So recently, I learned that actor George Takei (Sulu, on the original Star Trek) had invited William Shatner to his wedding after all. (Takei, 71, was recently wedded to his longtime gay partner Brad Altman, 54.) Takei does not say how he sent the invitation. Presumably, he did it on engraved stationery and sent it via the U.S. Mail. In any event, Shatner claims he never received an invitation and that is why he wasn’t there, but it was certainly not because he is a homophobe. This has become the latest in a long running tiff between the two former Star Trek cast members. Apparently, George and Bill cannot just pick up the phone and chat.
However, I am not surprised to find out that Bill did not show up. After all, Takei thinks Shatner has an Olympian size ego and has said as much, most recently on Entertainment Tonight but also in his tell-all 1994 book, To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei.
I did not learn all these tawdry details until sometime over the last few months I stumbled on The Shatner Project, Bill’s personal YouTube site. Since then, I have gone back on occasion, not because I am a big fan of Bill Shatner but for the sheer audacity of watching Bill be Bill. Unless you are a big fan of Shatner, it is hard to disagree with Takei’s assessment of Shatner’s oversized ego. Indeed, the site (not to mention Shatner’s own personal website) indicates that Bill Shatner likes to make sure the world knows what’s going on in Bill Shatner’s life.
I think my recent fascination for Bill’s site is like rubbernecking past a really awful car crash. One thing I can say about Bill: he is not afraid to be what he wants us to think he is. If you want to know what Bill Shatner wants us to think of him, watch some of his YouTube videos. Shatner continues to boldly go where few actors rightly have gone before, which in this case is the quirky but pedestrian YouTube site. On his YouTube site, you can see him talking with his daughter Lisabeth or his wife Elizabeth (who looks about his daughter’s age) as well as hear him emote on all sorts of things. One of these recently, and what caught my attention, has been his feelings about George Takei, who he has characterized as a psychotic. He feels that Takei is out to discredit him. It turns out though that Takei’s sin, and the reason he has been frequently mentioned on his site lately, is that Takei simply tells people who ask just what Shatner clearly is in his videos: an egomaniac.
Bill, if you were not an egomaniac, why would you have your own domain, billshatner.com, with forums, a fan club, blogs for both you and your daughter and (naturally) your own online store. There, fans can preorder his newest book Up Till Now. Also available is a collection of personally signed pictures and the opportunity to preorder a Captain Kirk nutcracker (sale price: only $28.99). Is the Actors’ Guild not sending you enough royalties? Moreover, isn’t paying $94.95 for a personally signed copy of your latest book a wee bit excessive?
What sort of exciting things do we learn about Bill Shatner from his YouTube site? Aside from his thoughts about his dysfunctional relationship with George Takei, you can learn all about Thanksgiving in the Shatner household, his thoughts on Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, watch Bill drive a car and watch Bill’s close encounter with Koko the Gorilla.
Granted, considering most of the dreck on YouTube, The Shatner Project might be considered something like high art. I actually did find one video of particular interest, this one, where William Shatner talks about his infamous Rocketman video. (His excuse: he didn’t think it was being videotaped.) No worries, Elton John; you do not have to give up your day job.
I imagine Shatner does have a significant fan club that thinks he is something of a god. Fans are not known for being unbiased in their fandom. As for the rest of us, Shatner and his web site and videos in particular, give us plenty of reason to develop slack jaw. I suspect that the fact that others of us treat him and his site with derision does not bother him in the least. As I noted with Sarah Palin, to some people any form of attention, even if it is negative, is better than no attention. Shatner may be 77, but if he is destined to be a B actor, he might as well go through life with the ego of an A actor. How will his obituary read? It’s hard to say as he is still among the living, but we can be sure when he passes from this life his obituary will be large and oversized, much like himself and his inflated career.
Now if I can just break my The Shatner Project addiction. To quote Mr. Spock, it’s “fascinating” in a bizarre and surreal sort of way. Perhaps in his final years, he can go on tour with the circus. He could get a tent of his own right outside the three-ring circus. He would make quite a freak show. Heck, I would gladly pay to see a live performance of Bill doing Rocketman. It is not to be missed! Perhaps it could be followed by his rendition of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Something must have rubbed off because at a stage in their careers, even Leonard Nimoy was affected, as documented in this not to be believed 60s video.
Takei at least still has his dignity intact. For sheer spunk and audacity though, few will be able to match William Shatner.