Monday, July 23, 2007

The Shatner Show

If you happen to live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, you are lucky enough to be able to go to the UPPERCASE Gallery for "The Shatner Show": a group of artists' renditions and interpretations of Shatner's fabulous and varied career. And if you can't get to Calgary, you can view the show online here.

The works vary in quality, and most zero in on the two areas of Shatner's career that you might expect: Kirk's wild, intergalactic sex with multicolored aliens (one depicts Kirk making out with a Gorn, which I'm not sure ever happened in Star Trek) and his lounge singer, Rocket Man phase. None, however, focus on his role in the first Esperanto film, Incubus, or the fabulous dual roles he played as half-breed twins Johnny Moon and Notah in White Commanche (the climactic scene where Shatner fights himself could easily serve as a metaphor for his career).

My favorite piece, which also turns out to be Shatner's favorite as well, is the somber, contemplative, backstage Shatner by Zina Saunders. She effectively captures the mood of a star looking back on his better days while also wondering what the future holds. I can imagine this to be Shatner backstage before doing his famous "Rocket Man" performance.

The most amazing piece, however, is the Shatner Lego bust by Sean Kenney. I also liked the pieces by Karen and Patrick Andrews, Joy Ang, Nick Dewar, and Jesse Lefkowitz.

Shatner may appear as the butt of many jokes, but few celebrities have as good of an attitude or fix on the source of their popularity as Shatner does. Outside of the Denny Crain role on Boston Legal (which is a performance that plays directly to his excesses as an actor and for which Shatner just received another Emmy nomination), I read most of Shatner's recent work as a part of a larger work--a kind of public performance art piece where he has created a persona as "William Shatner" to comment on the nature of celebrity. The album with Ben Folds, the Priceline commercials, movies like Free Enterprise, the ShatnerVision webisodes, the reality show appearances, the books, and other public appearances all fall into this overarching work.

And the final word about Shatner: Shatner never phones it in.

1 comment:

Chance said...

He makes an appearance as himself, I believe, in the upcoming comedy "Fan Boys." Just another brick in the Shatner wall.