Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by Cara007, Nov 1, 2013.
You're naive if you believe Khan ruled a quarter of the planet with no massacres.
But that's not the argument. The argument is that Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof believe both Khans' purposes was to kill anything and anyone they deemed inferior. Genocide. That's not the case with the original Khan because, well, he doesn't have any desire to really kill anyone in Space Seed. You bring up his threat of killing everyone in the chamber, but you also left out his deal sweetener.
Khan: If anyone of you joins me, ANYONE, I'll let him live. *no one answers* It's so useless!
Before it was Mr. Spock who had to join Khan in order to spare Kirk's life. Again, where is this "I will kill all of you for being inferior to me!" attitude that you think the original depiction of Khan has?
The whole fucking briefing room exchange makes it clear that they're only alive cause he needs their training. If they don't join him, they're fucked--training or not. He's not got clean hands. He's perfectly cool with killing people and making it clear "I'm better than you cause I"m superior".
You think Earth banned eugenics cause Khan and his people where happy fun guys?
The question can sometimes be complicated, but I don't disagree with you that asking for brownface on TWOK Khan is taking fidelity to the original a step too far.
OTOH it's something of a distraction from the general and harder-to-dismiss point that Khan was conceived as a kind of Exotic Potentate type, and that Montalban in either version he played sold that concept impeccably in both his person and his performance. That exoticism -- the sense of Khan's having been an autocratic "foreign" Prince with a pronounced aristocratic view of the world -- was genuinely a major part of the character's charisma, what made him compelling and memorable. In Space Seed he's the blind arrogance and ruthlessness of a Ruler Caste made flesh; and if in TWOK he's something of an Ahab analogue, he's also a manifestation of affronted Princely pride.
Little of that survives in nuKhan, and I'd have to part company with Timewalker in thinking that this isn't really a question of the actor chosen -- Cumberbatch is no less capable than Montalban -- so much as in the writing of the part. To some extent I think it's understandable that STiD chose to play up the eugenical superman aspect of things and downplay the exoticism aspect, which in itself could bring up troubling questions about Orientalism. But if one is going to jettison the factors that made Khan distinct as a character... it then becomes harder to understand why the character left needed to be Khan at all.
Why not have him be a different remnant of the Eugenics Wars, or something else entirely? It's not like it was necessary to Admiral Marcus' plot to have Khan as his weapons designer, or like it would be out of place for the Federation to have its own homegrown geniuses and/or badass super-agents. Did the movie or the reboot franchise as a whole really gain that much from putting itself in the same frame as TWOK? I enjoyed Quinto doing the Khan yell as much as the next bloke, but how essential a moment was that really? Or the literally inverted death scene from TWOK?
I don't feel as strongly about nuKhan as some do, but I do get what annoys people about him. And I would have loved to see Cumberbatch get to play his own villain.
If you're implying that he and his followers had to kill in order to seize power, that's certainly well within the realm of possibilities. But that was only to seize power. Once he had that power, there was no more need for massacring. If he did commit acts of mass murder, why didn't those who overthrew him make that point in the history books? Scotty himself had a sneaking admiration specifically for Khan. You think a man who massacred whole groups of people would earn the respect of Kirk and other members of the crew? I don't believe so. Besides, Khan wasn't the only superman to rule over parts of Earth.
SPOCK: In 1993, a group of these young supermen did seize power simultaneously in over forty nations.
KIRK: Well, they were hardly supermen. They were aggressive, arrogant. They began to battle among themselves.
When you take that exchange into account, you could conclude that Khan wasn't the merciless superman who ruled through massacres. Khan's ambition, which is stated again and again in this episode is to rule, not commit acts of genocide because he doesn't like having "inferior" beings around.
Tone the language down please.
Also, if he doesn't need crew who won't help him, why didn't he kill Mr. Kyle in the transporter room? Marla obviously has the know how to work the transporter, so why does Khan only incapacitate him?
I'm not saying that he does have clean hands. In fact, I would wager that there's hardly a leader of a nation who hasn't given a command that literally decided who lives and who dies. I know every president I've endured has given the command to kill people for the sake of freedom and peace, but we still follow them anyways.
He may be cool about killing people, BUT NOT because he thinks he's superior. He wants to rule more than he wants to kill, and what good is an empire if all you do is kill those who aren't as superior as you are?
So, we should kill Bashir?
Yet TNG slots him into the same category as Hitler--and what was Hitler known for again? Or another Khan arising was so fear that 300 years later, Starfleet still is scared shitless of happening again:
Now you could say that Marcus overstated what Khan did. That while a war-criminal, that what he did was more or less on par with some of the worse of the World Wars minus the concentration camps. That he restricted his war to his own people. Either way, in both realities--minus Kirk's hero worship (if I was Spock, I'd never let him live that down after TWOK)--Khan was bad enough to install fear global government and interstellar navy centuries later. You don't get that rep for cause you were the nice tyrant.
Uh, fuck and no.
In all fairness, being arrogant or ruthless or even out-and-out racist is not necessarily the same thing as being "genocidal."
Khan in Space Seed is most certainly an egotist and an autocrat and a ruthless, potentially murderous bastard. But he also has a genuine and obvious desire to satisfy his ego through the rule over and adulation of lesser beings, hence his relationship with McGivers. He's not a psychopath who's restrained from murdering everyone around him only by the absolute necessity of keeping people alive; he is a Prince who believes to the bones in his own rhetoric, his own superiority, and his frustration over the seeming determination of the crew to defy him to the death seems genuine. When we're told that history records him as having refrained from massacres, it's a believable fit with the character we see in the episode (however evil he may otherwise be).
Of course, it's not possible to definitively acquit TOS Khan of genocide or mass-murder either... although I always did have the sense that Khan is meant to be a character genuinely gifted enough at domination and manipulation to usually find other, less lethal ways.
[Uh, I feel like I'm repeating a recent post here... hopefully not from earlier in this thread...]
Even before STID, Berman Era Trek had turned Khan into a Dictator on par with Hitler, a man so feared that Earth and Starfleet was terrified of there ever being another one like him. That's not the work of a skilled diplomat, that's someone that was racking and stacking bodies.
How about you just not assume things about my personal beliefs and character just because I don't think a particular actor is suited to a particular role?
It seems as though you're blaming me for a decision made by a TV production team when I was 4 years old and hadn't ever heard of Star Trek at the time. Even at the time when I first saw Space Seed, I didn't know what Ricardo Montalban's RL complexion was - so you will have to accept that I accepted the Original Khan skin tone as normal for him.
Also, people on this forum have been throwing it in my face for a very long time now that the Abramsverse is a reboot of the TV SERIES. Not the movies. Therefore, if they're going to use Khan, he should damn well resemble the TV Khan.
One more thing: Regarding the use of makeup to present caucasian actors as other ethnicities... did the casting director actually audition any Indian actors for Khan? I don't know if he did or didn't. But the final decision was made to cast Ricardo Montalban, and you for damn sure can't blame that on me.
Also, regarding makeup: I used to work in the local theatre company, mostly on the musicals. Back in the '80s, we did a production of "The King and I" (adapted from the book Anna and the King of Siam). As I recall, there weren't a hell of a lot of Asian actors in that production. The reason wasn't some racist notion that "Asian people in an Asian-themed play? Don't be stupid!". The reason was that there weren't a lot of Asian people who auditioned who could actually sing, dance, act, and commit to several months' worth of rehearsals and performances. So the caucasian people playing Asian characters were made up to look as Asian as possible. That involved a lot of "browning" some of them, since they were normally fair-skinned and blond. There were some Asian actors/actresses among the cast, and the part of the King was played by a man from India. Would it have been more authentic to have Asian actors in all the Asian roles for this play? Yep. But there simply weren't enough available, so the producer and director went with the people they did have. And I'm assuming the Star Trek production people had a similar situation for "Space Seed."
Well it was called the Eugenics Wars, and it's unmistakable that Khan and his fellow tyrants didn't play nicely together and caused a lot of death in the process. Obviously nobody would want the return of that. The TOS assessment of Khan as a ruler is obviously not referring to the whole aspect of the world being at war but to his characteristics as a potentate within his own borders.
If the idea of departing from that was invented by some iteration of Berman Era Trek, again I don't think that's necessarily a huge endorsement of it (quintuply not, for my taste, if the Berman Era Trek you have in mind is Enterprise, with apologies to any fans of such here present)... though TBH I mostly remember the never-seen "Li Kuan" being pressed into service as Obligatory Future Dictator on lists involving Hitler.
TOS said "Under his rule". Which tells his nothing of the nature of his rise to power.
Sounds like a retcon if I ever heard one. If Starfleet was so terrified of him and any of his kind coming back, why doesn't Kirk seem any at all worried about it? Why leave someone on a planet where they could potentially rise and conquer the galaxy? Because that wasn't the intent of his character, nor the story. You think the writers of Space Seed thought that this exchange in the end was just there as a joke?
Spock: It would be interesting, Captain, to return to that world in a hundred years and to learn what crop has sprung from the seed you planted today.
Kirk: Yes, Mister Spock, it would indeed.
I mean, why would a group of enlightened humans say this about a man who was so merciless that he was, as you say, racking and stacking bodies? NO ONE SAYS THIS!
McCoy: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.
Scotty: 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.
Scotty: There were no massacres under his rule.
Spock: As very little freedom.
McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.
Kirk: Mr. Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.
Yeah, I'm sure someone who massacred whole groups of people just because he wanted to would totally draw admiration from our enlightened heroes like Kirk, Scotty and McCoy. After all, the only thing Spock has against Khan is that his rule allowed for very little freedom. If the stuff involving massacres and genocide was a legitimate part of his history, why doesn't anyone bring any of this up?
Scotty: There were no massacres under his rule.
Spock: There were. He killed so many people that he's been compared to Hitler.
McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.
Spock: He wanted to wage a bloody genocidal war against anyone he deemed inferior.
Kirk: We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.
Spock: What is there to admire in genocide, Captain?
Khan: On Earth, 200 years ago, I was a prince with power over millions!
Chekov: Not true! You wanted to kill anyone you deemed less than superior!
Oh, sure. Let's not take the writers or creators of Khan at their word that Khan isn't a psychopath. Let's take it from Rick Berman and Brannon Bragga, the two individuals who not only helped solidify everything that most people hate about Star Trek, but also took part in killing both the TV and film franchises before JJ took over.
Not even Berman turned Khan into a mass murderer. At least not in DS9.
And I don't get why people assume that a dictator has to be a mass murderer as well. Remove the concentration camps, and Hitler would have still been a dictator, and Germans would have still had only very little freedom.
It was also stated that he wasn't the only one to rise to power.
Spock: In 1993, a group of these young supermen did seize power simultaneously in over forty nations.
McCoy: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.
Kirk: He was the best of the tyrants, and the most dangerous.
Maybe all those deaths weren't caused by Khan, but the other tyrants.
Spock also says that records of the time were "fragmentary". Which means they would likely have an incomplete picture of Khan's rule.
Yeppers...no, no, wait, we know Khan was all gumdrops and lollipops. He was a cuddly dictator.
Eugenics WAR. So it's very likely than in his rise to the top, he racked up the bodycount--Augment and normal alike. TOS shows us that he had little use for people that don't join his cause. Or you do you think the other Augments just scuffed their feet and said "well shoot Mr. Khan, when you put it that way...".
Come on, man. You aren't going to refute Jeyl's point by caricaturing it. And I don't think you genuinely need telling that there's a pretty large distance between "Hitlerite madman" and "misunderstood saint."
(It's already established in TOS that Khan and the other tyrants killed in war... and also that Kirk and McCoy regard him as less bad than the others for fighting only when attacked. As has been pointed out, it is genuinely pretty hard to get around stuff like that if you want to argue that Space Seed was in fact portraying him as Hitlerite Evil.)
* For comedic potential, though, I have to admit that the "cuddly dictator" notion does bring a rich trove of Khan parodies to mind. What if the shameful secrets of Khan's rule were Cuddly Secrets? His passion for fancy pastries, his love for unicorns and Pokemon, his top-secret Kitten Defense Fund... the Cuddly Khan Comic practically writes itself.
Yep. When Khan had little use for the remaining three quarters of world who would not accept his rule, he.... got attacked by them four years later.
I'm not trying to argue that Khan was a saint. He was a very ambitious and dangerous individual. All I'm saying is that he was more than just a bad guy who wanted to kill people. The part of him that wanted to rule, build an empire, win a world. The STID writing trio didn't seem to think so. Being the most recognized villain in Star Trek, they pretty much decided to solidify that he was just a bad guy who just wants to kill people. They act it out and even spell it out.
When I look at Space Seed, I don't see that. Heck, even when I look at TWOK, his eventual demise is still tragic in and of itself because we'll never know what kind of a world Khan would have helped build. And since these movies are now action movies, I don't think the team have any desire to pursue stories like that. And if you like your direction, that's fine. Just don't tell me that NuKhan is exactly the same as the original. Not in terms of race, ethnic groups or skin color, but character.
There's a parody of Space Seed in one of the Best of Trek books called "Requiem for a Hack".
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