in which he talks about the infantilzation of society. Put simply, this is the idea that as a society, we are kept in a state of arrested development by dominant forces in order to keep us more pliant. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in, inequality, corruption, economic injustice etc. It makes sense that when faced with the awfulness of the world, the harsh realities that surround us, our instinct is to seek comfort, and where else were the majority of us most comfortable than our youth? A time when we were shielded from painful truths by our recreational passions, the toys we played with, the games we played, the comics we read. There was probably more discussion on Twitter about the The Force Awakens and the Batman vs Superman trailers than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election.

The ‘dumbing down’ comment came off as a huge generalisation by an A-grade asshorn. I did not mean that science fiction or fantasy are dumb, far from it. How could I say that? In the words of Han Solo, “Hey, it’s me!” In the last two weeks, I have seen two brilliant exponents of the genre. Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, both of which had my head spinning in different and wonderful ways and are both very grown up films (although Max has a youthful exuberance which is nothing’s short of joyous, thanks George Miller, 70) I’ve yet to see Tomorrowland but with Brad Bird at the helm, it cannot be anything but a hugely entertaining think piece.

I guess what I meant was, the more spectacle becomes the driving creative priority, the less thoughtful or challenging the films can become. The spectacle of Mad Max is underpinned not only multiple layers of plot and character but also by an almost lost cinematic sense of ‘how did they do that?’ The best thing art can do is make you think, make you re-evaluate the opinions you thought were yours. It’s interesting to see how a cerebral film maker like Christopher Nolan, took on Batman and made it something more adult, more challenging, chasing Frank Miller’s peerless Dark Knight into a slightly less murky world of questionable morality and violence. But even these films are ultimately driven by market forces and somebody somewhere will want to soften the edges, so that toys and lunch boxes can be sold. In that respect, Bruce Wayne’s fascistic vigilantism was never really held to account, however interesting Nolan doubtless found that idea. Did he have an abiding love of Batman or was it a means of making his kind of movie on the mainstream stage?

Fantasy in all its forms is probably the most potent of social metaphors and as such can be complex and poetic. No one could ever accuse Game of Thrones of being childish. George RR Martin clearly saw the swords and sorcery genre as a fertile means to express his musings on ambition, power and lust. Perhaps it milieu makes it more commercial though, would a straight up historical drama have lasted so long? Maybe Game of Thrones wouldn’t have been made at all ten years ago. A world without Game of Thrones?! if Baudrillard had predicted that, I probably would have dropped out of university and become a cobbler**.

The point of all this is just to get my position clear. I’m not out of the fold, my passions and preoccupations remain. Sometimes it’s good to look at the state of the union and make sure we’re getting the best we can get. On one hand it’s a wonderful thing, having what used to be fringe concerns, suddenly ruling the mainstream but at the same time, these concerns have also been monetised and marketed and the things that made them precious to us, aren’t always the primary concern (right, Star Trek TOS fans?)

Also, it’s good to ask why we like this stuff, what makes it so alluring, so discussed, so sacred. Do we channel our passion and indignation into ephemera, rather than reality? Not just science fiction and fantasy but gossip and talent shows and nostalgia and people’s arses. Is it right? Is it dangerous? Something to discuss over a game of 3D chess, perhaps.

Speaking of which I better climb aboard the old hypocropter and fly back to writing Star Trek Beyond.

In short:

  • I love Science Fiction and fantasy and do not think it’s all childish.
  • I do not think it is all generated by dominant forces as a direct means of control…much.
  • I am still a nerd and proud.

Love and rockets,
Simon

p.s. Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan are also Stormtroopers in The Force Awakens.

*Those type of films are made today but not by big studios. Before Star Wars, SciFi and Fantasy were seen as B movie fodder, that the big studios were wary of. Alan Ladd Jnr really doesn’t get the credit he deserves for backing George Lucas.

**No disrespect to cobblers, I merely intended to allude to a profession that would not fill my days with fantasy. Not that cobblers can’t enjoy fantasy, they can. After all, some of them are magic elves who only come out at night to save a poor husband and wife from destitution. Surely a metaphor for the invisible underclass, enabling social mobility among the executive echelons of the pre war working class.

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As Paul McCartney once said, hello, goodbye.

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Categories: Blog, news, twitter

Dear Twitter friends,

As Paul McCartney once said, hello, goodbye.

Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Truth is, I’ve decided to give Twitter a break for the time being. If you’re reading this, you may be looking for an explanation as to why, so here it is.

I haven’t been enjoying it for a while now. There hasn’t been a specific incident and the reasons are various. Ultimately, I think we’ve just grown apart. What I’m saying is, it’s not you, it’s me.

To those of you, who have regularly sent me messages and supported me, I say thank you and please be in no doubt you are appreciated and valued. Your creativity, passion and positivity is always inspiring.

In the meantime, I’m going to concentrate on the real world and keep working hard. There’s a lot of really fun stuff coming up and there is still every chance you will be sick of me, in no time at all.

Presently, the account will reactivate and Harmony Carrigan aka @MyDogAteLA will head up an official team to run it as an offshoot of the long running Peggster website, which is 10 years old this year. If you’re interested in news from the Pegg camp and information regarding the various charities I support, then don’t touch that dial. It will however, no longer be my own voice.

Take care Tweeple and remember to use your powers for good.

Love from

Simon x

P.S. The Star Wars trailer is fucking AWESOME, right?!!!!!!

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Pre-order your copy of “The World’s End” and “The Cornetto Trilogy” box set (US, Canada)

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Categories: Blog, news, Tags: ,

The Region 1 (USA and Canada) Blu-ray and DVD release is 19 November 2013, you can also pre-order those from Amazon: The World’s End [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet] ($23.99) and The World’s End [DVD] ($19.99).

tweus1   tweus2

Don’t forget to also order The World’s End, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead Trilogy [Blu-ray] ($44.99) and The World’s End, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead Trilogy ($35.98).

cornettous1   cornettous1

For Region 2 (UK) releases and soundtrack links, click here.