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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old December 10 2013, 07:26 PM   #286
Warped9
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Harvey wrote: View Post
Roddenberry's 'Turnabout Intruder' story outline (reviewed here).
Hmm, there's nothing in there about women not being allowed to command a starship. And what exactly was Roddenberry's point to this story? He set up a character that no matter how you look at it is committing acts that are flat out insane. Who can blame Shatner for his performance after seeing how it's outlined? The only time "Lester" behaves with any rationality is when Lester's body is inhabited by Kirk. Janice Lester's consciousness or life force or whatever acts in an irrational manner whether she's in Kirk's body or her own.
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Old December 10 2013, 07:43 PM   #287
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Roddenberry's outline doesn't indicate anything about women not being able to command a starship. That line was an invention of Arthur Singer.
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Old December 10 2013, 07:55 PM   #288
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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Roddenberry's outline doesn't indicate anything about women not being able to command a starship. That line was an invention of Arthur Singer.
And even then it's dodgy and led to decades of debate on what it supposedly means.

What's significant is Roddenberry, the creator and driving force behind Star Trek, doesn't outline that a woman is barred from command. It's someone else with litle grounding in the series and its ideas that seems trying to suggest it and yet its still done in a dodgy way with no conviction. It's as if Singer felt he wasn't on solid ground so he left it vague.

Way back in "The Cage" GR set up a scenario with Number One that posits a woman could eventually rise to starship command. Nothing else throughout the series counters that except in the fact they never actually showed a female starship cmmander. But as has already been said often the lack of evidence isn't evidence in itself because there are lots of things we didn't get to see but could reasonably assume they were there.

And so it comes down to one or two lines of vague meaning in a poor episode at the very end of the series' run and written by someone with little understanding of TOS and its ideas that's supposed to completely rewrite the spirit and meaning of the series overall?

Doesn't work for me.
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Old December 10 2013, 08:10 PM   #289
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
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Warped9 wrote: View Post
After reading this post I've been thinking on how I could best respond without offering offense.

I don't mean to sound insesitive, but this is a matter of perception. For the larger part of the audience this isn't a pressing issue. We are also talking about something dealing with one of the last taboos in popular entertainment.

To what advantage does having a gay character bring? It's not something too many writers or creators or producers are going to take a chance on for anxiety over alienating some part of their core target audience. I'll admit that a lesbian character offers some measure of titllation for many men in the audience and as such are not seen as threatening. But a prominent gay character is one of the last taboos and there are males in the audience that would indeed feel uncomfortable with that.

Also it isn't like gay characters haven't been done in SF or more particularly SF literature. David Gerrold's Blood And Fire is what immediately comes to mind, but I'm sure there must be others. And the Phase II fan productions did a TOS version of Gerrold's story and did include a gay character who was actually Kirk's nephew. And Peter Kirk had a lover that Phase II didn't shy away from showing. There have been gay superheroes in comics. I'm thinking of Apollo and Midnighter in the superhero title The Authority. Apollo and Midnighter were also lovers. I think there might also have been a lesbian character in The Authority, but I'm not sure I recall exactly.

Since it hasn't happened yet in popular visual sci-fi then it possibly speaks to creator/producers not yet ready to tackle it.

I have to admit to a measure of blindness on this issue because in all honesty it isn't a pressing issue for me. I admit I'm uncertain about my own feelings if a major character in a favoured SF production were revealed to be gay. A lot would depend on how it was depicted. I know there was a bi female in Babylon 5 (Commander Susan Ivanova) and I love Babylon 5 as a series. And Ivanova was a major character. But admittedly a bi or lesbian female isn't usually seen as threatening to a male audience and Ivanova was done rather lowkey when it came to her sexuality. It wasn't something they really dwelled on.

Not being gay I'm at odds at seeing this as a pressing issue because I don't personally feel unrepresented in science fiction. I've known few openly gay men (mostly through work) and have never felt personally threatened by any of them. But then I've never seen them act in an overt manner that made me feel uncomfortable. I have to admit that when I was a teenager in the '70s it could have been a differnt issue, but then being openly gay in the '70s would have been a risky affair in broader society. On rare occasion I have been approached by a gay male in much the same way as a man might try to strike up an acquaintance with a woman. The circumstances played out in such a way that I didn't really feel threatened in any way because when I wasn't responsive the men took the hint and left me alone. If any of them had persisted then it would have crossed the line into harassment much the same way a woman could feel harassed from a man who won't take no for an answer.

That said I do know individuals who have been freaked out by being approached by another man, and these guys otherwise seemed like well rounded and well composed individuals. To me that speaks of a percentage of the audience who would indeed feel uncomfortable with seeing a major character in SF who was openly gay. Most men put a great deal of stock in their sense of masculinity of which being attractive to women is a big part of it. The fact that another male could find them (or someone with whom they identify) sexually attractive can make them feel uneasy in terms of their own masculinity. They wonder if they are somehow unconciously putting out the wrong subliminal signals.

Look at the backlash regarding the issue of slash faction regarding prominent SF characters. There is no question whatsoever that James T. Kirk and Spock are heterosexual men with no interest whatsoever in each other beyond starightforward friendship. And yet some element of fandom (oddly predominantly female) get a kick out of making the characters lovers. Other characters throughout popular sci-fi have been treated likewise. Note also when George Takei came out as gay and the backlash when some suggested his character of Hikaru Sulu might also have been gay. I admit I was one who took issue with the notion because previously it never occured to me that Sulu could be gay, particularly given we meet his daughter in Generations. But gay men portraying straight men is nothing new. Film star Rock Hudson was doing it in the 1950s and '60s and I'm sure others were, too, only it would be decades before the broader general public would learn of it.

At present I think we are still dealing with stereotypes when it comes to LGBT characters, stereotypes that can make many other people uncomfortable. I know for myself I'm not particularly fond of things like Toronto's Gay Pride Parade held every summer. Seeing how some of the individuals behave in public bothers me, partly because i see a double standard in which if straight people were to behave that way publicly they could well get arrested.

Forgive my rambling, but I'm at odds as to how else to respond to your post. I also apologize if I've unintentionally offended anyone.
I think it's really sad, actually, how limited your worldview is on the matter, Warped9.

Putting aside for the moment that you admit to your own "blindness" on the subject and putting aside for the moment that you hardly know anyone who happens to be gay and putting aside your needlessly escalated assertion that any gay teen hitting on you would constitute "harassment" ...

Who would it benefit? Plenty of people. The same way Nichelle Nichols' performance benefited LeVar Burton and Whoopi Goldberg and Tim Russ. The same way, I'm sure George Takei has inspired not only Asian-Americans over the years but now other gay a lesbian members of fandom. The same way Kate Mulgrew inspired young girls to go in to the sciences. Hell, the same way Patrick Stewart inspired prematurely balding young men to study Shakespeare!

For years I said that Enterprise should have included an Arab or Muslim character on the ship's crew as a recurring character. Not because I thought Berman and Braga had any particular ability to write such a character, but because at the time Enterprise premiered (ten days after 9/11) many Americans were itching to find reasons to hate and attack Arabs and Muslims.

What better tribute, what better legacy to the ideals that Star Trek has come to represent than to take a group of people Western society was currently at odds with and show them as friends and allies in the future?

A more pertinent example: there are many people who think that Barack Obama's landslide victory against John McCain in 2008 was in small part due to how positively Americans reacted to the character of David Palmer (as portrayed by Dennis Haysbert) on 24 seven years earlier. Popular culture had once again taken and impossible dream - an African-American as President - and had couched that idea as very legitimately possible for its viewing audience.

Now, obviously, there are many other factors involved with that particular example, but the possibility that Haysbert's performance played a role -however small in helping to shape the popular opinion on the subject is undeniable.

In summation Warped9, I don't think you're necessarily wrong to look at the situation the way you are - from what you think might be a studio executive's perspective - but I also think it's a perspective marred by blatant homophobia and entirely outmoded, outdated, limited, and small-minded.

Who would benefit from seeing a gay or lesbian member on a Star Trek crew? Easily answered: Every member of the viewing audience, that's who.
You took one thing I said and took it completely out of context. I said if the guy had persisted (after already being rebuffed) that could be seen as harassment in much the same way a woman could feel harassed after rebuffing a man's advancement and the guy persists and doesn't take no for an answer.

So before you jump all over my world view or opinion read the damned post in entirety rather than just pick and choose what might tick you off. It's not a flaw of my character or my existence if I haven't (knowingly) had much interaction with gay men. It is a testament to my character that I never gave anyone gay a hard time or treated them any differently than anyone else. I might not have sought out anyone gay but I've never avoided them either.

And if that's not good enough for you then too bad. At least I tried to engage a discussion where I might get a different perspective and understanding and I did it in an open and honest way. I certainly didn't leap down someone's throat because they didn't share my "enlightened" worldview. If that's not good enough for you either then that's too bad.
You're right. Re-reading what you wrote about the teenage kid, I did misread what you wrote. For this, I apologize.

That said, you missed the entire point I was trying to make with the rest of my post.
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Old December 10 2013, 08:22 PM   #290
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
What's significant is Roddenberry, the creator and driving force behind Star Trek, doesn't outline that a woman is barred from command.
Although there is still clear chauvinism present in Roddenberry's outline, as in the "female-hysterical" description cited above, and in other ways. In the original outline, there was a closing scene in which the restored Kirk was concerned about residual feminine traits and had to reassure himself that he was still capable of lusting after pretty yeomen.
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Old December 10 2013, 08:28 PM   #291
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
What's significant is Roddenberry, the creator and driving force behind Star Trek, doesn't outline that a woman is barred from command.
Although there is still clear chauvinism present in Roddenberry's outline, as in the "female-hysterical" description cited above, and in other ways. In the original outline, there was a closing scene in which the restored Kirk was concerned about residual feminine traits and had to reassure himself that he was still capable of lusting after pretty yeomen.
Slight tangent, but that irritated me about Profit and Lace in DS9 too, and other shows that portrayed men being turned into women in that way - female hormones do not automatically make one irrational or overly-emotional. Sure, a sudden change in body chemistry would probably mess with you a little, but the way it's so often framed is of 'womanly' qualities tainting a man's logic and reasoning. Yuk.
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Old December 10 2013, 08:41 PM   #292
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
What's significant is Roddenberry, the creator and driving force behind Star Trek, doesn't outline that a woman is barred from command.
Although there is still clear chauvinism present in Roddenberry's outline, as in the "female-hysterical" description cited above, and in other ways. In the original outline, there was a closing scene in which the restored Kirk was concerned about residual feminine traits and had to reassure himself that he was still capable of lusting after pretty yeomen.
Chauvanism, yeah, but that has nothing to do with explicitly stating women aren't allowed to command. It's just not in there.
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Old December 10 2013, 08:46 PM   #293
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

^Yes, I established that a day or two ago. The question of the command ban and the question of the writers' sexism are two distinct issues that I think have been getting improperly conflated into one.
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Old December 10 2013, 08:57 PM   #294
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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^Yes, I established that a day or two ago. The question of the command ban and the question of the writers' sexism are two distinct issues that I think have been getting improperly conflated into one.
Yes, I know you have. I was just emphasizing the point. And I agree the two issues are being tied together as if one naturally proves the other.

We have obvious sexism in society today that goes against what is actually set in law. From that standpoint it seems unduly harsh or unfair for charging TOS with something that still exists particularly considering the times in which it was produced.

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That said, you missed the entire point I was trying to make with the rest of my post.
No, I did get your point. I just have to say I got a bit sore with the accusation you made. Done and done and forget about it.

It's hard to lay a charge of rampant homophobia in lieu of lack of solid evidence regarding the individuals involved in the decision making process. Of course homophobia exists, but I hesitate to make a blanket charge without more solid evidence to support it.

The fact that a producer might hesitate to push a LGBT character might not be homophobia, but rather simple uncertainty. And it isn't a character failing to feel uncomfortable or unsure when faced with something different from oneself. The distinction is how you respond to it.

If I see a group of whatever persuasion---be they youths or black or gay or Muslim or some other---must I always assume they're up to no good? For whatever reason I might feel a sense of unease or wariness, but the distinction is in how I choose to respond to the situation. If I have no solid evidence the group poses any threat to me then I should be able to just pass them by and be on my way or even ask them for directions or the time of day. The only reason I would cross the street or turn the other way or even call the cops is if I knew for certain who the group was and/or they did indeed make an explicit threat to me. To behave in the latter without solid justification would be to let my unsubstantiated unease get the better of me. And in all honesty there are a lot of people who would do that very thing simply by being faced with the unfamiliar.

A creator/producer might not push a LGBT character or issue not so much out of homophobia (although it's possible) but possibly out of wariness over a possible backlash, either from his core target audience or perhaps even his or her superiors. This is possibly what happened with TNG. When it came time to really go with the idea they got scared.

Speaking for myself the fact the LGBT issue isn't prominant in my mind doesn't mean I'm not aware of its existence. But in all fairness since I don't have a personal stake in the issue (unless perhaps I had a close friend who was gay and they expressed distress over it) then it's not surprising I mightn't question it while I'm enjoying a particular program or film.
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Old December 10 2013, 11:49 PM   #295
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
I'm not saying it shouldn't be done. I'm speculating as to why it hasn't yet been done.
When I read my relatives FB's I know why it hasn't been done yet. Because a huge chunk of america would die of shock.
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Old December 11 2013, 03:23 AM   #296
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

^But as I've already pointed out repeatedly, it has been done. There have been gay and lesbian characters in lead roles on a number of SFTV shows over the past several years, and a number of non-genre shows as well. So I can't understand why you're talking about it as though it's only hypothetical.
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Old December 11 2013, 03:26 AM   #297
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Hopefully Star Trek can aspire to do better than appeal to the lowest common denominator. If people can deal with gay characters in comedies, soap operas and reality shows, they ought to be able to deal with gays in sci fi. To say otherwise says that sci fi fans are more small minded and prejudiced than the average Honey Boo Boo fan.
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Old December 11 2013, 03:54 AM   #298
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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Hopefully Star Trek can aspire to do better than appeal to the lowest common denominator. If people can deal with gay characters in comedies, soap operas and reality shows, they ought to be able to deal with gays in sci fi. To say otherwise says that sci fi fans are more small minded and prejudiced than the average Honey Boo Boo fan.
You're painting a lot of people with a very broad brush and making a gross presumption. The fans aren't responsible if the creator/producers choose not to address something.
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Old December 11 2013, 04:00 AM   #299
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

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Hopefully Star Trek can aspire to do better than appeal to the lowest common denominator. If people can deal with gay characters in comedies, soap operas and reality shows, they ought to be able to deal with gays in sci fi.
And they are dealing with it as LGB characters show up in an increasing number of genre shows. True, there's still a way to go -- I can't think of any current network genre show other than Dracula with a regular gay or lesbian character, so it's still mostly on cable and imports at this point (and Dracula is a British co-production) -- but TV is trending in the direction of inclusion. I think that by the time Trek comes back to TV, there would probably be less resistance. Especially if it's true that Rick Berman was the main source of resistance before. Any new Trek series would be in other hands.
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Old December 11 2013, 04:45 AM   #300
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Re: No female starship captains in the 2250s-60s?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
borgboy wrote: View Post
Hopefully Star Trek can aspire to do better than appeal to the lowest common denominator. If people can deal with gay characters in comedies, soap operas and reality shows, they ought to be able to deal with gays in sci fi. To say otherwise says that sci fi fans are more small minded and prejudiced than the average Honey Boo Boo fan.
You're painting a lot of people with a very broad brush and making a gross presumption. The fans aren't responsible if the creator/producers choose not to address something.
I think you don't understand quite what I meant. I 'm not saying sci fi fans are more prejudiced - I'm saying that's the message that tptb send when they don't have LGBT diversity while other forms of entertainment do. When Honey Boo Boo is more diverse on LGBT characters than Star Trek, something's wrong, and my best understanding is the problem comes from producers thinking that their audience won't deal with inclusion and diversity well.

And in all honesty, the segment of fandom that does make homophobic noise anytime there's talk of LGBT inclusion is at least partly responsible for the timid stance ST has had with LGBT characters in the last two or three decades. It's disappointing to see such gutless reactions from the franchise that was so brave and bold in it's racial diversity nearly 50 years ago, making headlines and breaking boundries with the interracial kiss.
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