Khan's Into Darkness Appearance change finally explained

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies: Kelvin Universe' started by BlueMetroid, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    According to this thread Khan's mind was manipulated by Section 31, so why not Scotty? Transwarp beaming is a pretty big status quo breaker.

    However, I tend to think S31 merely took all his prior research and the shuttle from Delta Vega, and that the formula was too complex for non-Vulcans to recite from memory.
     
  2. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So we should assume Scotty could invent the formula himself but not remember it himself? Why?
     
  3. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    And tip them off to Starfleet's game-changing new ability?
     
  4. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Because when he finally perfected it, it would have been post-"Relics", with much more advanced technology and a century of further knowledge at his fingertips. Young Scotty saw it scroll by on a computer screen.
     
  5. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't really see why not ("we can now teleport bombs direct to your homeworld" would be like having interstellar ICBMs, not the kind of thing governments are shy about proclaiming), but you wouldn't necessarily have to. Absent the full information the Klingons would be most likely to assume the bombs came from a ship.
     
  6. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    A fair point. However, I'm not sure even that matters when you re-cast roles, especially in a universe of easy facial reconstruction.
     
  7. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    Scotty from the future invented it. Spock had to instruct this Scotty, and he's not a machine with a perfect memory.

    See above.
     
  8. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sorry, I was forgetting that Spock did transmit his older self's formula to him*. But Scotty didn't just "see it scroll by on a computer screen," he understood it and worked out from what he saw what it was he had been doing wrong. (He says something like "it never occurred to me to think about space as the thing that was moving" or some such, yes?) Which suggests that he grasped the principle and could reproduce it.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    Don't want to do a point by point of everything here (otherwise it will start resembling work too much).

    I'm aware of the overall issue of "whiteswashing" and I am not unsympathetic to attempts to resist it overall. I'm quite happy that no one would even consider, for even a moment, casting someone like Alec Guinness as an Arab prince today. I'm also sympathetic to the desire to see greater ethnic and gender/sex diversity in roles where it is easily done (as referenced by my earlier examples--you may not see a parallel between Perry White and Khan on the basis of backstory, but we can at least agree that casting a black man in the role of Perry White represents a step forward overall, non?).

    In the end, I do not see Khan as a representative example because I do not share your view that his ethnicity was as widely known as you think. Among Trek fans, sure (though I maintain that actual evidence is more tentative than has become "conventional wisdom"). Among the general viewing audience, not so. Far more people have come to the character via the films rather than the episode and the ethnicity there is vague at best. Further, I'd wager a majority of the viewers of STiD have not seen TWOK (as hard as that might be to believe for any long-time Trek fan). For them, the ethnicity is not remotely important. And this is where the Uhura analogy you make falls down--unlike Khan (a character seen onscreen a grand total of twice--save brief flashes of still images in a smattering of episodes), the "main seven" of TOS have been seen by far more people. To change Uhura to a white woman would be a far, far more grievous act.

    Obviously, not everyone views the specific case of Khan as I do regarding the overall issue of "race bending", but just because I do not share concerns about this specific case does not mean I am insensitive to the issue as a whole. My current research fields for work are immersed in the clashes of perception informed by ethnicity, religion, race, language and other issues (I teach modern Middle Eastern history and I am preparing for a major project examining anglo-franco interactions in policing in early 20th century Quebec, which also includes a religious component as part of the social fabric of that period. I'm also living through an ongoing socio-political debate about religious and ethnic symbolism in the public sphere--look up the debate on the proposed Quebec Charter of Values if you're interested.). It's not that I cannot imagine the difficulty of finding positive representations of one's identity in popular culture (as someone who was "too French" when living in Ontario or in the US, and "too English" when living in Quebec, my plight is not nearly as bad as it is for visible minorities, but it is not without its frustrations). It's simply that I do not find this specific instance of Khan a significant problem. YMMV
     
  10. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Big difference between grasping a concept and being able to instantly reproduce something from memory.
     
  11. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I suppose one can claim about "the general audience" whatever one likes, but this doesn't wash with me. Khan's two appearances are two of the most widely iconic known-to-more-than-just-Trekkies moments in the original franchise; in terms of overall profile he most certainly rivalled major villains of other franchises (your Darth Vaders and Magnetos and General Zods) long before NuTrek. In fact that's precisely why NuTrek was trying to cash in on him and why Lindelof thought of him as the franchise's equivalent of the Joker.

    So the supposition that it's only Trekkies who know anything about the character's ethnicity seems spectacularly unlikely. More general knowledge will come from TWOK than Space Seed, but even then the episode's fairly clear identification of him as a Sikh* has had plenty of time to percolate, which is probably why it's not just Trekkies who notice that it's a bit weird for him to be cast as a pasty Brit when his name is "Khan Noonien Singh." (That's why you frequently encounter the question on non-Trekkie general audience-focused sites.)

    (* Which is fairly clear; it's the baroque avoidance of the plain reading that's a far more obscurely fannish endeavour, one I'd never encountered in fact before coming here.)

    ... a fundamental misunderstanding of why racebending is an issue. The whole idea that racebending is less important if the general audience doesn't notice it is not just dubious. It completely misunderstands why racebending is an issue at all.

    One of the chief occasions for racebending is the whitewashing of coloured characters during the transition from a niche audience to a more general one, most probably reflecting the casual assumption still current in much of Hollywood that it is most proper -- and/or more profitable -- for mainstream screen culture to be as white as possible regardless of the changing demographics of the audience. The casual racism underlying that assumption -- the notion that whitewashing is okay if it is assumed to appeal to more people -- is the issue. The issue is about norms and the erasure of POCs from cultural representation as a normal, mainstream practice.

    That's where the term "racebending" comes from: the spectacular example of whitewashing perpetrated on the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise's transition to the big screen and to a general viewing audience. People have a problem with whitewashing because it amounts to announcement that their kind are not welcome in mainstream representations of culture. That is the entire conflict at play.

    You say "just because I do not share concerns about this specific case does not mean I am insensitive to the issue as a whole." And fair enough, I'm not saying you're a complete monster about it or anything remotely close to that, by and large your heart seems to be in the right place.

    But that misunderstanding above there? That's a pretty basic dynamic to not understand if you're claiming to be sensitive to the issue, and it hints pretty strongly that -- whatever your other academic accomplishments, which I would take nothing away from -- there may be some work to do there.

    So, to sum up... I disagree with you. :) Although we do agree about this:

    Yes. The picture isn't all bleak, good things are happening too.

    At any rate I'm sorry about my earlier impatience. It was a useful exercise spelling this out after all, and though I think you're quite wrong, you've been quite reasonable about the whole business and I do appreciate that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2014
  12. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    I have neither the time nor the inclination to scour the web for information on this, but I can state unequivocally that no one I know who did not watch Space Seed but did see TWOK ever mentioned ethnicity to me except for a few who asked if he was supposed to be Latin American (owing to his accent) and one person who asked if he was Jewish like Madeline Kahn. And I disagree about the supposed influence of the TOS episode itself--Khan became famous in TWOK, he wasn't put in TWOK because he was already famous (outside Trek fandom--even then, several other Trek "villains" were more famous than Khan before TWOK among my fellow Trek fans, Kor being chief among them. And I was around in the "before time" ;) ). However, I'm not going to keep going in circles on this point. You think his ethnicity was well known among general viewers--I don't. Not much more to be done here.

    I looked up Avatar: The Last Airbender (only knew it was among the latest in a string of flops by M. Night Shamalayan(sp?)--didn't know anything else about it before today). I agree that that was, to be charitable in the extreme, a poor artistic choice in terms of casting (after perusing the web, nothing I could say in less polite terms would add to the discussion). I can see why people would be upset (it upsets me on a conceptual level, but not having seen any iteration of it, that's as far as it goes for me). I still defend the filmmakers' right to choose the path they did. I do not in any way endorse the outcome of their choices. Still don't think Khan is a problematic case because I still don't think his ethnicity, owing to, in-universe, deliberately constructed nature of his character, is anywhere nearly as important as ethnicity is to The Last Airbender story and characters. What bugs me more (though, admittedly I didn't pay much attention in 1982 when I saw it at the cinema) is the transformation of Khan's crew--far less diversity in 1982 than in 1967, and owing to the uniformity of the 1982 crew's appearance, far more difficult to find a compelling reason for it in-universe (the "disguise" rationale that can easily be applied to Harrison/Khan is not applicable to the crew in 1982). However, 1982 was a different time than today, so in context, the "whitewashing" was relatively less objectionable than it would be today (emphasis on relatively). If there was a similar lack of diversity among 2013's Khan's crew (had they been all shown awakened), then I would have found it a lot more objectionable.

    Anyway, I should get back to the pile of marking that does not seem to want to disappear all by itself. Au revoir.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2014
  13. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Avatar: The Last Airbender in its original form is well worth watching, by the way. You should totes check it out if you've never seen it, especially if you have any affection for either fantasy or martial arts (or both).

    Just as a final aside: the filmmakers' right to choose is not at issue. It's their right to choose whitewashing without facing criticism, disapproval, or outright boycotting that's at issue. Filmmakers have the perfect right to whitewash whatever they want, whenever they want. They absolutely do not have the right to social approval (or commercial approval) of that decision.
     
  14. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    On this point, we are in complete agreement.
     
  15. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Cool beans. :bolian:
     
  16. JD5000

    JD5000 Captain Captain

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    Can we talk about why there aren't any ginger Klingons now? I'm feeling oppressed.
     
  17. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Please tell me you're not about to ask us where your "White Entertainment Television" network is.
     
  18. JD5000

    JD5000 Captain Captain

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    Don't get me started on ginger portrayal in popular media. If you disagree with me, I will steal your soul and add you to countless other freckles.
     
  19. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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  20. JD5000

    JD5000 Captain Captain

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    Ha ha, we're all prejudiced to a point. i.e., it's OK to make fun of me because I'm a redhead, but it's not OK to make fun of black people because they are black. Don't you dare cast a brunette of any race in the story of my life, if you have the misfortune of directing it.

    Point being; race is irrelevant. Sit back and enjoy the story, for Buddha's sake! Jesus! If you criticize the filmmakers for choosing Ben for the role of Khan, you're stereotyping just as much as everything you're trying to criticize (in less words).

    Your soul now resides on my left shoulder.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014