[Spoilers for Star Trek Beyond, obviously]
There are certain memes that will continue to go viral until the end of time, or the bourbon bagel burger kills us all, whichever comes first. To use a recent example: Celine a Scene supposes that adding her 1997 titanically powerful ballad, “My Heart Will Go On,” to “epic scenes” makes them “even more emotional and epic.” It works really well, as does the Walk of Life Project, which is basically the same idea as Celine a Scene, except with “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits. It’s an effective concept for an untold amount of songs. Jurassic Park is a perfect movie… but wouldn’t it be even more perfect with “Walk the Dinosaur” playing during one of the T-rex scenes? Yes, yes it would.
Both Celine a Scene and Walk of Life Project, while clever, only work for certain moments, though. They have to be either poignant, or the final scene in the movie. Meanwhile, every film ever would be better with any Beastie Boys song at any point. Take a look at the Star Trek reboots as proof.
In Star Trek, we’re introduced to a young James T. Kirk right after he “borrows” a Corvette. As his step-father yells at him for stealing the car, Kirk ends the phone call and starts blasting “Sabotage,” which is still a favorite amongst angsty youngsters even in the mid-2240s (maybe this makes a little more sense than people in the 31st century being familiar with Beck).
In Star Trek Into Darkness, we hear another Beastie Boys song — the Fat Boy Slim remix of “Body Movin'” — while Kirk canoodles with two nice Caitian girls.
Lastly, and most importantly, in Star Trek Beyond, “Sabotage” literally saves the Federation. That is not hyperbole — a Beastie Boys song from 1994 protects the good people and aliens of Yorktown from Krall’s Swarm; if it hadn’t, the Swarm would have moved on to other parts of the universe, leaving behind only death and destruction. It’s insane, so insane that if you haven’t seen Beyond, first off, sorry for ruining the ending for you, but also, it’s really hard to explain.
“Okay, so,” one would hypothetically begin, “Stringer Bell destroys the Enterprise with assistance from his bee-like alien ships, and also there’s this bioweapon artifact that’s going to kill everyone, or something, and the only way Kirk and his crew, including an alien named after Jennifer Lawrence, can stop Stringer’s bees is by playing a 20th century ‘classical’ music song, which disrupts the aliens. That song is by Jewish punks-turned-rappers Beastie Boys.” I don’t know how many cans of Romulan ale Simon Pegg had downed when he came up with that, but I’m glad he did.
I’m not the only one.
A lot of comparisons have been made between Star Trek Beyond and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (not only because J.J. Abrams’ name is attached to both), and how we’re living in a “Star Wars world.” But having a pop song save millions of lives is unique to Star Trek. It can get away with using contemporary (for us in 2016) references like that because, well, Earth exists in the Star Trek universe; English isn’t even English, it’s “Galactic Basic Standard,” in Star Wars. The franchise, which is now 13 movies deep, should be taking these kind of goofy chances. It’s no crazier than Spock swimming with whales in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and that’s the most beloved Star Trek movie.
Star Trek is also working at a disadvantage. Before the Abrams reboot was released in 2009, the franchise was creatively drained and commercially ignored. Enterprise was a bust, and Nemesis barely made its $60 million budget back. The 1990s and 2000s weren’t a good time for Star Wars, either, but the dreaded prequels were still massive hits, and also, this is Star Wars we’re talking about. Everyone’s seen the original trilogy. (Do not @ me on Twitter if you haven’t seen the original trilogy.) The first three Trek movies? Not so much. The Empire Strikes Back earned $209 million at the box office in 1980. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, released two years later: under $100 million. Casual movie fans don’t have the same familiarity with Kirk, Spock, and Bones as they do Luke, Han, and Leia. Add the eternally cool and universally beloved Beastie Boys into the mix, though (especially a song as well known as “Sabotage”), and Star Trek Beyond suddenly appeals to a lot more people.
We know there’s going to be a Star Trek 4, with Chris Hemsworth returning as Kirk’s father. How can it top Star Trek Beyond‘s use of the Beastie Boys? It can’t, unless Greg Grunberg — Abrams’ good luck charm who’s also been in all of the films — raps “So What’cha Want.” Start from there, Simon Pegg.
I would also accept Public Enemy.