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General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

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Old November 4 2012, 11:42 PM   #1
magarity
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Asian confusion

Ever noticed that after George Takei, of Japanese descent, played an ethnic Japanese character, the asian characters have all been mismatched? Linda Park is Korean but played a Japanese, Garret Wang is ethnic Chinese and played a Korean. The next series needs to have a Japanese to play a Chinese.
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Old November 4 2012, 11:55 PM   #2
sbk1234
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Re: Asian confusion

William Shatner is Canadian, and he played an Amereican.
And James Doohan was Canadian, and he played a Scotsman.
And Leonard Nimor is an American from Boston, and he played a Vulcan.
The list goes on.
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Old November 5 2012, 12:10 AM   #3
T'Girl
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Re: Asian confusion

Stewart was British, played a Frenchman.

Mulgrew is from Dubuque, Janeway is from Bloomington.

(hey look, a new game)

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Old November 5 2012, 12:43 AM   #4
KamenRiderBlade
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Re: Asian confusion

As a fellow asian, I do get annoyed that they can't seem to cast a appropriate ethnic actor for the role.

Garret Wang plays a Korean character
Linda Park plays a Japanese character

Was it really hard to find a character with appropriate ethnicity to play said role or even rename the character to have appropriate ethnicity?
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Old November 5 2012, 12:45 AM   #5
Christopher
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Re: Asian confusion

Actually Sulu was meant to be of nonspecific, pan-Asian heritage. His "official biography" in The Making of Star Trek characterized him as "of mixed Oriental and Filipino descent." The name "Sulu" doesn't exist in Japanese; it's the name of a sea in the Philippines. The only reason Sulu's come to be considered a Japanese character in retrospect (and given the first name Hikaru by novelist Vonda McIntyre in 1981) is because he was played by a Japanese actor. (And maybe because he imagined a samurai in "Shore Leave" -- but then, he also fantasized about being D'Artagnan in "The Naked Time.") But of course, the example overlooked in the first post is Korean actor John Cho taking over the role of Sulu in the current film series.

And let's not forget Chinese-American Rosalind Chao playing Japanese Keiko Ishikawa. Or, conversely, Japanese-American Brian Tochi playing two different Chinese-surnamed characters: Ray Tsing Tao in "And the Children Shall Lead" and Kenny Lin in "Night Terrors."

I'd say the most prominent Asian performer in Trek who played her own ethnicity was Patti Yasutake as Nurse Ogawa. Other examples of Japanese actors playing Japanese characters include Miko Mayama as Yeoman Tamura in "A Taste of Armageddon" and Clyde Kusatsu as Admiral Nakamura in TNG.

There is the ambiguous case of Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim playing MACO Corporal Chang in Enterprise; Chang can be either a Chinese or Korean surname. (Although the Star Trek Customizable Card Game gave Chang a Japanese first name, Hideaki.)
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Old November 5 2012, 12:48 AM   #6
Greg Cox
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Re: Asian confusion

sbk1234 wrote: View Post
William Shatner is Canadian, and he played an Amereican.
And James Doohan was Canadian, and he played a Scotsman.
And Leonard Nimoy is an American from Boston, and he played a Vulcan.
The list goes on.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Walter Koenig is not actually from Leningrad.

And then, of course, there's that legendary Sikh warrior from Northern India . . . Ricardo Montalban.
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Old November 5 2012, 12:58 AM   #7
Tora Ziyal
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Re: Asian confusion

And Theodore Bikel is Austrian, not Belarussian.
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Old November 5 2012, 01:00 AM   #8
teacake
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Re: Asian confusion

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
[

And then, of course, there's that legendary Sikh warrior from Northern India . . . Ricardo Montalban.
So really,
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Old November 5 2012, 01:05 AM   #9
Christopher
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Re: Asian confusion

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Walter Koenig is not actually from Leningrad.
Anton Yelchin is. He was born there.

But Koenig is of ethnic Russian ancestry, even though he was born in Chicago (and his parents lived in Lithuania).
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Old November 5 2012, 01:51 AM   #10
Nerys Myk
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Re: Asian confusion

KamenRiderBlade wrote: View Post
As a fellow asian, I do get annoyed that they can't seem to cast a appropriate ethnic actor for the role.

Garret Wang plays a Korean character
Linda Park plays a Japanese character

Was it really hard to find a character with appropriate ethnicity to play said role or even rename the character to have appropriate ethnicity?
Do you feel the same way about the actors/characters of European origin mentioned in the previous posts? How about the African American Nichelle Nichols playing an African?
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Old November 5 2012, 01:59 AM   #11
Christopher
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Re: Asian confusion

Zombie Cheerleader wrote: View Post
How about the African American Nichelle Nichols playing an African?
Or the Afro-Caribbean Zoe Saldaña playing the same role?
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Old November 5 2012, 03:37 AM   #12
sbk1234
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Re: Asian confusion

I suppose there is a reason it's called "acting."
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Old November 5 2012, 04:40 AM   #13
Pawleygirl
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Asian confusion

There's also Robert Beltran, a Mexican American playing a Native or how about Brent Spiner, an American white guy, raised Jewish, but playing a presumably heterosexual male android who is apparently, fully functional. Speaking of which...how about Zachary Quinto a gay Pennsylvanian-American playing a heterosexual Vulcan who had to kiss a beautiful woman. Acting...it's amazing.
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Old November 5 2012, 04:59 AM   #14
kythe
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Re: Asian confusion

The problem is, you can't really "act" a different ethnicity any more than you can "act" a different race. It's part of who you are, and is unchangeable.
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Old November 5 2012, 05:52 AM   #15
AllStarEntprise
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Re: Asian confusion

Let's not forget Harold-Sulu played by John Cho in the 2009 movie is of Korean decent. Allegedly Abrams was concerned about the ethnicity of the character but George Takei explained that Sulu was meant to represent all Asian cultures in StarFleet.

Patrick Stewart playing a frenchman a lot of effort was put in to making Picard's heritage apart of his character. With Keiko O'Brien, Hoshi Sato, Harry Kim and even Sulu no effort was brought in to make the culture these of these characters apart of who they were. Like TPTB decided we need diversity on our show. Doesn't matter the actors ethnicity just cast them as anything. I mean it really is as simple as renaming them all. While it is the 22-24th century and all we don't see other characters waving their heritage and ethnicity in the audience faces so I guess it didn't matter to the show runners.

Riker for instance is American but he's not waving the flag and show boating American awesomeness.

Trip Tucker is form Florida and aside from his accent you wouldn't think twice about where he's from.

Sisko is African American, and the only hint to his ethnicity is the fact his family owns a Creole Kitchen. Meaning like Trip he's from the US's South.

When it comes to Asian actors however there is a self-conscious inclination for ensure races are being accurately depicted. Not a problem really, as long as their is no insults or parody of a culture. Look at Disney's Mulan. Majority of the voice actors are of Non Chinese decent. Most are Japanese or Korean actors. I suppose finding a lot of Chinese voice actors was difficult for Disney, so they out sourced to other Asian actors, and they did a good job and a lot of people like Mulan
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