28 August 2015

Enterprising Casual Fridays #1

I've been a Star Trek fan since I was a wee lad in the mid-1970s, watching the original series in repeats (aside from a so-so cartoon, that's all there was!). Then came the movies, then The Next Generation, then Deep Space Nine, then Voyager, and so on. I like much of it, ignore some of it (hello, Enterprise; hello, Mr. Abrams), and more or less tolerate the rest. Star Trek and Star Wars have been of great interest to me for most of my life, and yet they rarely appear in my main body of artwork (only one Star Trek painting!), but sometimes, like my C-3PO and spaceship models, my fandom/appreciation still finds –often unexpected– ways of manifesting itself.

This weird, silly little project began when I was searching for something online and, unrelated to my search, saw a photo of Jim Kirk in a Hawaiian shirt in the format of a motivational poster with the caption "Casual Fridays" underneath. I thought it was a funny idea, but I found the Photoshop of the shirt unconvincing since it didn't match the source image of Kirk. I'm no PS wiz but I felt I could do better, so I mocked up an image of Kirk on the bridge with McCoy. Then I added Spock, just for kicks. Then I thought about Picard and gave him the same treatment. The image above was meant to be a fun one-off to amuse myself; no more, no less. I added a title and numbers after I developed the idea further.

Then I thought more about the whole concept of Casual Fridays and how I feel about it, all the while having in mind John Byrne's current and awesome Star Trek: New Visions project in which he's creating brand new Trek stories (featuring Kirk and his crew) using a combination of Photoshop and CGI. I love these new stories and he's got such a keen understanding of the show and its characters that the only thing missing is motion and music (I can practically "hear" the actors' voices in my head when I read the dialogue). There's a treasure trove of high-res screencaps over at Trekcore that provides most of his (and my) source material.

The "storyline" I came up with (beginning with ECF #2) concerns the TNG crew with one tiny peek at how DS9 deals with Casual Fridays. This isn't an ongoing project, and I feel I've said all I need to say in the five strips (not including this one) that I've already done. Oh, and just in case JB reads this, please know that I did fix the problem of using a capital I in the middle of  words in the subsequent strips.

I think I first became aware of Casual Fridays in the mid-1990s when I was working at The Shopping Channel. I worked in Production (the TV part of it) and, within reason, we could wear whatever we wanted, but the folks over in Merchandising/Sales/Offices wore more business-y outfits –not suits and ties, exactly, but not jeans and t-shirts, either. On the occasions when my crew was working on a Friday (all 3 crews worked shifts) we'd notice that the guy we called Add-on Man came into the control room (with script changes containing additions to the stuff we'd sell on-air) wearing jeans.

A minor detail, but we noticed it and made jokes about it, seeing as the only thing that changed was his clothing; a detail that made me ponder the following: if Merchandising and Management could be more relaxed in their wardrobe on Fridays, were they also more relaxed in their work? Turns out the answer was NO, only the clothes changed. So, if they could continue to do their regular jobs on Fridays while wearing jeans, why couldn't they just wear jeans all week? And if the no-jeans dress code was so important, why rescind it on Fridays? I found this concept not only strange, but more than a little condescending and hypocritical (maybe hypocritical isn't the right word...perhaps "illogical" is more accurate).

In response (not that one was needed or asked for) I started dressing UP on my crew's "Fridays" (the end of our week rarely coincided with actual Fridays) by wearing nice pants and shoes, a white shirt, and a tie. It was for my own amusement; I didn't care if my small-scale pseudo-socio-political statement was noticed by anyone other than my fellow crew members (who would sometimes dress up along with me). A couple of times I was mistaken for an on-air guest or some other "important" person by the other departments (we didn't interact very much) simply because of my outfit. When I experienced firsthand that clothing does play a role in people's perceptions, my cynicism about Casual Fridays became more entrenched.

Ever since, and circumstances permitting, I've worn a shirt and tie to various jobs and events that didn't necessarily require it –especially on Fridays. I consider it one of my costumes.

This all came together serendipitously; I wasn't planning on making Star Trek photo comics, nor was I looking for an outlet to vent my distaste for Casual Fridays, but the juxtaposition of that concept with Starfleet uniforms (and my affinity for Trek, as well as a curiosity to see if I could even do it convincingly) made this project irresistible to me.

It's a small-scale pseudo-socio-political statement done mostly for my own amusement; I won't be making prints or t-shirts or any merch (just these silly posts), and I'm not trying to compete with Byrne's New Visions, so Paramount, CBS, and JB have nothing to worry about.

Below are links to the rest of the comic story:

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