Friday, November 9, 2012

The William Shatner App, Channeling Celebrity & the Future of Political Discourse

I can’t tell you how relieved I am to learn that on the day after the election William Shatner has introduced a new iPhone app, “Shatoetry” that lets users compose text and play it back in Shatner’s voice.  The options are endless.  It could be a bugger-off message to your ex-boss/lover/dog-sitter.  He told Fox Entertainment News that “I can say anything.  I can even break up with your boyfriend.  I’d be delighted to.”

Time Magazine’s Techland notes that for “dramatic pauses, users select ‘Space Bubbles.’  Different colored portraits of the celebrity can be chosen for the background of each ‘shatism.’  And to listen to the final product, users press ‘shat that!’ and then can trade messages with one another via the Create and Friends option.”

Shatner’s fingerprints and excremental whimsy are all over this offering created by Blindlight Apps, a company that brings Hollywood talent and celebrity to the gaming and app worlds.  Shatner, his launch claims to the contrary, might have been told about the urban belief that his fecal matter is said to possess mystical powers and businesses have been built around that fantasy.  The Urban Dictionary offers a full range of Shat Mugs and Shat shirts.  Nothing yet, as far as I know, for the original Old English “bescatan,” meaning “befowled,” but that word isn’t exactly duck soup.

There was a time when everybody knew that “shat” is the past tense and past participle of the much more current and popular “shit.”  Our political discourse would be so such better if the understanding of grammar and linguistics was more, say, 18th century.  I will acknowledge that there is no easy transition from this messy grammatical chatter to the long, tedious ordeal called a presidential campaign, except to add that a Shatner- inspired “shat that” button on all political discourse might have added some earthiness and brevity to the conversations.

In the press release, Shatner says that “People all over the world have been listening to my voice for so long, but they only heard what I wanted to say.  I wanted to give people a means to express their thoughts and ideas using my voice.”

Both political parties have become much more adept in using social media.  As the two camps raise their game, perhaps they should consider licensing this product from Shatner Enterprises.  Such a move would not only allow constituents to put a representative’s words in their individual mouths, but it would add a much needed degree of authenticity.

Shatner refers to his disciples as “Shatoetists” and I expect his site will do more to advance modern American poetry than all Ivy League English Departments put together.

The Shatoetry App provides a Word Tray of inspiring words that users select to compose a message. Captain Kirk knows something about speaking in tongues.  The religious implications are profound.

After a twelve month political campaign and $6 billion price tag, the Political Word Tray must be full of words, fitting, brief, and beautiful, worthy in every way to be on the lips of politicians of every stripe. 

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