Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Hyfen_Underskor, Jan 8, 2013.
I think you're forgetting episodes like "The Devil in the Dark" there.
I meant in this in a general sense.
I don't think inclusion has ever really been that much of a problem. Hollywood movies have always included ethnic minorities.
I'm not going to refer to your personal writings, but whatever form of Star Trek media has taken the place of the now defunct TV series format (movies, books, comics, etc.).
Why not a black male starship commander, with a white female love interest? Why not an Asian male starship commander, with a white (or Asian female) love interest? I admit, I don't read Star Trek literature, but I would gladly pick up a copy of an ST book or comic if anyone tries to break the common mold. Why not the all-American work in the engine room, and have the one with the thick Scottish or Russian accent command the ship?
Ever notice how humorous it appears when we see a futuristic movie from the 50's that's supposed to take place in the 70's, and everyone is still wearing a crew cut or a grease job? "If it's the 70's, where are the bell-bottoms"? Or a futuristic movie made in the 70's that's supposed to take place in the 90's or the new millenium, and then it becomes "what's with the bell-bottoms"? Well if ST represents the future, 24th century or what have you, why not break some 2003 stereotypes along with it?
For your information, the Trek novelists have taken diversity a lot farther than the shows ever did -- for instance, there have been dozens of LGBT characters in Trek Lit, and crews with more alien and nonhumanoid members. And the current TNG command crew in the novels is more than half female. So interracial romances are a snap. For us, that kind of diversity is "the common mold." Let's see, the lead character of the first few Vanguard novels was a Latino man with an Indian lover (South Asian, that is). Those novels also featured a USS Endeavour whose captain was a man named Zhao Sheng and whose first officer, later captain, was a woman named Atish Khatami, as well as the Lovell, an SCE ship captained by Daniel Okagawa. In the Titan novel series, the science officer Jaza Najem, who was a "black" Bajoran, was briefly involved with first officer Christine Vale, who's Caucasian. In my own post-TMP fiction, I've had Sulu get romantically involved with Chief DiFalco, the relief helmswoman from TMP, who's Italian. I also have a mixed-race lesbian couple in The Buried Age. In the novels, Geordi LaForge has recently been involved with a woman named Tamala Harstad, a fair-skinned woman who resembled a dark-haired Tasha Yar (and let's not forget there was a hint of La Forge-Yar flirtation in "The Naked Now"), though there was one novel, Indistinguishable from Magic, wherein he briefly became a captain and got romantically involved with Leah Brahms. And this is very far from an exhaustive list; it's just what I can remember at the moment.
In the Corps of Engineers series, the ship's captain is an elderly Jewish man. His first officer and SCE team leader is Sonya Gomez from TNG. The ship's own chief engineer for most of the series' run is a woman named Nancy Conlon, who later went on to become Voyager's chief engineer in that series' novels. In Vanguard, the captain of the Sagittarius is Adelard Nassir (a Deltan whom the series' creator modeled on Ben Kingsley) and the chief engineer is Mike Ilucci (whom the creator modeled on Jack Black).
Which is exactly what I and my Trek-Lit colleagues have been doing for many years. We're way, way ahead of you.
The first interracial same-sex kiss was between Dan Ackroyd and Garret Morris, although Morris was dressed as a woman at the time.
We'll we had a French Captain (albeit with a British accent) command the Enterprise in TNG. Riker was about the only American Character in the main cast. And Sisko was black and a Starbase/starship Commander. If you go further into fan creations such as a PBEM's you see a wide diversity of Characters.
I'm not too surprised that the novels have taken things further (quite a bit further actually....night and day almost), but I would have to say from your description that the writers have certainly (boldly) gone where no TV/Movie execs want to go.
All I can say to the literature format of the ST/Sci-Fi genre is live long and prosper (my middle and ring finger are separated as I speak).
Now if this could be put into movie/TV format, that would be a sight (audio-visual) to see.
Why in the world would you think that? We've already had a canonical Russian admiral, Alynna Nechayev. Presumably she was a captain at some point. And there was a Captain Krasnovsky on the hearing board in TOS: "Court-martial." There have also been quite a few Starfleet vessels with Russian names, like the Potemkin, Tsiolkovsky, Prokoviev, and two shuttles named Tereshkova, not to mention an entire Korolev class and Soyuz class.
In the Borg computer game there's a Captain Nikolai Andropov. In Trek Lit, there are numerous Russian captains. One I created (or based on a barely-glimpsed extra) is Claudia Alisov of the USS Everett in my DTI novels. Memory Beta's list of Starfleet captains includes quite a few other Russian names along with a wide mix of other ethnicities and nationalities.
How about a Russian captain with a Scottish accent?
I personally have a hard time believing that a Russian main character captain will take center stage of any possible new ST TV series any time soon. A Russian version of Captain Kirk/Picard is just not something that will work I don't think. I don't think it would go over well..at least not yet. Ensign Chekov, yes. Captain Chekov, no.
Being half ethnic Russian myself, it's nice to see Russian characters with admirable roles in the various media formats.. Yes, we have fortunately moved further away from the Boris Badenov theme.
As far as your contributions, keep up the good work comrade!
I don't see why. The Cold War ended a generation ago.
Sure, odds are that any lead character in an American show will be American, but I don't see why any show today would have a specific prejudice against Russians. Particularly a Star Trek series. Russia was a pioneering power in space exploration and has been honored for that many times in Trek.
Or at times maybe British....
I think the problem is not really within the Star Trek ranks, but how it would be embraced when transmitted out to the American populace.
I think ST in general has been very open. Wasn't the inclusion of Chekov due to Russian Americans voicing their dissatisfaction to a lack of positive Russian portrayals and presence?
Roddenberry trying to cash in on the Monkees craze and a newspaper report in Pravda that never existed.
Again, I have no idea why you'd think that about this generation of TV viewers. A quarter-century ago, maybe, but today? Like I said, the Cold War ended quite a while ago.
No. The original story was that it was in response to a Pravda article complaining that ST was ignoring the Russian contribution to space exploration. Walter Koenig has said that no such article existed, and that Roddenberry simply decided on his own initiative to pay tribute to Russia's pioneering role in spaceflight.
And it's hardly as if television was devoid of positive Russian portrayals even in the 1960s. The character Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum) of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a heroic Soviet agent working alongside American agent Napoleon Solo in an international spy agency, was hugely popular, a major screen idol and sex symbol in '60s TV. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Roddenberry's real motivation in making Chekov Russian was a desire to emulate Kuryakin's popularity. Reportedly the character had such a legion of screaming female fans that the press dubbed him "the fifth Beatle," and Chekov was clearly meant to tap into the popularity of the Beatles and Davy Jones of the Monkees. So Roddenberry may simply have been drawing on some of the major sex-symbol types of the day in hopes of boosting the show's popularity with female viewers (although it's odd that he'd think it necessary, given that Spock was already immensely popular with female fans). His claims about paying tribute to Russia's contributions in space, and about the Pravda article, may just have been his usual smoke-blowing.
I'm not dogmatic about it, but I don't think stereotypes die that quickly due to changes in politics. Whether or not a Russian star ship commander (main character) would be accepted by the American public may depend on the viewers. Devout star trek fans may very well far outnumber the more backward thinking casual viewer who still think Russia as one of the bad guys. By the latter, I'm referring to those who would watch Star Trek as they would Monster Trucks, and action movies like the typical Rambo flicks. Those in it (the viewing of Star Trek) for the laser beam destruction of alien ships...viewers who love to watch things being blown up as opposed to storyline (and would never go anywhere near a Star Trek convention).
A perfect case study of ethnic sentiment in America has been professional wrestling. The heroes were often racial minorities meant to cater to racial minorities. In the 70's, they still had Nazi German wrestlers, even though WWII was long over with. And even though Japanese Americans are technically part of a racial minority, they were depicted as evil Hirohito clones, throwing salt in the fan favorite wrestler's eyes.
However, David McCallum is not Russian. He merely played a Russian. There was never any problem with the character Charlie Chan that I'm aware of, but in the movies he was always played by a White actor.
And if there had been a problem with the Illya character with the American public, they may have played on the Ukrainian upbringing part of the storyline.
One of the pro wrestling tricks of the 90's, after the wall collapse, was to turn the Soviet bad guys into good guys, and claim they were ethnic Lithuanian instead of ethnic Russian.
You have no idea why an american main character is preferable to a russian/chinese/etc one in what is, essentially, an adventure series (with SF elements)?
That would be because star trek is made to be sold primarily to american audiences.
And the audience is far more likely to identify with, to 'cheer for' the main character (AKA the series is more likely to be a financial success) if the main character is someone from their 'team' (AKA 'tribe', cultural group, etc)
Multiculturalism is all fine and well, until millions of dollars of profit are concerned.
Okay, now you're just shifting the goalposts. Your own words were, "I personally have a hard time believing that a Russian main character captain will take center stage of any possible new ST TV series any time soon." (Emphasis added.) You yourself were the one who defined the discussion as being about the character, not the actor. That's what I was responding to.
After all, if the conversation had been about actors, I could've pointed out that Leonard Nimoy is of Ukrainian ancestry, William Shatner is of partly Ukrainian ancestry (as well as Austrian, Hungarian, and Polish), and Walter Koenig is genuinely Russian by ancestry (his parents lived in Lithuania but were ethnically Russian). So that's 3/7 of the core cast who have ancestry in that part of the world (plus Majel Barrett, whose birth surname Hudec is of Czech or Slovak origin). So you might have some kind of a point where Russian characters are concerned, but you've got no grounds for claiming that Russian or Slavic actors have been discriminated against in Trek. You're not only shifting the goalposts, you're shifting them onto much less solid ground.
Oh, come on, now you're just blatantly making up excuses for your pessimism. Not only is that pure speculation -- "if there had been" -- but the kind of intolerant Americans you're thinking about wouldn't have known or cared about the difference between a Russian and a Ukrainian. All Soviets were "Russian" to people like that.
I followed the last american election - Obama vs Romney.
Romney was aggressively anti-minorities (and he expoused blatantly false economic ideas) - and he still got 49% of the american votes.
Believing that, in a country such as this, a russian captain would not hurt the audience appeal of a star trek series, is wishful thinking.
Since it takes far fewer viewers to keep a show on the air nowadays, I don't think it would be a problem. We had two series that lasted seven years respectively with black and women captains. Hell, the two shortest running Trek series had white, male American captains.
These far fewer viewers will become fewer still if, from the start, the show appeals to only 51% of the populace, 49% being written off.
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