What do you think? Are autobiographies worth a read? For some the answer is a resounding “YES!” Still others live between the dreadful realms of “Eh” and “No way, Jose!” I’ve made a habit of reading Presidential memoirs which are full of noteworthy events that draw the reader into their world for a time. But when it comes to autobiographies written by lesser-known figures, sometimes it’s a gamble.
Once I became aware of Wil Wheaton’s revised book, Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir, my mind was drawn to it. One could say that resistance was futile. Overall, it’s not a bad read. In the 1980’s, I watched him perform on Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) as Wesley Crusher. As I got older, I remember how goofy and nerdy Wesley was on the show. However, before I turned 16, he was the character I identified with most of all. Wesley was THE kid on Star Trek, and that drew me into the story. In fact, Wheaton’s character remained the main Star Trek kid until Deep Space Nine (DS9) with the introduction of Jake Sisco and Nog.
For Wheaton’s memoir, space is not the final frontier. Still Just a Geek blooms into what you would expect in a memoir. He touches on his family life, acting and writing career, and a bonus I did not expect: his blog. The tidbits he includes about Star Trek are delightful, minus the complaining. And oh my, does he complain in this book. He describes in careful detail his complaints about William Shatner, Rick Berman, his parents, and others. No question about it though, his parents take the cake. His memoir begins and ends with them. From the sound of it, he had a rough upbringing and depicts his parents as self-absorbed.
Question: even if his version of events is the full and honest truth, should he flaunt his parents’ shortcomings in public? The fifth commandment comes to mind: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” I realize I gave away my position in citing this verse. To be fair to Wheaton’s perspective, I think he would argue that he includes these details to help others who struggle with abusive family relationships, which resulted in his lifelong struggle against mental illness. And if his parents were as he described them, I can understand how he would face difficulty later in life. No doubt, our world is overjoyed at Wheaton’s shaming of his mom and dad. But the right thing to do is keep it in-house. The world does not need to know the intricate details of how his parents wronged him. No need to drag their name through the mud as a public spectacle.
One thing we can learn from this is to do the opposite. When wronged, go to that person. If he’s a Christian, you can follow Matthew 18. If he’s an unbeliever, seek reconciliation as best you can, but keep it between yourselves. It’s not anyone else’s business. Certainly not the whole World’s! Speaking of parents – all parents are flawed. I get that some have more serious flaws than others. But man oh man, after hearing him drone on about his awful parents I want to take the reverse approach and speak well of mine! This isn’t difficult because I’ve been blessed with loving parents, but I don’t want to pass down their faults from generation to generation. Isn’t love supposed to cover a multitude of sins? I hope my kids will do that for me.
All that said, plenty of wit and good humor find their way to the surface, and he proves himself to be a talented writer and speaker. Hearing about his time on The Big Bang Theory (BBT) as an evil version of himself was gratifying. BBT is my favorite sitcom, and I was stunned to learn how beloved it became while on the air. At one time, it was THE most popular sitcom.
As witty and good-humored as he is, Wheaton is also crass and makes no bones about his dislike of religion. He is a self-proclaimed Atheist and acts like one. I could not count how many times he directed the “F word” at specific people, even a grade school teacher who said something unkind to him decades earlier! The grown up in me wants to say something like: “You’re far too talented to write like this. Surely you could think of a better way to communicate than to vomit expletives all over the landscape. Have you considered letting things go? How about that old adage: ‘If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’”
I want to have some compassion on the man because if half the things he described are true, his childhood was distressing. And my heart goes out to him. Notwithstanding his belief that religious people believe in fairytales, he needs the Lord, just as we all need the Lord. A large portion of his memoir is dedicated to his brokenness, which is something every person can relate to in some way. We live in this fallen world together, and we are all broken because of sin. We deserve God’s wrath because of our sins. But the Lord Jesus can save us from our sins – to everyone who repents and trusts in Him alone. Mr. Wheaton, as a fellow sinner, there is a lasting hope available to you in Jesus Christ. So turn to Him, and you will find a freedom you’ve never known. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Recommend? Only for the Wil Wheaton superfan.
Rating? 3 out of 5 stars.
I know, I KNOW it’s not Christmastime, but I am compelled to include my favorite YouTube video with Wesley Crusher in it. Enjoy!
Dear reader, thank you for reading. Time to speed back to Earth at Warp 9,
*Motions with his hand* “Engage”