Aug 28 2013

Afro Commentary: In Defense of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci

gsb_kurtzman-orci-headerLately I have been seeing a lot more vitriol towards one of Hollywood’s hottest writing and producing tag teams. A team that is responsible for bringing some of the current mega franchises to the big screen while giving us some of our favorite series to TV. So in light of the hate that has been expressed towards these two, I will be defending Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

Love their work or hate it, the pair has not only made an indelible mark on Hollywood, but in geek culture as well. They were responsible for bringing two controversial movie franchises to a wide audience with Transformers and a rebooted Star Trek. They also were not only involved with bringing Fringe to television – a show that will always be a favorite to Geek Soul Brother and the Five Nerdy Venoms – but Alias and Transformers Prime as well. They have written and produced episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and the fan favorite Xena: Warrior Princess. They even brought Ender’s Game to the theaters; a story that many critics have regarded as “unfilmable.” Whatever your stance on these two, many geek properties have been made over the last seven years due to them. Properties that we never thought would be made.

Yet, more and more of us in the community downright hate these two; some of it warranted I admit. Some blame them for turning the original Star Trek franchise from what everyone remembers into yet another dumbed-down action adventure blockbuster. Others despise them for what they did to their beloved transforming robots, especially with Transformers: Revenger of the Fallen. Some would even call them no talent hacks, pointing to Cowboys & Aliens, The Island and the Legend of Zorro as examples of this. A lot of people within our community just simply have issues with what they have written and/or produced since their stint on Hercules.

Despite what people have said, you have to give these two a certain amount of credit for what they have done for geekdom. Long time ago I voiced similar hatred towards Andy Warhol to a good friend of mine in college; that he was a hack of an artist and the work he produced was garbage. He simply retorted with “if it weren’t for him, the graphic arts would not be where they are today.” After days of pondering this, I had to admit my friend was right and eventually came to appreciate Warhol’s work. I feel a similar, fundamental hindsight can be applied here as well.

You may hate their involvement in these properties, but you have to admit that without them the geek culture wouldn’t have as much exposure as it does today. Yes, we would have comic book movies and Doctor Who, but the current movie and TV landscape would be quite different. A rebooted Star Trek based on the original series would not have been attempted, and even if it had it would not have had J.J. Abrams attached. We would not have a live action Transformers movie, which many of you would happily reply with an emphatic “good!” However, without their efforts to even get it on screen, it would never have been made. Also, I highly doubt that without these two successful franchises other science fiction films that have been released since 2006, as well as others coming out, would not have been made. We would not have seen movies like Tron Legacy, Pacific Rim, Moon or District 9, nor be getting a Godzilla remake, Edge of Tomorrow or even Guardians of the Galaxy.

Without them, we also would not have had Fringe. We wouldn’t have experienced the genius performances from Anna Torv, Jasika Nicole, Joshua Jackson or the great John Noble over the shows five season run. We would not had Leonard Nimoy playing William Bell, nor would we have gotten the best side character, Gene the cow! More importantly, without Fringe much of the programming like Orphan Black, Almost Human, Intelligence and Helix would not have been made. Many fans and geeks have taken these observations for granted, that without these two pushing these projects through to completion, geek culture would be seriously lacking science fiction.

The other part of this argument is that the movies were not made just for us. Star Trek may have been a pioneering television show, inspiring many to enter the sciences or the arts. Yet, it was a show developed in the 60’s with many flaws, so it was imperative to revamp much of it for today’s mass audience. Transformers was my favorite cartoon growing up, but it was still a vehicle to sell toys. Considering it was a Michael Bay film – with all the splodey splodey and the hot but talent deficient lead actress – it did what it set out to do. It was a fun blockbuster film that brought us transforming robots fighting for the fate of Earth, while selling toys. We geeks always seem to forget that Hollywood doesn’t make movie just for us, but for a much large audience in order to generate the best return in their investment.

Ultimately, I am not saying Kurtzman and Orci’s  stuff is “good” or that you should like it. Deeming a film “good” and liking it is subjective to the individual, the time period, the phases of the moon, when your third cousin was married and etc. Instead, I am only suggesting that we, as a community, should give them some respect and credit, while toning down the “Their stuff f’n sucks” rhetoric. Besides, the Nerdy Venoms prefer you save your hatred for such others as Uwe Bol and M. Night Shyamalan.

About the author

Jonathan "The Private" Stone

Contributor to the blog and Co-host on the 'Geek Soul Brother and the Five Nerdy Venoms' podcast. He helps to deliver news daily under the @FiveNerdyVenoms Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can also find him live tweeting shows like The Walking Dead and The Flash @JonathanJStone0


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  1. Robert Monroe, Jr.

    Well said! And, I thoroughly enjoyed COWBOYS & ALIENS!

    Fanboys & fangirls complain too damn much about what is available to them today. I’m old enough to remember when, if you were a fan of sci-fi, comic books, etc., there was NOTHING out there! New sci-fi movies were few and far between. If you wanted to watch a sci-fi or horror movie you had to wait for Saturday night “Creature Features”. If you wanted comic books you had to go to the local convenience store because there were no comic book stores.

    Folks should, if they haven’t already, check out “The Two Brandons” podcast, ” A pop culture conversation between writers Brandon Thomas (Miranda Mercury, Voltron: Year One, Voltron) and Brandon Easton (WB’s Thundercats TV series, Shadowlaw, Transformers: Rescue Bots)” Episode 8, “Shut Up, Nerd…” where “The Two Brandons passionately discuss their impressions of the recent film Star Trek Into Darkness, and the blurred line between honest critique and entitled geek whining/complaining regarding beloved properties and characters…”.

    1. Geek Soul Brother

      I’m with you Robert. I remember the days when I would just wishing that the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man would be made into a film. And as the special effects got better, my hopes increased. You might have heard our recent podcast episode on Nerd Hate/Rage and how we whine about everything now. These young heads just don’t remember the old days. lol

      Excellent commentary/argument for Kurtzman and Orci Private!!

  2. Robert Monroe, Jr.

    The web address for “The Two Brandons: Episode 8 – Shut Up, Nerd…” podcast is: http://thetwobrandons.buzzsprout.com/

  3. Robert Monroe, Jr.

    The web address for “The Two Brandons: Episode 8 – Shut Up, Nerd…” podcast is: http://thetwobrandons.buzzsprout.com/10132/94008-episode-8-shut-up-nerd

  4. Jonathan "The Private" Stone

    Its only been since the my and the other Nerdy Venoms generation did we start seeing scifi come out, thanks to the success of Star Wars and ST:TMP… and even then it was a trickle. Its only been the last 7 years have we seen a big push on scifi amongst the major studios and production houses, mainly thanks to these two. And yet many in our community to pounce on it like a li.on. We should be happy that we are getting all these shows now, folks.

    Thanks for the link. Ill need to check that out!

  5. Robert Monroe, Jr.

    I just re-listened to Brandon Easton’s “WRITING FOR ROOKIES Episode 21: Are Modern Geeks Entitled Whiners? (a.k.a. Critique vs. Cynicism)” http://writingforrookies.podcastpeople.com/posts/51505 where Brandon “wonders if geeks in the 21st century have become too spoiled and therefore ungrateful about all the wonderful movies, TV shows and books currently available? Have we lost the ability to enjoy anything? Does a lack of knowledge about how the industry operates take away from our understanding of how to appreciate genre material?”. It’s really worth a listen and some thought.

    1. Geek Soul Brother

      I think all of us that remember the ‘old days’ have gotten tired of the incessant criticism that geek media is getting now. I’ll take a listen to the episode.

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