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Old August 27 2012, 02:18 PM   #10
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Re: "Code of Honor" Ligonians: Humans or Aliens?

SonicRanger wrote: View Post
But do you think that, if the Ligonians had forehead bumps or three arms and legs, the episode would be considered terribly racist?
That would probably depend on whom they cast.

R. Star wrote: View Post
It's considered terribly racist because it glaringly hits upon African sterotypes and the plot summary is "white woman kidnapped on planet full of black people!" A few bumps aren't going to fix that.
As I said, that's not entirely true. The stereotypes in the script are Orientalist. The Ligonians are specifically compared to Chinese culture, their wardrobe is a mix of various Asian and Mideastern elements, even Fred Steiner's music wouldn't be out of place in a historical drama set in the court of Khubilai Khan or something. According to the TNG Companion, the scriptwriters actually based the Ligonian culture on the Japanese samurai class and envisioned them as a reptilian race. But instead of using reptilian makeup, the producers altered the script's intentions and instead decided to cast African-American actors who used stock "African" accents, so viewers interpreted the "exotic/barbarian" tropes of the script as African stereotypes.

Use of Time wrote: View Post
I don't recall this episode as being all that big of a deal except for it being not that great of an episode. Does anybody know if there was any kind of racial backlash when this episode orginally aired? That might put it into context.
I don't know what the broader reaction at the time was, but my reaction was "At last, I'm so sick of aliens always being white!" I saw it as a step forward, though it certainly does feel backward by today's standards. You bring up a good point about context. These things are incremental. What looks backward and prejudiced by today's standards was often seen as quite progressive when it first happened (like the miniskirt uniforms in TOS, which in the day were seen as a symbol of female liberation).
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