Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The word "Trekkie"
Trekkie was always the more popular term in the media in general but Trekker was preferred by fans until recently when Trekkie has become mostly acceptable.
The term "Trekkie" is sometimes considered derogatory, perhaps because of a perceived parallel to the term "groupie". Some Star Trek enthusiasts prefer the term "Trekker", while some others hold the latter term to be stupid or pretentious, and, for that reason, self-identify as "Trekkies". Some Trekkies even hold that a "Trekker" is a "Trekkie" who is embarrassed of being a "Trekkie". On the other hand, "Trekker" is sometimes used as a term for the kind of Star Trek fan who is obsessed with the minutiae and the fine details. A Trekkie was considered to be someone stupid and embarrassing to intelligent and serious fans known as Trekkers. The classic stereotype is a clueless Trekkie walking around wearing rubber Spock ears and being held up to public ridicule for his obsession. Trekkie vs Trekker mirrors the Sci-Fi vs SF debate.
"Trekker" may actually have its origins in the early days. When the media picked up on the word "Trekkies", some fans thought the term sounded too much like "Crazies". Self-identification as a "Trekkie" became even less popular in the late 1980s after a famous national television parody (see Parodies below); several self-described "Trekkers" were quoted as saying they "had a life" (contrasting themselves from "Trekkies").
In the late 1960s, science fiction editor Art Saha applied the term "trekkies" when he saw a few fans of the first season of Star Trek wearing pointy ears at a science fiction convention. He used the term in an interview with Pete Hamill that Hamill was conducting for TV Guide concerning the phenomenon of science fiction. Today, the word is found in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, and aficionados of the long-run series have seen their subculture achieve stratospheric status. The series preferences of "Trekkies" vary widely, however, with some having distinct preferences for The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, or the movies. Some are also fans of the Pocket Books tie-in novel media franchise and the comic books.
A 1997 documentary film, called Trekkies, chronicled some of these devoted fans; a sequel followed in 2003. The argument that "Trekkie" is the correct term was settled once and for all by the director of Trekkies Roger Nygard by a post on the official website for the documentary. When a fan posed the question of why the film was called Trekkies and not Trekkers, Nygard had this to say:
Gene Roddenberry's former assistant and Star Trek researcher, told us the following story, and that clinched it for us.
Gene (Roddenberry) didn't recognize the term "Trekker" however. Somebody once corrected him when he used "Trekkie" on stage. He responded, "Excuse me, did you say 'TrekkER?' The word is 'TrekkIE.' I should know, I created them."
However, it's interesting to note that in the 1991 TV show "Star Trek: 25th Anniversary Special", Leonard Nimoy attempts to settle the issue with further confusion by stating that the term 'Trekker' is the correct one. Which opinion do you trust... Leonard or Gene?
The term "Trekkie", originally intended only to describe enthusiasts of Star Trek, has so often been used to describe its most ardent, diehard fans, that the term has also been used sometimes to indicate obsession itself. For example, there is a character in the hit Broadway musical Avenue Q named Trekkie Monster who is obsessed, not with Star Trek, but with internet porn. Because he is called "Trekkie", however, the audience is meant to assume that his enthusiasm is focused and insatiable.