Would YOU “Spock a Five” ? COM 0011 Blog #3

As a long time Sci-Fi geek, my fellow “Trekkies” and I were saddened by the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy only one week ago today, as I write this blog.  No doubt, most of you know of the famous actor, Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on the original hit TV series Star Trek from 1966-69.  Wikipedia confirms that the show had a major influence on popular culture and it became a cult classic in broadcast syndication during the 1970’s. The show eventually spawned a franchise, consisting of five additional television series, 12 films, numerous books, games, toys, and is now considered one of the most popular science fiction television shows of all time!  Although Mr. Nimoy, was also known as a film director, poet, singer-songwriter, and photographer, according to Wikipedia, Nimoy’s greatest prominence came from his role as Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-human alien hybrid on Star Trek series. It is considered one of the most popular alien characters ever portrayed on television. Biographer Dennis Fischer notes that television viewers admired Spock’s “coolness, his intelligence,” and his ability to take on successfully any task. As a result, he adds, Nimoy’s character “took the public by storm,” nearly eclipsing the star of the show, William Shatner’s Captain Kirk.  I was a not a big Captain Kirk fan.

Leonard died on Friday February 27th.  Fans around the world immediately started to respond to Leonard’s passing on social media.  My Facebook news feeds featured Spock cartoons and videos, famous character quotes, and photos all posted and re-posted by fans.  You could not miss it.  Everything Spock was suddenly viral!  It was also my first day on Twitter!  I have no doubt that most of you must have found out about the news that day?  When did you know?  What type of media alerted you – old school or new media?  Did anyone find out on a social media other than Facebook or Twitter?

What is Spocking a Five:

The one thing that immediately caught my eye in the sea on Leonard tributes was the “Spocking Fives” spin-off that has since exploded!  For those of you who have yet to encounter this art wave, “Spocking a Five”, means to take a Canadian Five dollar bill and, using a black sharpie or pen, alter the head of Sir Wilfred Laurier into the head of Spock.  Here is what the classic Spock Fives looks like:

Classic Spock Five


On Friday when Mr. Nimoy passed away the “Spocking” movement surged when Canadian Design Resource firm put out a tweet that said “Spock your $5 bills for Leonard Nimoy”.  It was one of the first Tweets I had ever seen!  The tweet, last I checked received 1,693 Retweets and 1.132 Favourites on Twitter by the end of day.  There are many secondary sites now, but the main one I found on Twitter is #SpockingFives, it has an excellent photo gallery  of people’s artistic efforts! There is even one in the gallery that is a young Spock Photoshopped on a new 5, but this kind of activity boarders on criminal forgery:

Young Spock 5


Bank of Canada Reaction and History:

On Tuesday the Toronto Sun published an article in which the Bank of Canada asks Trekkies to stop defacing currency!  However, the article also makes It was very clear that although it is disrespectful, the act of “Spocking” is actually not illegal.  The comments section after the article is full of fans confirming this fact.  Notably, “Spocking Fives” did not just start with the passing of Mr. Nimoy.  According to Wikipedia  the practice started almost as soon as the Sir Wilfred Laurier five dollar bill was issued in 2002.  I will note that the old fives are the easiest to Spock because they are paper, should you chose to Spock one.  A quick Google image search will also reveal that the five has also been altered into other famous characters, if you do not happen to like Spock, the 2nd most popular alteration is called “Snaping” after Severus Snape from Harry Potter:

Snape 3

Would you “Spock a Five”?

I was absolutely astounded at how quickly Spocking went viral!  It totally reminded me of “The Dress” article that out professor, Robert posted.  All of a sudden an activity that is only practiced by a handful of people becomes a wide spread ritual in a matter of hours and days!  Welcome to Twitter!

So what are your thoughts on this new viral phenomenon?  Has anyone seen a “Spocked Five”?  Post photos of 5$ if you find them!  Have you noticed it in any other places on social media, if so, where?  Do you think it should be a crime to deface Canadian bills?  Or, is “Spocking Fives” an unstoppable art movement honouring a legendary character/actor?  We are talking about SPOCK after all!  I want your input as I am thinking about Spocking a Five!

“Live long and prosper.”  Spock.

Spock 5 with hand

4 thoughts on “Would YOU “Spock a Five” ? COM 0011 Blog #3

  1. Hi there,
    I read with interest your post about Mr. Spock and Leonard Nimoy’s passing. As a casual viewer, I do recall watching Star Trek in the 60s and I believe I saw some of the movies too — “Wrath of Khan” remains in my memory for some reason. However, I never caught the trekkie or trekker bug. I must confess I’m a little taken aback by the “spock a five” phenomenon. If I understand correctly, currency, including five-dollar bills, doesn’t actually belong to people; the bills I believe are generally considered a medium of exchange provided by the Bank of Canada, for example, to buy and sell things. In that sense, I suggest “spocking” involves disfiguring something that doesn’t belong to one, and therefore even if it not illegal, it should probably be discouraged. As well, I suggest some vendors may be reluctant to accept currency disfigured in this way, so “spocking” may result in losing the value of the bill if vendors refuse to accept it. That’s my two cents about the five bucks:)!

    • Hello Cameron – The good news is that the new plastic polymer bills, issued in 2013, are much more difficult to draw on. The older paper bills are usually the bill of choice when Spocking a 5, for just this reason! Notably they are being replaced by the plastic ones, so any “Spocked” bills get taken out of circulation when they hit the banks anyway. I think if I “Spock a Five” I will likely frame it and put it up on my wall, so I can tell the story of Spock/Leonard/and refer to the time long ago when they used to make money out of PAPER! I think I will feel no more guilty than a coin collector. I will confess, that I actually have a $2.00 bill, for similar reasons. I know I would loose the worth of the bill, but art is worth it to me. Just curious, given your current view, do you believe that coin collectors are hording public property?

  2. Oh Spock!

    My Dad was a big Trekkie and so I definitely recall growing up watching the reruns and films. I also love the reinterpretation of the series that is out now. The first two films are great!

    This is a great post! I remember seeing “Spocking the Five” making its rounds on Twitter and I couldn’t help but wonder if it made the five dollar bill somehow invalid? In any case, I think that it’s a clever and memorable way to pay tribute to a strong pop culture icon that captured the imaginations of generations of young boys and girls, men and women.

  3. It is good to know that you are a Sci-fi fan Robert! I bet you can hear the theremin music when you read this quote: “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Here is the theme song for all you Trekkies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0zQHNmz0gU

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