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Old October 27 2013, 03:15 AM   #136
Christopher
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

The Umbrella Corporation wrote: View Post
...but I'm not going to count Hoshi as she was really a civilian
Well, no, not really. True, she was a professor before joining the crew, but she received a full Starfleet commission. Maybe she didn't go through the Academy or whatever, but Earth Starfleet was more a research institution than a military anyway. Heck, Hoshi was a member of Starfleet three years longer than T'Pol was. And T'Pol actually commanded the ship as a civilian at some points during the Xindi mission.


Realistically if we were populating a Starship with proportional Earth population at the moment more than half would be Asian/Indian.
About 60%, in fact.


In the future though with China's one child policy maybe the proportions will be different.
Well, China's population is only about a third of the population of Asia. So it alone wouldn't skew the results that much.


The Eugenics war must be the explanation. Maybe there's no Australia or New Zealand in Star Trek. Maybe those 'supermen' blew those countries up. I mean we haven't ever seen anyone from those countries in 30 seasons of Star Trek and 12 movies
But we visited New Zealand in "Caretaker" -- it's the site of a Starfleet penal colony. The Pennington School of journalism is also located there. And there have been numerous canonical references to Australia, including Hoshi Sato having a pen pal from Brisbane and the Vulcans having a consulate in Canberra. Starfleet apparently had a flight testing center in Australia as well.

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Australia
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/New_Zealand

As I said before, it makes no sense to assume that something doesn't exist just because we haven't seen it in the limited sampling of the universe we've gotten in five Trek series. I mean, you could watch fifty US television series and never see a mention of, say, Nepal or anyone from there, but that doesn't mean Nepal doesn't exist in those shows' universes. It just didn't come up. Earth is a big place, after all.


Avro Arrow wrote: View Post
(Although, to be honest, I don't really understand why they would have a USS Cortez either.)
Well, the conquistador was Hernán Cortés, with an S, not a Z. True, some places and things named Cortez are named after Cortés, but it's a misspelling. So maybe the ship is named after some entirely different person or place.
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Old October 27 2013, 03:24 AM   #137
Nob Akimoto
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Realistically if we were populating a Starship with proportional Earth population at the moment more than half would be Asian/Indian.
About 60%, in fact.


In the future though with China's one child policy maybe the proportions will be different.
Well, China's population is only about a third of the population of Asia. So it alone wouldn't skew the results that much.
The UN ESA did a few projection figures into 2300 (snapshots at 1950, 2000, 2050, 2100, 2150, 2200, 2250 and 2300) and even within just the 21st century their expectation was that Africa would have the largest population growth due to declining infant mortality and extended life expectancy, going from about 800 million to nearly 2 billion by 2050.

Interestingly Asia was expected to stay pretty much level, with most of the population growth coming in South Asia and India. Southeast Asia, East Asia and Western Asia are supposed to actually lose population in the interim. (At current trends India's likely to surpass China in population by 2030)

North America has the "healthiest" demographic trends of any of the major regions, but the overall population is so much lower than Asia or Africa that it's not likely to really be a huge share.

And Europe's demographics are surprisingly steady.
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Old October 27 2013, 03:26 AM   #138
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

That said, I mean in the 24th century Earth is just one member world of 150+. Even assuming a fair number of other member worlds (Deneva, Alpha Centauri, Cestus III, etc) are human population, I doubt humans make up more than half of the entire UFP population, so seeing them so disproportionately represented in our heroic starship crews is also probably a problem.
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Old October 27 2013, 03:28 AM   #139
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Sci wrote: View Post
David Brennon wrote: View Post
Huh... that's interesting. So you feel the United States wasn't a legitimate government until 1870 or 1920 or maybe even later? That may read like snark (and this like sarcasm) but I am genuinely interested here -- don't get me wrong, snark and sarcasm are there, but I'm still interested in the content of your reply just the same . I can very much see your position as I have similar feelings about other states that I won't bring up here. It's an interesting point (I think i used that word three times now to describe how I feel... I'll stop).
I'm going to respond broadly to this segment here, because I do think it is germaine to the larger discussion:

It seems to me that most of human history is the story of people being oppressed by authoritarian regimes of various types -- the hereditary dictatorships we call "monarchies" of the European mideval era; the so-called "democracy" of wealthy, property-owning men in ancient Athens who kept huge percentages of the population as slaves; the oligarchy we call the Roman Republic; etc.

And I would argue that this trend continues well into the modern era. Not until the widesprad adoption and implementation of the ideas we might associate with the Englightenment and with modern liberal democracy -- equality, civil rights and liberties, all people born free, universal suffrage, etc. -- can we really argue that the societies of our ancestors ceased to be authoritarian regimes. (I'm gonna call that process "historical liberalization" for the sake of this argument -- obviously we're talking about a long and complex process that didn't always move in a linear pattern, not from nation to nation nor within nations.)

As a result, broadly-speaking, I'm very skeptical of the idea that a society that embraces democracy, equality, civil rights, and social justice, ought to celebrate the political leaders of those societies before historical liberalization. This, to me, applies not just to the idea, but the implementation; in spite of the beauty of the opening words to the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, for instance, I'm pretty skeptical of the idea that we ought to celebrate U.S. Presidents prior to the 13th Amendment, because they inherently perpetuated the enslavement and oppression of millions of people.

To me, having, for instance, a Federation Starship Thomas Jefferson would lend rhetorical support to a historical narrative that posits Jefferson as a man of freedom and progress and ignores the fact that he lived his life on the backs of three hundred or more men and women he kept in bondage, and that his government kept millions more in chains.

I want to specify that I am not singling out Jefferson or the United States. I'm skeptical of the idea of celebrating any political leader before the emergence of the egalitarian ideal.

I argue that this speaks to the broader topic at hand in terms of Eurocentrism, since many of these kinds of historical narratives are inherently Eurocentric.

Another example would be Christopher Columbus. For all his accomplishments as a seafarer and an explorer, and for all of his influence on history, the fact remains that Christopher Columbus was also a brutal imperialist and mass murderer. He enslaved the native inhabitants of the Carribean islands he found; he engaged in mass murder; he trafficked in prepubsecent girls for the sexual gratification of his men. We in the United States have all been raised with a deeply Eurocentric narrative that posits Columbus as the "discoverer" of the Americas -- forgetting not only the Vikings, but the actual Native American nations -- and which utterly ignores his crimes against humanity.

To me, part of not being Eurocentric is recognizing historical narratives that are used to glorify and/or justify historical political leaders who engaged in acts of cruelty and oppression -- and learning not to perpetuate those narratives.
First of all, great post. I'll just quote it in its entirety, because it's great.

Of course, Star Trek implicitly honors Christopher Columbus, in the names of the shuttlecraft Columbus and the ships named Columbia. The United States honors him in the name of the District of Columbia, just for starters.

In terms of Star Trek references to date, that ship has sailed, no pun intended. I suppose that, going forward, writers might agree not to create new references.

I guess I have the following questions.

Assuming that we, in the real world, move towards a more enlightened society, what do you think should happen? Assuming it lasts indefinitely, do you think that the United States should change the name of Washington, D.C.? The name of the US capital is really doubly bad, isn't it, because it memorializes two men unworthy of such an honor in your book. Should the US be like the USSR, and just rename stuff (cf. Saint Petersburg) to make it more politically palatable? Certainly in the absence of a grass roots movement, that seems somewhat extreme.

I'm reminded of the following lines from Space Seed, which seem to establish some 23rd century attitudes, in universe:

KIRK: Name, Khan, as we know him today. (Spock changes the picture) Name, Khan Noonien Singh.
SPOCK: From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world. From Asia through the Middle East.
MCCOY: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.
SCOTT: I must confess, gentlemen. I've always held a sneaking admiration for this one.
KIRK: He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous. They were supermen, in a sense. Stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring.
SPOCK: Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is
KIRK: Mister Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless.
SCOTT: There were no massacres under his rule.
SPOCK: And as little freedom.
MCCOY: No wars until he was attacked.
SPOCK: Gentlemen.
KIRK: Mister Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.
SPOCK: Illogical.
KIRK: Totally. This is the Captain. Put a twenty four hour security on Mister Khan's quarters, effective immediately.
Assuming we profess to be enlightened, is there no way to maintain elements of our cultural heritage, such as the names of certain places, that isn't hypocritical?
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Old October 27 2013, 03:28 AM   #140
Avro Arrow
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Avro Arrow wrote: View Post
(Although, to be honest, I don't really understand why they would have a USS Cortez either.)
Well, the conquistador was Hernán Cortés, with an S, not a Z. True, some places and things named Cortez are named after Cortés, but it's a misspelling. So maybe the ship is named after some entirely different person or place.
Oh, cool. That actually works out nicely if the ship is named after someone else! (Sorry, I didn't realize I was spelling the name incorrectly.)
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Old October 27 2013, 06:50 AM   #141
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^I see no problem with Sisko being aware and proud of his cultural heritage and objecting to the glorification of an age when his people were treated as inferior. Even with racism gone, that doesn't mean humanity would be culturally monolithic. If Scotty could be proud of being a Scot and Chekov proud of being Russian, there's no reason why Sisko shouldn't be proud of his African heritage.
Very true. However, his reaction still hints that there could be racism against black people in his own era. For example, it's like me getting upset of seeing recreations of past occurrences while watching films like 'Malcolm X' (awesome film)...'Glory'...or 'Amistad' (a film could have been better, but interesting). If things had greatly changed between now and then, that 'anger' wouldn't be as great. However, I - and some other black acquaintances - were highly upset with the Trayvon Martin occurrence, which, for some African Americans (and probably some non-American black individuals) felt their lives meant nothing in America....or Amerikka. For me, my anger would be great because one would think things have changed in 2013. (Not too mention, certain instances where I did have my rights violated by colleges and officers in previous years). When I see films or television shows with questionable representations or ideas about race that haven't really changed today...that would make me somewhat angry. Hence, Sisko came off as a black man who was dealing with a lot more than just getting upset with something that happened more than 300 years before he was born.

RandyS wrote: View Post
Joel_Kirk wrote: View Post
RandyS wrote: View Post

They couldn't have done that in Sisko's case anyway. I don't remember where I heard (or read) this, but Avery Brooks reportedly inisted that any romance Sisko had be with a black woman, so a black actress was required. Which, presumably, is how Penny Johnson got hired.
You're correct. And, I disagree with Avery Brooks on that....because it goes against the theme of what Star Trek is supposed to be about. Overall, any woman of any race should have been 'required.'

That's just as bad as having his character, Sisko, randomly get upset in a DS9 episode (i.e. 'Badda Boom Badda Bing') about what happened to black individuals in the 1960s. Unless racism is the same in his century, his reaction should have been different.
Why? While I have nothing against the idea of mixed couples, I also think that there's anything wrong with a man or woman preferring to be with somebody of their own race.

What I DO have a problem with is the automatic reaction some people have that anybody who does prefer to have a romance with somebody of their own color is somehow a racist.

That's not always true, you know.
There is nothing wrong with Sisko wanting to be with someone of the same race. It's just the franchise at the time was showing that 'idea' with practically every black character or every character that was visibly portrayed by a black performer.

The Umbrella Corporation wrote: View Post
Did you really think Miles and Keiko relationship was casual? I believe their relationship was one of the few 'realistic' ones in Star Trek. I don't know where all the Keiko hate comes from but to me they seemed committed to each other when they had to put up with a lot of hard separations and still returned to each other in the end. I find it amazing that people say how 'romantic' T'Pol and Trip were but their 'relationship' IMO was very casual.
My point was: American (or 'Amerikkan') mediatends to show the white male/Asian female couple as non-controversial. They - the white male/Asian female couple - are casually put into stories without controversy. However, when it's a black individual (usually black male) opposite a non-black individual...there is cause for controversy or a discussion on race.

The British film 'Love Actually' was really good in showing different people of various races getting together in a casual manner. A reason that type of film wouldn't be made in America (or 'Amerikka.')

The film 'Hitch' with Will Smith had some controversy because Smith was opposite a non-black woman. The reason he was opposite Eva Mendez was to 'play it safe.' Too risky to be opposite a white female because it might upset some viewers, and it - the film - might be thought of as a 'black film' if he was opposite a black woman. Interestingly, in the same film, there was a white man romancing Navia Nguyen, an Asian female, and nothing was said. (Sidenote: Smith would, of course, produce the remake to 'The Karate Kid' which cast his son opposite an Asian female. Even though that relationship was a 'kid's romance,' the only controversy I would hear offline and read online would be due to their age - Jaden's character, Dre, probably wouldn't be interested in girls at his age. On the other hand, race wasn't brought up in the film, and the film would actually be popular and successful despite some story, pacing and acting issues).

Interestingly, even SeaQuest had Commander Ford (black) opposite the cute white female lead (whose name escapes me) but she broke it off for some lame reason towards the end of Season 2. However, around the same time in the same show, Ted Raimi's character (whose name escapes me) happens to hook up with an Asian female character who immediately falls in love with him (a trope that turns up in Pacific Rim and many other films and television shows - the Asian female that automatically falls for the white male lead). That same Asian actress in SeaQuest would also be cast opposite a white male in Babylon 5, yet the lead doctor in Babylon 5 (portrayed by a black actor) would have a relationship - one of the only romantic relationships in the show, I recall - with a black woman.

Avro Arrow wrote: View Post
Joel_Kirk wrote: View Post
Meanwhile, Colm Meaney is opposite Rosalind Chao as Miles and Keiko O'Brien, respectively, and their relationship is treated as a casual relationship, as is usually the case with white men opposite Asian women in American media.
Uh, they were married. How exactly is that a "casual" relationship?
I already answered this above.
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Old October 27 2013, 04:39 PM   #142
TheUsualSuspect
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

I'm wondering if Sisko's objections to the holodeck program in "Badda Bing, Badda Bang" might have come from Avery Brooks, rather than being the way the writers wanted to portray the character. We know that Brooks insisted that Sisko say that he would return from the prophets at some point at the end of the series because he did not want a black father to be seen as abandoning his family, and it's been mentioned in this thread that Brooks wanted Sisko's romantic partners to be portrayed by black actresses. Perhaps he also insisted that Sisko would have objected to the treatment of blacks in the historical background of the 60s holodeck program?

Discussions like this tend to bring out the fact that while Star Trek tries to present a future in which many of the issues that divide the human race today have been dealt with and moved beyond, the shows themselves were produced during a time period when that was not true. Thus, while many of us may feel that sexual preferences will not be an issue in 24th century society, TNG got criticized for not tackling gay and lesbian issues at a time when they were being hotly debated in 20th century society.
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Old October 31 2013, 05:48 AM   #143
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Closed Caption wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
<SNIP>
To me, part of not being Eurocentric is recognizing historical narratives that are used to glorify and/or justify historical political leaders who engaged in acts of cruelty and oppression -- and learning not to perpetuate those narratives.
First of all, great post. I'll just quote it in its entirety, because it's great.

Of course, Star Trek implicitly honors Christopher Columbus, in the names of the shuttlecraft Columbus and the ships named Columbia. The United States honors him in the name of the District of Columbia, just for starters.

In terms of Star Trek references to date, that ship has sailed, no pun intended. I suppose that, going forward, writers might agree not to create new references.

I guess I have the following questions.

Assuming that we, in the real world, move towards a more enlightened society, what do you think should happen? Assuming it lasts indefinitely, do you think that the United States should change the name of Washington, D.C.? The name of the US capital is really doubly bad, isn't it, because it memorializes two men unworthy of such an honor in your book. Should the US be like the USSR, and just rename stuff (cf. Saint Petersburg) to make it more politically palatable? Certainly in the absence of a grass roots movement, that seems somewhat extreme.
Thank you for your kind words. I think you ask a very reasonable question based upon my premises, and I can answer it -- and link it back to Star Trek in the process.

What I would say is this:

We cannot escape our own history, and I don't expect us to. Washington, D.C., for instance, has an entire history and culture associated with it that has nothing to do with George Washington or Christopher Columbus; the word "Washington" is as likely to bring to mind an image of the 1963 March as it is to bring to mind the 18th Century military leader and slave owner. Generations of people have grown up, lived, and died identifying as Washingtonians -- most of them black, I might add. So, no, I don't expect us to re-name, say, Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, though, in the fictional future history of Star Trek, it seems to me that the writers, through the characters they create and the stories they tell, do have a chance to "escape history." That is, they have the chance to depict the rise and evolution of a fundamentally new culture and set of institutions that, because of its radical and science-fictional nature -- the egalitarian, democratic union of dozens of planets and their scores upon scores of distinct cultures -- can build on the best parts of the old while rejecting the worst.

So it seems to me that in depicting the Federation and its cultures and institutions, writers have an opportunity to "escape history" that we don't have in the real world.

So, no, I don't expect, say, Columbus, Ohio, to change its name -- but I sure as heck would hope that the Federation Starfleet wouldn't have a Starship Christopher Columbus. (The Oatmeal makes a strong argument for an alternative to celebrating Columbus, though -- I'm less inclined to object to a U.S.S. Bartolomé de las Casas.)

I'm reminded of the following lines from Space Seed, which seem to establish some 23rd century attitudes, in universe:

KIRK: Name, Khan, as we know him today. (Spock changes the picture) Name, Khan Noonien Singh.
SPOCK: From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world. From Asia through the Middle East.
MCCOY: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.
SCOTT: I must confess, gentlemen. I've always held a sneaking admiration for this one.
KIRK: He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous. They were supermen, in a sense. Stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring.
SPOCK: Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is
KIRK: Mister Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless.
SCOTT: There were no massacres under his rule.
SPOCK: And as little freedom.
MCCOY: No wars until he was attacked.
SPOCK: Gentlemen.
KIRK: Mister Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.
SPOCK: Illogical.
KIRK: Totally. This is the Captain. Put a twenty four hour security on Mister Khan's quarters, effective immediately.
Assuming we profess to be enlightened, is there no way to maintain elements of our cultural heritage, such as the names of certain places, that isn't hypocritical?
I honestly don't know. But even if we find we can't escape history and must keep some elements of our heritage, that doesn't mean we have to transmit those elements to the future cultures that do not yet exist whom our culture will one day help found.
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Last edited by Sci; October 31 2013 at 06:12 AM.
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Old October 31 2013, 10:37 AM   #144
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Thanks, Sci.
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