(The following was written immediately after Avatar won Best Picture.)

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio.... (NASA photograph)

This Oscar thing....

What lessons can we learn from the fact (yes, it's practically a fact) that Avatar swept (yes, I'm writing in the past tense even though it's only Sunday morning on the 'Coast) most of the awards?

One word: Grit.

Compare Avatar with last year's Star Trek. Trek already has most of what Avatar had; the execution wasn't quite the same, but the qualities are there: science fiction, a forward-moving story, special effects, and more.

But what Trek needs more of is The Shock -- The Shock of things that you can't see for yourself, unless you're on the front lines.

Because, though Avatar had a little something that Trek didn't have, Trek has a lot more of something that Avatar only has for a single movie: Philosophical grit, and plenty of it.

As many have said, various stories in that most neglected of Trek series, Deep Space Nine, had perhaps the most cinematic qualities of any in Trek. In them, lives of individuals and universes were changed. Hard-hitting stories were told -- aside from "A Sacrifice of Angels" and the well-known battle arcs in DS9, there were excellent character studies like "For the Uniform."

ST2012 needs to import the hard-hitting realism of that aspect of DS9, while remaining true to Trek.

As I think about it, Trek really has turned out to be more than anyone could ever have hoped it would be. It has turned out to be -- as Futurama has put it -- kind of a religion. Or at least a philosophy.

We need to put a face on that philosophy -- a Campbellian face; a mythological face. We need to show an Avatarian Vietnam face, a indigenous face, a no-guts-no-glory face, a Christian / atheist / sacred / secular face, a no-atheists-in-foxholes face of Trek to the world. All that, in a universe that recognizes that God Does Not Actually Exist.

That, and strike box office platinum.

Can it be done?

Ask James Cameron.

Add a comment