The Couch Surfer: 'Any tour of post-war pop culture takes in the basics of Star Trek mythology'

Related Topics

The trailer begins with a motorbike speeding across a deserted plain at dusk. The young man riding it rolls moodily to a halt. You can tell he's moody because he has a beat-up leather jacket and a bloody nose. And because he's riding a motorbike. Cut: to a bar fight. BANG! Biff! Pow! Cut: now the moody young man with the bloody nose is being given a stern, post-brawl talking-to by some old dude, and the stirring score is starting up.

"Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes," growls his interrogator. A starship, you say? "He saved 800 lives, including yours." Music swelling, heart thumping – a pregnant pause: "... I dare you to do better." Cut: and there it is, coming into focus as the brass section builds and the moody young man - whose name is already on the tip of all our tongues – gazes up at it from his motorbike: the Starship Enterprise.

The season of the summer blockbuster trailer is upon us, when hardened filmgoers get totally over-excited about a bunch of forthcoming movies; many of which will, without doubt, prove disappointing. And the most exciting teaser of the lot is for writer-director JJ Abrams' take on Star Trek.

The trailer might be so successful thanks, in part, to its adrenaline-rush orchestral score - but it's also because the film has the weight of the pop cultural canon behind it. I was never a Trekkie (truly, I wasn't), yet even the most heavily abridged tour of post-war popular culture takes in the basics of the Star Trek mythology: Kirk - for the moody young man is he - Spock, the Klingons, the Enterprise, "Live Long and Prosper".

The film itself could easily turn out to be rubbish, but when such a recognisable franchise gets a reboot, and when that reboot contains a retelling of the myth's genesis, it's hard not to feel a tingle in the pit of your stomach. There's something incredibly enticing about an origins tale.

It's an easy sell, for one thing. Part of what made Batman Begins so compelling was that sense of inevitability; right from the start, you knew Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne was destined to become the Dark Knight. Another of the big, bowel-moving trailers doing the rounds right now is for the fourth film in the Terminator series, directed by the minimally-monikered McG, and with Bale as its hero, John Connor.

Set in the future from which the original, Schwarzenegger-shaped killer robots came, Terminator: Salvation, too, is an origins story of sorts. And the overly self-explanatory X-Men Origins: Wolverine - also due this summer, or so says the promo - details the backstory of X-Men's most popular character.

So when, back in the Star Trek trailer, some gravel-voiced chap dares the young Kirk to do better, you know full well that he will, indeed, do better. And when you later see him chucking someone I can only assume is the half-naked Uhura on to the bedspread, you understand its significance: William Shatner's Kirk and Nichelle Nichols' Uhura famously shared the first interracial kiss in television history. They're all borrowed thrills, but they're thrills all the same.

I was always a Star Wars kid myself, but we know where origins prequels got that particular franchise. Another notable "forthcoming attraction" is the documentary The People vs George Lucas. To judge by its trailer, it's filled mostly with fanboys lamenting the very creation of Jar Jar Binks.

I haven't touched my lovely Mac laptop in almost a week. Instead, I've been watching most of these movie trailers on a netbook. That's one of the low-priced and low-powered mini-laptops you now increasingly see commuters tapping away at on trains.

Since the netbook was conceived with cloud computing in mind, I can get by with just two desktop icons: the internet browser (a choice of Safari, Firefox or the lush Google Chrome) and the trashcan. I suppose, at a stretch, I could stick the Spotify and Skype shortcuts on there if I wanted to clutter it up, but the point is to do everything – emails, work, social networking, listening to music, watching iPlayer – online.

Being one of the cheaper models in the market, mine feels rather like a robust educational tool for five-year-olds, but perhaps it heralds the beginning of the end of tech fetishism. If all our stuff is stored on the web, and our diminishing hardware needs can be serviced by £100 computers, maybe we'll stop caring that they're ugly – and Apple will promptly go out of business. Maybe...

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

When a small amount of desk space means the world

Rebecca Armstrong
It’s all in the detail; Ed Miliband with ‘Britain Can Be Better’ (AFP/Getty)  

General Election 2015: Parties must remember the 50-plus vote

Stefano Hatfield
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own