Let’s Talk About What Simon Pegg Said

If you’ve seen any Internets at all in the last 48 hours you’re probably already aware of the controversial statements made by British geek icon Simon Pegg during a recent interview with the Radio Times. But just in case you haven’t here’s a re-cap: Pegg – a famous writer, actor, and self confessed geek, whose notoriety has reached new heights with his involvement in the Star Trek reboots – has long been a darling of the sci-fi scene, but his recent comments have divided opinion.

Pegg may have made a career out of geek culture, but in this latest interview he seemed to be turning his back on it all and insulting his fans, claiming that science fiction movies have “infantalised” us and led to a “dumbing down” of cinema.

“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.”

Complains about the "dumbing down" of cinema. Actively participates in the dumbing down of Star Trek.

Complains about the “dumbing down” of cinema. Actively participates in the dumbing down of Star Trek.

I have to admit that when I first read about the interview I was a little miffed. “You’re wrong Simon!” I screamed via Facebook, “Sci-fi isn’t dumbing down cinema, cinema is dumbing down sci-fi!”.

Other fans of the genre have also leapt to its defence, pointing out that science fiction has a serious side, and apparently so does superhero fiction.

“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.”

But as is usually the case with such things, the problem is not with what he actually said, but with the way it is being reported and the way in which the interview has been edited. The more I read, and the more I discovered what Simon Pegg actually said, the more I understood the point he was trying to make. And it’s a point that I happen to agree with, for the most part.

“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.”

So here’s the thing: Pegg isn’t having a go at the science fiction genre on the whole, just sci-fi movies (and some of the things he’s pointing to are arguably not even sci-fi but rather fantasy). The general dumbing down of cinema is something we’ve all been complaining about for years; it’s just a shame that the public perception of sci-fi has degraded along with the integrity of the movie industry. It would be unfair to blame Pegg for voicing something we all know is true, and for finally – at the age of 45 – wanting to put away childish things.


Pegg has considered “retiring from geekdom”.

So, to paraphrase Monty Python, let’s not bicker and argue about who’s dumbing down who. The point is that cinema needs to try harder, and as consumers perhaps we need to be a little more discerning.

Or would that mean we’re taking it too seriously? Make your mind up, Simon!

“We’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes… Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously!”

All this is very interesting considering that Simon Pegg has been hired to write the script for the upcoming third movie in the rebooted Star Trek series. Let’s hope he delivers a rich and fulfilling movie brimming over with artistic integrity; if his NuTrek script is as hollow as the previous two movies in the franchise he may find himself munching on his own words.

Geeky websites right across Internetland (including i09) have been quick to criticise Pegg for the interview, accusing him of being a “turncoat” and a traitor to geekdom.

But last night Pegg issued an insightful response to the accusations, clarifying his position and admitting that he was being “a little bit trollish” and “a bit of a Contrary Mary”. He also said that he “did not mean that science fiction or fantasy are dumb, far from it”, and spoke of how the geek demographic has been “cannily co-opted by market forces.”

I recommend that everybody read Simon Pegg’s response here before pronouncing any judgement upon him.

“The more spectacle becomes the driving creative priority, the less thoughtful or challenging the films can become.”

So, what do you think? Does Simon Pegg make a valid a point? Do you agree with him, and should we forgive him for calling sci-fi fans childish?

Should he be allowed to insult their own fans and get away Scotty-free? (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Let us know your thoughts, and feel free to either vent your anger or express your support in the comments below.

  • Steven Lyle Jordan

    Pegg clearly has a point… when you look at it in terms of SF movies, of which he has a vested interest, and is clearly seeing things through film-colored glasses. Yes, SF movies are getting childish; but really, all of Hollywood has been going childish since the discovery of the Blockbuster Movie as a means of floating studios. Blockbusters are all bread and circuses, designed specifically to suck up profits, and as always in Hollywood, all other movies take second-fiddle to the profit-drivers.

    On the other hand, the Blockbuster Movie Profit Machine wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for customers who hand over their money to see them. So we’re as much at fault as Hollywood: We’re proving with our wallets that we want to watch dumb movies. Maybe if Ex Machina was pulling in box office comparable to Star Trek, things would be different. But the public clearly is not asking for that. SF fans want childish. They want to squee at the Millennium Falcon and watch planets blow up. They don’t want cautionary tales about global warming or sea-level rise or genetic augmentation. They want zombies and Terminators.

    It’s funny hearing this from a man who has not only acted in those selfsame franchises (Star Trek, Mission: Impossible), but has done his own send-ups of those action and horror films to milk the satire buttons.

    I don’t hold out much hope for his own Trek III script to redeem him in the eyes of fans, but mainly because I fully expect the studios to mess with anything he comes up with and–let’s all say it–dumb it down.

    • John H Reiher Jr

      As to Hollywood dumbing down a script, that’s usually the Director’s fault. The director has a lot of power over the script and will rewrite scenes to suit his or her vision.

      • Jack Andrew George Watling

        I’d have to disagree what you are saying about it being a directors fault. Hollywood is run by the production companies now if the sales targets don’t seem profitable it won’t get made, A director has a little bit of power yes but if the Producers don’t agree with him/her essentially he/she has to change it or risk being replaced. One of the reasons we’ve seen an influx of directors doing more TV and an increase in the popularity of models such as Netflix as in a lot of ways the Directors have more freedom to be creative making things outside Hollywood.

        • Let me me tell you how directors are selected. On the Golf course or during so called Wrap parties. The person is only approached if he is bankable to helm a Summer or Christmas season release. Lesser directors are tried on new stuff for films that are released in January. (To late to be considered an Oscar contender and forgotten when the next oscar voting season comes around.
          It is all about numbers and money, calculated down to the last percentage of audience percentages. (And these are the number you take to the Executive producers ( the guys with the money.) They are investors, not artists. A fil that costs 100 Million to make costs another 100 million in advertisement, tie ins, distribution and marketing (not to you but to the movie theater owners who rent your movie.
          In order for this movie to make a profit. It needs to create 300 Million in revenue.
          Directors have tremendous power once committed to a project. They can (and some do threaten to walk of in mid project- Millions lost )

          • Leonardo Faria

            It depends on the name and repute of the director. The financial planning of blockbusters is by necessity so detailed that often the movie director is a little more than an aide to the executive producer. In some cases he/she has no say on things like costumes and casting. If the script says the villain has to die in two shots the director could change it and decide to let him die in one tracking shot, but his/her decision power doesn’t go much past that. To place the cameras on the set, to coordinate the actors… often these are the only tasks of a movie director in this kind of productions.
            Barry Levinson spilled the truth about it in the movie “Wag the dog”, where the character played by Dustin Hoffman, an executive producer, made decisions ranging from the lyrics of the theme song of the soundtrack to the spots on the fur of a cat in the arms of a girl in a war scene.

            • Leonardo
              you came across like a well educated well articulated young man in our previous exchange. Yet with this post you almost tainted that. (almost)
              How many movies have you worked on? Or how many directors have you talked to? Wag the dog is a satire, a political (I hate to bring it up, but very liberal comment on the administration and resident in the white house of that time) If Dustin Hoffman’s movie is your source of “insider movie industry” knowledge. Does watching “Analyze this” make me an expert on the Mob?
              So let me ask you some questions, you being the expert:
              1) How does it actually work? I mean how does a script, a book, an idea get picked to be made into a movie?
              2)Who decides on the director,the DP, the writer etc?
              3)Where does the money come from?
              No generic answers will do. You are the expert here,
              5) What exactly is the difference between a producer and an executive producer?
              6) Who decides on the budget of a movie?
              7) Tell me who exactly tells Stephen Spielberg, Richard Donner, Roland Emmerich, George Lucas all these things? You can add or insert any other directors name. I am taking about the movies they made before they were block buster directors. I am really eager to hear that one.
              8) What exactly does a director do on a movie? What is his or her role?
              Oh and what is the role of the “studio” lets say Universal or Paramount ? Why are there movies produced in association with?
              And once you explained all that. I am eager to learn from you how a movie contract for a director is made. You know a very long document, that spells out in great detail (checked and counter checked by lawyers) the responsibilities and rights of a director for each project.

  • John H Reiher Jr

    I do disagree with one thing Mr. Pegg has said. Not all blockbusters were just eye candy. Just about anything from Pixar has a deeper storyline than most Michael Bay movies.
    The movie _Up!_ has a wonderful 9 minute story that conveys more feeling and content than any 2 hour extravaganza. And the continuing story of an old man looking for a place in the world after the death of his wife… And it does has spectacle!

    Or how about a story about family, growing up, loss, and finding new friends? The Toy Story series is that.

    So yes you can have your eye candy and your message too. You just need someone who remembers that you need a good story to go with the visuals.

  • Leonardo Faria

    I think part of the problem has to do with the listing below the scifi tag of productions that show the increasing tendency by Hollywood majors to explore the commercial potential of the high tech + action movie combo, with a predatory approach to the super hero world into the bargain. Action movies are not thought for highly brainy audiences. And may Spiderman fans forgive my blasphemy, that holds true, to a point, for super heroes, too.
    This thought came to my mind a week ago while yawning before the umpteenth vision of Blade: Trinity (arguably the geekiest of the series).
    That being said, as poor as the scripts of these productions may be I think the difficulties inherent to the action movie genre are pushing a mighty evolution in the use of special effects and digital technologies, hopefully with a spinoff that could be beneficial to more interesting scifi movies. So I wouldn’t turn a too fussy face to this phenomenon.
    Anyway my favorite scifi movies, Gattaca and K-Pax, didn’t need much special effects and digital technologies. Quite the contrary.

  • Paulo R. Mendes

    Personally, I miss the good old… how can I say? feeling that we could see in old sci-fi and fantasy films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner or The Dark Crystal. The films today appear to be made more to dumb adolescents that like to read Harry Porter and Read Scott Pilgrim (agh!) than to more mature people.

    • michael pulleine

      I personally think that there are a select amounts of diamonds in the rough, for example, the adjustment bureau, you really cant generalise, you’re being a movie racist, or as I will never call it again a macist.

      • Haha! “Movie racist” is a term I intend to use as much as possible from now on.
        As Pegg discusses in his response article, it’s that while the audience is no younger than it used to be, their tastes are less mature. He talks about how his generation was one of the first that didn’t feel the need to grow up when they left school. I think successive generations have continued the trend to the point where they now want to regress to the level of their toddlers.
        Michael is right, there are still some good sci-fi movies out there, but they’re harder to find among all the colourful “young adult” action fluff.

        • michael pulleine

          to tell you the truth, i agree with you on the immaturity of the younger generations, to tell you the truth if it wasnt for my aspergus syndrome i would probably be a part of this group, but, thankfully, i am, at least, on the edge, i have plans for after school, I have a love for physics and a thirst for knowledge, as well as the desire to create, which is why i want to go to university to study physics as well as writing, which is great because i happen to be top(ish) of the class in physics and mathematics and perfect marks in drama and english, before you ask, drama helps alot, my improvisation skills in commedia dell’arte are fabled, specifically, my il dottore, a doctor who fancies himself to be an expert on every subject but actually knows nothing (as we know, all sicknesses originate in the ears!) and my monty python inspired sketch comedy (yes, monty python fanfiction, technically, you may now wonder how many people have done this, but i will say that douglas adams once confessed to this crime).

        • michael pulleine

          how about space racists? or as i like to say “Spacists”

        • What actually is a “Movie racist”? Is it someone playing a Klan member in a movie (aka Django unchained) or someone judging others by the choices they make in terms of movies they like or watch?

          • michael pulleine

            someone who generalises genres of movies, (I.E all sci-fi movies are the same)

        • Steven Lyle Jordan

          I think a lot of the issue is the old “future shock” problem of having so much trouble dealing with the modern world that people will resort to entertainment designed to help them forget about or ignore the modern world’s problems. It’s not that they literally want immature or “dumb” movies; it’s that they want to regress to a mental state before they had to worry about anything other than what they were being served for dinner, and vacuous movies help them do that.

          Hollywood knows this, as well as how easy it is to profit from it… and unless they have a good reason to change (which, at the moment, they don’t), they’ll continue to milk the cash cow they know.

          So, fine, customers want escapist entertainment, and Hollywood gives it to them… so what? It’s a 2-hour movie… they still have 22 hours in the day to deal with today’s issues. So, maybe instead of chiding Pegg for ridiculing the industry or the movie-goers, he (and we) should be more concerned about what people are doing outside of their movie downtime, and whether or not they’re spending some of that time making the world a better place.

      • Paulo R. Mendes

        Well, I am forced to agree with you about The Adjustmen Bureau and some other movies – but like Mark said, the problem is that are too much “young adult” action flicks than mature films in theaters.

  • I
    am making a living creating and providing special effects to the
    Motion picture industry. Not
    the CGI kind but physical effects. From the bread and butter effects
    called atmospheric effects (Rain, fog, wind, snow , ice and
    everything in between) to “break aways”, props, fire,explosions, guns and gunfights ..you get the drift. I’ve been to many production meetings and
    worked with directors, producers, studio execs and actors. I also
    went to film school, (AFI).
    am saying this to underline that I do have a little insight how
    “Tinseltown” works. First of all, it is a business and has
    only one real goal. To make money.

    Ball sells potatoes so I heard. I am certain he sells those types his
    customers want , not some fancy pricey handpicked tuber that is all
    the rage with an eclectic few flowing the recommendations of a potato
    expert in Timbuktu.
    is that simple, audiences flock to Super hero movies and create one
    box office hit after the other.
    I really love these “artists” and “actors” who
    are riding a wave and when they are on top starting to poo-poo the
    nest or the genre that put them there. Simon is not the first doing
    Hollywood for shallow films and claiming there was no real SF or SCI
    FI before SW and that SW really started the trend of dumbing down
    audiences is also incorrect. However since Simon Pegg had not been
    born when 2001 was in the cinemas. (February 1970) And he was 7 when
    the first Star Wars movie came out (1977)
    are very famous and commercially successful real SF movies such as :
    Metropolis, The Day the Earth stood still or “Forbidden

    about Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, Silent Running, Dark Star.
    Was Aliens not a successful SCI FI movie. Of course Robo Cop,
    Terminator, Tron, E.T. are all Sci Fi movies that where successful
    despite, after or before SW.
    say there weren’t comedies and light movies. What is Back to the
    Future if not one of the most successful time travel
    dystopian Blade Runner or the Apocalyptic Mad Max II. The utterly
    brilliant Terry Gilliam flick “Brazil”. How about Running
    Man or Total Recall? Based on real SF novels.(not Sci Fi)
    just look to just to America for great Sci Fi. “Raumschiff Orion
    in Germany, Akira and Ghost in the Shell from Japan are great
    examples for real SF with a huge fan base.
    Matrix not a tremendously successful SF in a post SW? How about ST
    II, The Wrath of Khan?.

    is a business and it delivers what audiences want. How many artsy
    movies with great expert reviews and Oscars simply bombed?
    calling the “audience” this or that “dumbed down”
    or give it any other label is as old as time itself.
    complained about the Circus games , it was not the emperor but the
    masses who demanded bloody games.
    Incas has entire football teams killed and offered to the gods and
    the crowds watched and cheered.
    in the fifties where thrilled by gigantic ants and spiders.
    hard core SF crowd are not children ,they are dreamer and dreamers
    with a vision or with a desire for a vision are rare and a fringe
    matter the time or media, it is the audience that defines the back
    ground. The stories, the successful ones have and will always remain
    the same. Stories every one in the audience finds someone to identify
    with, someone to hate and someone to love. Simple as that.

    story sticking to that will be successful with the greater audience
    and not just with an eclectic selection of a certain segment.
    is the big audience that spends money on tickets and popcorn and in
    turn the money Mr. Pegg earns.

    He has enough money to create an independent film.
    Roland Emmerich did (The Ark, Enemy mine and Moon 44) long before the hits movies “Stargate” and “Independence Day” *Non SW hits by the way)
    If a German Film student can produce excellent SF with budgets less than it costs to buy a used car, the I expect Mr. Pegg to deliver the most amazing ST movie ever. With a story and not some reheated stuff from the past.
    The ST universe is big and has room for any story. Go shown us how its done, Simon.

    • michael pulleine

      I kind of liked metropolis, it was pretty far ahead of it’s own time… and what’s wrong with 2001? but I do hate the star trek reboots, but I do know that Chris pyne makes a great captain kirk when he is cast to play a William Shatner character (into the woods he did an entire movie with a William…Shatner impression)

    • Yay, potato analogies!
      The funny thing about my customers is they don’t always know what they want or what’s best for them. I give them a few options (samples) and try to advise them on what’s best. Often they make the wrong decision and then start complaining a few weeks later, so I switch to selling them the potatoes I initially recommended.
      But the farmer, having sold the inferior quality stock, goes and plants more of the inferior variety because they sold well.

      • Teaches
        me to pick an analogy using a subject I know nothing about.
        But would you not say that the farmer will be surprised the next
        Or that supply and demand are fundamentals of business and trade?

        • 🙂 I was oversimplifying things to make the analogy work.
          It actually seems to be really random, and what’s good one year might not be good the next year. It depends on factors like the weather, and field rotation, and the chemicals the farmer uses.
          Each customer has different expectations too, and they use different oil to fry their chips.
          Psychology is also a big factor. One customer recently demanded that we give him the same potatoes as his rival, even though he’d previously turned them away because they weren’t good enough for him. Oh, and they taste better when they’re in green bags than when they’re in red bags. 😀

          And that’s really about as interesting as the potato trade gets.
          But yes, supply and demand. I see what you’re saying.

          • Of course, the Green Bag makes all the difference. I knew I was tasting some red in my fries the other day, and it wasn’t ketchup. (Somehow I think there would be a hilarious comedy sketch aka the Parrot sketch somewhere)

            Something in all this made me long for a bag of real “chips” salt and malt vinegar. Perhaps with some battered and deep fried haddock. I can actually smell it right now.

            Some of the finest and most satisfying things on this planet pf ours seem to found in the supposedly simpler things of life.

            That thought seems to lend itself to the discussion at hand.

            I like caviar on occasion. I like lobster once in a while. I enjoy a sophisticated dinner. Dressed up and hair done, the table laid out with the finest china, sparkling crystal and real silver ware, arranged in an exact pattern. The same way I like a sophisticated book or movie. A masterpiece of thoughtful crafted intrigue, social critique and a profound message that can be discussed in film school or among peers for ages to come. Yet there are days I love a big Triple King from Fat Burger or a Chili burger from Tommy’s. Standing there outside and dripping unhealthy grease all over me, pigging out at the Rib shack. Eating like a neanderthal and feeling good. Same goes with movies.

            Don’t you think that the general audience picks their movies (and entertainment) the same way?
            By mood of the moment, by the taste and flavor of the day and not by “how sophisticated” someone thinks a movie or a genre needs to be to pass muster?

            • michael pulleine

              the red stuff was probably tomatoe sauce, its like ketchup but less vinegar and a slightly sweeter taste, is that what it was? by the way, in australia, chips means “crisps” and “fries” are called chips, sometimes hot chips, yeah, linguistics is a funny little thing isn’t it?

            • I was making a joke regarding the color of the bag having influence on the taste of a product (In this case produce)
              Here in the states, we have Fries (French Fries), Fried Wedges, Cut n Fry, Home fries, hash browns etc.
              What the English call crisps are chips around here.
              But we do have a fast food out let in LA called Picadilly’s they do serve the traditional UK type “Chips” (not even close to a real UK chip shop I am afraid)
              There is also a Belgian business in Santa Moncia selling “Pommes” which are “Pommes Frites” or Fries

            • michael pulleine

              oh, well, I happen to have aspergus syndrome (COMMENCE THE GOOGLING!!!) which means that I do have a tendency to take things literally, but I certainly agree with you on your views of movies, in fact, recently, I was having a simple day, it was a Thursday, I never did get the hang of Thursdays, so I went on to Netflix and decided tp watch something with a bit of action and an uncomplicated plot as I had just finished the day with a physics lesson so I watched 300, and I loved it!

            • Actually I have a central character in my stories that has a form of Asperger syndrome. His name is Shaka. In my universe, the Spatial navy of the Union has a controversial program recruiting individuals with this disorder (purposely encouraging parents not to fix the genetic conditions (pre natal) because persons with this disorder are much better helmsmen. They link to the ship and essentially become the ship and can react much faster than other helmsmen.
              They are superior (in my universe) to computronic systems because they also have the element of human intuition, no standard machine (non AI) can simulate.

            • michael pulleine

              hmmm, quite interesting…

            • I noticed that many men suddenly develop “Asparagus Syndrome” when individuals like me wear bikinis…Naughty Joke **wink wink**

            • michael pulleine

              really? surely that would mean that they try to avoid any form of contact! people with aspergus syndrome are known for being uncomfortable with the topic of sex, i know from my own experience of awkward conversations!

            • Let’s leave it at that…;-)

            • michael pulleine

              I agree 😛

            • michael pulleine

              by the way, I’m planning a gladiatorial combat story where each character is based on someone in the sci-fi ideas community, a sci-fi colosseum, an emperor named Marcus Sphericus, etc.

            • aha.. Well once its past the planing stage, lets see it

            • michael pulleine

              maybe it could be a series with one battle per story, each one centred on a different combatant

            • michael pulleine

              it’s not much cause i just started it, but heres what i have so far, dont worry paulo, WIZARDS!? will certainly kill your character, and guess what high pitched screetch shall escape from your mouth as you die?

              Mikus woke
              up, no fuss, no dilly dallying, he had been trained to wake up immediately, “Kaladian”
              he said, speaking into a microphone attached to a box connected to a glass
              cylinder, a set of long, aerodynamic crystalline spears and a small black
              device formed from seemingly nothing. He never bothered with questions about
              how this machine worked; it worked because it worked, it was best to leave it
              at that. Mikus emerged from his room, today would be his first spectated battle
              and there would be no experimentation with weapons and armour, only what he was
              best with, two pistols and a set of kaladians with a trench coat lined with
              super-light vanadium. As always Mikus made his way to the mess hall, his last
              meal, “hey!” someone call out to him “You’re Mikus aren’t you?” the voice came
              from behind him

            • michael pulleine

              oh… i automatically corrected asparagus to aspergus…

          • I really meant what I said. I should not have used a subject I know nothing about and draw an analogy. Even your brief description clearly demonstrates that there is a whole lot more to it. If I caused offense I apologize.

            • No offence caused Vanessa. I don’t really understand it myself, and I’m not even sure my boss does. Customers are strange creatures.
              Perhaps in a few years I’ll have master the fine art of potato delivery 🙂

            • One distant day in the mystical mountains above Loch Lomond,. In the wee hours when the whisps of insubstabtial fog drift around the rugged mountain cliffs. Almost like ghosts and spirits connecting te now to the mystical pasts.
              A lone man fighting the stiff breeze, hefting his potato peeler scaling the ice covered peak. He made, it after so many years he finally is face to face with the wise od Potato Delivery hermit. The man ho in distan past delivered the golden potato of Nymth rot the Queen herself.
              the old man nods and speaks. “Aye my lad you made it, the secrets are revealed to you.Now go forth and deliver! For on you rests the fait of this isle of Avalon!”

            • michael pulleine

              no no no! it would go something like this:
              in the ancient land of lismore in alba, in the mysterious regions of ireland, a figure clothed in a worn, deep green hooded cloak, he held up an ancient map, “Moriearteigh” the figure replied in a voice with a thick irish accent
              see? everyone knows that potatoes are an irish thing! oh shut up peru!!

          • michael pulleine

            poetatoes, you know, fry em, mash em, stick em in a stew (I cant believe that I was the first to say this)

    • michael pulleine

      mmmmm fancy tubers…… i think ill stick to the ones that aren’t yellow when mashed (i hate sweet potato, and pumpkin, and peas… and-
      he was killed by an agitated scifi community, his body hidden in the back of simon peggs’ car

  • Quote: “they now want to regress to the level of their toddlers.” –


    If you see a trent of the decline of the audience taste and sophistication, then what is the reason? Where did it start or at one point did you notice? Is there a time when audiences were more demanding and expected better SF?

    Is it a decline in quality of education? Is the general level of intelligence dropping ?
    Something in the water? Why now (now as in this point of history)?
    That decline must have some reason. Anything has a reason.

    Is it because mighty Hollywood and evil America is dumbing down the sophisticated culturally far advanced Europeans, who are smarter but otherwise helpless against the American Bubble gum juggernaut? It’s their fault, those fat cats sitting in offices in Tinseltown dictating what the world must watch while they distribute their tainted popcorn, laced with Sillimin and Dumbilax,

    I assume Simon Pegg was actually ashamed taking his last check to the bank, because those Corporate taste dictators forced him to slave work making him an accomplice in their mission to control the taste of entertainment consumers.
    Has there been better SF compared to bad Sci Fi before a certain time in movie history?
    Were the old Flash Gordon movies not as campy and child like as can be? Watched by millions while Metropolis (same time period) was seen by a few.
    The highly acclaimed social critical SF movie Dark Star (1974) came out before Star Wars. You ask anyone from that time (average Joe) if they seen it. Yet they remember Star Wars (1977)
    So by this argument, the audience back then should be more “adult” and more demanding in their viewing habits?

  • valkerie

    I think that part of the problem is the old “Back in my day,” syndrome.
    Let me tell you about some of the movies that I saw in theatres when they were new. 2001, a Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, the original Star Wars, the Dark Crystal, the original Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green. Classics all. Based on that list, the ’60’s through the ’90’s were a golden age of SF movies.
    Some of the other movies I saw back in the day: the 1976 version of King Kong, Cat Women on the Moon, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Plan Nine From Outer Space, Robot Monster, and of course, the infamous Barbarella. Need I say more?
    Every era has good movies and schlock movies, and the schlock outnumbers the good. Over time, the lesser quality movies are forgotten, leaving behind only the good movies.
    Humans like to remember the good stuff, and forget the bad stuff. Thus, when we look back, we only remember the classics, which leads to a distorted view of the overall quality of all movies at the time.
    It would be an interesting exercise to come back in 50 years and see which of today’s movies people remember as classics.
    Or even remember at all. 🙂

  • Paulo R. Mendes

    Talking about bad sci-fi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COgFH-AXCpU

    Of all the dumb premisses for a sci-fi movie, this must be the dumbest of all! harvesting exotic particles to FTL from the eggs of a gigantic alien creature?! oh, c’mon…

    • I guess this is exactly the kind of thing Pegg is talking about. It’s main appeal is the sense of awe it inspires. But I’d still watch it, because it looks fairly original. The YouTube comments are saying that it could be set inside a gas giant, which is something the movies haven’t done yet.

      • Paulo R. Mendes

        Yes, but even the most formidable predator in such environment (a gas giant) would be no more solid than a soap bubble – like Arthur C. Clarke noted in his book 2010: A Space Odyssey. Of course, the great majority of the viewers probably don’t know – or even worse, care with – that, but the problem still remains: ANY serious fan of sci-fi and science would easily see and know how rubbish the premise of this film is. 😛

        • Maybe it’s the “exotic” particles they harvest that enables the creature to manipulate or influence gravitation?

          • Paulo R. Mendes

            That is a interesting idea.

      • Dismissing comics as “childish” is just an attempt to show the world how sophisticated and above those “Culture ignorant Americans” he is.

        Comics, especially the Super hero kind are the modern equivalent of the Gods myths of times past.

        What are the tales of Hercules if not Super hero stories? Or the inhuman feats of Gilgamesh? Have you read Homer and his telling of the Battle of Troy? Achilles invulnerable, except at his heel?

        How about the Norse gods and their feats?

        It clearly shows that “Superhero” tales and legends are with us since the dawn of time.

        The bible is full of stories about beings with super strength.

        Is the story of the Hulk not a retelling of Jekyll and Hyde?

        Superman, himself could be an analog to Jesus himself. Think about it, he is nearly omnipotent, inherent good and he even died and was resurrected.

        Comics are just a different medium, but “Picture stories” have been with us since man put drawings on cave walls.

        So dismissing the “Superhero” concept as childish and without any significance is not arrogant, but ignorant.

        I personally had a feeling of immense glee and satisfaction, when I saw the Avengers assemble. I was reading comic books when Stan the Man was still writing them, and seeing them come to live on the big screen was a geek girl’s dream come true.

        Christopher Reeve made me believe a man could fly, and that takes some doing to a person who studied physics.

        Three people can see the same movie and each one takes away something different.

        Now how do you measure sophistication and the value of a movie? Is it the opinion of a fil critic? Is it the opinion of millions of movie goers that make a movie a box office hit? Or the opinion of a self declared expert who decides what SCI FI is and what not?

        Even here in this community of “Sci FI” fans, I have yet to read common consensus what SF or SCI FI really is.

        Did you all not brow beat me when I argued there is no room for angels?

        Did not John,the man who points to the Atomic Rocket site quote Shakespeare to point out how wrong I was?

        Mark Ball suggest “it’s sometimes healthy and interesting for sci-fi to explore concepts and ideas beyond its usual scope.”

        And Paulo who shrieked in protest at the mention of wizards.
        Defends the idea of angels.
        This illustrates that not even we who are SCI FI fans, have a clear idea or common opinion what sci fi supposed to be.
        So how can we expect the “common audience” has any inkling what good or bad Sci Fi is?

        • michael pulleine

          sci-fi, science fiction, fiction that may not necessarily be possible due to the laws of physics, hard scifi, the same as before but with one important difference, all major differences from our reality are accounted for in that the world of the story is realistically impacted by these differences, that is why magic can be hard SF if:
          A: the writer is able to explain how the magic works with a valid scientific argument (valid and reasonable within the world of the story) within his or her story
          B: the magic has reasonable limitations
          C: as mentioned before, the magic realistically impacts the world, I.E, turning lead into gold becomes reality, gold then loses all monetary value as it is so easy to obtain, lead, however, becomes an incredibly rare material as almost all of it has been transformed into gold
          also, speaking of good scifi:

          good scifi: like all good narratives good science fiction must have a plot that stands on the fine line between complex and simplistic, it must have realistic characters, an antagonist that posesses a motive that the audience may relate too, (sometimes the “Bad Guy” can even be the protatgonist) as well as a protagonist that contains just the right amount of flaws and redeeming features, sometimes the flaws might even be fatal, so, to conclude the summary of good sf, to define good sf is simply, a science fiction narrative that is not written with complete ineptitude, now, on to the slamming of truly awful sf and the definition of bad sf!
          bad scifi: science fiction that posesses either an extremely convoluted plot or an overly simplistic plot, a true “idiot plot” in my opinion, is not one that only makes sense with idiot characters but one that is only able to entertain anti-intellectuals (those with an intelligence so low that it is in fact classified as subterrainean) and that is exactly the kind of stuff that i would classify as bbad sf, poorly written, unrealistic and uncompelling plots and characters. i’m done here, but i think i may return tomorrow, i still have much more to say on this topic.
          did i just here someone groan?

    • It smacks of the same “Evil corporation/ evil humans ” hunting poor creatures of nature. An analog of whale hunters. It’s yet another “Avatar” theme. I can predict the story already. A heroic young “whale hunter” falls in love with a female scientist / mystic who knows the giants are really sentient and convinces the young hero to join her side to oppose his former employers and comrades. He then fights the “good fight” The evil humans are defeated and the giant creatures are free once more.
      It is thinly disguised as a “Sci Fi” movie, without any regards to physics and science.
      I bet my bottom dollar, there will be a scene with a creature laying eggs or giving birth, while the “Female Hero” watches with tears in her eyes.Or something similar.

      • Paulo R. Mendes

        Don’t forget that they also can try to make a sci-fi version of Moby Dick! it is very easy to imagine a futuristic captain Ahab with a prostetic/bionic leg in this type of setting…(I would put a quote of the book here, but unfortunately I never was able to read it. :P)

        • A sci-fi version of Moby Dick sounds like a great idea. It’s a great book. If you’re gonna copy something, copy from the best.
          I take your point about the creature being too solid for a gas giant though. It’s not impossible, but it’s certainly improbable. But maybe it’s not a gas giant, we don’t know at this point.

          • Paulo R. Mendes

            Maybe the planet shown in this video is a Super Earth with a Venus like atmosphere? that would be most probable than a gas giant…

            • Or less probable, super earth = more gravity lots more

            • Paulo R. Mendes

              Yes, but I remember of watching a documentary where the scientists said that flying lifeforms could exist in heavy gravity worlds. I don’t remember the title of the documentary, but I am 100% sure of what they said.

            • Flying isn’t a problem,humans living there jowever would be.
              The formula for calculating a planet’s surface gravity: mass divided by the radius squared. That is, SG=M/R^2. If you express mass and radius in Earth units, you get surface gravity as multiples of Earth’s.

              How can a planet be so much more massive than Earth yet have only 1.42 times the gravity at the surface? The answer lies in the radius. The further you are from the planet’s center, the less its gravity pulls at you. Another way of putting it is that the greater the planet’s radius is for its mass, the less dense it is.

              still, these super planets wouldn’t be easy for Earth visitors. On Earth someone weighing 122 pounds On HD 40307g, you weigh 174 pounds.

              There are geological reasons to be considered A super-Earths would have too few heavy metals to sustain a civilization. Or maybe they couldn’t have the plate tectonics to stabilize an atmosphere and biosphere for long enough for complex life to arise.

            • Paulo R. Mendes

              Don’t forget of a dense atmosphere. If I remeber well, a dense atmosphere would be very useful to flying lifeforms living on a high gravity world.

            • I just had a thought. If the creature’s eggs are what makes interstellar travel possible, then sure the creatures must live somewhere in the solar system.

            • Makes sense.
              That leaves only Saturn or Jupiter, as Uranus and Neptune are not really Jovian in nature. At least judging by the images of the video.
              Or another alien species revealed how FTL is done, and the source of the “eggs”. Makingthe planet a source of potential war (only source of something essential often leads to war, if more than one party wants it)

            • And Venus. It could live in the thicker lower atmosphere, but it breaches into the oxygen layer to catch prey.

            • I agree Venus would be a very good candidate indeed, especially judging by the colors used in the video. Lots of “sulfuric” yellows.

            • Paulo R. Mendes

              Personally, I think that both Venus and Jupiter are good candidates to homeworld for that Leviathan.

            • Thinking about it, what if these things migrate from world to world. Not really home on Venus or Jupiter but roaming the cosmos, using their ability to harness “exotic particles” to open and sustain wormholes or Einstein Rosen bridges long enough to circumvent space and thus travel incredible distances.

            • Paulo R. Mendes

              That would explain a lot. Hummm… specially if these creatures (d)evolved(?) from some kind of living, self-replicating starship.

            • There was a Starting Point a few month back :3/8/2014


              The picture reminded me of this subject. I actually started to write a story about it, but since no single story posted here so far, seemed good enough to receive any comments.. I did not finish it. No complains at all, my writing just doesn’t seem to meet the standards of this site. So I stick to my “Grumpy pants” comments ….;-)

            • michael pulleine

              I wish I had found this conversation earlier but, what can you do!

            • michael pulleine

              i though it was

              MV squared /r

            • No not an idiot. Questioning conditions is a part of intelligent behavior…There is a simple solution . Apply the equation(s) and you will find out which one is correct. Use a known set of data (those of Earth or Jupiter or so)

            • Let’s hope this medium translates this statement in readable form:
              the surface gravity (g) of a body depends on the mass (M) and the radius (r) of the given body. The formula which relates these quantities is:
              g = G * M / r2
              where G is called the Gravitational constant. Remember that the notation r2 means r to the 2nd power, or r squared.
              You will calculate the surface gravity for a number of bodies using the MKS system where the units for distance are meters, the units for mass are kilograms, and the units for time are seconds. In this system, the gravitational constant has the value:
              G = 6.67 * 10-11 Newton-meter2/kilogram2.
              As an example, the mass M of the Earth is 5.98 * 1024 kilograms. The radius r of the Earth is 6378 kilometers, which is equal to 6.378 * 106 meters. The surface gravity on Earth can therefore be calculated by:
              g = G * M / r2
              = (6.67 * 10-11) * (5.98 * 1024) / (6.378 * 106)2
              = 9.81 meters/second2

            • michael pulleine

              oops! i just realised something! i posted the equation for calcu.lating centripetal force!

          • So why not call for a writing contest? Or instead of the usual picture for Starter ideas , use this video or images of the video and let see what the Sci Fi ideas community comes upw with?
            Instead of complaints and speculations, you have a few stories.
            to make it a contest, how about a dead line and a first prize? I would donate 50 bucks and one of my books to whatever prizes you come up with/

            • That’s a good idea Vanessa. I’ll put an article up as soon as I get chance. I don’t think I’ll bother making it a competition, just a another writing challenge, and if some of the resulting stories are good I’ll post them.

            • No hurry, was just a thought. No competition eh? Well saves me 50 bucks..;-)

        • While Herman Melville’s story would lent itself to a SCI FI story and has been done in a Sci Fi Anime called Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick with Moby Dick being a whale-shaped sentient spaceship.)

          There are also voices other than yours that see similarities between he Leviathan concept trailer and say it blends Moby Dick and Dune.

          However the film is far from made. Right now its just a Concept trailer.
          The book is not science fiction but I strongly recommend it, as it is an important piece of World Literature.

          • Paulo R. Mendes

            Yes, I will try top find this book here in Brazil…oh, and talking about Moby Dick adaptations, I remember of watching years ago a fantasy movie partially based in Moby Dick about a obsessed captain of a land ship in search of revenge against the white dragon that killed his sister and left him badly burned…:p

            • That was the 2011 movie, Age of the Dragons with Danny Glover, right?

        • michael pulleine

          i stab at thee, from hells heart i stab at thee… have you not heard that one?

          • Paulo R. Mendes

            I think that Khan said this quote as his last words in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, right? I don’t knew that this quote was from Moby Dick.

            Oh! FOR CHRISSAKE! now I remember of one thing: yesterday I bought The Lost Word in a used books store – AND THE IDIOT HERE FORGOT OF SEARCHING FOR MOBY DICK!!! D:

      • michael pulleine

        Why cant there be an “evil creature hunts innocent corporation/humans” movie? i mean, it would most likely be satirical but still, it would be both funny and original!

  • I just read Simon’s article about the comments, and it makes sense. He’s a clever guy, and his response is well worth reading.

    • Simon said and I quote : ”
      “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.”
      None of the movies he mentioned in this sentence are Sci Fi movies. And there always been the “Gritty amoral Art movies” but no one but a small group of norwegian sweater , birkenstock shoes, rollies smoking (weed fans) with Ernesto “Che” Guevara posters in their rooms” is watching these. Simon Pegg is a hyprocrite and comes of as a down his nose looking ****. In my opinion that is.

      • I think you might be being a bit offensive to people who enjoy art house movies!
        Anyway are you saying that we should be judging scifi movies differently to any other type of movie?

        • Sorry I forgot

          • michael pulleine

            I would just like to say that I enjoy independent movies and lattes, does that make me some strange form of pretentious hipster? I like artistic films, but I also consider them absolute crap when that is exactly what they are, but you are failing to account for one thing, have you got your notebook and pen ready? cause this is going to blow… your… mind… here it is…
            DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT OPINIONS! this is information for both Simon Pegg and you Vanessa, modern movies can be perceived as awful because of who you are, I, personally, enjoy satire and sarcasm, as well as the very rare form of comedy located in the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel” the comedy and narrative are brisk, fast paced but very polite, unfortunately, the only other movie to have this odd but entertaining quirk is a children’s movie, the fantastic mister fox, at least the only that I have come across

        • And Simon Pegg is not offensive by calling those who enjoy the CGI fest and explosion films as “child like” and un sophisticated? High horse is okay when it comes from a celebrity?

  • Time Traveling Detective

    Intersteller I believed was a great SiFi film.