"Plato's Stepchildren:" Kirk-Uhura Rape Scene?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Danger Ace, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    I recently picked upa Star Trek magazine off the newstand wherein they had an article on the "Top 100 Moments in Star Trek." In the number two spot was the inter-racial kiss between Kirk and Uhura from "Plato's Stepchildren", and it was being hailed as an advancement. I could never get behind that notion.

    Why?

    Because it is painfully clear in the episode that neither Kirk nor Uhura were acting of their own free-will. They were forced, and that it is, by every definition, rape! It was, in fact, made worse by imagery of a white-on-black rape (though Kirk was just as much a victim - please no, "you can't rape the willing" snarkiness) especially in those volatile times.

    So again, why is it celebrated? Was it truly a positive depiction? Did it really break a barrier? Do folks get so wrapped in wanting to praise the series that they feel justified in manufacturing and misrepresenting things?
     
  2. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    I think using rape is needlessly inciteful but I have thought in recent years that it was unfortunate that the oft hyped first kiss was under forced coercion.
     
  3. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Inciteful? Well, I cop to that in so far as I couldn't find a politer way of putting it (which is my bad). I confess that it boggles my mind though that "Star Trek" is given any credit for this kiss considering the context of the circumstances.

    And don't people find it in any way insulting that the PR machine perpetuates this? I mean there are literally pages that could be filled in listing legitimate positives and highlights of "Star Trek" since in its inceptions, does it need to hype a forced sexual encounter?

    And if "rape" is too strong, how would others classify it and justify its exaltation?

    Seriously.
     
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    "The first interracial kiss on television" fits the narrative that has been used to sell the Franchise for a while. Of course, it wasn't the first (other posters have covered this previously) and the actual context of the episode, as noted here, isn't nearly as progressive as the claims of the show being ground-breaking suggest.

    But, print the legend.
     
  5. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe you weren't alive yet in the 60s, but it was an advancement because there had not been a scene on television before with a kiss on the lips between a white man and a black woman. There are some sources that dispute this moment, but that's why it was considered ground-breaking. Some stations refused to air it.

    And apologies to Harvey for simultaneously contradicting him in the same minute.
     
  6. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Both Kirk and Uhura were violated by the Platoians, "mind-rape" if you will. It's obvious that neither Kirk, nor Uhura, wished to be controlled in that manner. But describing it by using just the word "rape" is a misuse of the term.

    It is certainly odd that this is still referred to as the "first interracial kiss. Star Trek itself had a previous interracial kiss in Elaan of Troyius (France Nuyen is Cambodian on her father's side).

    :)
     
  7. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    And I don't think Asian males on tv were allowed to kiss white women for an even longer time.
     
  8. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Plato's Stepchildren has a wonderful moment at the very end, but there's a lot of senselessly terrible stuff to be endured before you get there. Barbara Babcock's regal beauty eases the pain little, but come on.

    Did we have to see Kirk and Spock humiliated, then pantsed and humiliated some more (this time with untalented supporting actors, meaning the regulars that Gene Roddenberry was "getting it on" with)? Was there no other way to tell this story?

    If I'm not mistaken Nichelle Nichols and Gene Roddenberry, over the decades, made innumerable out-of-context boasts about that kiss, and the media never called them on it, vis-a-vis the coercion aspect. [Edit: or, as T'Girl mentioned, the infinitely better business between Shatner and France Nuyen.]

    Nichelle was reputed to be an enormously talented jazz singer; she should have hung her hat on that instead of hailing frequencies and a "historic" but deeply cringe-worthy scene where the point was to act like a marionette puppet.
     
  9. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Would you seriously say to someone "Hey, did you ever see that episode of Star Trek where Kirk raped Uhura?", seriously?
     
  10. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    How about "involuntary osculation"?

    We heard Nichelle sing in "Charlie X" and "Conscience of the King." Calling her "enormously talented" as a singer is hyperbolic, I'd say.

    The one episode where Nichelle/Uhura got a chance to be strong, assertive and sexy was "Mirror, Mirror." It's a shame there weren't more eps where she could really strut her stuff, as it were.
     
  11. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not a first-hander on this, but I've read that she dazzled people in her stage shows with extraordinary singing. Thus, what she sang in the two ST episodes is not representative of what she could do with the right songs and a little freedom. In the episodes, Pegasus was hitched to a plow.
     
  12. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Hmmm, now if it had been Shatner and Nimoy engaging in the identical kiss, now that might very well have been a network TV first.

    :)
     
  13. Karl Shoottheglass

    Karl Shoottheglass Commodore Commodore

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    Many see this episode as extremely humilating to the characters. But considering Spock's furious hand reaction in Act Three where he barely suppresses his fury, plus McCoy admitting his own great anger, isn't that exactly the point? And Alexander's, and Uhura's and Chapel's too. I don't see much disparity between the posters and the writer's viewpoints.

    Though Shatner semed to embrace the weirdness a bit too much, hamming up especially in the classic Act Two dance routines. When we saw him only from the back jumping the Tweedledee Bop, I find it hard not to burst out laughing.
     
  14. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

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    "Rape" is most assuredly not the correct word.

    You're correct about the story, but I imagine they simply gave themselves an "out" story-wise to make it more palatable to the masses.

    He kissed her, but he didn't really kiss her.

    Still, in context of the time, it was a brave decision to shoot that scene, so I'll give them a little credit.
     
  15. Shatinator

    Shatinator Commander Red Shirt

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    The core of the question is why is this important. The first inter-racial kiss broadcast on US television.

    The answer, is that it is symbolism for something much greater, that of equality for all despite your origins.

    And perhaps when you search the best word to describe, may I pose this hypothetical. When your great Aunt Betty wants a kiss from her young nephew Johnny and Johnny is compelled to submit; is Aunt Betty "raping" a kiss out of Johnny. ;)
     
  16. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    I was very much alive in the 60s. I am one-half of an interracial couple. I had to deal with a loving but disapproving mothers (on both sides). And just the other night I watched "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" on TCM. I'm bona fide.

    I would submit it was put out there and perpetuated by an unknowing media who, at the time, probably didn't know better and, because it is a point of trivia, no one has ever sought to investigate it - I mean, why would they ... its only TV show. Fans have kept the misinterpretation going because by definition they are fantical in their devotion.

    I am of the type however that believes strongly that to accept credit or accolades where no credit or accolades are due is a form of lie. And since the kiss is nonconsentual and the result of force how can it be applauded or defined as anything other than "rape?"

    I mean, in "Roots" when the plantation owner takes liberties with a "slave" should that be hailed as a positive interracial couple?

    Now, to be clear, I am not saying Kirk was a rapist because he wasn't He was just as much a victim as Uhura.

    The "why," the motivation, the intent is what frames something as being deserving or not of celebration. And it is the personal responsibilty of each of us to be principled in what we do or do not hold up for praise and publicity as to what Star Trek represents.

    Would any of us show this scene to our sons or daughters to illustrate a positive human interaction? Speaking for myself, I wouldn't.
     
  17. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    How is it a misuse given the literal definition of the word?

    Plato's Stepchildren is episode #65 while Elaan of Troyius is episode #68.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  18. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, in a way I have. I have discussed this with fellow fans live and in-person. And I would say, "Kirk and Uhura" were raped - always clear to make that distinction. The negative circumstance of "the kiss" simply disqualify's it from praise - or at least it should.

    Kind of reminds me of those psychology experiments were an authority figure instructs a person to abuse another. They keep upping the ante to measure how far folks will go in order to conform with authority - even to the point of denying personal responsibilty and exceeding the professed limits of good conscience.

    A heinous act is being protected and defended by virtue of what Trek authorities have put forward as a positive. They've done this by blatantly, purposely misrepresenting the event.

    I sincerely cannot help but be fascinited by this phenomena.
     
  19. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree with the overall point if not with the use of certain terms. It is odd, based on the context of the scene, that they've hyped this moment as a "progressive" one for so long.
     
  20. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If you force two people to kiss, this is not rape. It's "forcing two people to kiss." There was no sex involved, it was designed to humiliate. Their minds were not controlled, so it wasn't "mind rape" either. It was a violation of their will, yes, but rape? Nope.

    As for why it broke ground (or why it didn't), that's been covered eloquently by the others.