Wednesday, 23 September 2009

William Shatner, The Transformed Man

Like all intelligent people I am a big fan of William Shatner. Writer, director, singer, horse enthusiast, practical joker, extreme sportsman and of course actor. There are many strings to the bow of William "Tekwar" Shatner. He will be forever remembered for such roles as charismatic gigolo Matt Stone in Want a Ride Little Girl (1974) or effete Southern drifter William J. Baxter in Big Bad Mama (1974). He's also in some sci-fi thing, I forget the name of it.

This is a somewhat controversial statement but I happen to think that Shatner is a very underrated actor. A friend of mine often recalls the time he saw a clip of Shatner playing Julius Caesar in 1960 on one those dreadful 'Before They Were Famous' Shows. My friend was confused as to what exactly it was that he was supposed to find funny, since Shatner appeared to be doing a damn good job of taking on Shakespeare! But whatever you may think of his acting ability you can't deny the man's charisma. He's just a pleasure to watch in everything he's in, all because of that indefinable Shatner-ness that is easy to imitate but impossible to truly capture. It's also worth remembering that Shatner is funny. Whether he's telling an anecdote about a monkey grabbing his balls or playing the legendary Denny Crane in Boston Legal, the Shat's timing and delivery are always spot on.

There is also, of course, his music. I'm not gonna tell you that The Transformed Man is the greatest album ever, 'cos it ain't. There's also his notorious 1978 version of Rocket Man. It's so unintentionally hilarious I can't watch it without taping my sides securely to prevent splitting. His 2004 album Has Been on the other hand is a different story. Some of the tracks on this album are genuinely moving and the funny ones are actually meant to be funny. It's really worth a listen.

Shatner's unique acting style and ventures into popular music have made him the butt of countless jokes over the years. However these many examples of Shatner-mocking, from his 'appearances' on Family Guy and The Simpsons to Kevin Pollak's spot on impersonation, all seem to be tempered with affection and admiration. And, of course, no one mocks Shatner better than Shatner himself. Shatner is often compared to David Hasselhoff. This, I feel is unfair. When Shatner sends himself up, no matter the ridiculous costume or situation he's in, he always carries himself with the dignity of a man doing things absolutely his own way. The Hoff, quite frankly, is a clown who will dance for spare change.

So let's mock away, 'cos y'know what? Bill can take it. He's William Goddamn Shatner and he's bigger than all of us.

With that in mind, here's Shatner waxing lyrical about the eroticism of mountains, all mashed up into a kick ass electro tune courtesy of Fall On Your Sword.

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