Simon Pegg, Star of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Accuses Sci-Fi and Comic Book Movies of “Dumbing us Down” [Update]

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Update: Simon Pegg has now elaborated upon his comments regarding the Radio Times interview in a lengthy blog post on his official site. You can read it in full right here, but to summarise, Pegg says that his comments regarding cinema “dumbing down” were not intended to suggest that cinema has now become dumb. Pegg writes: “In the last two weeks, I have seen two brilliant exponents of the genre. Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, both of which had my head spinning in different and wonderful ways and are both very grown up films.”

He continues: “I guess what I meant was, the more spectacle becomes the driving creative priority, the less thoughtful or challenging the films can become. The spectacle of Mad Max is underpinned not only multiple layers of plot and character but also by an almost lost cinematic sense of ‘how did they do that?’ The best thing art can do is make you think, make you re-evaluate the opinions you thought were yours.” He also laments that there was “probably more discussion on Twitter about the The Force Awakens and the Batman vs Superman trailers than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election.” 

Considering Pegg is still very much involved in the “spectacle” of modern day cinema, what with his upcoming appearances in Star Trek 3 and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, it is not difficult to see why his comments could be branded hypocritical. However, his blog post makes for an interesting read and does make some thoughtful points that elaborate upon comments made in an interview that didn’t exactly cast him in the best light. 

Hey, we all say things we regret sometimes. Fortunately for us, we aren’t the co-writers of one of the biggest sci-fi movies of the past decade, so therefore no one really cares when we slip up. 

Original Story: Simon Pegg, a man who has built a successful career out of both starring in and talking about science fiction movies, has now stated that he believes their popularity is making society more childish, and “dumbing down” cinema.

Speaking to Radio Times magazine, Pegg bemoaned the spectacle of modern movies, saying:

“Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie And Clyde and The French Connection – gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed … I don’t know if that is a good thing.

“… Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema but part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilised by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.

“It is a kind of dumbing down, in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever.

“Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.”

Aside from the fact that genre films and intelligent films aren’t mutually exclusive, this very much sounds like a case of Pegg biting the hands that feed him. Pegg’s career began with Spaced, a cult TV show that, while hilarious on its own merits, garnered such a large amount of love due to its parodying of sci-fi and various other movies. Let’s also not forget that one of his most lucrative roles has been portraying Scotty in Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness, with him currently co-writing the script for the third entry in the series.

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Simon Pegg, starring in sci-fi film Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Despite this, Pegg says that he has thought about “retiring from geekdom”, whatever that means. “Sometimes (I) feel like I miss grown-up things,” he continued. “And I honestly thought the other day that I’m gonna retire from geekdom.

“I’ve become the poster child for that generation, and it’s not necessarily something I particularly want to be. I’d quite like to go off and do some serious acting.”

Also See: Exclusive Interview With ‘Mad Max’ Villain The Immortan Joe

How does one retire from “geekdom”? Do you just give up liking the things that I like? Despite being a self-professed Star Wars fan, will Pegg refuse to go watch The Force Awakens if he hands his geekdom certificate in? Also, how does one acquire a geekdom certificate?

Doubling down on his hypocrisy, Pegg then goes on to state how the studio has asked him to make the script for the third Star Trek movie more lighthearted in order to have it appeal to wider audience. “They had a script for Star Trek that wasn’t really working for them,” he said. “I think the studio was worried that it might have been a little bit too Star Trek-y.

“Avengers Assemble, which is a pretty nerdy, comic-book, supposedly niche thing, made $1.5bn dollars. Star Trek: Into Darkness made half a billion, which is still brilliant. But it means that, according to the studio, there’s still $1bn worth of box office that don’t go and see Star Trek. And they want to know why.

“People don’t see it being a fun, brightly coloured, Saturday night entertainment like the Avengers,” adding that the solution was to “make a Western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it’s more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent”.

So what he’s saying here is that he’s dumbing down a script in order to appeal to a dumb audience of dumb people? Gotcha.

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