April 2009 - "The Glitz and the Glory"
Behind the Glamour
by Count Zero
A bunch of shiny happy people stretched out over several light years in every direction, that's what the Federation was. Being happy and content was almost like an obligation. Poverty vanquished, a just, peaceful and prospering society plus plenty of leisure time for everyone what's not to like? But Malakin hated his job, hated his life.
Once he'd been heralded as the greatest talent since God knows when, renowned critics praising the brilliance of his writing and the stunning vision of his direction. For a while he had ridden on a wave of success, invincible, untouchable. But it was still a fast moving business and he hadn't had a hit in years. Sometimes he feared that maybe everyone just had a certain amount of stories to tell and brilliance to give and that he had used up all of his. But he couldn't keep himself from trying, from chasing after that last big success. And thus he was at the mercy of petty producers and their whims, all of which had brought him here.
So this is what it has come to?
he wondered, while he blinked absent-mindedly at the bright blue sky outside the office window, the perfectly clear sky and the warm sun mocking him. All day he had been forced to listen to Achilleas Asimo endlessly babbling on about trivialities. It wasn't his fault, of course, all actors were like that, just empty shells to be filled with substance and meaning, afraid of their own inner emptiness. And if they were good, they could bring out something fundamentally true about life and let people forget it was all just make-believe. Asimo was supposed to be one of the best, a superstar, hailed by critics as a younger incarnation of George Melas, idolised by legions of fans allegedly for his talent, but more likely for his extraordinarily good looks, and favoured by the press for the glamour he brought to parties. In short: he was rubbish.
Across the office, the famed actor chuckled, locks of shimmering brown hair falling into his face.
I hear Starfleet Command is not pleased with your depiction of Archer, he said, pleased with himself.
Of course, they wouldn't be. That was the whole point.
Leaning forward in the creaking fake leather armchair, he continued, I personally think it's pretty obvious he's gay.
A hack piece. That's what it is.
That's what he had come up with after all this time. At first, it had seemed like a good idea to do a film about Archer. Malakin vividly remembered the looks of anticipation and excitement on people's faces when he had first spoken of the idea, all of them wondering what a sophisticated writer and director like himself could do with such a subject matter - Archer was a legend, after all expecting him to shed light on a profound truth about the human condition along the way. But truths were eluding him these days. At times, he would get a glimpse at this clear vision of what Archer and his life were really about but whenever he would try to grab it, it would fade away. Growing ever more desperate because this whole thing was taking so damn long, he eventually fell back on the oldest trick in the book, creating a scandal. So far, it was working well. And if he was lucky, no one would notice how utterly poor and pointless this script was. But he knew.
When he had been a teenager, Malakin used to frequent Monsieur Chang's Little Cinema
, a replica of a cinema of old with cushy red velvet seats situated in the basement of an unremarkable grey building, in which classic films selected by Monsieur Chang himself would be shown. It was here that Malakin discovered the films of neorealismo. Made in the 1940s and 50s, they were two-dimensional, black-and-white and accompanied by a hissing and blaring audio track, all those technical flaws each adding a level of abstraction. Yet they felt so real, so authentic, like something that could happen any day.
His film wouldn't feel like that, at all. Because it's not true. And all the layers of technical finesse and stunning visuals wouldn't deceive the keen perception of a kid such as he himself used to be. But above all, they wouldn't deceive him.
Malakin thought of footage he had seen of Archer, already a few grey traces in his hair, standing on a Vulcan mountain and cheerily chatting with T'Pau, seemingly oblivious to her stern, unforgiving glaze. It were always the small things he remembered. What he had written wouldn't do Archer any justice.
Asimo's voice snapped him out of his thoughts. I think we should be going. Don't want to keep the producers waiting, he said, smiling warmly at the distracted looking writer.
Of course not. Malakin replied thinly.
He knew what would happen once they left the office building. A group of reporters and more or less hysterical fans would swarm around them, shouting unintelligible questions and demands, and surround their hover car, only reluctantly getting out of its way once it threatened to run them over.
Sure enough, that was what happened. As they passed through the crowd, Malakin looked out of the car window, thoughtfully, unaware that the picture of him taken at that exact moment would later become iconic.
Somebody please put me out of this misery.