The news came through on Friday that Leonard Nimoy, the man who was and always will be Spock, died at the age of 83. News sites, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and all the other places where our collective culture gets its information filled with headlines that generally were some version of “He lived long and prospered.” Forums and more artistic social media walls or feeds quickly filled with fanart, photos, quotes, tribute pieces and more than a few animated gifs. An important part of popular culture, an inspiration and mentor to millions has died, and the act of collective mourning has been amazing.
Now of the many fandoms that I might claim membership in, Star Trek was never one. I’ve seen enough episodes and know enough about the various series/characters/plots/context/surrounding-culture to be able to reasonably discuss it, but truthfully William Shatner’s role as Denny Crane on Boston Legal (particularly his platonic relationship with James Spader’s Alan Shore) had far more influence over me during my formative years than Captain Kirk ever did or ever could have. But that doesn’t change the fact that Leonard Nimoy, Mr goddamn Spock, has just died and it’s fucking hard to not feel that loss.
Mocked, parodied, tributed, influenced, referenced in. Star Trek has influenced popular culture at a level that only a handful of other franchises can claim to have reached, and the characters of its original series (movies, and to an extent the characters of the sequel series) will always be associated with the actors that played them. Try as he might in the new movies, Zachary Quinto will never be the Mr Spock (and that’s alright, let him build his own legacy). Add in his prolific career beyond Star Trek and social activism and Nimoy was, like few others, a secular saint. His death has left a grand hole in our cultural cosmology that I don’t see being filled any time soon.
It happens. People seem to have processed his death and worked, written, drawn and animated their way through it. He was an old man. He’d been sick for a while. Unlike the deaths of other icons like Robin Williams or Michael Jackson his mortality had been apparent for some time. We knew it was coming. That doesn’t make it less sad, but it does make it easier to process.
Rest peacefully Mr Nimoy. Sleep well Mr Spock.