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Old August 28 2012, 04:02 AM   #26
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Re: "Code of Honor" Ligonians: Humans or Aliens?

Spock/Uhura Fan wrote: View Post
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.
Are you kidding? "Justice?" "Angel One?" There are plenty of episodes worse than this one. If nothing else, it had a fantastic musical score by Fred Steiner, the only TOS composer to score a TNG episode.

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.
I do not deny for a minute that the result was unfortunate. But if we're to judge, let's judge what actually happened instead of a set of distortions or oversimplifications.

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.
Huh? Okay, you've got this completely backward. My whole point is that what ended up onscreen is not what the writers intended, at least not where the racial undertones are concerned.

I'm not trying to oversimplify this and find a single person to "blame." Just the opposite -- I'm trying to evaluate all the contributing factors, because this is a more complicated and nuanced situation than people tend to assume. And one of those factors is that, as she proved on Stargate, Katharyn Powers had a tendency to portray non-Terran or non-Western cultures in this kind of broad and anthropologically awkward fashion. ("Code of Honor" has nothing on SG-1's "Emancipation," which totally misrepresents Mongol culture.)

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.
Oh, hardly. Most of the first-season staffers left because they were driven away by the bad treatment they received from the clique that surrounded the ailing Roddenberry. For instance, Roddenberry had his lawyer rewriting the scripts, even though the lawyer wasn't a WGA member and wasn't supposed to be doing that. (David Gerrold developed such fierce hatred for the lawyer that practically everything he's written since then contains totally awful characters named after the lawyer, uses his name as an alien curse or the name of some horrible disease, that sort of thing.)

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.
I'd hardly say they were portrayed as "savage" any more than "primitive." "Savage" means wild and uncontrolled. The Ligonians did engage in behavior like kidnapping and duels, but they were very orderly and formal about it, following a well-established set of cultural traditions. They were very civilized by their own lights. If you read the script for this episode and had no idea what the Ligonians looked like, I doubt you would've ever gotten the impression that they were "savage."

The problem is, I think, that the audience is lumping all the different stereotypes together into a single ur-stereotype. What's actually onscreen is a mix of different cultural stereotypes, but all anyone remembers is that all the aliens were black, so they project black stereotypes onto it and thus misremember the facts of the episode. I don't question that there were unfortunate stereotypes involved, but like I said, let's get the facts straight so we know what it is we're actually judging.
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