” ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek’ are two very different things,” we were always telling people. “One of them is great, and the other one is terrible.”
“One of them is a multigenerational, modern-day myth, and the other one is a bunch of Shakespeare-actor clowns in polyester reenacting ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes in space,” we said.
“One of them does not contain Jar Jar,” they said.
So much for those years of carefully carving out separate areas of nerd territory, when we tried to explain that conflating the two was something like asking, “Oh, you’re a baseball fan, huh? You must love football.”
“These are two somewhat different things,” we would say. “Some people like them both. Both involve dressing up in embarrassing colors and memorizing strange names. But only someone who did not know them would assume that they were the same.”
“Oh, you love the Crips,” these same people would say. “You must love the Bloods.”
“You like cats!” they would say. “You must love dogs! You like Sondheim! You must love Andrew Lloyd Webber!”
“These things are superficially similar,” we would hiss, “but they do not share everything.”
The feuds were violent. The last time I went “Star Wars” speed dating, someone dressed as Captain Kirk was urged to leave before things got ugly, even though she was one of the few women. “We don’t serve your kind here,” everyone murmured, or the equivalent.
There was a line between the two of them that could not be bridged. Now Abrams strides over it, boldly going to a galaxy far, far away.
I have some reservations. For instance, I worry a little about Abrams’s persistent tendency to imply that all of his shows exist in the same universe — although, hey, maybe we could settle once and for all whether the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise would be able to win in a fair fight. (My money’s on the Falcon.)
I also worry about the potential for awkward moments of shouting the wrong name at conventions. It used to be that saying “May the force be with you” while giving the Vulcan salute was the mark that you were a nerd impostor. Now, you might just be J.J. Abrams.
This is an embarrassment of nerd riches. What’s left to conquer? At this rate, he’ll wind up directing Tolkein’s “The Silmarillion.”
And I worry about placing so much unlimited power in the hands of one man. One minute you’re directing “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” The next, you’re declaring yourself Space Emperor For Life. You’re announcing the construction of a third Death Star. You’re making Captain Kirk and Han Solo mud wrestle in gold bikinis. “Power!” you are cackling. “Unlimited power!”
And he’ll need to start detoxing now, lest an awkward moment ensue when someone tries to phase someone he should be blasting or blast someone he should be phasing.
But I’m more excited than worried. I loved his “Star Trek” reboot, mainly because it was so like a “Star Wars” movie that I felt no guilt in making the crossover. It had swagger! It had camaraderie! It had it where it counts, kid. If you squinted a little during critical portions, you could pretend you were on Hoth!
So, live long and prosper, J.J. May the force be with you. But mostly the latter.