Character on the wildly-popular Star Trek: The Next Generation played by actor Wil Wheaton, who was previously in the movie Stand By Me. Wesley was a precocious youth almost universally loathed by Trek fans for being a goodie two shoes and, inexplicably, the smartest person on the Enterprise.

Why you love to hate Wesley Crusher

Clearly, this is a character set up as a hook for all the tiny teenage geeks watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hey, says the PR guy, we don't have someone for the kiddies, who of course are going to be a main audience for our 6 pm timeslot. Who can the 14 year olds admire? Who might they possibly get a crush on? Who can be the geek they always dreamed of being?

Well. They certainly fucked that up.

Wesley Crusher ALWAYS WINS. He is on the bridge, opening communication frequencies for his surrogate father, Captain Picard; he is off the hook although he commited an infraction for which he should be put to death; he is going on dreamquests and having visions; he is the sole holdout resisting the Game; he actually fosters a tiny species' civilization. He is taken completely seriously about 95% of the time, and by people who actually know what they're doing. He has every opportunity set in front of him on a silver platter, and when he fucks one up, he gets a second chance. He gets a third and a fourth chance. He single-handedly saves a variety of people from a variety of threatening situations. He has a martyred father! He is the heir to a legacy mentioned so often as to become mythic! Even the bad parts of his life--his own personal failures as well as circumstantial events--contribute to his success.

And he is always saved, or saves himself, in the exact nick of time. Just as you start to entertain a serious hope that Wesley Crusher will finally be maimed or dead or actually disciplined or sent off to the academy or whatever, he escapes.

Which of course makes all the actual kids at home, the ones who admire Captain Picard and Worf, go look at themselves in the mirror. And you see your greasy hair, and your nosepad marks on the side of your nose, and your copy of some sci-fi book too thick for anyone else in the whole eighth grade, and the target practically painted on your forehead, and then your parents looming up behind you.

Actually, I didn't hate Wesley Crusher. I've enjoyed Wil's acting since he was in Stand By Me, the movie based on Stephen King's short The Body. It is very difficult to play (basically) a goody-two-shoes for an entire series, and he pulled it off. One of the positive things he demonstrated was that if you do fuck up (and he does often enough), by being straightforward and honest about it you can change your mistake into a positive growth experience. While the legions of jaded teens scoffed at the character, he was looked up to by the younger crowd (11-and-below). My youngest daughter thought he was cute and would talk to me after an episode that featured Wesley screwing up, then saving his own ass. The character taught self-reliance and honesty. Yes, just like any real-life kid that tries to "do the right thing", he gets picked at by teens who could see what they should be doing, yet chose not to do.

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