March 2, 2015

Live Long and Prosper: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

Photo by Gage Skidmore
To say that I was a Star Trek fan in my younger days is an understatement - it was one of the few shows which my father and I could watch together. (Trust me, ninety-nine percent of the time we were arguing). I can still quote whole chunks of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan verbatim. And when it came to characters I could identify with, it wasn't the heroic Kirk..... was Spock.

I was brought up with some very antiquated values about men and emotion. Think of it like this: my mother was often Amanda, my father often Sarek. To be fair, my father was brought up by first generation immigrants from Eastern Europe during the 1950's - this isn't one of those kind of admissions; merely that there's a context.

But one of the things that attracted me about Star Trek wasn't just the adventure - or the high level of writing (which led me to a childhood journey to learn who this mysterious "Gene Roddenberry" was) - it was the fact that a character who was "alien" and an "outsider" was having the same kind of emotional journey that I was....and that, at some point, a person like that could interact with others and feel as if they belonged yet still retain their anonymity.

But even as I got older, I could appreciate Nimoy's work - both as Martin Landau's replacement in Mission: Impossible (I once asked him about this as part of a Prodigy Online chat - he enjoyed the experience but felt frustrated due to the lack of challenge, if I remember correctly) and some of his film work (besides the two Trek films, well....I'm a sucker for Three Men & A Baby. There, I said it out loud). But perhaps even more than Shatner, Nimoy has always been an ambassador for Trek.

Nimoy always carried himself - even when doing, say, an episode of The Simpsons, with a high level of self-respect. Never condescending, self-depreciating without being self-consciously hip (unlike Mr. Shatner), Nimoy was more of a spokesman for Trek's ideals than anyone besides Roddenberry. It's a bit shocking that he's gone, his death resonates for me a bit more deeply because I didn't just lose someone whose work I admired....

...but someone who, in a very subtle way, provided an ideal for manhood. One which I try very hard to emulate.

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