Thursday, March 02, 2006

Star Trek's racism

Star Trek is racist. I don't want to hear about TV's first interracial kiss being on Star Trek (it was forced). I don't buy the multi-ethnic cast either because it's obvious from watching the show and reading the "official" books that Federation is all about keeping those other funny-looking races and species in their place and under the control of "The Man".

Check out this scene from Star Trek: Early Voyages #15 (Apr 1998). This Marvel Comics series ran some hit-or-miss stories of the crew early in the history of the Enterprise as it was under the command of Captain Christopher Pike*. When a biological agent infects the Enterprise the Doctor is unable to stop the virus from eating the ship's circuitry, so he lets a young Spock give it a try.

"With your Vulcan ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."
Well, that's just downright condescending and blatant, institutionalized racism. The Doc is marginalizing the person and his skills. He makes it clear that if Li'l Spocky manages to fix the ship when he failed then it is not because Spock is smart and capable, it is due to his genes. That's the same as saying a particular ethnic group is good at sports or fixing cars because of their race. That's crap. I think the Doc is lucky that Spock represses his rage and saves it up for release during the Vulcan equivalent of prom night, the ritual Spa Fon (or whatever it's called).

Imagine if the Doctor was addressing someone else like that other than Spock. Like say...
Geordi:
"With your African-American ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."

That Stupid-Looking Ensign behind Spock:
"With your Caucasian ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."

Sulu:
"With your Asian ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."

Christian Slater:
"With your crappy, awkward cameo ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."

The Menagerie's Majel Barrett as Number 1:
"With your woman's ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."

Dr. Stephen Hawking:
"With your diseased ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through. You brave little soldier. You're so brave!"

Jared:
"With your former fat-ass veggie-sandwich-eating ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."

Hayley Mills:
"With your incredible hotness, I'm sure the....MARRY ME, HAYLEY!"

* I don't know what the show was that aired in place of a series based on The Menagerie. You know, the one we are all familiar with that ran for years in syndication, spawning franchises on TV and film both good and bad, but it sure wasn't Star Trek. As far as I'm concerned, there is no Star Trek after The Menagerie. Just some diluted imitation.

9 comments:

  1. I like to think that after the Five Year Mission ended, Spock slapped McCoy with a massive lawsuit for persistent racial harassment. Also named in the suit was Kirk for permitting this hostile work environment, and all those crew members who laughed at jokes-at-the-expense-of-Vulcans during most episodes' tags.

    This explains why McCoy had to keep working for Starfleet until he was a billion years old, just to pay off the damages from that suit.

    And yet, yes, I am a fanbull, because I capitalized Five Year Mission.

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  2. LOL! "Prom night!" Hahahaha! "Spa Fon!ROFLAO "Hayley! Hehehehehehe!

    Oh...uhh...you also made a very valid and accurate point...and made me laugh while doing so.

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  3. With your blogging ingenuity, you have made me laugh.

    Good job, Li'l Stacky!

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  4. Spock (and almost every other Vulcan appearing on TOS or on subsequent series) spent an inordinate amount of time touting the superiority of Vulcans: their logic, their discipline, their philosophy, even their copper-based blood and biochemistry -- versus the relative weakness and volatility of mere humans.

    At best, why is invoking "Vulcan ingenuity" any more condescending than asking a beer buddy, who's always bragging about his prowess with women, to set you up on a date with that girl across the bar?

    At worst, the Doctor can defend against the charge of racism with, "Well, he started it!"

    Sadly, this parallels the idiocy of racism -- real and perceived -- in the real world, where groups isolate themselves into little pockets, create "us versus them" identities, even celebrate and flaunt how different=superior they are for certain reasons in certain areas -- and then bitch and moan when others view them as different=inferior.

    In the face of recent DNA analysis that showed her to have 45% European ancestry, an "African American" activist was asked if that made her feel any less African. Her reply was that she felt race to be more connected to cultures and ideologies with which she identified, than to mere genetics.

    That's a refreshing, if inadvertent, lapse into honesty. A lot of what cloaks itself under "civil rights" is nothing more than clash of cultures. For example, I detest what is euphemistically called "urban" or "hip-hop" culture, which celebrates violence, degradation, and an abandonment of personal responsibility in place of scapegoating. I'm indebted to Eminem for demonstrating that this cancer is a personal choice, unrelated to the color of one's skin.

    Dr. King, and even the early NAACP, dreamed of a world where skin-color was irrelevant. "Black pride", "Black History Month", "NAACP Image Awards" and -- most sinister -- "hate crimes", all delineate racial boundaries, even as growing intermarriage makes racial classification even more difficult and less sensible.

    The first step toward erasing discrimination is for people to stop seeing and separating themselves as different.

    So let it lay with Spock.

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  5. Is Vulcan a race or a species? I think at some point in one of the series they pulled a Valor and declared that most of the races were actually descended from time-swiped Earthlings. But that got retconned faster that warp factor x.

    Anyway, patting Spock on the head for having ingenuity is like thanking a cow for having four stomachs. If it's a fundamental trait of the species, it hardly counts as an accomplishment. Save the applause for when he finally manages to tell a good dirty joke.

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  6. *ahem ahem* Excuse me?! Star Trek being racist?! No! The panel was obviously a typo! Please! It's against racism! Gene Roddenberry imagined it against racism!Puh-leeese!

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  7. In Star Trek the Next Generation, and probably in all of the other versions, they often seem to make the good people light skinned and the bad people dark skinned, the violent people darker skinned and the peaceful people lighter skinned, the smarter people lighter skinned and the less educated, ignorant, less informed and seemingly backward people darker skinned.
    Look a Warf and the Klingons(sp), for example, or the Farangie(sp), etc., "races" known for their ant-social behaviors, all generally portrayed with darker skin, wih features that are usually known to be associated with darker skinned people of "earth," and worse, they usually have some sort of animalistic features as well, such as large fangs, snouts for noses, for example, and wild unkempt hair, and usually look dirty.

    There was an episode called "Skin of Evil" where a black blob tar-like creature covered people and did them harm -- I don't remember the specifics. The guy that plays Captain Picard's second in command, Number One," said this was his favorite episode, I'd sure like to know why.

    I recently saw an episode where Picard was captured and put in an observation booth with 3 other captives. The smart and peaceful one (yet afraid) had a light frosty metalic look, the other smart one, a supposed starfleet female cadet, looked similar in color but was more of a bright bluish-white color. The violent one (yet blindly brave -- supposedly a partially good characteristic) was brown skin and looked like a wild boar, a beast.

    While I like Star Trek, at times even Love it, for its social commentary and seemingly often wise observations, it more and more disappoints me in that in its efforts to be non-racist, fair, supportive of gender and age equality, etc., it hardly seems so. The male to female ratio is obviously very lopsided, with far more males than females. How do they plan to reproduce in the future, "replicate" people when they need them? There are few "old" people (maybe old age is cured or fixed or something by then, as I get older, I'm looking forward to that) and obviously in this big ol' Universe, mostly everyone is a White male. It's not even like that here on dear old planet earth.

    People who make shows like this and produce other mass media don't seem to realize how it makes everyone else feel when they leave everyone else out, or when others are under represented. It looks like they felt and feel like there's not much hope for us in the future, no one but White males, like we're not likely to be there, or at least they hope we won't be. And when we're all supposedly hoping that we're all one big happy family or will be one day, and we get stuff like this from people who you hope (would) know better, like the makers of Star Trek and others, it hurts.

    In one episode involving the Q, they asserted that there is no God. With racist and other biased thinking (although I think they were really trying to do the right thing in Star Trek, I think, I hope...although I'm really not sure)... but with that kind of thinking and deciding that in the future we'll come to the "enlightened" conclusion that there is no God, maybe that's why they stopped making new episodes, maybe it was just time for them to go -- even though they are in seemingly perpetual reruns. God help 'em if they ever bring the series back, hopefully they will have learned some things. But then even if they have, there'll probably be new mistakes and others who'll feel dissed and left out. So, what are we to do? Love and forgive one another and go on, for God's sake.

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  8. The ugly, dark and other caricatures have long stood in for evil in media and entertainment. Centuries, even. Long after most people recognize that stereotypes the caricature remains as analogy, ensuring people identify with a dramatic situation and remain with the story.

    And as for being no God in the future, well, rationality can't come quick enough for me.

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  9. 'That Stupid-Looking Ensign behind Spock:
    "With your Caucasian ingenuity, I'm sure the Enterprise will pull through."'----

    Of all the *named* Caucasian ST characters you could have picked, you used a nameless one so you could use an epithet and tie it to his race. I call racism!

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