Last night my husband and I went to see the new Star Trek. Yes, it was great. And no, I was not a fan going in.
In fact, I was about as far from a fan as you could get, having never watched a full episode in my life. Not that it matters because this is not a movie review. This is about Star Trek’s use of product placement. What, you didn’t think a movie set in the 23rd century could have product placement? (Is that the right century? The whole “alternate timeline” thing made it difficult to calculate.)
There is the obvious placement, such as when the stunning Uhura slinks up to the bar to order a few crazy space-age drinks, along with a Bud and shot of Jack Daniels. But my favorite is the scene when a 10-year-old Captain Kirk “borrows” his dad’s Corvette for a joy ride while operating a Nokia touch-screen smartphone as he listens to the Beastie Boys “Sabotage,” full crank.
Now before we ponder, as one blogger did, if Nokia ringtones would be the classical music of the future (God, I hope not), here’s the rumor as to why director J.J. Abrams picked this Beastie Boys classic. (I love this theory, even if it’s not true.)
Apparently the original Captain Kirk, William Shatner, had a problem pronouncing the word sabotage, preferring his own pronunciation method – which seems to have several extra a’s. Thanks to the movie site Cinematical, you can listen for yourself.
I guess it’s obvious why product placement exists: It works and it helps fund the movie. Product placements have been around for a long time, but they didn’t really take off until the 1980s with E.T., where Elliot coaxes E.T. out of a shed using Reese’s Pieces. Sales for the previously obscure candy skyrocketed, and film and TV execs realized they had things backwards: Companies should be paying them for using their products, not the other way around.
In some movies product placement can be really obnoxious, but it really didn’t bother me in Star Trek. Besides, as one defensive Trekkie asks, “Is it so hard for some to believe that Jack Daniels, Nokia and Budweiser are not around in the future?”
Nope. But I still don’t want the N5800 Star Trek edition phone.