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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies XI+

Star Trek Movies XI+ Discuss J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek here.

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Old March 6 2014, 03:42 AM   #106
Ovation
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

BigJake wrote: View Post
Ovation wrote: View Post
As to the "race bending" idea, I think it is overblown and I don't much care if that offends anyone.
And I think your dismissiveness is foolish and dickish in almost equal measure.
I was referring specifically to the Khan character. As such, I still don't care.

First, Khan is a totally fictional character.
[ img]http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh253/jimifunguzz/Picard-facepalm-animated.gif[/ img]

"Racebending" is a term that pertains to the casting of movies. "He's a fictional character" is probably the most perfectly irrelevant objection to its use that you can attempt to raise. The term is talking about how studios are approaching the market place and treating actors, not whether the characters involved are fictional or not. It comes up because the question of whether some groups of actors are getting screwed over by casual racism is unavoidably relevant to the entertainment business and to many of its viewers. Of course most of the characters are going to be fictional for God's sake.
"Totally fictional" means what it says. No basis in reality. There are NO "real-life" examples of people like Khan. None. Hence "race bending" is overblown in this particular case. (of course, feel free to point out test tube experiments in advanced genetic engineering with Khan's physical strength, heightened senses, etc.--if you can, I'll withdraw my comments)

Casting Cumberbatch as Nehru in a biopic--unacceptable. Casting him as a fictional high-ranking officer in present-day India's army--unacceptable. Casting him as anyone from the Middle East--unacceptable. Or is it? Circassians (significant numbers found across the Middle East in former Ottoman territories) often look a great deal like Cumberbatch. And even some (though admittedly few) South Asians would not stand out in Cumberbatch's family photos. Casting Cumberbatch as a genetically engineered science experiment? Perfectly acceptable.

If a character being non-white is essential to that character, then of course a white actor should not be cast in the role. And when ethnicity is irrelevant to the character, I consider it a non-issue (as in Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White in Man of Steel or Denzel Washington as a reporter in a movie with Julia Roberts about 15 years ago--seem to recall the character in the novel was white--can't remember the name of the book or movie but I believe it was a John Grisham novel). Same goes for sex (had no problems with Starbuck being a woman in the new BSG). But that works both ways. Khan is NOT a character whose ethnicity is essential to his character and that ethnicity, when noted at all, was rather vague.


This is more relevant, though it mostly gets us to the question of why make him Khan and open that can of worms at all.
Whole disguise thing works for me, if I need a reason.

Third . . . I'd wager a considerable portion of those who first encountered Khan in TWOK, along with a strong majority of those who first did so in STiD, were unaware of the character's Sikh heritage
As one of these, it was always extremely clear to me from TWOK that he was meant to be an exotic Prince of some kind. His being specifically Sikh is obviously a pretty widely-known factoid from "Space Seed," however, as it's something that even non-Trekkie reviewers picked up on.
Wasn't talking about reviewers. Was talking about the general audience. Good many of them didn't know. Moreover, while Montalban may have suggested "exotic", nothing about his portrayal in TWOK suggested "South Asian". "Latin American" was a strong vibe, though (again, to anyone who came to the character first in TWOK).

I simply cannot get up in arms
This phrasing is just another version of "You People Are So Sensitive" and another thing you're better off just not doing in conversations like this, IMO. That someone thinks the question is valid does not mean they are "up in arms."
Are you the only person who has voiced an objection? Are you really suggesting that no one has been "up in arms" about Cumberbatch as Khan because of ethnicity? And yes, in this specific case, people ARE being overly sensitive. And no, I don't care if that offends you (or anyone else). It actually makes my point.

And yes, I see you still think you can fanwank the question into being irrelevant, and no, you still can't do that. You can repeat that tactic a thousand times, it will be just as ineffective each time.
It only has to satisfy me, so it's plenty effective. I understand the concept behind some people's frustrations about "race bending". I continue to find it rather baseless in the specific case of Khan as a Trek character. You insisting otherwise is, well, ineffective.

Last edited by M'Sharak; March 8 2014 at 04:59 AM.
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Old March 6 2014, 03:53 AM   #107
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Oh, BTW, speaking of Race-bending, I think the thing that pissed me most, of any movie, is Uncle Iroh not being a clean shaven Fat Asian man. Skinny/Scrawny White Dude with stubble, totally took me out of those scenes
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Old March 6 2014, 04:25 AM   #108
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

[EDIT: I have doubts about the fairness of this latest reply to Ovation, so I'm going to look over this post with fresh eyes tomorrow and rework it if necessary]
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Last edited by BigJake; March 6 2014 at 05:12 AM. Reason: EDITED for further clarity (and improved civility)
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Old March 6 2014, 05:01 AM   #109
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Sindatur wrote: View Post
Oh, BTW, speaking of Race-bending, I think the thing that pissed me most, of any movie, is Uncle Iroh not being a clean shaven Fat Asian man. Skinny/Scrawny White Dude with stubble, totally took me out of those scenes
Watching that movie was your first mistake.
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Old March 6 2014, 07:08 AM   #110
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

BigJake wrote: View Post
^ Ricardo Montalban was incidentally not white, and was not considered "white" when he was cast as Khan and did not have the "white" experience in Hollywood. He was a Mexican actor and his story is part of the Hispanic story in the entertainment industry. So there's also the problem of "but Ricardo Montalban was white" being technically false, which spoils even that most basic angle.

Racebending's article on this issue was pretty interesting, incidentally.
You make a good point, but I think that article's too invested in the mythical notion of Roddenberry fighting NBC:

But considering all of the barriers to representation that Roddenberry faced from the television networks, having a brown-skinned man play a brown character was a hard-won victory.
...and is also dismissive of something that seems rather obvious to me and was, if I remember correctly, discussed in the press as part of the film's attempt to reach an international audience:

The hopes that casting Benedict Cumberbatch would draw in a few more box office returns?
Granted, I see the irony of trying to appeal to international audiences with a white British guy.

Lastly, that article also doesn't mention that Montalban was essentially in brown face when he played Khan in "Space Seed," which seems like an important observation (the brown-face, hardly the most racist make-up Montalban ever put on to get by in an industry that didn't have a lot of leading roles for Mexican actors, was wisely dropped when he reprised the role in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).

This is not to dismiss the criticisms you've made about Cumberbatch being cast in the role, but I think there's a much more nuanced argument to be made -- and that article doesn't make it.
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Old March 6 2014, 01:59 PM   #111
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

It most certainly does not make a nuanced argument. And it's certainly not shy about feeling entitled to know everything the film makers are doing BEFORE the film is released. "Oh no, a director wants to keep a plot twist secret--it must be to hide his racism." Bollocks. And on the rare occasion where it might be true (no evidence in the case of Khan), still doesn't matter.

Want to protest the final product? Totally fine. Want to protest info that leaked into the public domain? Also totally fine. Demanding to be allowed access like some sort of watchdog organization over whether casting choices and plot points should be kept secret in order to ensure a film (or any artistic production) conforms to The Way Things Ought to Be (TM)? No.

No one has the right to be free from being offended. And giving offence IS a right. Audiences are free to dislike what an artist puts out for public consumption. They have ZERO rights to be satisfied a priori.
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Old March 6 2014, 04:41 PM   #112
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Ovation wrote: View Post
it's certainly not shy about feeling entitled to know everything the film makers are doing BEFORE the film is released. "Oh no, a director wants to keep a plot twist secret--it must be to hide his racism." Bollocks.
But was Khan really a plot twist? His reveal wasn't even relevant to the plot or much of anything. It was basically there as a fan service type thing, and didn't really change much. His character could have been swapped out for Joachim and it wouldn't have made that much difference plot-wise.

Not that this makes it obligatory for the studio to let people know, but I think part of that secrecy wasn't just the plot, but rather that there was polarized fan reaction on Khan as it was. Maybe fan reaction doesn't matter, but they did seem to be paying an awful lot of attention to it. I'm not sure it had to do with race, although it was suspicious that they gave him the whitest cover name possible.
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Old March 6 2014, 05:17 PM   #113
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Joachim was a complete wuss. Had Harrison been him, I doubt he'd have had the courage to do much of anything. VERY different movie.
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Old March 6 2014, 05:37 PM   #114
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

BigJake wrote: View Post
...

Racebending's article on this issue was pretty interesting, incidentally.
I happened to run across another article which refers to and quotes from the Racebending piece you linked. It's not long, but may be of interest. His conclusion caught my eye:
American Turban wrote:
Certainly, Star Trek has never been without diversity in its casts of actors, but this change appears significant. On the other hand, perhaps not casting a South Asian or brown man as a genocidal villain has a silver lining for those of us who fight stereotypes about our ethnicity every day, but if this is so, it tells us about the state of race relations in this country.

And, perhaps the significance of the diversity displayed on Star Trek was only so to those for whom representations about diversity in depictions of the future was important. However, when this diversity is so easily shed, one wonders about the implications and the messages sent to young audiences who look for signs of validation and acceptance by the mainstream.
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Old March 6 2014, 06:01 PM   #115
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

I think it's perfectly acceptable to consider that in the future, human beings are much less racially diverse than today. The trend has been turning towards people not necessarily finding mates and making babies within their own race, as was the trend for a long time - I assume mostly because it was easier to do that without cars, trains, airplanes - the internet.

The idea of a white/latino/what-ever genetically engineered human with the last name of a Mongolian warlord, centuries into humanity's fictional future, doesn't faze me in the slightest.
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Old March 6 2014, 09:21 PM   #116
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Ryan8bit wrote: View Post
Ovation wrote: View Post
it's certainly not shy about feeling entitled to know everything the film makers are doing BEFORE the film is released. "Oh no, a director wants to keep a plot twist secret--it must be to hide his racism." Bollocks.
But was Khan really a plot twist? His reveal wasn't even relevant to the plot or much of anything. It was basically there as a fan service type thing, and didn't really change much. His character could have been swapped out for Joachim and it wouldn't have made that much difference plot-wise.

Not that this makes it obligatory for the studio to let people know, but I think part of that secrecy wasn't just the plot, but rather that there was polarized fan reaction on Khan as it was. Maybe fan reaction doesn't matter, but they did seem to be paying an awful lot of attention to it. I'm not sure it had to do with race, although it was suspicious that they gave him the whitest cover name possible.
I would say it was not a successfully executed plot twist (as much as I enjoy the film, I'll admit that shortcoming without difficulty) but it is certainly intended, by the story structure, to be some kind of secret meant to be revealed at that moment and not earlier in the story.

Again, I have no issue with people being disappointed in the casting or organizing protests over it. I have very serious objections to the idea that self-appointed guardians of The Way Things Ought to Be (TM) should have ANY say whatsoever on the making of an artistic creation (film, book, painting, music, etc.). Should be entirely left to the artist. Once the finished product is available for consumption, it's fair game. But any complaints voiced about said artistic creation is also fair game in terms of disagreements. I understand the concern about "race bending" as a general concept and there are certainly instances where I would be quite vocal about voicing my disapproval (I've listed examples elsewhere). But I don't think Khan qualifies as a problem case and, frankly, implications that I'm seeking to excuse racism because I find the Khan example unpersuasive are insulting (not being made by you), though far less biting for being made in a largely anonymous forum.
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Old March 6 2014, 10:15 PM   #117
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
Joachim was a complete wuss. Had Harrison been him, I doubt he'd have had the courage to do much of anything. VERY different movie.
That was just an example, but certainly they could have changed his character as much as they changed Khan. I think their shoehorn was big enough.

Ovation wrote: View Post
Again, I have no issue with people being disappointed in the casting or organizing protests over it. I have very serious objections to the idea that self-appointed guardians of The Way Things Ought to Be (TM) should have ANY say whatsoever on the making of an artistic creation (film, book, painting, music, etc.). Should be entirely left to the artist.
But who's doing that? I think I see you saying this more often than I see anybody saying such things. There wasn't really anything like that in the article that I could see.
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Old March 6 2014, 11:08 PM   #118
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

I've heard some students where I teach make the complaint (and more forcefully than most in here). I've also come across complaints about gender/sex diversity among non-main cast characters (at TrekBBS and elsewhere) that raise similar objections about how "things ought to be". And the article most certainly laments the fact that those interested in monitoring are not being given "access" during the filmmaking process.

from the article at racebending.com referenced above

Add to this the secrecy prior to release around Cumberbatch’s role in the film, and what seems like a casting move that would typically be defended by cries of “best actor for the job, not racism” becomes something more cunning, more malicious. Yes, the obfuscation creates intrigue around and interest in the role, but it also prevents advocacy groups like Racebending.com from building campaigns to protest the whitewashing. This happened with the character of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, as well as ‘Miranda Tate’ in The Dark Knight Rises, who ended up being Talia al Ghul but played by French actress Marion Cotillard. This practice is well in effect in Hollywood; and after the negative press that was generated by angry anti-oppression activists and fans when Paramount had The Last Airbender in the works, studios are wising up. They don’t want their racist practices to be called out, pointed at, and exposed before their movies are released — Airbender proved that these protests create enough bad feeling to affect their bottom line.

So the studio has now found a way to keep it secret and underhanded. Racebending.com was there for most of the production of The Last Airbender, and were even able to correspond with Paramount Pictures about it. This time, for Star Trek: Into Darkness, their hiding and opaque practices has managed to silence media watchdogs until the movie’s premiere.
bolding is mine


Pretty clear that at least one advocacy group wants "in" DURING the creative process (and I cannot believe it is alone). To which I say: HELL NO and TOUGH SHIT. The advocacy group has the right to protest the finished product and raise a stink about it. I have zero problems with that. But to expect/demand/feel entitled to be included in the process of creation. Nope. Nada. Non. I find that expectation repugnant. I don't believe for one second that an artistic creation should be free of criticism. But I have ZERO sympathy for the notion that artists should be scrutinized by anyone, let alone "media watchdogs" and "advocacy groups" during the process of creation.
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Old March 7 2014, 12:38 AM   #119
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

I didn't read that as an expectation, demand, or entitlement.
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Old March 7 2014, 02:14 AM   #120
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Skywalker wrote: View Post
iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
How do they explain that Kirk has blue eyes now???? CANON VIOLATION!!!!
Prime Kirk was born on Earth. In the new universe Kirk was born prematurely in a shuttle. The shuttle's shields were inadequate to fully protect Kirk, his mother, and the crew from the radiation of the nearby star, which turned his eyes blue. It all makes sense, you just don't want to see it!
Spice!
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