Shatner. One name is all that is required.
(And Bill, if you drop dead at 80 on the day this runs, we all apologize in advance.)
It’s a worthwhile question to ask, as no amount of investigation on the internet would’ve told you in advance of Sunday night’s one man show at the Shaw Conference Centre.
And when it comes to being online, Shatner is ever-present, a digital God to a legion of TV geeks and fanboy freaks. He’s on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Spotify, Google+ . He’s been an internet pitchman (for the ever-present Priceline.Com ) since before most people were actually willing to risk their credit card on-line.
But what motivates the guy? Is Bill Shatner the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with? Or did he sell his soul to Ol’ Scratch in order to have more years looking vaguely 60ish than any man should deserve?
We looked at his posts, we followed a month of his tweets. We still don’t really know. He just seems to love producing and succeeding. He’s workaholic, a shameless attention grabber, but he keeps his personal feelings utterly to himself. His connection with his 750,000 Twitter fans is mythic …. quite literally, as a month of Twitter posts (appended with comments at the end of this piece) reveal: not one post out of a few dozen reveals any kind of personal opinion, perspective, introspection or position on anything. And any kind of real connection with the people you’re talking to in such a scenario has to be pretty much artifice.
It’s like the William Shatner that you see everywhere, the … Shatner… Comedians….love , is just a persona, an invention of celebrity itself. Those 750,000 aren’t following the Stratford-trained Shatner because they’re interested in the young guy who grew up in NDG in Montreal. They want a guy who encapsulates the spirit of TJ Hooker, Captain Kirk and the narrating voice from Rescue 911 all in one. Plus, he had an awesome cameo in Fanboys.
In a sense, it reminds you of Sheldon`s reaction in that episode of the Big Bang Theory where he realizes he`s been given a napkin with Leonard Nimoy`s saliva on it: “I can grow my own Leonard Nimoy?” he postulates incredulously, instantly explaining why Shatner would keep the public public and the private private: for a long time, everybody has wanted a piece of him.
In that context Shatner’s approach to his profession of late has made sense. For every Star Trek-related appearance, he has also written a new novel, or put out a concept album –as in his work with Ben Folds or his new release, reinterpreting David Bowie’s Major Tom story.
The Journal’s Fish Griwkowsky interviewed him, and Shatner’s response fit the theory: his art lets him reinterpret his life and life around him. “I find satisfaction in interpreting my life around me,” says Shatner finally. “I love to entertain, with better material than my own. But if I have to, I do my own. And that entertainment is a reinterpretation of my life and things around me.”
But the immensity of his celebrity in fanboy world explains the why. Who would want to offer up the real thing, stark and unadorned? Doubtless, any actor might feel, people would be disappointed. They want the myth, not the man. In the same interview, Shatner concedes his transition to theatre came from being in the sports spotlight. In other words, it was about the spotlight, not the work.
So there are two Bill Shatners: one for public consumption, and one who writes weird allegorical tunes about 60s pop characters and dares you to figure out why.
Neither is the reality, really. But give the fans reality, or even a taste of it, and the artist is exposed to their slings and arrows with an inevitability that borders on masochism.
Besides, being William Shatner, celebrity, has to be pretty fun in and of itself. It’s not exactly digging ditches, to be 80 and beloved.