^People can be poorly remembered without being "hacks." A hack is someone who lacks talent, and while I don't care for Meyer's interpretation of Star Trek, I would never accuse him of being untalented.
"Hack" is not a synonym for untalented. It's neither implies as such, nor is it necessarily pejorative. "Hackneyed," however, is a word I'd use to describe the majority of his portfolio.
I think Stephen King is a hack. I also think he's one talented SOB.
Heck, my father didn't even want me to watch it, because he thought my 17-year-old mind would be too emotionally fragile to handle the horrors. I had to reason with him extensively to convince him to let me watch. Turns out it didn't shock me much at all because I'd already read books like Hiroshima and The Fate of the Earth and Cosmos and knew the dangers and consequences of nuclear war already.
A wonderful anecdote, but it still doesn't change the common perception of TV movies. While I would agree it isn't always fair--there are some TV movies I think are brilliant--the fact of the matter is they are almost never subject to re-airings. They are also rarely printed on distributable media. Even the good ones. The ones that are lucky enough to make it to video (It was one of the lucky ones.) are usually subject to the back of the store or, worse, the dollar bin. They simply don't the sustainable pop-culture permanence that features do. People forget about them and those who created them. This has nothing to do with political atmosphere or any other outside influence.
But do you think people really
pay attention to the writers and directors of this things the same way they do feature films? I don't know how it was then, but from what I can remember growing up the TV listings in the newspaper always had the directors for features, but never did for any TV Movies. I guess the paper figured it a waste of valuable space because people just didn't care enough.
I haven't paid attention in years, but I'd bet it's often the same nowadays with DVR menus. People just don't care as much. This is probably because, with TV, directors are often perceived as less important than producers. And had he not been involved with one of the most successful films of the previous year, would most people even have noticed his name or would they have just glanced over it and moved on?
But by all rights, if history remembers Meyer for any single film, it absolutely should be The Day After.
Maybe is should be, and maybe it's unfair, but wishing for something doesn't make it so.