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Old December 30 2012, 04:05 PM   #42
Christopher
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Re: Was Code of Honor racist?

Harvey wrote: View Post
JirinPanthosa wrote:
It's kind of ironic that the third episode of Stargate was exactly the same way. Tribal Mongolians kidnap Carter. Only they end up trading for her. And then at the end Carter has to end up fighting the tribal leader, proving she is a strong, blonde, short haired, badass female.

Both the third episode of their series. Both in the running for worst in series. Both with very similar plots.
The similar story elements are not so surprising -- Katharyn Powers co-wrote "Code of Honor" and wrote "Emancipation."

They are both abysmal episodes often considered the nadir of each respective series, too. Not a great line on her resume.
"Emancipation" is completely ridiculous in the way it portrays Mongols. The idea that they would've sequestered and marginalized their women is ludicrous. A horse nomad society doesn't have the luxury of keeping half its population isolated and uninvolved in society. Everyone has to be mobile and able to carry their weight. Traditionally, nomadic pastoralists like the Mongols have had far more gender equality than sedentary agrarian or urban societies, because they've had to. Mongol women were trained in combat and participated in political decision-making.

Sure, one could argue that these are Mongols who've been living on an alien planet for centuries and diverged from the original culture, but the episode showed that they still lived as nomads, so there's no way sequestering their women would be viable.

Also, there's the ludicrous inconsistency of showing a society that insists on veiling its women yet dresses Carter in an outfit that shows off a huge amount of cleavage. It doesn't work that way.



Jeyl wrote: View Post
This isn't about the episode dealing with racism, this is about the episode itself being made with racist intentions. Despite portions of the script detailing that the inhabitants are not all black, the director specifically wanted ALL OF THE PLANET'S INHABITANTS to be portrayed by black people.
On the other hand, before TNG, humanoid aliens were almost always played by white people. When I first saw "Code of Honor," I found it refreshing that they'd finally broken from that pattern. Now when I look back on it, I see the problems with how it was done, but at the time it felt like progress. At least we weren't being shown a whole galaxy of white people anymore.


To add even more outlandishness to this episode, it also features this 'technologically advanced humanoid race' as primitives who solve conflicts through open death matches, customs that allow for kidnapping and stereotypical african accents.
I dispute the assumption that any of those things are "primitive." First off, African accents are not primitive, and it's offensive that you'd imply that they automatically are. People don't have to speak with an American or British accent to be advanced. There are plenty of advanced, prosperous urban populations in Africa where they do indeed speak with African accents.

Vulcan was portrayed as using death matches in "Amok Time," and nobody's ever accused them of being primitive. In fact, the modern furor over "Code of Honor"'s racial problems has obscured the fact that when the episode first debuted, the main source of fan outrage was the extent to which it felt like an imitation of "Amok Time."

Moreover, plenty of modern cultures employ institutionalized violence, executions, war as a political tool, etc. It's naive to treat the societal acceptance of violence as in any way "primitive." The Roman Empire was the most advanced and sophisticated civilization in the West prior to the Renaissance, and it had institutionalized blood sports. If anything, primitive societies were generally more peaceful toward their own members than more "advanced" societies have tended to be.

The same goes for kidnapping -- there's nothing about it that equates with primitivism specifically. Kidnapping is big business for organized crime in many Latin American countries. These things are bad, yes, but it's invalid to call them primitive. They're part of many modern, advanced societies.


I find Gene's decision to fire the director of this episode a bit ironic because even he wasn't immune to mis-portraying his own views. For someone who preached and insisted that mankind be portrayed in a super perfect positive light, he sure dropped the ball when a woman possessed Kirk utters this line "It is better to be dead than to live alone in the body of a woman."
But Janice Lester was insane. It doesn't make sense to assume that her words were meant to represent the truth. She was meant to be twisted and deranged because she couldn't accept being a woman, because she hated what she was. True, there was a lot of chauvinism in the episode -- the idea was that a woman aspiring to do a man's job was irrational and that she should instead be content with the roles available to women. But choosing that particular line as representative of what Roddenberry actually believed is simply wrong.
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