Simon Pegg clarifies comments about ‘childish’ sci-fi films: ‘I’m still a nerd and proud’

In a recent interview Pegg appeared to accuse sci-fi films of 'dumbing down' society's film tastes

Simon Pegg has clarified controversial comments he made in a recent interview suggesting “childish” sci-fi films are “dumbing down” the tastes of cinema-goers.

During an interview in this week’s Radio Times, Pegg appeared to share views that fans found surprising from an actor-writer-producer who has been closely associated with the sci-fi and fantasy genres ever since he co-created cult 90s sitcom Spaced. “Before Star Wars, the films that were box office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie And Clyde and The French Connection – gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed,” Pegg said. “Now, I don’t know if that is a good thing. Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science-fiction and genre cinema. But part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilised by our own taste.”

Later in the interview, Pegg claimed that “now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes…” and described this as “a kind of dumbing down in a way”. “Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot,” he added.

In a blog post titled ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’ shared yesterday (May 19) on his website, Pegg – who is co-writing the script for next year’s Star Trek 3 – sought to clarify and expand on what he was trying to say to the Radio Times. After conceding that he was “being a little bit trollish” during the interview, Pegg went on to admit that his “‘dumbing down’ comment came off as a huge generalisation by an A-grade asshorn”.

“I did not mean that science fiction or fantasy are dumb, far from it,” he explained. “How could I say that? In the words of Han Solo, “Hey, it’s me!” In the last two weeks, I have seen two brilliant exponents of the genre. Ex Machina and Mad Max: Fury Road, both of which had my head spinning in different and wonderful ways and are both very grown up films.”

Later in his 1,400-word blog post, Pegg added: “The point of all this is just to get my position clear. I’m not out of the fold, my passions and preoccupations remain. Sometimes it’s good to look at the state of the union and make sure we’re getting the best we can get. On one hand it’s a wonderful thing, having what used to be fringe concerns, suddenly ruling the mainstream. But at the same time, these concerns have also been monetised and marketed and the things that made them precious to us, aren’t always the primary concern (right, Star Trek TOS fans?).”

Pegg then signed off by insisting, “I love Science Fiction and fantasy and do not think it’s all childish,” and reassuring fans that “I am still a nerd and proud”.