Was Code of Honor racist?

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by The Overlord, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Was Code of Honor racist?
     
  2. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Hey it's our bi-monthly Code of Honor thread!
     
  3. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know if it was racist, but it was lame.
     
  4. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Why, just because the actors were black?
     
  5. SonicRanger

    SonicRanger Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think that there were unfortunate choices that, when combined, led to the final product being fairly easily perceived as racist.

    I've said before that, if they had bumpy foreheads or wore the clothes from, say, The Hunted, then I think the accusations of racism would have much less footing.
     
  6. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When you can sum up the plot with "white woman kidnapped on planet full of black people" they goofed somewhere. :p
     
  7. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yup. And that goof was committed by Roddenberry who as Executive Producer green lit the whole thing.
     
  8. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    No, its because the Ligonians were presented in "1940s African Tribal Style" in that episode.
     
  9. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Most of the sources I've read seem to place the blame on the director, who decided to cast all the planet's inhabitants as blacks. Apparently his attitude toward those actors was unacceptable, as Roddenberry fired him midway into production and another director finished the shoot.
     
  10. at Quark's

    at Quark's Captain Captain

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    If you want, you can always find something racist I think. I watched 'genesis' a few weeks ago, and it occurred to me that everybody seems to be devolving but Geordi. Perhaps they wanted to convey the message that there was no 'room' for him to devolve into something more primitive ?

    (Not being serious, of course, just trying to make the point that one can try to see too much in an episode). I think I agree with SonicRanger, that it is just the result of some ill-considered choices without the intent to be racist.
     
  11. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    When you consider the time pressure involved with putting out a weekly series, I think it's easy to see how a series of ill-considered decisions can pile up into a big mess. The episode was simply terrible and just about any derogatory adjective you want to put on it fits. That said, there is a difference between being deliberately racist and putting out a product that ended up looking that way. (I hope that makes sense) I would be this one one of those times when somewhere during the shoot someone said "oh shit"...but by then it would be too late.
     
  12. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    btw
    Did she ever see Total Recall and go "Ah!"?
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    We covered this back in August in this thread. The culture in the script is stereotyped, but they're Orientalist stereotypes rather than African ones; the episode explicitly says that the Ligonian culture resembles Ming China. The screenwriters based the Ligonians on samurai culture and intended them to be reptilian, or at least played by actors of multiple ethnicities. But the decision was made to cast them as all-black and use stock African accents.


    I think "most of the sources" are probably just repeating what Wil Wheaton reported as hearsay in his blog analysis of the episode, as discussed in the earlier thread. The story that the director was so racist toward black actors that it got him fired is questionable when you consider that, starting the following year, he went on to direct 18 episodes of In the Heat of the Night, a show with several regular African-American cast members -- apparently including Trek novelist and TrekBBS member Geoff Thorne! Perhaps if Geoff sees this thread, he might offer some insight.
     
  14. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Exactly. Racist? nah. bad taste, bad choices yes.

    As an American Indian, I can certainly complain about that episode with Wesley in season seven. My biggest complaints were the writers and actors saying "We're doing an Indian episode!" Awesome guys when are you doing a Jew episode? (Ferengi aside) and the dialogue "What are you going to do about your Indians Picard!" Oh they arn't colonists?*

    And don't get me started on Chakotay.

    *I do want to say that awareness has grown leaps and bounds since that ep and also that like Code of Honor, it isn't racist, just bad choices and a little ignorance.
     
  15. LOKAI of CHERON

    LOKAI of CHERON Commodore Commodore

    Bad choices and poor judgement aside, I still really enjoy CoH with its decided TOS-like vibe.
     
  16. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There's a definite 'interesting' rawness to season one. Skin of Evil being an example. There's a lot of nice choices in Skin of Evil that never would have been done in further years.
     
  17. TemporalFlux

    TemporalFlux Commodore Commodore

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    As they stated in New Orleans earlier this month, the cast thought it was racist and the most awkward episode of the series to film.
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This has obviously been discussed before, so here's what I wrote about the perceived racism:
    I don't know what the scriptwriters supposedly intended for the Ligonians, just what the shooting script reads. The Teaser for "Code of Honor" says:
    But if this is meant to describe the "race" of the guards, it seems strange. Why specify this for the guards (non-speaking roles) and not the rest of the characters? I suspect the intention of the shooting script was that the Ligonian people be black. It really makes no sense to specify the race in this context otherwise.
     
  19. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So with a bigger budget, it would have been lizards, and then it wouldn't have been racist.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think it would be the other way around. Remember the common tendency, especially in earlier generations, to assume white was the default setting. All too often, a character's race is only specified when it isn't white. (Remember how many people thought Rue from The Hunger Games was white even though she was repeatedly referred to as dark-skinned in the text. And I've seen novel covers that rendered black characters as white. It's a hard preconception for some people to overcome even when it is clearly stated.) So if the guards were called "black" and nobody else was given a racial descriptor, that probably means that only the guards were intended to be black.


    Well, however they appeared, the culture was still written according to various stereotypes of nonwhite cultures. It was largely Orientalist, as I said, but there was also an analogy made to the Native American custom of counting coup. So they were pretty much written as a generic Other. I'm not sure if a stereotypical portrayal of everyone non-Western is much better than a stereotype of one specific ethnic group.