Did the Beastie Boys Inadvertently Invent the Vulcan Nerve Pinch?


The Star Trek reboot has been an unqualified success.  Everyone loves it, everyone’s going to see it! Star Trek is cool again!  This entire week there’s always been some discussion brewing regarding the movie: the lens flares, the science of the movie, the annoying quality of Kirk and his rapid ascent to becoming a captain, Tyler Perry, the significance of young Kirk driving a 1966 C2 Corvette over a cliff, etc.

It’s been all Star Trek all the time this past week for some people.  And that may be the biggest indication of the movie’s success.  People are talking about it.  This isn’t like the last few Trek movies where the die-hards would go to watch it on opening day and then have to go back into the Trek closet come Monday morning.

But there’s one thing that’s been bothering me and I finally put my finger on it.  It’s quite possible that the Beastie Boys inadvertently invented Mr. Spock’s Vulcan nerve pinch.

How so? 


We know the new movie takes place around Stardate 2248, which actually corresponds to our Gregorian calendar. 

So it’s not inconceivable then that a young Kirk would have access to an antique Corvette.  But what was surprising about that early scene in the movie is not whether director J.J. Abrams was referring to the original Kirk, William Shatner, being unable to pronounce the word sabotage, but the manner with which he used the Beastie Boys song “Sabotage.”

In that scene Kirk hangs up on his rotten Uncle Frank and then flips out his fancy Nokia media player and picks the song in question.  By making this choice, Abrams has now created a universe in which The Beastie Boys exist in Star Trek canon.  The song wasn’t played over the scene, it was played in the scene.  There’s a big difference.  If the song was played over the scene, all of this speculation becomes moot.

If we accept that the Beastie Boys were a music group from the 1990s, still being listened to 200 years later when the new Star Trek movie takes place, then we must accept that their song “Intergalactic” also exists within the newly established universe. As we must accept that the music video for the song also exists.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  There’s no indication in the new movie that the Vulcan nerve pinch was taught to Spock by the Vulcan elders.  But we do know for a fact that around 1997 or so, The Beastie Boys wrote a song with the line:

“If you try to knock me you’ll get mocked / I’ll stir fry you in my wok / Your knees’ll start shaking and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck of Mr. Spock.”

There’s no indication that Mr. Spock, once traveling from Vulcan to San Francisco to attend Star Fleet academy, would have heard the Beastie Boys song “Intergalactic” but there’s also no indication that he didn’t overhear it as well.

Let’s assume for a moment that Mr. Spock was in the library or grabbing a sandwich in between classes. Someone is bumping the song on their fancy Nokia media player and he hears those last few lines. Now, Spock is rather intelligent, so maybe the idea becomes implanted in his head subconsciously and he tries it out for the first time right before he tosses Kirk out the backside of the Enterprise.

There’s also the obvious time travel aspect that could play a role in all of this  — that Mr. Spock went back in time to the 1990s and the Beastie Boys saw him do the Vulcan Nerve Pinch and thus led to the line in their song.

But at this point it’s a chicken and egg sort of thing, until we get more information.  Correlation doesn’t mean causality and all that.  But it’s too weird a coincidence for people to not be talking about.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Aidan May 17, 2009, 7:22 pm

    Was the author on something when this was written?

    The idea of the Beastie Boys being time travellers is a fictionally sound one though. Their heads survived into the 31st century (see "Futurama").

  • Sulu May 15, 2009, 11:47 pm

    You must also refer to the Star Trek animated series outtakes where Shatner berates a voiceover director for telling him to pronounce the word as Sab-o-tahghe vs. Sab-o-taghe (look it up if not familiar).

  • JimmyJames May 15, 2009, 6:42 pm

    Oh come on we all know it was a meta joke aimed at the Shat and his sabotage audio flub form the ST cartoon, and a hella funny one at that. Although I am down for the prophetic Beastie Boys.

    • jamesfurbush May 15, 2009, 7:14 pm

      Agreed 100% about Abrams true intentions with this scene, I just think it's more humorous if the Beastie Boys were intricately involved in the Star Trek universe/canon somehow, as either prophets or creators of the vulcan pinch or through some time travel…

  • Walley May 15, 2009, 1:46 am

    * The Beasties could of heard this tale as it was passed along in the music underground…(sc)

    • Todd May 15, 2009, 4:21 pm

      Beatsies is just as good…. ask the Biz.

  • Walley May 15, 2009, 1:42 am

    Spock used the neck pinch on the Punk Rocker on the bus in the 80's when they went back in time to get whales so that Punk Rocker lived to tell the tale of the time some dude named Spock knocked him out with a neck pinch. The Beatsies could of hear this tale as it was past along in the music underground.

  • Bill May 14, 2009, 11:16 pm

    I suggest that the song Intergalactic was never produced by the Beastie Boys in the Star Trek Universe. Sabotage was released in 1994, Intergalactic in 1998. Supposedly in the mid-90s the Eugenics Wars occurred, which presumably could have disrupted the creative process and thus prevented the entire Hello Nasty album from being created.

  • Isollae May 14, 2009, 11:10 pm

    "Time, Its not what you think it is." -The Doctor
    ok, Temporal lesson number. we have time line. during this time line people jump back to a early point make no meaningful change and jump back. The universe does not notice.
    then you have a second event in which people jump back to a 2nd earlier point AFTER the first one. they make a HUGE change directly altering the. as all previous events HAVE occurred they remain unchanged even if it directly effect the people form the first event.
    The universe still doesnt notice because of two reasons. one it doesnt care. and two because in a complete multi-dimensional understanding of the universe. all things happen anyway.

    if you think im full of crap, go to youtube and search for "Imagining the Tenth Dimension part" theres 2 videos. well worth it if you want to discuss dimensional mechanics.

  • Slybri May 14, 2009, 10:16 pm

    The never showed the words "Sabotage" or "Beastie Boys" on the media player in the car. The song continues playing long after the car is launched over the cliff and destroyed and on into the next scene, space above Vulcan. Also, the song was not in the scene shown in the trailers.

    Point Mooted

  • Mike May 14, 2009, 9:59 pm

    Did Star Trek just turn into Terminator?

  • Mike May 14, 2009, 9:54 pm

    Extending this logic… if this universe included a Beastie Boys song about Mr. Spock, then it must also contain a pre-existing Star Trek television series that was remarkably precient. Perhaps the show really is a bunch of Galaxy Quest-like "historical documents" that have been dropped through a time-warp by the crew, and they actually inspired young Kirk to become a captain to begin with.

  • danknerd May 14, 2009, 9:47 pm

    but ST:IV hasnt happened yet and the timeline has already been altered so it might not even happen now and I dont suspect JJ doing a remake of ST:IV

    Beastie Boys still prophets!!

  • mik May 14, 2009, 9:42 pm

    Wow. Talk about a high nerd factor. How much time did you waste thinking about this?

    • jamesfurbush May 14, 2009, 9:56 pm

      Probably the equivalent of a few beers after seeing the movie. I dunno, my mind works by making pointless connections to things.

      • dutch May 19, 2009, 1:39 am

        dude you don't have to explain yourself to this guy. can't wait to see the movie

  • steve May 14, 2009, 9:22 pm

    Good call on the ST4 ala 1986 reference Anon

  • gary May 14, 2009, 9:20 pm

    There is also a Fr. Spock who autored child rearing books.

  • Monkey May 14, 2009, 9:11 pm

    All this because of an article written by James Furbush

    heh. Furbush.

  • mags May 14, 2009, 9:09 pm


  • Anon May 14, 2009, 9:08 pm

    In Star Trek IV, the Spock and friends time travel to 1986 to save the whales. That puts Spock at a point on the time-line prior to the Beastie Boys song being written.

    • Anon May 14, 2009, 10:46 pm


    • kevin May 18, 2009, 3:00 pm

      but not before the beasties were a group.. that would be the inspiration to write intergalactic over a decade later

  • Amy May 14, 2009, 7:21 pm


  • jamesfurbush May 14, 2009, 6:09 pm

    Yeah, let's hope there's no intergalactic raping going on. I don't think Spock would approve of that.

  • Dingis May 14, 2009, 10:48 am

    Scotty D: You mean they rapped about it. If the beastie Boys use Spock’s neck pinch for raping, they should be in jail.

    • Scotty D May 14, 2009, 6:19 pm

      Type-o and good point. There should be no raping by anyone regardless of species. Though I do think it’s a crucial part of Kilngon courtship.

      • mxyzplk May 15, 2009, 1:03 am

        Heh heh, I call it "the Vulcan Roofie"

  • Scotty D May 14, 2009, 5:32 pm

    The answer is clear; The Beastie Boys are intergalactic time travelers. They went to the future, presumable in a time bending phone booth, ideally with George Carlin and saw Spock do his famous move. Once, returning to the 90's they felt the neck pinch was worthy of raping about.

    It’s pretty obvious…

  • BIL Oyster May 14, 2009, 5:12 pm

    More Beastie Boy/Star Treck chicken and the egg conundrum for you:

    "Ch-Check It Out" video:


  • Jerkbroni May 14, 2009, 4:31 pm

    The music kept playing with no changes to volume or anything after the car went off the cliff. That made it ambiguous whether it was the movie soundtrack or what he was listening to.

    • jamesfurbush May 14, 2009, 4:44 pm

      Good point. So for argument's sake, if the music was on the soundtrack what did Kirk activate when he fiddled with the fancy media player in the Corvette?

  • jamesfurbush May 14, 2009, 3:30 pm

    Brilliant! Mike I didn't even think about that. Now I wish I could go and rewrite the entire thing over again with the angle of the Beastie Boys as prophets.

  • mike May 14, 2009, 3:08 pm

    Prophets! It doesn't matter if Spock heard the song, he was mentioned by name 200 years before he was born. That makes the Beatie Boys prophets!