Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beam me up

One curious aspect of the impending release of a new Star Trek movie is the fact that Paramount is acknowledging Riverside, Iowa's status as the birthplace of the fictional Capt. Kirk by providing the town with free tickets to a sneak preview. It seems to me that there is more to this story. That perhaps this is Baudrillard's theory of the hyperreal being vividly confirmed before our eyes.

Here an act of magnanimity to the town's citizens seems to be a reward for their willingness to subsume themselves into the fantasyscape of Star Trek. The town has transfigured itself, changing it's traditional River Fest into a TrekFest, and erecting statues in honor not of historical Riverside personages, but of the imagined Kirk. The history of the town is eclipsed by the shadow of the imaginary starship Enterprise. It is, as Baudrillard observed, "...the disappearance of history and the real in the televisual."

How long, I wonder, before the townsfolk begin dressing in Star Trek uniforms, repeating scenes from the shows and movies, creating not historical reenactments, but science fictional enactments? By becoming in effect an inhabited Star Trek Disneyland, Riverside's new identity is "... a magnificent stroke of cynicism, naivety, kitsch, and unintended humour - something astonishing in its nonsensicality." In short, something hyperreal.

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