In TNG’s first … we will generously say “uneven” season, Q gives Riker his powers, with … unexpected … consequences. He goes on this “wish granting” spree in the fourth act, which includes a moment with Wesley that’s memorable for maybe not the reasons the writers intended. (Here I am, talking about it on Memories of the Futurecast)
This episode and its moment set the stage for this, from Star Trek Wholesome Posting on Facebook.
Some number of you are laughing at this because you recognize the references. But I have noticed that this is the first time a lot of people are seeing The Infamous Clown Sweater, so this is how I answered what became a FAQ:
“I did this fundraiser for EFF in San Francisco in … 2001? 2002? Something like that. It was at DNA Lounge, and after we were done, this person came up to me with this horrific sweater (jumper, for you non-Americans). They told me it was part of The Infamous Clown Sweater Project. What’s that, I asked. They told me they are getting as many people as possible to wear it and pose for a photo, which they would then upload to their webpage — not website, webpage, because it was 2001 or so — for all to see.
“Of course I was down for it, and that face I’m making in the first photo is my very real reaction to the awful stank that was just infused in the acrylic fibers.
“The second picture is from a con about … 2014? Something like that, based on how I look. Someone actually made their own version of that horrible sweater for me. One arm is too long, on purpose, the neck is all stretched out, on purpose, and it fits poorly, on purpose. It’s so damn funny to me, and it came along at a moment when we were doing this “then and now” thing on Twitter (before the fascists took over).
“I still have the second sweater. I have no idea what happened to the original. Last time I checked, the website that hosted all those pictures — so old it was manually coded in html, predating even Flickr — was lost to the sands of time.
“But it never fails to make me smile when this picture comes back around. It reminds me of a specific time, when there was just so much hope for the online future we were all building.”
I’ve done a LOT of things involving The Infamous Clown Sweater over the years. It’s never not funny to me, it’s moment has long come and gone, but when it shows up (which is does, about once a year), I always enjoy it.
And for those of you who are too young to know what Riker giving Wesley his “fondest wish” is, well …
Wesley wanted to grow up to be a blue-eyed blonde who I’m pretty sure the costume designer wanted to fuck?
GEORDI! GROSS! You’re not helping!
Look. I love you, Commander Riker, but … you’re gonna want to try again. Wesley’s fondest wish rhymes with “marathon betazoid orgy on risa”.