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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 7 2014, 02:35 AM   #121
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Personally I appreciate how they're trying to make things make sense in an in-universe kind of way... not really necessary, but this Trek universe provides a unique way to do it.
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Old March 7 2014, 04:09 AM   #122
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

(EDIT: Uh, I just realized this reply now contains almost none of your original text, Ovation. Sorry about that, I was trying to trim it for length. I think (and hope) that I summarized the basic arguments I was responding to fairly. This is meant to be more of a general overview of some basic points of contention than a point-by-pointer.)

Ovation wrote: View Post
"Totally fictional" means what it says. No basis in reality.
On taking a break and giving it a re-read, I do see a little better what you're going for here and in the subsequent passages. Yes, I would probably say that for degree-of-offensiveness, you can make a case that whitewashing Khan is not quite up there with whitewashing Nehru. Stipulated.

I can't get all the way to its being irrelevant, though. Later on you say:

when ethnicity is irrelevant to the character, I consider it a non-issue
... and mention characters like Perry White. That's a false comparison: Perry White doesn't come with an inbuilt backstory like Khan does. And at the end of the day, you can't call ethnicity completely "irrelevant" to a character whose ethnicity we all know. And that's the bottom line. If the character is specified as having a South Asian background, you had better expect it to occur to people why one would avoid casting a South Asian in that situation. Whether he came out of a test tube or was born from a bolt of lightning does not make a great difference to the questions about the entertainment marketplace and the treatment of actors and audiences that these things bring up. So trying to say that having an in-universe rationale for the whitewashing makes it unimportant ultimately just doesn't work.

You are also right that Khan -- in particular NuKhan -- isn't built with ethnicity as the core of the character. So, does that make it okay? Actually it can just as easily make the racebending stick out even more.

It would be like casting a white woman as Uhura; technically Uhura's ethnicity is not really that important to the kind of woman she is, certainly not in NuTrek -- she's defined much more by her drive and ambition and brilliance and getting-it-on-with-Spock-ness -- but her ethnicity would still be in frame and whitewashing her would only bring up even weirder and more jarring questions of why an actress of colour was deemed unsuitable to portray those positive traits. Which indeed is exactly what came up for the Racebending.com blogger with Khan (emphases mine):

Marissa Sammy wrote:
But all of that will be marred by having my own skin edited out, rendered worthless and silent and invisible when a South Asian man is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch up on that screen. In the original Trek, Khan, with his brown skin, was an Übermensch, intellectually and physically perfect, possessed of such charisma and drive that despite his efforts to gain control of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk (and many of the other officers) felt admiration for him.

And that’s why the role has been taken away from actors of colour and given to a white man . . . villains are generally played by people with darker skin … unless the villain is one with intelligence, depth, complexity.
Now, here's what I said about this in my original version of this post:

A much more irritable BigJake wrote:
These questions come up, of course, because not too long ago it was common for Hollywood to openly pass over actors of colour because of explicitly racist assumptions about whether they could be portrayed as having positive traits. The contention that this could not tacitly be happening today is questionable at best and risible at worst. That sort of thing is why I told you your dismissiveness is foolish and dickish in almost equal measure.
Too harsh, perhaps. But I've preserved it here because I don't want to pretend like I'm immune to the same factors that irritate someone like Marissa Sammy, and that are major irritants to nonwhite participants in discussions like this that white participants are typically oblivious to. And I know you're not being wilfully obtuse or trying to be a dick, but I think it's something you've fallen foul of, which is the unseen privilege gap.

You're shocked and think it constitutes being "up in arms" when someone like Marissa Sammy doesn't like whitewashing because (at least I'm guessing this is the reason) you're largely unaware of what a bleak landscape confronted SF fans of colour looking for positive representations of themselves, or representations of themselves at all, in the genre they loved before the Nineties (and to a lesser but still notable extent still today, hence why Racebending.com exists). It seems like it shouldn't be a big deal to you because you've never had to think about it. But it's a big deal to someone like Sammy precisely because of how barren that landscape was. That a character like Uhura was a big deal for Black Americans in the Sixties television landscape was not because they had all this great representation and diversity to choose from; it's rather an incredibly sad commentary on how racist both SF and television had been to that point.

Today's landscape is not the Sixties, but many of us can still remember times in our lifetime that resonate with those kinds of concerns and that kind of barrenness. Instances of whitewashing concern people not because of the performance of this or that actor necessarily, but because they feel like hints of a trend in a retrograde direction that we want to move away from instead of back to. So it's not going to impress those people to be told by someone who has zero clue about those experiences about what being "up in arms" is and whether it's appropriate or not. That isn't up to just you, and that's the most important thing you need to recognize.

This is not to say that an outlet like Racebending.com is always in the right, of course. I think your point about their implying that someone ought to have checked with them before casting Khan -- which Sammy can be read as saying there -- is valid, that's taking it too far. I just happen to think that bog standard attempt to dismiss the whole concern as irrelevant goes equally too far in the other direction.
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Old March 8 2014, 03:32 PM   #123
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

What would have been really brave would have been to cast Khan as an Indian woman.
That would have been so kick-ass IMO.
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Old March 8 2014, 04:18 PM   #124
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

BigJake wrote:
That's a false comparison: Perry White doesn't come with an inbuilt backstory like Khan does.
More to the point, the black Perry White shows up in a true reboot, one with no connection to prior continuity. That's why he can be black - because in that universe he was never white. When you reboot you have the freedom to do this. As much as some people insist that Abrams' Star Trek is a reboot, it really isn't. It's an alternate timeline created by events after Nemesis. Its timeline diverges in 2233 and thus its Khan should have started out as the same Khan that was seen in Space Seed.
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Old March 8 2014, 05:55 PM   #125
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

And thats why its Star Trek 12 and not Star Trek 2
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Old March 8 2014, 06:56 PM   #126
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

I do find it weird that they could not find someone ethnically suitable to play the character but I appreciate the effort they went to in the comic to plug some of the holes. In particular, they also explain how it was possible for Khan to beam all the way to Qu'onos (or Kronos as it is spelled in a phonetic future where Stardates are dictated by Earth). I watched STiD last night and knowing the back story from the comic assuaged a lot of my irritation at some of the things that had previously irked me.
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Old March 8 2014, 07:02 PM   #127
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Set Harth wrote: View Post
BigJake wrote:
That's a false comparison: Perry White doesn't come with an inbuilt backstory like Khan does.
More to the point, the black Perry White shows up in a true reboot, one with no connection to prior continuity. That's why he can be black - because in that universe he was never white. When you reboot you have the freedom to do this.
Yes, that's a very good point.
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Old March 8 2014, 07:05 PM   #128
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
I do find it weird that they could not find someone ethnically suitable to play the character but I appreciate the effort they went to in the comic to plug some of the holes. In particular, they also explain how it was possible for Khan to beam all the way to Qu'onos (or Kronos as it is spelled in a phonetic future where Stardates are dictated by Earth). I watched STiD last night and knowing the back story from the comic assuaged a lot of my irritation at some of the things that had previously irked me.
What did they say and why does the transwarp beaming to Kronos need explaining? It's godmode technology from the future.
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Old March 8 2014, 07:25 PM   #129
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Set Harth wrote: View Post
BigJake wrote:
That's a false comparison: Perry White doesn't come with an inbuilt backstory like Khan does.
More to the point, the black Perry White shows up in a true reboot, one with no connection to prior continuity. That's why he can be black - because in that universe he was never white. When you reboot you have the freedom to do this. As much as some people insist that Abrams' Star Trek is a reboot, it really isn't. It's an alternate timeline created by events after Nemesis. Its timeline diverges in 2233 and thus its Khan should have started out as the same Khan that was seen in Space Seed.
Whatever you say... It all makes perfect sense... LOL

"Hey, have you seen Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Kinda slow, but still a pretty cool new version of Trek."

"It's not a new version! It's not it's not it's not! The Enterprise just got a refit. that's all!"

Pats friend on head. "Yes, of course it did."
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Old March 8 2014, 07:37 PM   #130
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
Pauln6 wrote: View Post
I do find it weird that they could not find someone ethnically suitable to play the character but I appreciate the effort they went to in the comic to plug some of the holes. In particular, they also explain how it was possible for Khan to beam all the way to Qu'onos (or Kronos as it is spelled in a phonetic future where Stardates are dictated by Earth). I watched STiD last night and knowing the back story from the comic assuaged a lot of my irritation at some of the things that had previously irked me.
What did they say and why does the transwarp beaming to Kronos need explaining? It's godmode technology from the future.
Well, I think you'll find that some viewers find "it's just godmode" to be a bit of a cop-out and look for something more. That would usually be why something like that needs explaining, and Pauln6 is in all likelihood one of these.

Now, strictly speaking one shouldn't of course need to get the backstory from sources outside the film to understand what's happening in the film. But it is what it is... I'm curious, too: how does the comic explain it?
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Old March 8 2014, 07:50 PM   #131
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Hober Mallow wrote: View Post
Whatever you say... It all makes perfect sense...
Yes, actually, but this doesn't:

"Hey, have you seen Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Kinda slow, but still a pretty cool new version of Trek."

"It's not a new version! It's not it's not it's not! The Enterprise just got a refit. that's all!"

Pats friend on head. "Yes, of course it did."
Was TMP sold as a reboot or a new version of Trek? Does its script not in fact directly reference the historic five year mission of the show? Failing either of those things, what are you talking about?
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Old March 8 2014, 07:52 PM   #132
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Let me put it another way, then: The super-long-range beaming technology which we have previously seen The Dominion, Gary Seven and several others in the Trekverse use is obviously now known to the Starfleet of 2387, and the elder Spock gave the formula to Scotty's younger counterpart in the '09 film (later confiscated by Section 31 and used by Khan to beam to Kronos). What else is there to explain?
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Old March 8 2014, 08:17 PM   #133
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

King Daniel Into Darkness wrote: View Post
The super-long-range beaming technology which we have previously seen The Dominion, Gary Seven and several others in the Trekverse use is obviously now known to the Starfleet of 2387, and the elder Spock gave the formula to Scotty's younger counterpart in the '09 film
Entertaining a fanwank though this is, don't both films specifically tell us that it is Scotty's formula?

This is really just another one of those things in NuTrek where -- as with Red Matter* -- fans can invent their own explanations to their heart's content (and indulge in all the continuity tailgunning they can come up with), but most of the audience can't come out of the movie with the same simple, intuitive answers to the questions it raises (like for instance, if it's Scotty's formula, why can Khan use it but the heroes apparently can't use it to follow him?) because the movie just doesn't contain those answers.

(* The "transwarp beaming" business is arguably worse, because just at the narrative level it's dissonant with a story premised on travelling to places in starships, which really is the most basic reason why people tend to notice the "beaming to Kronos" thing and find it weird, and is why the old Trek shows never made that kind of tech a regular part of Starfleet's repertoire.)
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Old March 8 2014, 09:08 PM   #134
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

BigJake wrote:
Entertaining a fanwank though this is, don't both films specifically tell us that it is Scotty's formula?
Well Scotty obviously figured it out for Starfleet, in the same way that Zephram Cochrane "invented" warp drive for humans. Neither were truly the first to do it.
(like for instance, if it's Scotty's formula, why can Khan use it but the heroes apparently can't use it to follow him?)
Section 31 confiscated it, as we're told when Scotty resigns. He doesn't have it any more to use (and he's resigned and left the ship so even if he could somehow remember it, it would have been useless at that point)
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Old March 8 2014, 09:08 PM   #135
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Re: Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

WarpFactorZ wrote: View Post
BlueMetroid wrote: View Post
According to the just-released Khan #5 comic, it's due to facial reconstruction, memory wiping, and vocal cord manipulation. Thoughts?
For those of us who aren't reading the comics, can you explain what "memory wiping" accomplishes. He seemed to remember quite a bit about "their work before they were banished."
That's because the memory wipe didn't work permanently on Khan's genetically engineered brain. Khan's memories gradually started to return.
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