Viewing posts tagged William Shatner

Sensor Scan: Rocket Man

Elton John and Bernie Taupin's “Rocket Man” is usually read as a very poor imitation of David Bowie's “Space Oddity”. Both songs explore the mundane reality of space travel and both came out just as the wave of public interest in outer space and spaceflight had crested and was beginning to roll back (though “Space Oddity”, at least the original version, was far more timely in 1969, with “Rocket Man”'s 1972 release date already making it feel curiously dated, though do recall “Space Oddity” was re-released that year too) and, to top it off, both songs were even produced by the same guy: Gus Dudgeon. And of course, the critical consensus goes, no-one is going to call Bernie Taupin an especially poetic, captivating or moving songwriter, and David Bowie is, well, David Bowie.

But this misses, I feel, a big part of the nuance “Rocket Man” actually displays. Yes, I'll come right out and say it: This is pretty clunky song, and there are a fair few embarrassing verses and questionable lines. But I'll also freely admit this is one of my favourite pop songs, and while I'm well aware my taste in music ...

Sensor Scan: William Shatner in the 1970s

Modern genre fiction actors are superstars. They're today’s teen idols, appearing in multi-billion dollar film and television projects and have their name and face instantly splattered across the Internet the moment their franchise sees the merest inkling of popular success. Typecasting too is far less of a problem now then it used to be: Nowadays up-and-coming genre stars go out of their way to nurture a cult of personality as soon as they start to become famous, and take care to ensure each marquee role they play is a slightly different twist on their iconic public persona from the start: Benedict Cumberbatch, for example, plays a version of Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness that can succinctly be described as “Evil Sherlock” even though he is self-evidently capable of a vast and diverse acting range. Likewise, there's not a whole lot of difference between Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins, his John Watson and his Arthur Dent, which was already an exaggerated and caricatured version of the character he played in The Office. This isn't so much a criticism as it is an observation that in contemporary genre fiction, typecasting is something that's acknowledged ...

Sensor Scan: The Transformed Man

William Shatner is one of those personalities who is so ubiquitous that their reputation precedes and obfuscates their actual contributions to art and pop culture. Shatner is so famous as Captain Kirk and the the king of unironic and self-evidently ridiculous camp that his iconic public persona dwarfs and overshadows his entire creative body of work. One of the reasons why I focus so heavily on Shatner in my overview of this period of Star Trek history (if not the primary one) is that his status as an omnipresent and immediately recognisable part of pop culture has ironically made it difficult to discern any reasonable erudition about the kind of actor he is, the style of performance he delivers and what the positionality he draws it all from really is. That's not to say Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig aren't equally as iconic and memorable in their roles, they are, but everyone knows they're brilliant and, more to the point, everyone largely knows why they're brilliant. That's not really the case with with William Shatner.

All of which is to say that in 1968 William Shatner released ...

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