Brent Spiner, who played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, spiced up this year’s Dragon*Con Trek track with his “special” brand of snarky humor. In-between entertaining fans and signing autographs on the Walk of Fame, he took five minutes to chat with the Daily Dragon about social media, storytelling, and his web series Fresh Hell.
Daily Dragon (DD): One of the best things about following you on Twitter is the fun performance art-like things you did more of a few years ago. You once told me that if you’d set up that account yourself you would have called it TheBrentSpinerShow to better reflect what you were doing there. But you don’t do many of those performances anymore.
Brent Spiner (BS): I never really meant to do the stories on Twitter. They’d occur to me and they’d just happen as they happened. I did a short one recently where I went to a convention in Las Vegas and walked home through the desert. The first one was a month long and I can’t do that, anymore. It just took too much time. So I’ve been doing week-long ones occasionally.
DD: When you started you thought one day it would be funny to do them?
BS: Yeah, it just occurred to me that it might be a good idea. There’s a lot of pressure, when you get a Twitter account, to say something. Particularly when you get a lot of people saying, “Where are you? Why haven’t you said anything, today?” It can kill a few days in a row if you can come up with an idea for a story.
DD: Two years ago we spoke at CES, and at the time you said that your followers didn’t seem to get what you were doing with the stories. And from the retweets and conversations I saw you having, it seemed like people were a little angry about it. Is that just a perception I had because you were only sharing some of what you got in, or was that most of the feedback?
BS: I was getting a lot of confusion. But I was also getting a lot of people who, at the end of the story, would let me know they enjoyed the whole thing and they got it all the way through. The Internet in general is sort of Mean Central. I don’t take it too seriously. For some people, that’s there’s their whole agenda: to be mean anonymously. In some cases mean and not anonymously. I could name names, actually!
DD: How did you start to develop the idea for Fresh Hell?
BS: I’ve been toying with that idea for a long time—a study on celebrity and the underbelly of celebrity, the good and bad parts, and the addictive nature of it. It’s particularly addictive for the people who are involved in it. It’s probably worldwide, the desire to put someone on a pedestal; and the even bigger desire to knock them off once they’re on it. That’s what I’m playing with.
DD: You said yesterday that you have about five new episodes written but not filmed yet. When can we expect the show to start up again?
BS: [A while ago] I said September, but clearly it’s not going to happen this month. [laughter] So I’m loathe to say when. We are trying to get a crew together and get it going. I love the next few episodes and they’re going to be really entertaining.
DD: Do you have long-term plans for Fresh Hell or just taking it one season at a time?
BS: Oh, I have long-term plans. I plan on it being picked up for a television series and then I’m only going to do it for another 20 years.
DD: That sounds eminently reasonable!
BS: Yes, and after 20 years I’m finished with it and I’ll do something else. Well, after the feature film. Or after the series of films. Then, I’m finished. [laughter]