Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fake visor: The new look of MSM Trek legal reporting

I'm not sure what to make of this story, except that the mainstream media couldn't figure out how to handle it either—but that didn't keep them from blathering on about it beyond its purely news angle.

NEW YORK (AP)— A "Star Trek" fan isn't entitled to millions of dollars in damages for buying memorabilia that he says wasn't as out-of-this-world as it seemed, a court said Tuesday.

Ted Moustakis wasn't promised he was getting a one-of-a-kind plum when he paid $11,400 for a uniform for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" character Data at a 2006 auction, an appeals court said.

The court also said Moustakis is due at most a refund for two other purchases he says were fakes: a $6,000 poker visor supposedly worn by Data and a $6,600 table from the show's set.

Is it just me, or does this AP story's no-nonsense, geekdom-is-mainstream tone just scream with barely concealed regret at its restraint from the cheap "pointed ears" and "basement-dweller" jokes that used to color all mainstream news stories with a Trek angle?

To my knowledge I never got to meet the plaintiff, Mr. Moustakis, but I know I was at the Vegas con when word spread there that Brent told him the Data green-shade visor he'd bid on was not authentic. I still think of the Christies' and It's a Wrap auctions as the new Paramount regime's effort to further show how the "new generation" of Trek had taken over, as if all those items from ST—TMP forward were now obviously useless; it was also a good way to save a lot of monthly warehouse rental, of course.

Now, there has been more than one Data visor—including those used for set decoration in the TNG movies, which were dressing and not props, and thus not actually worn by the regulars; Data never played poker in the four films, for instance. Veteran set dresser John Dwyer tried to echo the regulars' beloved personal effects from the series in those on display in their big-screen quarters even if he didn't have access to those original pieces. And then, for the Nemesis swan song, a lot of his routine work was undone by director Stuart Baird—so even more variations crept in.

Not having access to the piece Moustrakis won, this is all guesswork, to be sure—aside from its pic in the Christies auction catalog. But my point is, there may be lots of wiggle room for everyone to be right. Let's see how this plays out, even as it is out of the courts now.

1 comment:

Tremas said...

I'm not a legal expert, but if he was, in fact, told that it was original, I think the suit would've had more merit.

*Thinking* it was the Real Deal, without actual verification, wouldn't entitle him to a large settlement, just a reimbusment of his money, in my opinion.

That said, I still feel for the guy; spending a LOT of money on what you think is a one-of-a-kind item, and then finding out differently, still sucks regardless.