Beam Me Up, Scotty: My Work Here is Done.
I’m not old enough to have grown up watching “Star Trek: The Original Series” (missed it by about 20-plus years), but Spock himself is no less a transcendent presence in my life. In an ironic twist on my generational preclusion, my first exposure to Leonard Nimoy came via his appearances on “The Simpsons,” in which he played himself. And “The Original Series” wasn’t even my second exposure to Nimoy. A little-known actor at the time, Nimoy also appeared in an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” a show that I frequently binge-watched as a kid.
But Spock exists as such an American pop culture cornerstone that I recognized the persona far before I boldly dared to go where no man had gone before. Little did I know the depth to which “Star Trek” — and moreover Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock — would permeate my psyche.
Not since the death of Paul Newman have I been so emotionally stricken by the passing of a celebrity. Unlike Newman, Nimoy will forever be intrinsically linked with a singular entity, yet his career is no less influential and his cultural mark no less permanent. I would be lying if I said I identified with any role more than that of Spock.
There was something inexplicably magical about watching the juxtaposition of Kirk and Spock, and the diametrically opposite ideals that they represented. Despite their reportedly tumultuous relationship off-set, Nimoy could not have developed his role of Spock without Shatner and vice versa. In many respects, their love/hate relationship on and off screen is what fueled the fire needed to perfectly develop each character. I stand firm in my love for Spock over Kirk. Moreover, whereas Shatner is notoriously hard to get along with, Nimoy has always been approachable and fan-friendly.
Nimoy’s two-part autobiography, “I Am Not Spock” (1975) and “I Am Spock” (1995), speaks to the extent to which Nimoy was typecast by a cultural tour de force, yet it was Nimoy’s dedication to the role that solidified his place in Americana forever. Nimoy explored Spock’s characterization with a logic so sound that it would make any Vulcan proud — that is, of course, if Vulcans could indeed feel pride. It’s actually quite astonishing how much loving depth Nimoy was able to inject into a purposefully emotionless character. In that respect, the titles behind both of Nimoy’s books reign true.
The “Schlock Vault” often honors the low-brow and the unintentionally bad, but I felt it not only fitting, but mandatory, to include a Nimoy memorial piece. Trekkies have essentially been a bastardized group since the very inception of “Star Trek”, and in many respects Nimoy provided a voice for the voiceless, outcast, and marginalized. I identified with Nimoy’s kind and gentle nature, and envied the power behind Spock’s logical nature. A world without either persona is a highly illogical place, to be sure.
Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy. You will be sorely missed.