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this guy is the shat

August 20, 2009

Our recent coverage of the Blogess vs Shatner story, and the ensuing comment frenzy, really got me thinking about the idea of celebrities as memes – “cultural ideas, symbols or practices, that are transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena” (you can read more about memes in Crystal’s deepdive post). You know; that thing… that’s really funny… that everyone keeps talking about… or referencing… or passing along. That thing, person, phrase, idea, that you love; but you don’t really know why and can’t explain it in words. It’s engrained in pop culture or sub culture. You know  Chuck Norris, “talk to the hand,” LolCats, #followfriday. Memes spread “through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate.” The Bloggess movement is a great example of the power of memes, particularly their power to influence and mutate.

As big of fans as we’ve become of The Bloggess and the bloggess army #ba in the last 72 hours, I thought I’d spend some time thinking about the meme behind the meme. The man himself. The Shat.  William Shatner. Without whom none of this incredible story would have been possible. So, what is it about William Shatner that is so appealing? Is it his acting ability? His looks? His voice? His attitude? Seriously, I’m asking you, because I can’t put my finger on it. To quote George Costanza, “And I say this with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality,” he’s fabulous. Did you see him reading the Sarah Palin resignation speech? FTW.

William Shatner has a certain je ne sais quoi that people find intoxicating. While I can’t pinpoint it, I think his appeal lies in his sense of humor and his aptitude for self-deprecation.  His Priceline.com character, The Negotiator, is so successful because it’s essentially Shatner as a caricature of himself. All of Shatner’s personas have collectively morphed into one. In a lot of people’s eyes he is a real-world version of The Negotiator – a suave, quasi-Chuck Norris-like character who can fix any problem you have by speaking calmly to the beat of bongos. This, I believe, is why The Bloggess begged him to fix her marriage– it seems like something he could do. That’s why I was surprised he blocked her in the first place. In real life, the Shat has to have a great sense of humor. I would have expected him to @reply her and say something like “Be right over with a bottle of pinot noir. Do you have a corkscrew?”

At the end of the day, everything turned out fine. @williamshatner unblocked @TheBloggess on Twitter, the bloggess army’s awesome power is to be harnessed for good, and generations of William Shatner fans (at least the ones on Twitter) can go back to loving the Shat without roasting him too. Just in case Bill’s feelings were hurt in any of this, let’s think of some reasons why we love William Shatner. Feel free to post yours here, or tweet them to @the_lair.

william-shatner1

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    August 20, 2009 7:23 pm

    I love the Shat because he gave me a puppy. (And I negotiated a terrific hotel rate in NY on Priceline).

  2. alexmkerlick permalink*
    August 21, 2009 11:25 am

    I love the Shat because he always lets me have the drums when we play Rock Band. He, of course, always takes vocals.

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