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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

William Shatner

The other day my son pointed out a video of William Shatner "singing" (speaking) the words to Elton John's Rocket Man, from 1978. (Shatner's part starts about 50 seconds into the video.)

My son said, "Can you imagine what a tool this guy is, to speak the song this way, thinking he's being really cool?"

Shatner, wearing a tuxedo and smoking a cigarette, exudes an air of self-importance and egotism so strong it has to be seen to be believed.

My son continued, "You should hear his rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man, where he does this incredibly hammy, anguished, Shakespearian interpretation. It's really painful to watch."

My son watched it with me anyway, and couldn't stop giggling the entire time.

The videos make one think of Galaxy Quest, the excellent 1999 comedy which spoofed Shatner's legendary ego and referenced his castmates' utter contempt for him.

The weird thing is, it wasn't just William Shatner who thought his "singing" would be a success. His agent undoubtedly told him it was a good idea and would sell. A band agreed to back him up. A producer produced it. A record company marketed it. And distributors sold it.

It was mass insanity.

You have to wonder what the musical types who were involved in this production thought as they made it. How many of them secretly snickered, or at the very least, had to hide their disgust at Shatner's massacre of perfectly good songs?


Steven said...

Its obviously ridiculous to release this as a record but as a one off performance thing, I kind of like it. The mr tambourine man is a bit silly and it gets funny at the end.

John Craig said...

Steven --
I wouldn't claim that my reaction to his "music" is anything but subjective. But atonality aside, it's his air of self-importance that reaches me.

jova said...

it does take a big ego to perform like Shatner did. But I wonder if he did it for laughs, or to show he had other talents or because he was bored. He had trouble getting parts in the late 70s and was lucky to have the 80s TV series TJ Hooker.

But I imagine his agent was afraid to say no to Shatner and figured he may have enough fans for it to generate some income. Someone with an ego like Shatner would choose a sycophant agent.

remember the movie Being John Malcovich ?
The scene when he told his agent he was going to become a puppeteer ? I thought is was hilarious how the agent acted like it was a perfectly normal idea for him to give up acting to do puppet shows. I assume some actors have agents like this, they will agree to any idiotic idea the actor has because they fear losing their job.

This is one reason I could not be an agent for an actor. They would probably get rid of me fast. Agents need to know how the massage their clients ego and give in to their crazy ideas.

John Craig said...

Jova --
I'm sure you're right about agents.

Never saw Being John Malkovich, though I know it's a cult favorite.

And yes, kissing the ass of a ridiculously egotistical idiot can not be a pleasant experience. Actually, change "can not" to "is not" -- I've done it myself, having worked on Wall Street.

Anonymous said...

Whatever he was trying for, it worked for him in the end. Maybe doing that goofy shit helped him land the Priceline gig. In any case, people are still talking about him. It's not like he tarnished a great career or anything. Star Trek was pretty silly. What else is he known for? Nightmare at 20,000 Feet? I saw him in an Esperanto film, but remember nothing of it except that I never need to see another Esperanto film again as long as I live.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I can't argue with you about that; Shatner is a cultural touchstone. And he did get rich off that Priceline deal.

(It's just that some famous people can only be laughed AT, not with.)

Baloo said...

I've always assumed he was doing self-parody. He HAS to know he's being silly, right? People LAUGH. Anyhow, I'm sure there are better Esperanto films. Shatner got the language confused with French, obviously.

John Craig said...

Baloo --
I think as he got older he acquired a little more self-awareness, and did start to purposely make fun of himself. But at the time the video this post linked was made, I don't think he'd reached that point. He just thought he was the coolest thing going; you can tell by the way he carries himself.