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Hyfen_Underskor January 8 2013 05:33 PM

Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
I don't think so. They certainly had different nationalities and races represented in their crew line-up. But that's to be expected of an international space-team. Certainly nothing new.

I'm particularly at odds with the claim that the first interracial kiss is often credited to Star Trek. The problem with that is that it's not true. I don't know if the Star Trek production team as a whole is taking credit for that, but I don't see a rightful denial.

MacLeod January 8 2013 05:40 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
You have to judge Star Trek (TOS) by the standards of the mid 1960's America when it was made.

The Wormhole January 8 2013 05:45 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Truth is, in the 1960s you didn't see many non-whites with regular roles on TV. Granted, Uhura and Sulu weren't exactly integral characters, in fact we did have other communications officers and helmsmen throughout TOS. But, it got them recognition all the same and there weren't many other shows offering inspiration to African Americans or Asian Americans, so it's the symbolism that counts.

If TOS wasn't the first interracial kiss, than what was? Just the fact there was an interracial kiss on screen is a pretty big deal, even today. Hell, when Enterprise introduced a love interest for Mayweather in the Demons/Terra Prime story, a white actress was cast but make-up darkened her skin because she was Mayweather's love interest. That was pretty pathetic, especially for a show filmed in 2005.

Hyfen_Underskor January 8 2013 06:21 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

MacLeod wrote: (Post 7504768)
You have to judge Star Trek (TOS) by the standards of the mid 1960's America when it was made.

My apologies, I should have made it clear, I'm addressing Star Trek as a whole. All seasons/sub-series included.

I understand the standards of the era issue. It was risky, but not necessarily ground-breaking or revolutionary. For one, as I stated, it was not the first TV interracial kiss. And movies paved the way for interracial kisses (couples, marriages, etc.).

I'm bringing this up because Star Trek (at least TOS) is generally credited for being revolutionary. And in many ways it was. But not as far as interracial interaction is concerned.

Which brings up another question, if TOS was a groundbreaking show, why did the groundbreaking stop with TOS? I admit to not having watched the other series (save a few Next Generation episodes), but I've never heard of anything groundbreaking as far as any of the following series goes. Did being revolutionary become less important after TOS?

Christopher January 8 2013 06:25 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7504735)
I don't think so. They certainly had different nationalities and races represented in their crew line-up. But that's to be expected of an international space-team. Certainly nothing new.

Looking at it from today's perspective, it's to be expected, but that wasn't necessarily the case in the 1960s, when there were still race riots and blatant discrimination in many parts of the United States. You won't find many SF shows or movies from that era that portrayed racially mixed space crews. Discovery's crew in 2001 was all-white as far as I could tell.

But was TOS revolutionary? No. Progressive, yes, but not revolutionary. If anything, Roddenberry needed to be prodded by NBC to be more inclusive, after giving them an all-white cast in "The Cage." Demographic studies in the mid-'60s had shown that minorities were active consumers and television viewers, so networks and advertisers realized they could make more money if their shows were more inclusive. So the networks pushed their producers to cast more diversely, which was seen not only in ST, but in shows like Mission: Impossible (whose Barney Collier was one of the most positive and empowering portrayals of a black character in the era, and far more central to the cast than Uhura ever was) and Land of the Giants.


Quote:

I'm particularly at odds with the claim that the first interracial kiss is often credited to Star Trek. The problem with that is that it's not true. I don't know if the Star Trek production team as a whole is taking credit for that, but I don't see a rightful denial.
Well, that's where we get into America's particular preoccupations and perceptions of what "race" means. Because of the way slavery and its legacy shaped our history, Americans have long had a tendency to perceive race in dualistic terms -- "black and white" in more ways than one. "Interracial" tended to be seen as synonymous with "between black and white," with other racial categories glossed over. That's because, in the '60s, other interethnic romantic pairings weren't as controversial or shocking as black-white unions. You could have Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as a couple in the '50s without much controversy, not to mention Shatner kissing the French-Vietnamese France Nuyen in "Elaan of Troyius" (which was filmed before "Plato's Stepchildren" but aired later). But a white person kissing a black person was a drastically different matter. After all, it had been only a year and a half earlier that the Supreme Court had struck down all anti-miscegenation laws which barred marriage between blacks and whites in many states of the union. And several states kept those laws on their books even though they could no longer legally enforce them.

So no, maybe the usage of the word "interracial" there is not technically accurate, but there's a lot more at issue here than vocabulary. A black woman and a white man kissing on TV in front of millions of viewers was a really, really big deal in 1968, because there was still a lot of blatant, hateful racism in the country. So yes, even with the vocabulary quibbles, it was a major landmark. It was the first black-white kiss between adults on American television, and that was a really big deal.

Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7504975)
Which brings up another question, if TOS was a groundbreaking show, why did the groundbreaking stop with TOS? I admit to not having watched the other series (save a few Next Generation episodes), but I've never heard of anything groundbreaking as far as any of the following series goes. Did being revolutionary become less important after TOS?

Well, part of it is that society itself had come so far in following TOS's lead since then, so it was more incremental from there -- including a disabled lead character like Geordi, or a black lead like Sisko, or a female lead like Janeway. And there were some moments of daring. The same-sex kiss between Terry Farrell and Susanna Thompson in DS9's "Rejoined" sparked a lot of controversy at the time, almost rivalling the Kirk-Uhura kiss. It wasn't the first same-sex kiss on commercial TV, but it was within the first half-dozen or so and one of the most overt up to that time. There was at least one affiliate in the South that refused to show the episode, and plenty of people wrote or called in with complaints and protests.

Still, another part of it was that the later shows were so much more successful than TOS had been. The franchise was Paramount's top moneymaker for many years, and when there's that much money invested in something, people get reluctant to take chances with it. Not to mention that by that point, ST had come to be seen as the SFTV establishment, the stalwart institution, rather than the risk-taking, envelope-pushing upstart that TOS had been.

Hyfen_Underskor January 8 2013 06:27 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

The Wormhole wrote: (Post 7504789)
Truth is, in the 1960s you didn't see many non-whites with regular roles on TV. Granted, Uhura and Sulu weren't exactly integral characters, in fact we did have other communications officers and helmsmen throughout TOS. But, it got them recognition all the same and there weren't many other shows offering inspiration to African Americans or Asian Americans, so it's the symbolism that counts.

If TOS wasn't the first interracial kiss, than what was?

From what I gathered from the web, Sammy Davis' kiss of/on Nancy Sinatra, An inter-racial kiss on TV took place in 1964 between the characters Dr Mahler (Joan Hooley) and Dr Farmer (John White) on ITV's Soap Emergency Ward 10. This was in Britain. And Buckwheat kissing (I'm assuming) White girls.

It is true that interracial kisses were rare back then. But granted, it wasn't considered quite so bad if it involved a White male. And I would say that there is historic reason for this.

BillJ January 8 2013 06:28 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7504975)
Which brings up another question, if TOS was a groundbreaking show, why did the groundbreaking stop with TOS? I admit to not having watched the other series (save a few Next Generation episodes), but I've never heard of anything groundbreaking as far as any of the following series goes. Did being revolutionary become less important after TOS?

Well you had TNG's The Outcast and DS9's Rejoined, which attempted to tackle gay relationships in an underhanded fashion.

But by the time TNG came around it was more a franchise and The Powers That Be were more interested in not damaging the brand than being groundbreaking.

Hyfen_Underskor January 8 2013 06:45 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
[QUOTE=Christopher;7504990]
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7504735)
Well, that's where we get into America's particular preoccupations and perceptions of what "race" means. Because of the way slavery and its legacy shaped our history, Americans have long had a tendency to perceive race in dualistic terms -- "black and white" in more ways than one. "Interracial" tended to be seen as synonymous with "between black and white," with other racial categories glossed over. That's because, in the '60s, other interethnic romantic pairings weren't as controversial or shocking as black-white unions. You could have Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as a couple in the '50s without much controversy, not to mention Shatner kissing the French-Vietnamese France Nuyen in "Elaan of Troyius" (which was filmed before "Plato's Stepchildren" but aired later). But a white person kissing a black person was a drastically different matter. After all, it had been only a year and a half earlier that the Supreme Court had struck down all anti-miscegenation laws which barred marriage between blacks and whites in many states of the union. And several states kept those laws on their books even though they could no longer legally enforce them.

So no, maybe the usage of the word "interracial" there is not technically accurate, but there's a lot more at issue here than vocabulary. A black woman and a white man kissing on TV in front of millions of viewers was a really, really big deal in 1968, because there was still a lot of blatant, hateful racism in the country. So yes, even with the vocabulary quibbles, it was a major landmark.

I agree with many of your comments here (your entire post). You make great points. However, I partially disagree, or at least I think an asterix is needed where you brought up interracial relationships involving a non-black participant.

Particularly when addressing the French-Vietnamese actress. What would have been considered more appalling, even today for that matter, would be the idea of an Asian male actor kissing a White female actress, than a white male kissing a black female.

And not only would, say, Sulu kissing an attractive white actress be out of the question (not just to George Takai); but Sulu kissing France Nguyen would have been out of the question. American media seems to have this strange idea that Asian males don't interact with females of any race including their own.

As far as your point about TOS not being revolutionary, but progressive, I think it's a good point, and probably correct.

MacLeod January 8 2013 07:15 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
^I think most people don't have an issue with people ffrom different ethnic backgrounds kissing each other.

Christopher January 8 2013 08:15 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7504999)
From what I gathered from the web, Sammy Davis' kiss of/on Nancy Sinatra...

Which was a friendly kiss on the cheek, not a romantic lip-lock.

Quote:

An inter-racial kiss on TV took place in 1964 between the characters Dr Mahler (Joan Hooley) and Dr Farmer (John White) on ITV's Soap Emergency Ward 10. This was in Britain.
And therefore doesn't fit the category, which is the first interracial kiss on American television.

Quote:

And Buckwheat kissing (I'm assuming) White girls.
Which, again, was obviously chaste. Once more, the problem is that you're focusing on the strict definitions rather than the cultural impact. This was a time when the idea of sexual relations between whites and blacks were considered quite shocking in much of America, and only shortly after the laws against such relations had been struck down nationwide. This was a time when there were still parts of the country where a black person could get lynched for being involved with a white person. And the Kirk-Uhura kiss was the first time that a black adult and a white adult had been shown on American television sharing a kiss on the lips in what was undeniably a sexual context. That was inflammatory in a way that a chaste kiss between children or a peck on the cheek could never be.


Quote:

It is true that interracial kisses were rare back then. But granted, it wasn't considered quite so bad if it involved a White male. And I would say that there is historic reason for this.
Now, that much is true. At the time -- and, sadly, for a long time thereafter -- a black man with a white woman would've been perceived as far more objectionable and inflammatory, playing into stereotypes and fears of rapacious black men preying on white women.

Hyfen_Underskor January 8 2013 09:46 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

BillJ wrote: (Post 7505008)
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7504975)
Which brings up another question, if TOS was a groundbreaking show, why did the groundbreaking stop with TOS? I admit to not having watched the other series (save a few Next Generation episodes), but I've never heard of anything groundbreaking as far as any of the following series goes. Did being revolutionary become less important after TOS?

Well you had TNG's The Outcast and DS9's Rejoined, which attempted to tackle gay relationships in an underhanded fashion.

I admit to never seen that/those episodes, thus didn't know about them. That's interesting.

Hyfen_Underskor January 8 2013 09:49 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

MacLeod wrote: (Post 7505272)
^I think most people don't have an issue with people ffrom different ethnic backgrounds kissing each other.

That's questionable. There are obviously enough to where racial issues, including interracial relationships are under heavy scrutiny in the media.

Globally speaking, this is true in probably every country. Not just racially, but ethnically.

Hyfen_Underskor January 8 2013 09:53 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 7505569)
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7504999)
From what I gathered from the web, Sammy Davis' kiss of/on Nancy Sinatra...

Which was a friendly kiss on the cheek, not a romantic lip-lock.

Quote:

An inter-racial kiss on TV took place in 1964 between the characters Dr Mahler (Joan Hooley) and Dr Farmer (John White) on ITV's Soap Emergency Ward 10. This was in Britain.
And therefore doesn't fit the category, which is the first interracial kiss on American television.

Quote:

And Buckwheat kissing (I'm assuming) White girls.
Which, again, was obviously chaste. Once more, the problem is that you're focusing on the strict definitions rather than the cultural impact. This was a time when the idea of sexual relations between whites and blacks were considered quite shocking in much of America, and only shortly after the laws against such relations had been struck down nationwide. This was a time when there were still parts of the country where a black person could get lynched for being involved with a white person. And the Kirk-Uhura kiss was the first time that a black adult and a white adult had been shown on American television sharing a kiss on the lips in what was undeniably a sexual context. That was inflammatory in a way that a chaste kiss between children or a peck on the cheek could never be.

The Shatner-Uhura kiss was the first of it's kind (involuntary which leaves open the possibility that they both abhored the very idea), and the head turned to where the kiss was not visible.

As far as Davis and Sinatra, who's to say how friendly it was?

As far as incluing Buckwheat, that was a bit tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended).

Christopher January 8 2013 10:18 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7506073)
The Shatner-Uhura kiss was the first of it's kind (involuntary which leaves open the possibility that they both abhored the very idea), and the head turned to where the kiss was not visible.

Yes, those were the concessions they made to get it on the air at all, but that didn't make it any less controversial. And the network pushed for an alternate version where they didn't actually kiss, but Shatner and Nichols deliberately sabotaged every take of that version so they had to include the kiss.


Quote:

As far as Davis and Sinatra, who's to say how friendly it was?
You can see it for yourself here:

http://youtu.be/L14hBy0ODIw?t=4m35s

Just a mutual peck on the cheek between two amiable colleagues. Davis and Sinatra were playing a photographer and his model in a musical sketch. There was nothing romantic about the scenario or the kiss.

Melakon January 8 2013 10:31 PM

Re: Is Star Trek Interracially revolutionary?
 
Quote:

Hyfen_Underskor wrote: (Post 7505116)
. . .Sulu kissing France Nguyen would have been out of the question. American media seems to have this strange idea that Asian males don't interact with females of any race including their own.

You don't seem to have a good understanding of American media with this comment. The film "Flower Drum Song" was released in 1961. I don't know if it aired on television during Star Trek's original run, but it's possible. And you seem to be completely ignoring the Sulu/Uhura scenes in "Mirror, Mirror".

During the 1960s, most non-white actors on television were in supporting roles as either bad guys, victims, or servants and menials. Star Trek, along with other series like I Spy and Julia, were all important in opening doors to non-white actors. But in those days, such actors usually weren't even considered for such roles unless it was specifically indicated in a script.


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