Open Letter to Fandom by Teri Meyer Regarding Spock's Movie Death

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Open Letter
Title: Open Letter to Fandom by Teri Meyer Regarding Spock's Movie Death
From: Teri Meyer, printed in Interstat #53 (March 1982), reprinted in TREKisM #24 (April/June 1982)
Addressed To:
Date(s): 1982
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic:
External Links:
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Contents

The death of the character of Spock in the second Star Trek movie was a topic of vast and very emotional fannish discussion, both before and after the event.

Tensions regarding blame and rumor were running high when the editor of the most visible Star Trek fan publication, Interstat, ran this editorial, one which was guaranteed to be widely-read not only by fans, but by TPTB.

This open letter addressed many things, some of which were an actor's wishes, who "owned" a character, blaming rather than crediting fans, "passing the buck" and hypocrisies/politics, fan service, and Bjo Trimble's references to Star Trek fans as "dippies,"

The Letter

It's generally known to INTERSTAT readers that the policy of this editor has been to personally avoid current issues within these pages. Granted, it's a good policy and a sure way to avoid having both legs broken. But of late, I'm confused.

As reported in the LoC section this month. Star Log editor Howard Zimmerman states that "fans should leave Mr. Nimoy alone." Indeed. Perhaps Star Trek fans should put a stop to this "multi-talented" actor's dilemma, along with, of course, all that national attention focused on him. After all, Mr. Nimoy has been quoted as saying, "It (Spock's death) wasn't my idea." That may be true. But I don't recall that as being the main issue with Star Trek fans. The real issue, or rather question, is. Why should Spock have to die? Harve Bennett was quoted at the Wish Weekend (July, 1981) as having said: "I'm not saying I won't do it (kill Spock) and I'm not saying that I will. I'm saying this. Leonard Nimoy is publicly on record as not wanting to put the ears back on. So here you have a producer who has the following dilemma: I would like to make Star Trek; I want Leonard to be in it....The basis of our discussion was how we could get Leonard back into Star Trek, and one of the things was, he appreciated our working relationship, and he trusted whatever it was that we decided to we would do. I think the bottom line is that Leonard doesn't want to do it beyond this one. I think he wants to part after this time, and I think that our problem is to do that in a wonderful way, so that he does, as you say, go off somewhere, or retires, or moves on to some other plane, or some other place. There are a hundred ways to discuss that, and that's one of my final dilemmas — how to solve that, and move on.... Not an easy dilemma.

In an additional letter sent to INTERSTAT by Gene Roddenberry (10/5/81) he stated:"In this second movie, we have had to face the fact that Leonard Nimoy no longer wants to play Spock. Our information is that Nimoy believes that the admittedly powerful Spock images interferes with his career, and he will play Mr. Spock in this movie only if the Spock character is destroyed and permanently eliminated from Star Trek....My recommendation, in deference to Nimoy's wishes, is that Spock can seem to have been killed but with a science fiction possibility left that he may still one day reappear. Although I can understand how the Spock image troubles Nimoy, I believe that it is foolishly wasteful to permanently destroy this key character (and a bit unfair to me as Spock's initial creator)." Unfair, yes; and a far cry from Mr. Nimoy's open statement to fans at a New York City convention (9/3/77): "I am the actor who, during the third season of Star Trek, fought vehemently with the then producer of Star Trek, the producer in the third season, vehemently over the quality of the scripts and the maintenance of the characters...." A few months ago we learned from an INTERSTAT LoCer (#49) who spoke with fanclub president, Louise Stang, "that Mr. Nimoy told her (Louise) to ignore the rumors,that it was not he who decided to kill Spock off and he did not approve. He had discussed it with the writer whose idea it was but was not in agreement." And more recently, an Entertainment Tonight interview revealed Mr. Nimoy of being very fond of playing the Vulcan and summing up the anti-Spock rumor as "a myth concocted by people who want to make some drama out of this whole thing." I'm still confused. What people? From producer to actor onto writer the buck is passed. And yet the death report doesn't seem to be anyone's idea. Obviously, if it had been a good idea it would have been everyone's idea. Why then, must this publicity buck be passed onto fans? — those "dippies", as Bjo so graciously put it, who are driving the production staff "up the wall." Are the so-called pressure tactics by fans any more ludicrous than recent studio cat & mouse games? Frankly, I don't care whose idea it was. As a fan, I simply prefer that the character of Spock, created by Gene Roddenberry and loved by millions, continue to live on the screen (and not in the rumored guise of a Spock-Kenobi, whose age would camouflage neatly under 14 camera filters.) Furthermore, does Leonard Nimoy really believe concern by the fans can be curbed with a ridiculous statement like, "Nobody dies in science fiction"? Tell that, Mr. Nimoy, to astronaut Poole (2001), take it to Preacher Van Buren (War of the Worlds), reiterate it to Dr. Morbius, Lt. Farnum and poor Quinn (Forbidden Planet), break it to the entire crew of the commercial starship Nostromo (Alien) and then convince us simple-minded "trekkies" that good, sound characters aren't killed off in SF films. Science fiction movies do claim their victims, especially one-shot features. But Star Trek was not a one-shot feature, nor was Spock created to bite the dust. Like the other Trek characters, he is special; a classmate, if you will, of the world's immortal folk-heroes. Then again, maybe we shouldn't concern ourselves. Enter: Director Nicholas Meyer. He has made himself perfectly — "We're not making this movie for Trekkies." (I guess he means us.) Pity. I thought it was us, those "trekkies", who went the extra mile and supported them (I guess I mean Paramount) when the first film was released. If this movie isn't being made for the Trek fan, then for whom is it being made? Certainly that large viewing audience out there (the same one which has supported a syndicated Trek for 10 years plus, topping ratings everywhere) couldn't possibly be those DIPPIE TREKKIES! Never mind the definition (or more importantly, the fact that Kahn is being brought back for this ready audience). I don't believe for a moment that any viewing audience will be content with a possible resurrection of St. Spock, the spirit of ST past (a disembodied voice calling, "Use the warp, Jim"). More likely those ticket-buyers who, after the 26th running day of ST:TMP had slapped down $53 million, would prefer a working, functioning, living First Officer aboard the Starship Enterprise. Spock, to be precise.

In conclusion of my confusion, we'll probably never know Paramount's real intention, or Leonard Nimoy's involvement in the widely picked up 'death' of Mr. Spock -- and maybe we shouldn't. But "it wasn't my idea" just doesn't cut it for me as the final word. The final word will be that final print on film and, depending on Mr. Nimoy's availability, finances and mood the next time around, that could be forever, Paramount.