Was Code of Honor racist?

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

  1. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Are we so far to call every stereotypical portrayal of a culture racist?

    Every alien culture seen in Trek is a stereotype of sorts, simply because nothing else is possible within the narrow confines of a TV episode. Klingons are warriors with a strong honor codex, with exceptions. Romulans are spies and traitors, with exceptions. Ferengi are capitalists, with exceptions. Bajorans are fundamentally religious, with exceptions. So essentially, all those cultures are caricatures with ONE specific trait.

    You can interpret racial and ethnical stereotypes into any of these fictional cultures if you want. TNG Klingons seem to be modelled after the Japanese samurai. TOS Klingons and Romulans after the Soviets. Ferengi are Jews. Bajorans are Jews as well, and also (ironically) Palestinian. Cardassians are Nazis. And so forth.
     
  2. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    I thought it was so dumb that "Code of Honor" had all black people while "Justice" had all pretty white people in their episodes. It didn't help that both episodes sucked so much.
     
  3. Kelthaz

    Kelthaz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Of course it's racist. I mean, just look at it. This really isn't open to interpretation. At best you could say that the episode is unintentionally racist, but it's still a racist episode that never should have been created.
     
  4. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Really all they had to do was change the wardrobe to something less primitive or tribal looking, drop the uniform heavy African accents and maybe throw in a few people of different ethnicities among them and the race thing wouldn't have been an issue.

    The episode still wouldn't have been very good in my opinion, but that's another matter entirely. I don't think the race thing was intentional, but if an episode like that aired today the show would've been run off the air. I can't believe no one spoke up and pointed out the glaringly obvious.
     
  5. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    At times I still don't understood how TNG made it past its first season. There were so many BAD episodes.

    I guess Trek fans were just so hungry for new Trek after decades of TOS reruns that they would have watched anything. I'm glad they stuck around though.
     
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Racist? No. Racism adjacent? Perhaps. Really, really terrible, in the running for worst Star Trek episode of all time? Absolutely.

    @Dream

    TNG S1 may have been terrible, but look at it this way. Can you really say it was worse than 75% of network TV shows? If Whitney can get renewed for a second season, I think Star Trek: TNG can. It did get stronger toward the end of the season.

    It's kind of ironic that the third episode of Stargate was exactly the same way. Tribal Mongolians kidnap Carter. Only they end up trading for her. And then at the end Carter has to end up fighting the tribal leader, proving she is a strong, blonde, short haired, badass female.

    Both the third episode of their series. Both in the running for worst in series. Both with very similar plots.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually the wardrobe didn't look very "tribal," and not even remotely primitive. It was more a mix of Mideast and Asian influences -- turbans, baggy pants, and loose wrapped garments -- done in shiny, metallic materials to give it a "futuristic" gloss. Granted, some of the background extras had costumes that were probably pulled off the "African" rack in Paramount's wardrobe department, but Lutan's outfit wouldn't have looked out of place on Yul Brynner in The King and I, and Hagon's outfit looked like something you'd see on a harem guard in an Arabian Nights movie. Yareena mainly wore elegant, colorful dresses that would've been just as likely to show up on any other woman Bill Theiss designed for (though a lot less skimpy than the female outfits he's famous for).
     
  8. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    The problem is that TNG was suppose to be a completely new show and not something that was aping TOS. TNG got better once it moved on to do its own thing and developed its own style.

    What's wrong with Chakotay besides the fact that he was so boring?
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Except originally it wasn't completely new. The show was created by Roddenberry, David Gerrold, D.C. Fontana, and Bob Justman. Initially it was a reunion of some of the most important creators behind the original show, and naturally they did things much as they'd done before. It's not "aping" if it's the same people continuing to do things according to their own characteristic style. Heck, that was the whole appeal of TNG to those of us hearing about its creation and development back in '86-'87 -- the prospect of getting new Trek from the same people who'd been so important to the old Trek.

    Just imagine if Roddenberry had still been in his prime, if his handlers hadn't driven the other co-developers away -- or if he'd had the sense to step back and let Justman, Fontana, and Gerrold run the show. What we got would've been very different, but it could've been a genuinely good show in the same vein as TOS. Although one can question whether a show like that would've really succeeded in the '80s and '90s.


    Perhaps he's referring to the fact that Chakotay was a generic fictional Indian rather than being based on any authentic culture. Although the reason they did that was to avoid the risk of misrepresenting or offending a real Native American culture.
     
  10. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    The fact that his personality seemed to be Native American cliches?
     
  11. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    But Roddenberry was very reluctant to put in too much TOS into TNG. Vulcans were pretty much ignored, the Chief Engineer position wasn't suppose to be important, the Security Chef position was given to a main cast member, and any hints to TOS characters were discouraged with the exception of the Naked Now Kirk reference.

    I just wanted them to do a sequel to TOS not do TOS all over again with different characters. TOS was great for the 60s, but TNG need to develop its own identity.

    That never bothered me. It wasn't like they hit us over the head over the fact that Chakotay was a generic Indian every episode.

    They really could have done a better job with Janeway though. They made her a little too perfect for me, probably wanting to avoid offending anyone since she was the first female Trek Captain with her own series.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But I'm not talking about specifics like that. I'm talking about the same creators applying their recognizable style and approach to new ideas. There's bound to be some similarity there, just as there are similarities between Buffy and Firefly or between The West Wing and The Newsroom. Creators can evolve and take on new challenges and new ideas, yet still have a consistent voice and employ certain recurring patterns or themes.

    Heck, if Gerrold had had free rein with TNG, it might've been nearly as much a deconstruction of TOS as Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica was a deconstruction of TNG and Voyager. The last chapter of Gerrold's The World of Star Trek was all about what TOS failed to do and how he thought it could be improved on, and a lot of those ideas ended up in the TNG series bible (notably leaving the captain behind on the ship while others went into danger). So there's no question it would've been fresh and different. But with Justman and Fontana working on it too, there would still have been some stylistic continuity with the original. And we might've heard musical contributions from more TOS composers than just Fred Steiner, since Justman was the one who'd hired the composers for TOS and brought Steiner back for "Code of Honor." (Steiner's score is a large part of what gives the episode such a TOS flavor.)
     
  13. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yup. That's pretty much it. Typical, "ooooh you're Indian, tell me all about your spirituality!"

    But the above comment about not hitting us over the head every ep is true also I suppose. Could have been worse.
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    The similar story elements are not so surprising -- Katharyn Powers co-wrote "Code of Honor" and wrote "Emancipation."

    They are both abysmal episodes often considered the nadir of each respective series, too. Not a great line on her resume.
     
  15. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How?

    Sorry, bad stereotype joke. Couldn't resist. :p
     
  16. SonicRanger

    SonicRanger Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Actually, the Bluray conversion shows how skimpy her outfits were. One top is totally sheer except for the silver fabric pattern:

    http://tng.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x04/codeofhonor_hd_211.jpg

    Theiss still had it.
     
  17. Triskelion

    Triskelion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was racist. It portrayed blondes in a bad light.

    :)
     
  18. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Don't you mean it portrayed Tasha Yar in a bad light?:lol:
     
  19. Triskelion

    Triskelion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Hahahaa - I stand corrected! :rommie:
     
  20. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    There are so many folks here who will defend anything based on things that don't even exist. I posted a while ago that this episode was racist, and I had fans coming in saying "Why would you assume the entire planet's population is black?". To which I said "because.... we didn't see one single non-black native on this planet?"

    Yeah. You 'might' be right that there may be a non-black native on the planet, but here's the problem. This isn't about the episode dealing with racism, this is about the episode itself being made with racist intentions. Despite portions of the script detailing that the inhabitants are not all black, the director specifically wanted ALL OF THE PLANET'S INHABITANTS to be portrayed by black people. To add even more outlandishness to this episode, it also features this 'technologically advanced humanoid race' as primitives who solve conflicts through open death matches, customs that allow for kidnapping and stereotypical african accents.

    I find Gene's decision to fire the director of this episode a bit ironic because even he wasn't immune to mis-portraying his own views. For someone who preached and insisted that mankind be portrayed in a super perfect positive light, he sure dropped the ball when a woman possessed Kirk utters this line "It is better to be dead than to live alone in the body of a woman."
     

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