Monday, July 29, 2013

Will Weaton Turns 41: A Portrait Of Wesley Crusher

                          One of the qualities I appreciated most Star Trek: The Next Generation is the idea of a starship where the crew could bring their families on board. Very much born out of the production of the original Star Trek's dissolution of Gene Roddenberry's own family,this concept was also in keeping with Roddenberry's optimism for the future. One of the characters in this show was Wesley Crusher,the adolescent only child of the Enteprise's doctor and widowed mother Beverley Crusher. Whether we Will Weaton for his role in Stand By Me,his left wing politics and LGBT rights campaigning or his recent appearances in The Big Bang Theory he will,to me always have the most influence on me in the role of Wesley-a character named for Roddenberry's own middle name as a futurist version of himself so they say.

                     Wesley Crusher was a highly intelligent wunderkind,the "Mozart of 24'th century engineering" as a character in the show called the Traveler once implied. One of the most telling qualities he had however was his generally positive interactions with the crew. He only occasionally exhibited signs of cock sure adolescent attitudes. And although his intelligence led him into leading the Enterprise out of dangerous situations faster than the crew could, he was often more than willing to assist the crew-especially close friends Geordi LaForge and Data,in understanding his visions. He was a positive enthusiast and idealist-reveling in the new encounters he had on the ship. However from the start he had ambiguous feelings about going to Starfleet Academy as Captain Jean-Luc Picard was hoping for. After a time there led to a severe downturn in his enthusiasm he embarked on a more esoteric journey to understanding his gifts.

                  Much to my own regret, most people-especially Star Trek fans,have as equally as much vitriol for Wesley Crusher as I do respect and admiration. Much of this comes from the spiteful humor of 1990's comedians such as Craig Kilborn,one Trekker who delighted in getting hundreds of people to shamelessly laugh at the character. I always had a feeling a lot of this feeling was born of a form of envy-deriving from the young American male "jocks and geeks" style 20th century style social order. Today in the 21st century,as social attitudes are at last expanding there seems to be a strong re-evaluation of  Wesley's character. With no narcissism intended the Wesley character and myself have many qualities in common: strong idealist enthusiasm,a keen intellect,personal vulnerability and a tendency to be misunderstood-often misdirected by others.  I greatly admire Weaton's portrayal of this character. And am wishing a happy 41 to him and to his family!

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