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Old October 21 2013, 10:53 PM   #16
Christopher
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
I don't feel the just for a fictional justification to whitewash a very real issue.
My intent is anything but "whitewashing." I've done all I could to add more diversity to the Trek universe in my fiction. But we're stuck with the version of reality that's been presented on the show. I'm just trying to figure out how such an unrealistically Eurocentric future could have come to pass -- because I emphatically reject the idea that it's some kind of natural default position.
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Old October 21 2013, 10:57 PM   #17
Nob Akimoto
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Well, perhaps France was wiped out and resettled by British people, explaining why the only Frenchman in Star Trek speaks in an english accent, loves earl grey tea, and is a Shakespeare afficianado.
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Old October 21 2013, 11:01 PM   #18
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

More seriously, I understand that there's a lot of limiting factors that keep people from introducing too much non-Anglo-American culture into the TV series, for example. Audience knowledge would explain why Gorkon and Chang so loved Shakespeare but not Hagakure. We also know that authors and writers back in the day had a lot less access to things like wikipedia that could introduce them to things at the touch of a button.

I do think it's something that's harder to excuse today, though, and TrekLit as a general tendency has done a pretty good job of increasing the diversity. A great example would be a ship named Sugihara for Chiune Sugihara. Yet there's still gaps and spaces, like ship names in general. Do we really need ships named after conquistadors or dictatorial regime shipnames?
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Old October 21 2013, 11:03 PM   #19
iguana_tonante
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Christopher wrote: View Post
iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
I don't feel the just for a fictional justification to whitewash a very real issue.
My intent is anything but "whitewashing." I've done all I could to add more diversity to the Trek universe in my fiction. But we're stuck with the version of reality that's been presented on the show. I'm just trying to figure out how such an unrealistically Eurocentric future could have come to pass -- because I emphatically reject the idea that it's some kind of natural default position.
I didn't mean to imply you support the notion: your work speaks for you. But I do feel that rationalizing it (in the internal narrative of the series) lessens the real-life issue that lies at the bottom of it (i.e. the implicit position taken by the show that western culture is somehow inherently "better" or "more evolved" that any other). I understand you might need the rationalization as a writer and an author, but as a mere spectator, I don't feel the same constraints.
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Old October 22 2013, 04:16 AM   #20
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

To be fair, with regards to 24th Century Mogadishu...

... realistically-speaking, wouldn't 24th Century Moghadishu have its own secondary school system, likely with their own sports teams? Yeah, it may seem a bit "Americanized" if they're as into their secondary school sports teams as they seemed in Losing the Peace, but that could be seen as natural cultural syncretism rather than an assertion of Euro-American cultural dominance.

One way of advancing the idea of cultural syncretism, of course, might be to depict some manner in which everyday 24th Century American or 24th Century European culture has been noticeably influenced by African and Asian cultures. Something on parr with depicting a seemingly Americanized enthusiasm for secondary school sports.
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Old October 22 2013, 04:45 AM   #21
Nob Akimoto
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Sci, I admit that the example in Losing the Peace is probably a little unfair for me to use. I get the impression that syncretism was what Leisner was after than Euro-dominance, and given how important sporting events ARE in a lot of African states (The Africas Cup being one of the premier sporting events in the world, really) I don't think that's necessarily an off description.

I honestly find the propensity for all cultural relics of Earth to be Anglo-American or European at best to be more irritating than anything else. It also doesn't help when people get the details of foreign ship names wrong, like Mack stating Musashi's name comes from the swordsman rather than the fact that the name came from the ancient province name. It's also equally irritating when they use Euro-centric names for starships that really have no more business being on a 24th century ship. Robert E Lee? Zhukov? Tirpitz? Cortez? I mean come the fuck on. I suppose we should be happy there's not a USS Pol Pot or a USS Hideki Tojo, right?
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Old October 22 2013, 05:30 AM   #22
Sci
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Sci, I admit that the example in Losing the Peace is probably a little unfair for me to use. I get the impression that syncretism was what Leisner was after than Euro-dominance, and given how important sporting events ARE in a lot of African states (The Africas Cup being one of the premier sporting events in the world, really) I don't think that's necessarily an off description.
Fair enough then! And I would just like to say that when I read that bit of Losing the Peace, I thought it was a lovely assertion on William Leisner's part that Somalia, a country so often derided as a failed state and depicted as barely civilized in Western media, is going to have a bright, prosperous, and peaceful future.

(I was also happy to see that he headquartered the refugee agency seen in that novel in Ho Chi Minh City.)

I honestly find the propensity for all cultural relics of Earth to be Anglo-American or European at best to be more irritating than anything else. It also doesn't help when people get the details of foreign ship names wrong, like Mack stating Musashi's name comes from the swordsman rather than the fact that the name came from the ancient province name.
I think that's fair. It's a function of the producers of canonical Trek, and the authors of TrekLit, being, of course, the products of Western culture. We are all prisoners of our autobiographies, and Star Trek does reflect its origins as an artifact of Western culture -- just as, say, Gundam reflects its origins as an artifact of Eastern culture. Being more inclusive and multicultural is something that always needs work -- and I think, by the way, that the writers deserve props for characters like Jasminder Choudhury, T'Ryssa Chen, Raina Desai, and Diego Reyes -- but I also think that good-faith attempts at it deserve a little slack, too; it's almost inevitable to get something wrong about a culture you're not a part of when you try to include elements of it.

It's also equally irritating when they use Euro-centric names for starships that really have no more business being on a 24th century ship. Robert E Lee? Zhukov? Tirpitz? Cortez? I mean come the fuck on. I suppose we should be happy there's not a USS Pol Pot or a USS Hideki Tojo, right?
I've never understood why we saw a U.S.S. Cortés, either. For what it's worth, I seem to remember Ronald D. Moore posting on his old AOL board during the run of DSN that the Cortés was named by Hans Beimler, a co-producer and frequent co-writer of Ira Steven Behr's on DSN. Beimler was born in Mexico City to Spanish and American parents. Personally, I like to pretend the Cortés is named after someone in early Federation history rather than the conquistador.

To the best of my knowledge, the only ships we've ever seen named Robert E. Lee have been minor ships in some video games. A tasteless choice, but not something the writers of TrekLit are responsible for.

Tirpitz, I don't get. But it first appeared in a video game, so I almost wonder if an author was looking for Sovereign-class ship names on Memory Beta and used it for that reason. I'd never heard of Tirpitz before tonight.

Zhukov, I don't mind so much. Whatever else he may have done, Zhukov helped defeat Hitler. That ain't nothin'.
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Old October 22 2013, 05:54 AM   #23
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
It also doesn't help when people get the details of foreign ship names wrong, like Mack stating Musashi's name comes from the swordsman rather than the fact that the name came from the ancient province name.
Ahem. Excuse me:

From the Wikipedia article about Miyamoto Musashi:
Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵?, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku,[1] was a Japanese swordsman and rōnin.

Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age.
Furthermore, I said only that the starship in that scene was named in honor of the famous swordsman; I never asserted that the name was original or unique to him, or that it had no other historical precedent. Regardless of whether a prior naval vessel in Earth history had been named for the province, this one was named for the swordsman. That's not a mistake; that's authorial choice. You don't have to like it, but you don't get to call it a mistake.

The next time you decide to call me out for a mistake, try having your facts straight first.
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Old October 22 2013, 06:21 AM   #24
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

It's a show that mainly survive by its ratings amongst an American audience. If the world is too good for colloquial prejudices of Americans, the show will draw poor ratings and come to a stop. Where would you be then?
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Old October 22 2013, 06:53 AM   #25
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Sci wrote: View Post
Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Sci, I admit that the example in Losing the Peace is probably a little unfair for me to use. I get the impression that syncretism was what Leisner was after than Euro-dominance, and given how important sporting events ARE in a lot of African states (The Africas Cup being one of the premier sporting events in the world, really) I don't think that's necessarily an off description.
Fair enough then! And I would just like to say that when I read that bit of Losing the Peace, I thought it was a lovely assertion on William Leisner's part that Somalia, a country so often derided as a failed state and depicted as barely civilized in Western media, is going to have a bright, prosperous, and peaceful future.

(I was also happy to see that he headquartered the refugee agency seen in that novel in Ho Chi Minh City.)
Yeah, this describes how I felt too, especially the bit about Somalia. Also, he retconned Geordi as being, for some intents and purposes, Somali. That's non-trivial, for the same reasons Sci outlined.

Chuck4 wrote: View Post
It's a show that mainly survive by its ratings amongst an American audience. If the world is too good for colloquial prejudices of Americans, the show will draw poor ratings and come to a stop. Where would you be then?
Right, at the end of the day, this is the thing. What we're seeing here is a conflict between the story and the goal of the storytelling. Are TrekLit authors trying to build a realistic universe? Or are they trying to convey particular messages in ways their readers will understand? Because a universe that is not somewhat Eurocentric will be hard for Americans to understand (and I don't say that to defend or excuse Americans for their ignorance).

Obviously, you have to strike a balance. But that balance will leave those two goals in conflict, which is, I think, what we're seeing here.
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Old October 22 2013, 08:26 AM   #26
CaffeineAddict
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

I've always thought that Starfleet was a little too Earth-Centric in general - for example, the ship names - aside from debating where on earth the names originate, weren't there several other founding members of the Federation? Why do we rarely see a Vulcan ship name, or an Andorian or Tellarite?
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Old October 22 2013, 08:47 AM   #27
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

I'm from Oceania (possibly the least represented in all of Star Trek) but wonder what percentage of Star Trek earnings come just from North America.
I think the franchise is playing to its main audience. Right or wrong. Star Trek has IMO become more American-centric as we went from TOS to TNG to .. to ENT along with the occasional Pom. I know there have been aliens as regulars in these series but they are all 'American aliens'.

Star Trek has been traditionally very conservative IMO. I believe thats one of the reasons it hasn't shown a gay character so as not to offend fans in the American heartland.
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Old October 22 2013, 10:48 AM   #28
James Swallow
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
A great example would be a ship named Sugihara for Chiune Sugihara.
And so there is: Link.

As a Brit, It's interesting to me to see Star Trek described as "Eurocentric" when I think that most Europeans would consider it to be "Americentric"; but I guess that's a matter of perspective...

I know it's not the same thing, but I deliberately wrote a Welsh Starfleet officer into Day of the Vipers because that was the only part of the British Isles that hadn't been represented in a Star Trek show.

But as for casting a wider net, it's a fair point. I put an Arab Muslim officer in The Poisoned Chalice, although I never got into specifics about where she's actually from.

Another factor is to consider that human characters that might been see as "eurocentric" may not even come from Earth at all. Say, like Titan's Christine Vale, who was born on Izar. We only ever saw one person from Izar on TV and he had an American accent, so does that automatically mean that Izar was colonized by and therefore only culturally informed by America? It's food for thought...
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Old October 22 2013, 12:01 PM   #29
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

Yes and no - Trek is an American show so that's going to 'inform' the whole premise. It is by and for Americans and, to a slightly lesser extent, countries that are culturally linked to America, which includes much of Europe and also the English speaking world. American cultural dominance (which could be viewed a development of European culture) and specifically Hollywood's influence is pretty pervasive.

With Firefly the culture portrayed does have a mixed Chino-American flavour and is to be applauded for that, but it is really window dressing - the show is still pretty American. After all, how many people will subconsciously embrace a show that is lacking familiar touchstones and seems alien to them ?

Globalisation will eventually break down more barriers, but storytelling will inevitably have a frame of reference that reflects its origins.
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Old October 22 2013, 01:30 PM   #30
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Re: Is Trek Still Too Eurocentric?

ST's key Markets, are in essence the English Speaking countries. And like any product it is marketed to appeal to those countries first and foremost.

But one could possibly make an argument that because it has been English speaking country centric, it has harmed it in trying to break into different markets.
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