To Sign or Not to Sign: The Veruca Salt Syndrome
I’m not a shrinking violet. I never was. I like to think I’m a fairly knowledgeable man; a kind of Renaissance type who knows a little about a lot of things. In the terms of today’s millennial society, I think the term is that I’m “woke.”
That can sometimes get one in trouble. For me, especially lately on Social Media; it’s all I seem to do.
I try to adapt to new things while staying curmudgeonly stoic on other things. I love discourse, I love discussion and I find that interaction is stimulating and invigorating. Social media is a wonderful medium most of the time but over the past year or so it’s become a place of malcontent.
Social Media today is the place where no matter what you say; a group will turn on you and try to bully you into submission, twisting your words to claim they mean something else and then adopting victimhood instead of having a reasonable debate or discussion. An opinion about an award and how a library association handled its renaming became a Shatner hates indigenous people issue when I questioned their reasonings behind the renaming of it.
One of my faults is that I don’t back down.
Remember, I conquered the Kobiyashi Maru…whatever it was…I conquered it as Captain Kirk but Kirk is a part of me; he’s not all of me but he’s there and at times he comes out.
If you try and bully me I will shine a light as bright as I can to expose your actions. You want to reprimand me and my opinion because I don’t agree with yours and all you want to do is attack me? Then you should then be prepared to be exposed for what you are doing.
Most of the time the bullies flee once that happens but some then try and mount a counter attack usually trying the tired old tricks of the delicate flower brigade. If it’s a female who I’m replying to and questioning her behavior; the misogynist card gets played. In the world of the social media delicate flowers the thought seems to be: if you can play a card; that gives you an advantage.
I’m not phased by those cards. I’m not a racist. I actually played a racist character in an old movie and it was very difficult for me to do the role but I did it. It’s against my core values. And as for women; I love women and who they are and there isn’t a misogynistic bone in my body. In my upcoming book “Live Long And…”I actually talk about my views on women and how an incident when I was young changed my perspective on women and what they must go through with men.
I won’t spoil the story here but it’s on page 84 (yes, that was a subtle hint to go buy my book. I know - I’m a cad - but a loveable one! 😉) However, old white guy being misogynistic to a woman who is attacking him usually shuts down most guys and wins the argument for the woman. I’m just not ‘most guys.’ I’m very secure in my moral compass and who I am so those kinds of ad hominem attacks will not work on me.
So that is the brief history of the past few weeks which brings me up to today: enjoying my private time versus the rights of fans. Imagine little, old, Billy Shatner “daring” to have an opinion on something as mundane as what I do during my free time with my family. Imagine a group of people having meltdowns because I refuse to engage them in their desperate need of an autograph or a selfie with me while I’m seeking solace in the middle of dinner, out with my grandchildren, on a call with my beautiful wife…
The nerve of me wanting private time. 😱 Bad Billy Shatner! You are incorrigible! 🙄
Most of these people will never encounter me. They are arguing (as preposterous as it may sound) for their right to have a say in my life because I somehow ‘owe’ them the right to that selfie or autograph. Most of these people don’t appear to be fans; they are just the strong arm of the spoiled brat brigade who want to argue ad nauseum to whatever they can to ‘win’ the argument.
Let me tell you my opinion on that: They do not have ANY right.
There. I said it. I’ve said it a number of times. I’ve said as nice as I could; as direct as I could; and sometimes I have to be stern about it but it doesn’t ever change.
I have had people sneak up behind me while I’m having business lunches and then a friend of theirs pops up on the other side of the table to grab a selfie while I’m in the middle of a business discussion. I’ve had people follow me into the rest room to ask for a selfie on my way out, I’ve had people come at me while walking with my grandchildren in the park.
None of this behavior is acceptable.
Let me repeat that: None of this behavior is acceptable.
When I tell people this they storm; away sometimes yelling obscenities.
Obscenities! 😳 They didn’t get what they wanted and disturbed my private time and that’s somehow a reason to yell at me?🙄
Welcome to the world of Veruca Salt: the world of “I want it NOW!”
This right to my privacy issue started on Twitter last week. Someone was unhappy because I turned them down at some place…at some time (nobody seemed to be really clear as to when or where) but the verdict had been handed down: Shatner was a jerk.
Imagine me: a jerk! 😱
Sure, a lot has been said by former coworkers about my hogging camera time and stories abound about me going out of my way to make sure the camera was always on me. It’s easy for folks to believe that I’m a jerk it’s a history of stories that I never bothered to counter because I was too busy working. A lot of those stories came out of conventions where certain actors found, that if they exaggerated on set stories, they got a better reaction from the crowd. Saying I was a jerk got them more attention. Even a young member of the second Star Trek series has a story about sneaking onto the Star Trek V set; supposedly encountering me and I made him cry. People who were there on set said it never happened but who knows maybe it did? 🤷🏼♂️ That story which came out in his book labeled me “William F*cking Shatner.” Well there you go; I have a nice new moniker to show around town. 🙄
I have told them all: I don’t recollect it but if it makes them feel better about themselves- I’ll agree. Sure…I was a jerk back then and I’m sorry. What I can tell you is that I’m not a jerk today nor do I really think I was a jerk back then but perception is reality to people and why spend decades harboring resentment when you can apologize and move on? Some don’t want that; they want to be offended. Okay, you be offended. What else can I say?
I had a woman a week or so ago saying I told her to “F* off” during a photo shoot at a con. I hadn’t been to this con in a number of years so that was puzzling. Again, I had no recollection but I know that if I were to have said that; I would have been crucified in the fandom and that never happened.
She continued playing the victim for several more tweets. She then produced a photo of the photo shoot. In looking at it and going online I find out that her photo was from a convention from 2010!
She waited 8 years to tell me this‽!! 😱
Then some intrepid types did a deep dive into her postings and found a different story — she said 3 years ago in 2015 she had a delightful time meeting me at the photo shoot.
So what part of a 2010 experience 8 years ago changed her viewpoint from three years ago?
Veruca Salt happened.
Yes, that obnoxious spoiled girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who learned that if she threw a fit that someone would give her what she wanted came to reside on social media.
Perhaps it was the fact that I’m returning to that same convention in a few weeks for the first time in a couple years? Perhaps she thought she could shame me into getting a hug? 🤔 Who knows, but I nipped that one in the bud and showed her what others had found and blocked her.
BTW, she can now add to her Twitter bio: blocked by Shatner. Hopefully that will give her some solace in whatever was bothering her enough to fabricate her story.
Also, I’m not a big hugger. I will fist bump at conventions but that’s about all. For those that go to conventions you know they are a toxic soup of bugs and viruses that occur when large groups of people get together. That toxic soup manifests itself into a super virus lovingly called “Con Crud.” The last thing I need is hugging someone and coming down with con crud for several weeks (look it up — it’s a real thing.)
Getting back to the Veruca Salt Syndrome:
Imagine throngs of victims screaming whatever they needed to get their way — both male and female — have come to social media to harass, bully and overpower folks. This is the epitome of Veruca Salt. Social media platforms are forced to accept this behavior under the guise of ‘free speech.’ They don’t want to get involved.
This is nothing about free speech; this is: “I want it now and you shut up!” speech
In one of the fandoms I am a member of, one of the show runners were investigated and his personal information was found so the Verucas who were angry that a character was killed off acted upon the information. They found his home phone and called. They left threatening messages to him and his family to show their outrage and their “power” (small p) in the fandom. This is not acceptable behavior in real life why is it tolerated in social media?
On another show I follow, the Verucas of that fandom insist that the two leads are dating when they are not. They have them (in their fantasies) secretly married, with a love child. None of it is true but any person seen in public with them is deemed an assistant (male) or whore (female.) What I find bizarre is that the Verucas of this fandom are 99% women so the whore tag just seems so inappropriate in this current world of social equality. I also heard that they have even gone to the actors Wikipedia pages and have been in a wikiwar with the admins trying to erase the fact that one of the leads is publicly engaged to another person. Veruca will always try to her way no matter what.
Veruca is a manifestation of a much bigger problem. It’s a problem that nobody wants to try to attempt to police. They complain that they should be allowed to ‘fan’ all the while spreading terror under their right of Veruca speech. Free speech is fine but when it overrides other people’s rights and puts them into fear, terror or tries to interfere with their lives: I think something needs to be said.
So, what does all of this have to do with my personal life? It’s the same thing happening to me — the Verucas of the online world are busy falling upon their cyber swords to proclaim victimhood because I will not allow fans to interrupt my enjoyment of my personal time so they can obtain an autograph or selfie to show to impress their friends.
It’s been my experience that the very second you agree to agree to do just one single autograph or selfie with one person there is an instant line of people queuing up. It’s not a 45 second thing that can happen and they go away it becomes a group that keeps getting larger and larger and it becomes an hour or more.
If I’m with my grandchildren; I don’t want to expose them to a mob scene where they can be frightened by these people. So I employ the word that Veruca hates the most; the word is NO. It’s no from the very first utterance of their request. This goes for autographs, selfies, handshakes, chats etc… If I’m on my private time; I’m not available to fans.
It sounds like a very basic concept — everyone has a right to their privacy. Right? Well the bizarre thing is that it’s not basic at all. The Verucas will argue that their “rights” to an autograph usurp my right to personal time.
Fans will argue that they “paid my salary” so therefore; I “owe” them. 🙄
No. Unfortunately that’s not correct and I don’t owe you anything. The Entertainment Industry gambles on popularity and ad revenue generated from commercials to make a profit but that doesn’t pay my salary. The network pays my salary and bets that their investment in the show will pay off in big commercial and sponsorship profits. By the time you watch something I’ve been in; I’ve already been paid by the network or studio.
BTW, just so we are crystal clear on this: I don’t make a dime from you currently watching Star Trek: The Original Series. The show was made before syndication rules so none of us get anything for the show being shown on TV around the world. So please don’t try to tell me that you are paying my salary because you are watching it.
It sounds harsh but I’m trying to be open, honest and direct. There is a time and place for everything.
I sign thousands upon thousands of items each year that get sent out that I never talk about. I do book tours and CD tours where I have a certain amount of time to sign and always there are folks who will get cut off. The cost of those is to get there early and buy the book or CD. I have a new book coming out in September as I’ve already mentioned above called “Live Long And…”I have two CD’s also coming out: “Why Not Me”from Heartland Records which a couple outlets told me is a really solid album (you, of course will have to be the judge) coming in August and my upcoming Christmas Album: “Shatner Claus” coming this fall with some jovial takes on Christmas classics that will delight many and probably be hated by the Verucas. 🤷🏼♂️.
There may be signing opportunities with those new products. If there is, you’ll probably have to wait in line but it will only cost the price of the item. I’m sure the fact that they have to purchase something to get an autograph and wait in a line will undoubtedly anger some Verucas but that’s a fact of life.
I do many conventions where, if you want to see me and hear me, you can. Also feel free to take a photo while I’m onstage –just don’t use a flash or you will disturb other attendees — it will only cost you the price of admission and of course the pain 😳 you’ll have to endure listening to me talk. 😝
If you want a photo of the two of us standing (or me usually sitting) then yes, there is an extra cost for that. Same with an autograph but those who are genuine fans of anyone and attend conventions routinely know all that. It’s the Verucas that will have the fits.
If you cannot afford admission; most conventions have volunteer programs where you can work and some will actually reward you with the ability to get an autograph op or photo op.
Imagine that 😱- they will give you these opportunities for FREE in exchange for volunteering to help with whatever tasks are needed!
So, what is stopping Verucas from doing this?
Well, basically everything because they don’t want to work; they just want it NOW! Oh, there’s darling Veruca again rearing her precious, privileged head…🙄
Online media really doesn’t help. Fox News and even The Hollywood Reporter this past week have run stories saying I’m ‘ranting’ about the autograph issue. I’m actually discussing privacy issues of my private life and the fact that’s why I won’t engage with fans for photos, autographs, etc… but that sounds boring so let’s just say Shatner isn’t signing autographs anymore for free. (That was one media outlet’s take.)
I went so far and asked the Hollywood Reporter via a tweet to ask their intrepid “Peter Parker” reporter who wrote the story what his definition of ranting is.
Is it that I responded to a number of people with the same opinion: “It’s my private life and I will not allow someone to disturb it” or perhaps ‘Mr. Parker’ was just lazy plagiarizing the Fox Story? As it sohappens; Fox took the word “ranting” from a story that Yahoo Music UK did on this subject and copied that article nearly word for word so that’s interesting that THR’s reporter used the same word.
That’s new media journalism for you! 🤷🏼♂️ I come from a time when papers only printed news that was fit to print not news that tried to get people to clicks on ads. Oh how the times have changed!
BTW, as of the time I’m writing this — The Hollywood Reporter still hasn’t responded. Quelle surprise!🙄
So there you have it. I’ve put my stick in the sand; I don’t know of anyone who would want to be interrupted when out in public with their family or at a restaurant by someone seeking to disturb them.
I value my privacy and I believe my rights to my privacy supercede any Veruca’s claims of rights to demand things of me.
These are my reasons but I want to hear your opinions. For those on the other side of the fence why do you feel that you have that right to others? For those who have fame that have to go through similar Verucas in their lives — how do you deal with the Verucas you encounter? All I ask is that you be factual and non-emotional. I know for Veruca those are alien words but if you want to engage me: those are my rules.
My best, Bill