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Old August 28 2012, 12:26 AM   #25
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Re: "Code of Honor" Ligonians: Humans or Aliens?

Christopher wrote: View Post
[...] As for the racial thing, I think it's widely misinterpreted... And keep in mind -- before this, the general trend in depicting humanoid aliens was to make them all white, or else cast white actors and paint them red or green or something.
And perhaps they should have cast white actors for this one, interestingly enough, they didn't. Just speaking for myself, none of the depictions of aliens when they were played by whites were in episodes that were this bad.

So "Code of Honor" was actually an attempt to be more racially inclusive -- to break free of that pattern of portraying all aliens as white... So their intentions were good, but the execution left much to be desired, and some innocently intended ingredients had a regrettable synergy.
And if the world were only built off of intentions. The problem is that wasn't the result, and for people who are in the business of how things look, this was a complete fail they should have been able to avoid if they wanted to.



Part of the problem is that they went with a Katharyn Powers-cowritten script as the episode they chose to cast inclusively. Powers also wrote a number of early Stargate SG-1 episodes, and her writing of "alien" cultures (which in that case really were transplanted humans) wasn't much more nuanced or respectful or anthropologically coherent than this was...
And the script went through an approval process, so let's not just blame the writer. I would think you would know better than to do this than most here.

Perhaps the original intent was to cast the Ligonians with Asian-American actors, so they were actually trying to avoid the obvious stereotype by casting a different ethnic group. Unfortunately, they chose one that's subject to plenty of unfair stereotypes of its own. So it was a misfire all around.
Well at least I can agree with the misfire part.

Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, I think the key is that a certain stereotypical view of the "proud barbarian" was inherent in the script, whether Orientalist or otherwise, so probably casting anyone other than white actors -- or a mix of ethnic types -- would've ended up giving a stereotyped impression. While it was a nice idea to try to break the pattern of only casting white people as aliens-of-the-week, they should've chosen another episode to do it -- maybe "Justice" or "Haven." (Although the fact that the people responsible for casting chose this episode, the one with the "exotic Other" stereotypes built into it, as the one to feature an all-black alien race, and kept other first-season TNG alien races all-white... well, that suggests something about the people responsible for casting. But at this point, the producers were mostly veterans of TOS, so they were from an earlier generation and had certain assumptions that would've been hard to unlearn. On the other hand, they did cast Michael Dorn as one of their main regular aliens... but then, TOS Klingons were kind of a racial stereotype themselves, essentially Space Mongols.)
This, I can agree with. On the "assumptions that would've been hard to unlearn" aspect, I think maybe this was one of the reasons I've heard that they brought in some new people for season 2 show running. At least that's what I heard.

SonicRanger wrote: View Post
Well, for what it's worth, Memory Alpha states:

"In the teleplay, however, only Lutan's guards were specifically written as being African. It was director Russ Mayberry's idea to make all the planet's occupants African. Disgusted by this decision and Mayberry's attitude towards the performers, Gene Roddenberry fired Mayberry late in production. The remainder of the episode was directed by an uncredited Les Landau."
If this is true, my applause to Mr. Roddenberry, then.

R. Star wrote: View Post
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?
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.
My sentiments exactly.

Romulus Prime wrote: View Post
R. Star wrote: View Post
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?
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.
Ugh...and y'know, that concept just never occurred to me. I simply saw it as the alien guy having the hots for a chick w/a gun, and he wanted her. I still see it this way. Personally, I think there are a lot of people who WANT to see racism just so they can claim it because they want to be a victim. And then there's "white guilt" that looks for it also, or thinks the claim might be deserved even when there is little or no basis for it.

I come from a mixed background, so I have the luxury/curse of seeing viewpoints from both "white" and "non-white" sides, and I've found - more often than not - that the accusation of "racism" or "racist" just ends up cheapening the term when applied so liberally to any little thing people want to be offended by.

It's just a show, and a member of the main cast getting kidnapped was part of the plot.

Star Trek has a history of being more than "just a show" on a number of fronts. But anyway, I don't think it's an issue of people wanting to be offended or victimized, it's more of an issue of an unfounded tradition.

Some snippets from one of the For What It's Worth historical databases:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph.../ScaryBlackMan

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...WarriorRaceGuy

Christopher wrote: View Post
Morpheus 02 wrote: View Post
But as R. Star pointed out...the "perfect people" of the following week's Justice are Aryans, while primitives are portrayed by blacks the previous week.
I'm sorry, but that's not true [...]
I think the issue here was that the Ligonians were portrayed as savage-like, "take by force," conniving people, while the "aliens" of the very next episode were blonde and blue and happily innocent and naive in their own little Utopia. There was a twist to this which came, of course, from some "outside" evil force and the TNG crew got to be their rescuers IIRC... The contrast is where the problem lies, FWIW.
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