In a week dominated by news that the National Security Agency was intercepting Americans’ emails and phone records en masse, some of George Takei’s 4 million devoted Facebook followers had more important things to worry about: unexpected evidence that the former Star Trek star hires ghost-posters.
In an interview with longtime media blogger Jim Romenesko, comedic TV writer Rick Polito casually mentioned that he wrote jokes for Takei’s Facebook page at a rate of $10 per gag. With most other celebrities, this sort of outsourcing would come as no surprise, but Takei followers seem to feel an especially personal bond with the star, whose feed is a quirky and seemingly authentic combination of science fiction jokes; lolcat-style animal pictures; heartfelt posts on gay rights, racial discrimination, and animal welfare; and pictures and quotes with inadvertently sexual undertones, which become subjects of Takei’s online catchphrase “Oh Myyy.”
As such, some followers of the star – including the social media savvy – were caught off guard by the idea that he doesn’t personally produce all his own material, perhaps while sipping tea in pajamas on his porch.
“Nooo!” tweeted Amanda Art, an online journalist in Boston.
“Shattered,” wrote Global Post social media editor Kyle Kim.
“Say it ain’t so, Sulu!” said a local Fox TV journalist in Houston.
“Oh myyy is right!” said Brian Ries, social media editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. “Can we have no Internet heroes/nice things?!”
Even Jennifer Kroot, the director of a forthcoming documentary on Takei, was caught of guard. “That’s crazy,” she wrote in an email.
Reached by Wired at a Star Trek convention in Boston, in between meetings with Andorian slave girls and Klingon warriors, Takei said the fuss is much ado about nothing. His e-book “Oh Myyy,” released in November, even disclosed that some content came from helpers he dubbed “George Fakei.”
“What is this hoo-ha about my FB posts?” Takei wrote in an email. “I have Brad, my husband, to help me and interns to assist. What is important is the reliability of my posts being there to greet my fans with a smile or a giggle every morning. That’s how we keep on growing.”
When Takei, 76, is on the road — Denver last week, Singapore the week before — his team posts items Takei has written previously, he said. And outside writers like Polito help with supplying meme-style funny photos, which Takei scrupulously credits as “from a fan.” But Takei writes every last word cracking fun at the pics, he says.
“The commentaries are mine,” Takei says. “They are authentically mine, I assure you.”
Disillusioned fans, however many there are, seem likely to come around. One devoted follower, to whom the writer of this article happens to be married, reacted Thursday to news of a ghost-joker by saying, “I feel cheated!” Given the opportunity the following day to suggest a tough interview question for Takei, she added, “just tell him he’s awesome.”