jetpack_monkey: (Sisko - Like a Boss)
[personal profile] jetpack_monkey
Title: The Ballad of Wesley Crusher
Song: mewithoutYou - In a Sweater Poorly Knit
Source: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Length: 3:30
Warnings: Brief strobing between 2:37-2:41, otherwise fine.
Made for: [personal profile] thirdblindmouse, Festivids 2013

Summary: You set out on a journey that wasn't your own. Now, it's time to find a path that is truly yours.

Password: wunderkind

Download 32MB MP4 (right/ctrl-click and "Save link as...").

Notes: You can trace the exact root of this vid do a post by the AV Club: Hold this thread as I walk away: 15 songs about sweaters. I was bored at work and started poking through because I always thought that Wesley Crusher would make a good vid subject. It wasn't until the final entry in the list that I found something even vaguely appropriate -- the song in use here -- and even then I had to listen to it a couple of times before I figured out the general arc.

From that point, I had two weeks to make the vid. That includes clipping a show which, while I'd been utterly obsessed with it in the 1990s, I hadn't actually seen that much of. Bear in mind that when I was at the height of Trek obsession, I was a preteen living in the Midwest without a lot of money and streaming wasn't a thing yet (heck, DVDs weren't a thing yet). I owned a lot of TNG books and action figures and other memorabilia, but I had precious few opportunities to watch the show. So it was kind of like going in as a new fan, but with a mental crib sheet.

Here's the deal with this vid: Wesley Crusher got screwed. Here's this boy genius engineer who is so excited about someday exploration and discovery, but because of his background and current situation, that excitement gets translated into an adoration for Starfleet, which is exactly the wrong place for him. Wesley Crusher is not cut out for the military, no matter how benevolent it might be. Star Trek has a tendency to show that joining Starfleet is the pinnacle of human achievement and takes a dim view of the civilian (human) consultants that wander in and out. In a universe full of possibilities, though, Starfleet cannot be the solution for everyone. It certainly isn't for Wesley.

And the show, unwittingly I suspect, goes on to demonstrate that. Once Wesley becomes an acting ensign, his role becomes an increasing series of "course laid in" statements. He's tasked to fly a ship that, canonically, can fly itself. In a couple of episodes, he's basically used as Engineering Tech #1, working in the background and saying a line or two of generic dialogue so they won't have to pay another actor the extra money that comes with having lines.

I really don't blame Wil Wheaton for leaving the show in Season 4. They'd given him precious little to do and denied him the opportunity to work on other projects at the same time.

All of this is why I'm really glad that Ronald D. Moore wrote Journey's End for Wesley in Season 7. My understanding of it was that RDM saw Wesley much the same way that I do. The show was coming to an end and Wesley was still at Starfleet Academy. RDM basically said, "Hey, before we close out the show, can we fix this Wesley problem and show that there are other paths than Starfleet?" And so they did.

Thanks to Franzeska, Elipie, echan, diannelamerc, and lizbetann for sanity checks, cheerleading, and beta-ing.

Date: 2014-02-09 11:01 pm (UTC)
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
From: [personal profile] bironic
Thank you for this write-up. As another obsessed-with-Trek-through-the-teens person, I was intrigued by the vid and the title but wasn't sure how to read it, especially with the trap lines. This makes it clearer!

Uh and if that didn't make it clear, I did quite enjoy the vid. :)

Date: 2014-03-04 04:41 am (UTC)
shadowscast: First Slayer shadow puppet (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowscast
Oh man, this vid gave me feelings.

So let me just say, I was 13 in 1990, and nerdy and unpopular and lonely, and I loved Wesley Crusher. I fantasized about living on the Enterprise and being his friend and having adventures together. I didn't know about fandom yet, so I didn't know that Wesley was generally hated—I found out years later, and was surprised and saddened but at least by then I was old enough and had grown into myself enough that I didn't take it as (much of) a personal blow.

And now I'm 36, and I have perspective, and I understand about stories, and I understand why people hated Wesley.

This vid makes my heart ache for him, and for my 13-year-old self. The sweaters, oh lord the sweaters.

And I am so grateful for the story you tell here, of his arc, of how Starfleet really wasn't the right place for him at all, and how the ending, his strange departure from the show (which I had no idea how to parse at all, when it aired) can be read as a coming-of-age story, an escape from a life which is unsuitable to one which is a much better fit. (And I bet there are an awful lot of us in fandom who can identify with that.)

So, thanks for much for sharing this vid! I'm going to go watch it again now.
Edited ((realized I meant Starfleet, not the Enterprise -- sorry, tired brain!)) Date: 2014-03-04 07:00 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-05-29 06:46 am (UTC)
shallowness: Beautiful blue alien in front of colourful background (Zhaan Farscape wonders I've seen)
From: [personal profile] shallowness
Thnk you for making such a sympathetic vid for young Wesley.

Date: 2015-01-03 07:01 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
Really amazing -- well done!

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