CBR Bingo: Star (Both because Wheaton is a celebrity, and also because of Star Trek)
It feels like there’s been a lot of talk lately about child stars, what with Jennette McCurdy’s book coming out and the recent allegations against Fred Savage. Between all that, reading Still Just a Geek, and reading snippets from House of Hilton about Kim Richards, I’m starting to think maybe we should just ban Hollywood from using child actors?
In the early 2000s, Will Wheaton published a book of essays (Just a Geek) based on his blog. Twenty years or so later, he’s updated his original book with some new material, along with annotations on all the old essays that were published the first time around. There’s a lot in here about Star Trek, a little about Stand by Me, Big Bang Theory and TableTop, and plenty about his family and how he feels about fame and acting.
First off, the bad: I read this as an e-book, which I don’t recommend. It seemed to take forever to finish a chapter, what with near-constant scrolling back and forth between the main text and the annotations. I also found it confusing, at times, to figure out which parts were from the original book and which were new. I think both of these problems would be solved by reading a physical copy. I also know Wheaton has been quite successful as an audiobook narrator, so the audio version is probably great as well.
The original book contains some cringy passages, as Wheaton used words he’d no longer choose today (like “lame”), and makes some pretty terrible jokes. He addresses these in the annotations, rather than remove them from the book. I appreciated his attempts to face his shortcomings and apologize for them, because I think a lot of people wouldn’t. On the other hand, sometimes it got to be too much–there was a lot of apologizing, often for the same thing. Wheaton also makes fun of himself a lot, both in the original text and in his annotations. It got to the point where I started to feel a little sorry for him and wish that he thought better of himself, because he does seem like a great guy. My other issue with the book was that some of the added blog chapters at the end just didn’t interest me, but I think that’s just me, and most people who would be interested in this book would be interested in those essays (there were some that were focused on gaming/techie stuff that I skipped).
As for the good, as a Trekker I loved reading about his experiences on Star Trek. I loved the confirmation that William Shatner really is just objectively terrible and Patrick Stewart is a lovely man. Beyond that, Wheaton is painfully, brutally honest about his family and how he was mistreated and abused as a child star. While he seems, on the surface, to have come out of it unscathed relative to some of his peers, clearly he suffered a lot. Some parts are hard to read because they’re so upsetting. On the other hand, he now seems to be in a great place–married to a truly lovely woman and an adoring father to his two sons (his wife’s children from her first marriage that Wheaton adopted). There’s a lot in here about his struggles to find work between TNG and Big Bang Theory, and it’s nice to see that he figured out his niche and found work he enjoys.
Overall, I’m glad I read this, but it does make me worry a bit about the kids I see in movies/TV shows now.