"Code of Honor" Ligonians: Humans or Aliens?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by SonicRanger, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Romulus Prime

    Romulus Prime Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Ugh...and y'know, that concept just never occurred to me. I simply saw it as the alien guy having the hots for a chick w/a gun, and he wanted her. I still see it this way. Personally, I think there are a lot of people who WANT to see racism just so they can claim it because they want to be a victim. And then there's "white guilt" that looks for it also, or thinks the claim might be deserved even when there is little or no basis for it.

    I come from a mixed background, so I have the luxury/curse of seeing viewpoints from both "white" and "non-white" sides, and I've found - more often than not - that the accusation of "racism" or "racist" just ends up cheapening the term when applied so liberally to any little thing people want to be offended by.


    It's just a show, and a member of the main cast getting kidnapped was part of the plot.

    :vulcan:
     
  2. Garrovick

    Garrovick Commander Red Shirt

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    I honestly never felt that this episode was that full of African stereotypes. Yes, all of the Ligonians that we saw in the episode were of African ancestry, and I did see some elements of African culture on the planet, but there were also elements of Oriental culture, and Lutan's kidnapping of Yar was explicitly said to be similar to Native American behavior. Lutan's treatment of his wife may have been pretty cold-blooded, but there wasn't anything "African" about it. I don't know and I don't really care what may or may not have gone on behind the scenes in terms of Russ Mayberry, etc., but I really don't think there's anything in the aired episode that is derogatory towards Africans or anyone else. They never really came across to me as "barbaric", their buildings and technology seemed civilized enough, just different and perhaps not quite as advanced as the Federation's.

    Looking back on it now, it's kind of refreshing to see an alien race without silly-looking forehead ridges or weird ears.
     
  3. Morpheus 02

    Morpheus 02 Commodore Commodore

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    If the the races of actors of those episodes were switched, we might have seen more humanoid races where the actors portraying the race were non-white.

    But as R. Star pointed out...the "perfect people" of the following week's Justice are Aryans, while primitives are portrayed by blacks the previous week. (Add to that craziness...a sex planet where a 15year old Wesley is thinking only about innocent soccer relationships with native girls? Really?)

    Because of that bad casting, we never got to see more humanoid races that were portrayed by actors of a different ethnicity or group. (So Indians for example, might have only had 1 or 2 rles in an episode, rather than everyone but the Trek crew).

    If only they had a race equal to the Federation, like in Darmok..then minorities might have had a better go at it on Trek.

    Instead, the humanoid races seemed to be later portrayed as either all white, or some random minority thrown in the background.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm sorry, but that's not true. The Ligonians were not portrayed as "primitive." They were comparatively less advanced than the 24th-century Federation and were traditionalist in many ways, but they had their own transporter technology, a beam or forcefield technology (the light beams in the combat arena), and medicine that was in some ways beyond Federation medicine, though in some ways not. And they presumably had warp drive, since according to "The First Duty," Picard had wrestled a Ligonian as an Academy cadet. So the Ligonians were at least as technologically advanced as, say, the humans of Jonathan Archer's era. Sure, they liked to cling to their more archaic traditions, but then, so do the Vulcans and Klingons.

    By contrast, the Edo of "Justice" were comparatively primitive. They showed no sign of having high technology or space travel; the only indication they had any technology at all was that they lived in the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. Basically they seemed to be the kind of sci-fi civilization that's just coasting on the accomplishments of its ancestors and has degenerated to a simpler level. After all, it's pretty obvious they were inspired by the Eloi from The Time Machine.


    Err, yes, we did -- Klingons, Vulcans (as in Tuvok), Jem'Hadar, Hirogen, Xindi Primates and Arboreals, the occasional Romulan or Cardassian, and numerous others.

    Unless you're saying that we never saw another human-looking alien race played entirely by a single nonwhite ethnic group, but would that really have been a good idea anyway? Better to do what they actually did, and allow alien races to have ethnic variety just as humans did rather than having an all-white species here, an all-black one there, an all-Asian one there, etc.
     
  5. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    And perhaps they should have cast white actors for this one, interestingly enough, they didn't. Just speaking for myself, none of the depictions of aliens when they were played by whites were in episodes that were this bad.

    And if the world were only built off of intentions. The problem is that wasn't the result, and for people who are in the business of how things look, this was a complete fail they should have been able to avoid if they wanted to.



    And the script went through an approval process, so let's not just blame the writer. I would think you would know better than to do this than most here.

    Well at least I can agree with the misfire part.

    This, I can agree with. On the "assumptions that would've been hard to unlearn" aspect, I think maybe this was one of the reasons I've heard that they brought in some new people for season 2 show running. At least that's what I heard.

    If this is true, my applause to Mr. Roddenberry, then.

    My sentiments exactly. :techman:

    Star Trek has a history of being more than "just a show" on a number of fronts. But anyway, I don't think it's an issue of people wanting to be offended or victimized, it's more of an issue of an unfounded tradition.

    Some snippets from one of the For What It's Worth historical databases:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScaryBlackMan

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ProudWarriorRaceGuy

    I think the issue here was that the Ligonians were portrayed as savage-like, "take by force," conniving people, while the "aliens" of the very next episode were blonde and blue and happily innocent and naive in their own little Utopia. There was a twist to this which came, of course, from some "outside" evil force and the TNG crew got to be their rescuers IIRC... The contrast is where the problem lies, FWIW.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Are you kidding? "Justice?" "Angel One?" There are plenty of episodes worse than this one. If nothing else, it had a fantastic musical score by Fred Steiner, the only TOS composer to score a TNG episode.


    I do not deny for a minute that the result was unfortunate. But if we're to judge, let's judge what actually happened instead of a set of distortions or oversimplifications.



    Huh? Okay, you've got this completely backward. My whole point is that what ended up onscreen is not what the writers intended, at least not where the racial undertones are concerned.

    I'm not trying to oversimplify this and find a single person to "blame." Just the opposite -- I'm trying to evaluate all the contributing factors, because this is a more complicated and nuanced situation than people tend to assume. And one of those factors is that, as she proved on Stargate, Katharyn Powers had a tendency to portray non-Terran or non-Western cultures in this kind of broad and anthropologically awkward fashion. ("Code of Honor" has nothing on SG-1's "Emancipation," which totally misrepresents Mongol culture.)


    Oh, hardly. Most of the first-season staffers left because they were driven away by the bad treatment they received from the clique that surrounded the ailing Roddenberry. For instance, Roddenberry had his lawyer rewriting the scripts, even though the lawyer wasn't a WGA member and wasn't supposed to be doing that. (David Gerrold developed such fierce hatred for the lawyer that practically everything he's written since then contains totally awful characters named after the lawyer, uses his name as an alien curse or the name of some horrible disease, that sort of thing.)


    I'd hardly say they were portrayed as "savage" any more than "primitive." "Savage" means wild and uncontrolled. The Ligonians did engage in behavior like kidnapping and duels, but they were very orderly and formal about it, following a well-established set of cultural traditions. They were very civilized by their own lights. If you read the script for this episode and had no idea what the Ligonians looked like, I doubt you would've ever gotten the impression that they were "savage."

    The problem is, I think, that the audience is lumping all the different stereotypes together into a single ur-stereotype. What's actually onscreen is a mix of different cultural stereotypes, but all anyone remembers is that all the aliens were black, so they project black stereotypes onto it and thus misremember the facts of the episode. I don't question that there were unfortunate stereotypes involved, but like I said, let's get the facts straight so we know what it is we're actually judging.
     
  7. Romulus Prime

    Romulus Prime Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    No, it is just a show, and like anything else, is made more than this by personal opinion. Now, I love most of Star Trek and I'll argue points and circumstances against opinions I oppose, but at the end of the day, I don't lose track of the fact it's anything more than a form of entertainment.

    And yes, people do want to be victims when it's comfortable. I see it all the time AND have been on the receiving end when people assumed I was one ethnicity and not another simply based on my outward appearance.

    IMO, the episode isn't racist one bit, and if anyone is trying to convince me otherwise, it's because they want justification for their feelings. But hey, I guess Star Trek is racist towards whites for casting mostly white people to play Cardassians - some of the most heartless and ruthless villains in Trek history. Same with Romulans and Borg too, right?

    Sorry, but this is much ado about nothing, and perpetuating this myth about the Ligonians - an alien race I always thought were cool - is just another example of how to water down the meaning of the terms "racist" and "racism."

    :rolleyes:
     
  8. Morpheus 02

    Morpheus 02 Commodore Commodore

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    Sorry -- when i mean humanoid...i mean basically "human, with possible exception of a funny forehead". Most of the races you mentioned had serious make up, so that wasn't an issue with me. As far as I know, on screen, the Andorians in Enterprise are the only non-human races that had different skin color. (And interetsing that Shran would call humans "pink skins" -- some of the stuff i liked about Enterprise)

    And regarding Ligonians...they might have mentioned that backstory...but it's not what we saw on screen.

    While we can isolate the points of the story...for many people, you have weigh it against 20 years (at that point) of whiteness in Trek, and then hundreds of years of cultural potrayal of blacks as savages/violent.

    it may not make logical sense...but it hurts a lot of hearts.
    Even though it's not "logical" that audience members interpret...when you only have 1 episode to communicate a civilization , you gotta make a better effort than what we saw.

    Now, it's not racist towards whites, because they are portrayed in a vast variety. So for all the negative races you mentioned, there were also noble and neutral races equally represented. In Trek, they never really showed a human (or human like)_ race being portrayed by mostly non-whites. It's kinda like the debate about the Oscars...whites get Oscars for all kinds of roles...but for African Americans, the major Oscars they've won has been only messed up people or maids...not generals or presidents or anything on that end of the spectrum.
     
  9. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    That's where "Just speaking for myself," comes in. I haven't seen every single episode of Star Trek, so that may be true, but this is the worst episode I have seen, I can tell you that. It may have had a nice musical score, but so did Transformers 2. The musical score neither makes the episode nor the film.


    And what actually happened was really bad if you consider that a large number of people were turned off from it. My guess is that wasn't the intent either. What offends some people might not offend others, but to call that offense "distortion" and "oversimplification" sounds like a distortion and an oversimplification in and of itself.




    But you blamed Ms. Powers for writing a bad script, or at least that's what it looked like. What's that saying? "You can't make a good movie with a bad script, but you can make a bad movie with a good one." If she wrote a bad script, then the episode was doomed to begin with. If she wrote a good script and, through the approval process, it was rewritten into something she never meant for it to be, well then that's different. Do you know if that's what happened?

    And interestingly enough, Emancipation, as bad as it was, it was not nearly as bad as Code of Honor to me or as offensive. And there were different people in charge of that series, which makes me wonder what role that might have played in how I view these episodes both authored by the same person. That's not to say that Stargate didn't have it's issues as well, but that's another topic for another day, imo.


    If a lawyer was rewriting the scripts, then that says something. Do you know if he worked on the one in question? I'm sorry to hear that the staff had such a hard time, but whatever happened, I'm glad that the series got better as the years went on.


    Well, it seems wild and uncontrolled to me to steal a member of another group of people you've never come in contact with and take them as your own. Sure, this has happened historically with certain groups of people in the past, but that doesn't make it any less savage, at least not to me. I think, based on the script, that I would consider that act savage--because I do, in fact, consider that savage behavior.

    Well, if that's what "the audience" is doing, then that means that someone didn't do their job well when they made this episode. It's very presumptuous to assume that the audience is "misremembering" anything. If you don't agree with the conclusions other people made, that's one thing, but to suggest that only people that agree with you came to the "right" one is something else. It's not a matter of right or wrong, but as you liked to mention above, it's a matter of what happened. And what happened was that a lot of viewers were offended. Whoever made this episode failed.



    The pioneering that happened in Star Trek is more than just personal opinion; it is fact. I can list some of those facts if you’d like. You’re right that it is a form of entertainment, but it is also a form of entertainment that did more than just entertain.


    No one is trying to convince you of anything. You had one reaction and opinion of the episode, and other people, including myself, had another. You would be making a good point with the Cardassians, the Romulans, and the Borg if most of the best races and heros in Trek history weren’t also cast using white actors. The trick of trying to create a “made up” issue by only specifying only half of it is always interesting to me. ;)

    IMO, the episode had racially insensitive themes, and if anyone is trying to convince me otherwise, it’s because they want justifications for their feelings. I just felt like maybe I could give a little of the disregarding of anyone that had a different reaction back to you. ;)

    “Myth,” and “much ado about nothing” are also opinions of yours based off of your experience. The fact that you actually think that they were “cool” says enough to me. When anyone can take the offense that a number of people had to the same thing for the same reasons and waive it off as “watering down” racism and what’s racist, that is very sad to me because it says they are not very open to how other people experience things. And it’s when we are not open to how other people experience the world that things like “sexism,” “racism,” “homophobia,” etc. have the greatest likelihood of carrying on. Just my opinion, of course. Take it if you will.
     
  10. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    I completely agree with you, Morpheus 02, and thank you. :)
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If that was the plot summary, it would have been misleading. Yar was kidnapped not because she was white, but rather because she had just put on a brief (and not very impressive) martial arts demonstration, and Lutan thought manipulating Yar into killing his wife would secede, where his previous attempts to kill her using others had failed.

    Yar's "white'ness" had nothing to do with her selection.

    :)
     
  12. Romulus Prime

    Romulus Prime Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    So I should feel the episode is being racist, correct? I mean, if I'm telling you I've never gotten this impression, nor feel that it influences my feeling one way or another regarding Black people, then what's the problem here?

    Oh please, this reminds me of when Samuel L. Jackson's wife was having a shit-fit over the fact her husband wasn't in the center of a magazine covershot, despite the fact he was sharing the page with some of the greatest actors in history. Look up Morgan Freeman - 7 Academy Award nominations + winning a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award, then you have:

    Denzel Washington who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Glory.

    Sidney Poitier's Academy Award for Best Actor in Lilies of the Field.

    Louis Gossett, Jr. who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in An Officer and a Gentleman

    Whoopie Goldberg who won theAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Ghost

    Cuba Gooding, Jr. who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Jerry Maguire

    Jennifer Hudson who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Dreamgirls

    Wow, ok guy.

    :rolleyes:
     
  13. Romulus Prime

    Romulus Prime Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    A form of entertainment becomes more than what it is based on personal opinion. People can share the same or similar opinions which is why we're on this site full of Trekkies. But at the end of the day, Star Trek is a form of entertainment. What it does to people is a byproduct of being a form of entertainment. The accomplishments as a result of Star Trek are non-sequitor to the conversation - Ligonians are aliens on a TV show. They look like humans. The ones we see have a dark skin tone. They have a concept of honor which is different than what a "Western Euro" mindset may have, but then so do other aliens like Klingons and Romulans.

    Go figure.

    What "best races?" You mean the Middle Eastern looking Vulcans? The tanned or dark-skinned Klingons?

    And Heroes like my favorite Captain, Ben Sisko? My 2nd favorite Vulcan, Tuvok? Are you purposely discounting Geordi and Uhura? Hell, what about Nu-Uhura who's bumped McCoy down to #4 in importance? And heaven forbid a black actor or actress gets cast as a cool bad guy like Commander Sirol or Legate Broca - they might get the Wesley Snipes treatment for being cast as Simon Phoenix.

    This could be 100% valid if not for the fact the Ligonians are an alien race with different customs and totally not real. BTW - we are only privy to a small example of these people from one location on their planet. Who says they're all black? The people who assume every Ligonian is, it would seem...

    :vulcan:

    Oh, I did. I liked how Hagon and Yareena not only found a way to get together and basically turned the tables on Lutan, who was obviously corrupt with power - an aspect of having authority and leadership which can happen to just about everyone in real life or in Star Trek no matter what race/species/ethnicity they are.

    But yeah, by all means, feel free to explain further why my opinion "says enough" to you...


    OR it's just like what I said.


    OR it get's perpetuated by people being comfortable as the victim, OR by others who want to have power over people who feel like the victim. May I suggest listening to Larry Elder...


    :bolian:
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  14. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    For the black people and Oscars thing, I think the key word in the point that was being made was “major.” Major roles are not supporting roles.

    Best Actor – Forrest Whittaker in Last King of Scotland (see below)


    Best Actor – Denzel Washington in Training Day (worst character I think he played up to that point)


    Best Actress – Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball (horrible, abusive, and dysfunctional mother)


    The only exception I can think of is Jaime Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray. I don’t hold Forrest’s role against him because I don’t think that’s fair when you’re playing a real person, but the guy was an evil tyrant and completely nuts. Mr. Charles had some messed up periods in his life because of drug use and infidelity, but overall, he seemed like a decent person.



    @Romulus Prime
    I'll be back to answer later. -- Oh wait, I'd better do this now since it looks like you have a statement of mine in your post as if it is your own. I'm going to guess this was an innocent mistake on your part, but fixing the quote in my own post is the only recourse I have at the moment. I like accuracy in posting.
     
  15. Romulus Prime

    Romulus Prime Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, I think perhaps I understand your viewpoint in this regard - supporting characters apparently do not have enough significance with regards to moving a story forward, therefore the awards are insignificant.

    Like I suggested, give Larry Elder a try. G'day to you...
     
  16. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    ^ So, it looks like you're done editing and re-editing your other reply to me. I'll still give you a little time just in case there's anything else you want to change. Will be back later. :)
     
  17. SonicRanger

    SonicRanger Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  18. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well said.
     
  19. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    @R. Star - Thank you. :)

    ----


    And that is exactly why it is a form of entertainment that did more than just entertain. ;)
    The “conversation” was about whether the Ligonians were aliens or human. They were presented as “aliens” that looked very human, and a very specific kind of human at that. Throw in some stereotypes/tv tropes and “Houston, we have a problem,” is where many in the audience ended up by the episode’s end.

    Vulcans don’t look middle eastern to me, but most of them are played by whites. With Klingons, there was more of a mix, but they are a warrior race that loves blood and fighting, so I don’t know if that had something to do with it or not. I will say that I love Klingons and I appreciate the mix there. Worf and Martok are my favorites.

    As to the rest of your quote here, you seem to be overlooking the fact that no one said that no black or non-white heroes existed; what was said is that most are white. Not including TAS (which I never saw, so I can’t speak for), Sisko was 1 out of 5 lead captains, the rest of which were white, just as an example. 80% white, in this case, would mean most, and it would also be consistent with what was said. This is true with the other characters you mentioned as well, but that’s not to say that anything needed to change in their cases, only that the facts are the facts. I am very happy with and for those other characters (you’ll see one of them in my username and signature :)), but that doesn’t negate my point, like you seem to think it does. ;)

    Who says they’re not all black or at least black looking? The episode didn’t show anything else, so all we have to go off of is what we did see. If they wanted to show the Ligonians as a mixing of colors and shades, then they could have done so quite easily, but they didn’t. That was part of the point. I’m beginning to think you just don’t want to see anything but a world (fictional and/or real) where only the most overt racism and racial insensitivities exist and count. It would be nice if that were the case.

    Those basic plot-points weren’t the issue, and I’m sure you already know this by now.

    There’s nothing to explain. Just reread your posts…

    We’ll have to agree to disagree, then.

    You seem to want to make the people who were offended by that episode into people that either 1. want to be victims or 2. people that want to hold people down by making them feel like victims that can’t do anything for themselves. You mention Larry Elder, and I don’t know, but maybe that’s where you’re getting this stuff from? It’s kind of odd how you’re trying to turn people into something they very well might not be so you can then berate them for being that, and all because their reaction wasn’t the same as yours. That’s a fabrication, pure and simple. I’m sorry to have to say it because I’m sorry that it appears to be true.

    I didn’t say about you or anyone that holds your opinion that you want to see blacks as savages because it’s cool and you want black people, or at least darker skinned people, to look “tribal” because of some need you have, regardless of what your race or racial make-up may be. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make things up about me and some of the other people here. While I don’t agree with your conclusions, I am open to your experience.


    No one said that, and I don’t think anyone would. You seem to be moving goal posts here. The example used was that of “major” roles; you didn’t seem to understand that, and so you go on this whole thing about supporting characters. Then, you suggest that I am saying that supporting characters aren’t important to storylines moving forward and whatnot when your error is pointed out. As Spock would say: Fascinating! :vulcan: ;)
    Like Clarence Thomas, I can understand and even agree sometimes with Mr. Elder on some issues, or at least conclusions, but for the purpose of not derailing this thread, I’ll leave that be. I would like to make what might be some helpful suggestions to you too, but unfortunately you seem all too happy and satisfied with your outlook on things. Good day to you as well.
     
  20. SonicRanger

    SonicRanger Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Were the Tamarians...

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Children_of_Tama

    ... racist because African American actors portrayed aliens whose speech is hard for the white characters to understand? Does it have insensitive connotations regarding African American Vernacular English (i.e., "ebonics")?