Leonard Nimoy’s Spock Was The Nerd Hero Who Taught Us How To Feel

We have been, and always shall be, your friend.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock on Star Trek Paramount Pictures

Star Trek is for nerds. That much has been certain ever since Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic sci-fi vision for the future first debuted on NBC in 1966. From its preoccupation with invented technologies like warp nacelles and transporter pads to the vagaries of made-up alien cultures like the Klingons and the Romulans, you had to be on the show’s particular wavelength to really grasp its lasting hold on the culture. The show, and its subsequent movies and spin-off series, spoke to a unique blend of passions cultivated by often socially awkward men and women whose abiding faith in and arcane knowledge of science and technology was matched by an earnest hope that the world we live in now will, someday, get much better. In other words: nerds.

We wanted to believe we could be Kirk, but we definitely knew we could be Spock.

And Spock — as played by Leonard Nimoy, who died Friday at 83 — was our ultimate nerd hero. The half-Vulcan’s brilliant mind was guided by a razor-sharp perception of the laws of logic that was not just enviable to nerds, it was aspirational. He could cut through the emotions that seemed to clutter up cogent thought, finding the objective reason tucked inside most any problem or scenario. Spock’s counterpart, William Shatner’s Capt. James T. Kirk, was a different kind of aspirational figure: the virile, impassioned leader who was sexual catnip to anyone he wanted to seduce. In order words, he wasn’t a nerd. We wanted to believe we could be Kirk, but we definitely knew we could be Spock.

Though his dispassion at times deliberately read as cold, Nimoy was too adept an actor to make the character an icy, uncaring robot, no matter how often Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) accused him of being one. Because, in a masterstroke by Roddenberry, Spock was more than just half-human — his veneer of Vulcan logic also masked a well of explosive emotions the Vulcan people had spent centuries striving to overcome.

In the Season 2 premiere of the original Star Trek TV series, “Amok Time,” fans were introduced to pon farr, a Vulcan mating phenomenon in which men are engulfed with a kind of sexual madness that has to be satiated or it will kill them. If there is a better metaphor for adolescent puberty, I have not encountered it. I’m not sure if Roddenberry deliberately set out to forge a kinship between Spock and young teenage nerds who were overwhelmed — even terrified — by their own roiling emotions and sexuality, but he did.

Paramount Pictures

It was alarming for his crewmates and for the audience to see Spock in such a deranged state in “Amok Time.” But it also gave the character — and Nimoy — vital emotional shading, a sense that Spock was far more than just a paragon of logic and intellect. And not just due to his literally dangerous sexuality, either. In the episode’s climactic moment, Spock seemingly kills Kirk in a ritualistic Vulcan battle meant to quell Spock’s pon farr. Back on the Enterprise, Spock announces he will resign from Starfleet in disgrace, only to discover Kirk is still alive — knocked out instead by Dr. McCoy in a ploy to simulate death. Spock is so elated to see his friend still alive that he briefly exclaims “Jim!” and grabs Kirk by the shoulders with a huge smile. It was a great winking moment for Spock, Nimoy, and the audience, letting us know that even nerds are allowed to feel — even if it makes us uncomfortable.

As Trek expanded its reach, and Spock took hold as not just a character but a kind of cultural icon, Nimoy became — for better or worse — synonymous with the role. And like twentysomethings trying to escape their own teenage nerdom, Nimoy tried to shake off his connection to Trek in the 1970s with his autobiography I Am Not Spock. But the gravitational pull of Trek’s growing popularity proved inescapable. And eventually, the actor moved beyond accepting his reality to learning not to take himself or the role so seriously. In 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — directed by Nimoy — we were treated to the sight of Spock loose in 20th century San Francisco. He tussled with antisocial punks, learned how to use profanity (or, in Spock’s parlance, “colorful metaphors”), and he swam in his skivvies while mind-melding with a humpback whale.

Some Trek fans — Trekkies, Trekkers, whichever word you prefer — found this irreverence disconcerting. But actually, it was a gift. Passionate fandom can ossify into an unforgiving cultural rigidity, especially when that fandom is overseen by a core group of nerds who archive and catalog every last detail about the thing they love. But in order to thrive, those cultural entities also need to continue to grow with us and with the times in which we live. And that’s something Nimoy understood. In Star Trek IV, he gave us a looser, less self-important Spock and Trek, something to remind nerds that logic and intellect needn’t preclude a self-awareness and sense of humor.

Patrick Stewart and Nimoy in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Unification, Part 2” Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

In the ’90s and ’00s, as Shatner embraced his position as a kind of pop-cultural kitsch icon with Priceline ads and his Emmy-winning run on Boston Legal, Nimoy settled comfortably into the role as Trek’s wise elder. His appearance as Spock on Star Trek: The Next Generation in a two-part episode in 1991 was a true television event, earning a reported 25 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched Star Trek TV episodes ever. It was a dream for both old and new Trek fans to see Spock discuss the nature of fallible human emotions with Data (Brent Spiner) — TNG’s own brilliant character at odds with how to express his (perhaps nonexistent) humanity — bringing two nerd cultural paragons together on the same screen.

By the time the actor played Spock in J.J. Abrams’ cinematic Star Trek reboot, Nimoy had come to embody Trek itself, lending the more Star Wars-ian proceedings an air of cultural legitimacy. It’s almost eerie, then, that Nimoy’s death falls at a kind of turning point for the entire Trek franchise: Abrams is setting aside Trek to revive the Star Wars franchise in earnest, and fans regard the last Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, with no small amount of disdain.

Paramount Pictures / Via youtube.com

But despair is not logical. Spock has helped expand the very idea of what it means to be a nerd, making his struggle between emotion and logic feel universal, part of the greater human endeavor to strive for something better. And in doing so, he helped to greatly improve nerdom’s cultural currency. The biggest comedy on network TV today, The Big Bang Theory, is literally about nerds who worshipped Spock as kids — and still do as adults. And President Barack Obama said in a statement on Friday marking Nimoy’s passing, “Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy.” The president even flatly stated, “I loved Spock.”

When I think about Spock and Nimoy leaving us, like so many Trek fans today, I inevitably think back to 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, still the best Trek movie ever and the fullest expression of what Spock meant to me, and to nerds everywhere. Faced with certain death, Spock exposed himself to a lethal dose of radiation in order to save the Enterprise, and sacrificed his body in the process. (That sacrifice would be undone in the follow-up film The Search for Spock, but this is science fiction, after all.)

As Kirk looked upon the ruined body of his closest friend, Spock used his final breaths to share his kinship with Kirk — and, really, with the entire audience — saying, “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” Just typing those words floods me with emotion. Spock was one of our heroes, and by the end, he also became one of our friends. He will stay with us. As Kirk expressed so eloquently at Spock’s funeral:

Paramount Pictures / Via youtube.com

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/we-have-been-and-always-shall-be-your-friend

Did You Know That Big Budget Movies Actually Copy Scenes All The Time?

Director Ed Wood was infamous for piecing together stock footage to complete his low-budget films. As a result, his cult classic Plan 9 from Outer Space is widely regarded as, well, the worst movie of all time. But he’s not the only director guilty of copying and pasting to save a buck.

It’s no surprise that producing a blockbuster tends to cost a studio tons of cash. Even the smallest special effect can add up to thousands (or millions) of dollars, so it’s kind of understandable why they might try to cut a corner here and there. But when the movie connoisseurs over at Screen Rant took a second look at these big-budget films, they couldn’t help but think the producers probably could have been a bit more subtle. Each one was caught giving their audience a strange sense of déjà vu:

1. This is actually one of the least terrible things about the unfortunate prequel franchise.

2. Michael Bay got hit with a truth bomb when people noticed something eerily familiar in the Transformers franchise to one of his earlier films.

3. Set phasers to stun…ningly obvious.

4. The film may have been based on a video game, but most of the backstory was taken from Jessica Alba’s debut show.

5. Film execs wanted a happier ending for Ridley Scott’s 1989 classic Blade Runner

So they spliced in the ironically idyllic intro from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 thriller, The Shining.

6. Even film virtuoso Orson Welles borrowed stock footage for his iconic film, Citizen Kane.

Notice the unusually large birds flying around in this picnic scene? Rumor has it they’re actually from the 1933 film, Son of Kong.

7. Bill and Ted might not have time traveled back quite as far as they thought for this scene.

8. Back in the day, Disney animators frequently reused old frames for new films.

(via Mental Floss)

If you think about it, your next movie ticket could really be a two-for-one deal. But somehow, I’d still feel short-changed.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/movies-reuse-footage/

Celebrities, Scientists, And More Remember Leonard Nimoy

“I loved him like a brother,” William Shatner said.

Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy died on Friday at 83. And there was an outpouring of love for the late actor all over social media, from those who worked with him, knew him, and were inspired by him.

CBS Television Distrubtion/Courtesy Everett Collection

Of course, there were sentimental messages from his Star Trek co-stars.

Facebook: georgehtakei

And from those who became a part of the giant Star Trek franchise.

Woke up to the awful news that Leonard Nimoy passed. RIP to a true gentleman. Not many of those left in our Biz.

— Marina_Sirtis (@Marina Sirtis)

Farewell Leonard. Glad I knew you. Thinking of Susan, Adam, and his entire family. And his vast extended family of Star Trek.

— BrentSpiner (@Brent Spiner)

#LLAP RIP to the best First Officer. @TheRealNimoy

— jonathansfrakes (@Jonathan Frakes)

RIP, Mr. Nimoy.You really did live long and prosper, and we were all the richer for it.

— JeriLRyan (@Jeri Ryan)

You made the world a more fascinating place.@TheRealNimoy #LLAP

— SamWitwer (@Sam Witwer)

We stood on your shoulders, and wouldn’t have had a galaxy to explore if you hadn’t been there, first. Thank you, Leonard, Rest in peace.

— wilw (@Wil Wheaton)

Then, there were messages from the rest of Hollywood, showing their appreciation for Nimoy.

Leonard Nimoy was more than Mr. Spock. But Mr. Spock is his gift to us all. Live long and prosper. HANX.

— tomhanks (@Tom Hanks)

Over time you hear all kinds of things about all kinds of people. I never heard anything but the loveliest love for Leonard Nimoy. RIP

— MiaFarrow (@mia farrow)

Seriously one of the coolest people ever. https://t.co/Rf8M96zKFJ

— RedHourBen (@Ben Stiller)

Leonard Nimoy, a true cultural icon.Auditioned for him once. A very nice man. He made Spock real. Thanks for Star Trek. #RIP Leonard Nimoy

— realjonlovitz (@Jon Lovitz)

Leonard Nimoy brought us one of the greatest, noblest characters in the history of American storytelling. Someone find the Genesis planet.

— SethMacFarlane (@Seth MacFarlane)

Leonard Nimoy was a terrific actor who played a character that I loved. #RIPLeonardNimoy

— MrJonCryer (@Jon Cryer)

“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… Human.” Farewell, Leonard Nimoy – Actor, Director, Pop culture icon.

— ThatKevinSmith (@KevinSmith)

“This is the Mugar Omni Theater.” “…because he grew up six blocks from here.” “Who put the bomp?” #LeonardNimoy

— mindykaling (@Mindy Kaling)

I shall truly miss Leonard Nimoy. He gave us a great gift that will last for ages. A good soul and kind man. RIP

— IJasonAlexander (@jason alexander)

. @TheRealNimoy I have been, and always shall be, your fan. Thank you.

— NathanFillion (@Nathan Fillion)

I just saw that Leonard Nimoy has passed on. We didn’t know each other well, but I’m glad I spent the time with him I did. A wonderful man.

— neilhimself (@Neil Gaiman)

An ‘I’m still here’ photo. Remembering Leonard Nimoy (and larger-than-life Mickey Spillane)…

— neilhimself (@Neil Gaiman)

Leonard Nimoy will always be a beloved legend 😭

— OfficialKat (@Kat Dennings)

And from the writer/producer of The Simpsons, on which Nimoy made some really memorable guest appearances.

.@thesimpsons #everysimpsonsever As I am registering for comicon so sad to hear Leonard Nimoy passed. A great man on and off camera.

— AlJean (@Al Jean)

Those in the news media also paid their respects.

Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83, via @nytimes. Spock made being different cool. http://t.co/LPGfQdyACZ

— AnnCurry (@Ann Curry)

“The miracle is this the more we share the more we have.”-Leonard Nimoy LLAP “

— AnnCurry (@Ann Curry)

Sad to hear about the passing of Leonard Nimoy. He was a true renaissance man.

— JoyVBehar (@Joy Behar)

As did those who know what it means to boldly go where no man has gone before.

He was, and always shall be, a friend to all of us. Thanks, @TheRealNimoy for reminding us all to live long and prosper. #LLAP

— virgingalactic (@Virgin Galactic)

RIP Leonard Nimoy. So many of us at NASA were inspired by Star Trek. Boldly go… http://t.co/qpeH5BTzQc


RIP Leonard Nimoy. You lived long and prospered.

CBS Television Distribution

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jaimieetkin/celebrities-scientists-and-more-remember-leonard-nimoy