Karina’s Capsule: Common/People

Yeah, alright…that William Shatner “Common/People” Star Trek mashup spoof thing has a few things in it to make it worth recommending. It is, for the most part, edited with enough proficiency that the voice of William Shatner speak/singing the 1995 Pulp anthem occasionally seems to be coming organically from the animated Captain Kirk’s mouth. Formally and in terms of choreography, there’s a sort of inverse symmetry between this and the original Pulp video: Where Jarvis Cocker’s arms and hips flail in complex patterns as if divorced from his generally blasé face, the animated Kirk and Spock’s limbs remain stiff and controlled, while their eyes and eyebrows provide implicit color commentary. Also, recast here as the backup singer on Spock and Kirk’s mating song, Uhura is totally fierce.

But it’s not as good as could/probably should be. Maybe it’s so inevitable that any kind of Star Trek fan fic will involve Kirk and Spock pledging love that we don’t actually need to see it play out, we can fill in the gaps between an opening hint and a closing one. But that doesn’t justify the fact that when this vid gives up the courtship plot halfway through –– and despite an explosion of spectacle –– it just gets kind of boring until the tacked-on pledge of manly respect coded as expression of repressed romance.

And really: How many videos based on this simple equation do we need to see? We get it: 1+1 = gay, and gay = comedy gold. Aren’t we supposed to be demanding more, or is it naive to hold on to hope that media made outside of mainstream corporate mandates could possible transcend easy formula? Why are we so content to allow the agenda for the supposed counterculture of web video to be determined by the comic crutches of people like Andy Samberg?