My gripes with Asian casting and character naming in Paramount+ Trek

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' started by Enterprise1701, Jan 2, 2023.

  1. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    According to Ethnologue (2022, 25th edition), the figures your source gives are very inaccurate, and the actual number of people who speak English as a first or second language is 1.452 billion, which is 29.87% larger than the number of people who speak Mandarin Chinese as a first or second language and which is a significant difference [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_...r_of_speakers#Ethnologue_(2022,_25th_edition)].
     
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  2. ScottJ85

    ScottJ85 Captain Captain

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    Yeah, she was already one of Asia's biggest stars before the Oscar. She could have walked into any studio and named her price. I don't think the Oscar makes all that much difference in the end.
     
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  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It could make a difference in terms of the number of lucrative feature film jobs she gets offered, which might keep her too busy to do a TV series.
     
  4. ScottJ85

    ScottJ85 Captain Captain

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    You know, I honestly didn't think of that. That's what I get for trying to cut down on the caffeine.
     
  5. Noname Given

    Noname Given Admiral Admiral

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    It may not happen with her; but many actors and actresses have said that after they won an Oscar, they weren't offered many film roles because Studios and producers also assume that the Oscar means they are going to be unaffordable, or unwilling to do certain types of roles.

    One example of this with respect to Whoopi Goldberg was that she told LeVar Burton she wanted to be on the show; and he did pass that info onto the producers of TNG at the time, but they didn't follow up for over a year because they didn't believe she was serious, and the only reason they finally followed up was because she talked to LeVar again, and he told her that he passed along her comments but he didn't think they believed him; so the story goes she finally called Rick Berman herself. And even then his first question was: still "Why would you want to be on Star Trek?"

    But the situation is different with Michelle Yeoh in that even while doing interviews about everything everywhere all at once over the past year; when talking about her time on Star Trek Discovery, she has mentioned that she hopes she and Alex Kurtzman would get to do Section 31.

    Again, doesn't mean it will actually happen, but just because she won an Oscar, it doesn't mean that she and Paramount+ can't come to an arrangement that works for everyone.
     
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  6. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's just business.
     
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  7. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeoh has reached a sweet spot in her career where she can pick and choose the work she likes. Money might not be her priority.
     
  8. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I REALLY want her to "Star in/lead" a Section 31 show.
     
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  9. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    SNW Kyle kind of strikes me like an old Charlie Chan movie, only in reverse: instead of casting an Occidental actor in makeup as an Asian character, we have an Asian actor cast as a long-established British (or more likely, Australian) character.

    I completely agree with the idea that, with very few exceptions, making up actors of European ancestry to look like other ethnicities is offensive (the most obvious exception would be a movie about John Griffin), so why is it suddenly acceptable (indeed, downright hip) to go the other way around? (And for the record, while I enjoy seeing different productions of Schwartz and Hirson's Pippin, with actors of any conceivable combination of gender and ethnicity bringing new interpretations to the gender-neutral, ethnicity-neutral "Leading Player," I have never understood the appeal of Miranda's Hamilton, nor of the current Hamilton-influenced productions of Edwards and Stone's 1776)
     
  10. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk A Spock and a smile Premium Member

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    SNW Kyle doesn't speak with a British or Australian accent.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Huh? Where is anyone making up nonwhite actors to look white? Disguising an actor as a different ethnicity is the exact opposite of changing a character's ethnicity to fit the actor. It makes no sense to equate the two.

    And the reason casting more diversely is okay should be obvious: because the system has always been unfairly biased in favor of giving jobs to white actors and marginalizing everyone else. If the system tilts the scale unfairly in one direction, then pushing it further in that direction (casting white actors as nonwhite characters) worsens the unfairness, while pushing it in the other direction (casting nonwhite actors in roles that were originally white) diminishes the unfairness. It's not symmetrical. Swimming against the current is not the same thing as swimming with the current.

    Bottom line, what matters are not the characters, who are imaginary, but the actors, who are real live people who need to feed their families and thus deserve equal job opportunities. Since legacy characters in popular fiction have been overwhelmingly white in the past, giving equal opportunity to actors of all ethnicities means changing some of the characters' ethnicities to fit.

    And there's nothing "sudden" about it. It's been a normal practice in screen superhero adaptations for nearly two decades now -- years before Samuel L. Jackson became Nick Fury, we had Kerry Washington as Alicia Masters and Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin. Not only that, but it's been common in live theater for far longer. Back in high school in the '80s, my English class went to a local production of Hamlet where King Claudius was black and Hamlet was white, and the audience was just expected to take it in stride. It's all just make-believe, after all; it's up to the audience to suspend disbelief.

    Anyway, why assume that SNW's Kyle is the same person as TOS's Kyle? Maybe there are two guys with the same surname and the same job.
     
  12. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Quite.
    Of course, I'm pretty sure the subject of an in-universe coincidence of two transporter operators named Kyle was broached long before CLB just now suggested it. They could even, for all we know, be adoptive brothers.

    And yes, non-white actors need work. But why deliberately cast established characters (or worse, historic figures) against ethnicity (or gender), when it would be just as easy to find or create new characters (I recall the early development of TNG, with "Macha Hernandez" becoming "Tasha Yar," and "Lesley Crusher" becoming "Wesley Crusher").
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I do think SNW tends to overuse established characters, and I see no reason for the transporter chief to be Kyle. But in general terms of new adaptations of old works, the answer is that the characters in those works are overwhelmingly white, which is unrealistic in this day and age and often would have been at the time (for instance, the Old West had far more people of color in it than you'll see in most Westerns). So it makes no sense for a modern production to perpetuate that unrealistic bias.

    Also, saying "people of color shouldn't be allowed to play legacy characters" is just one more way of perpetuating white privilege, of saying that a monopoly rooted in racism should be preserved rather than torn down. Ideally, every role should be open to the best actor for it. They're all imaginary, after all. Characters have no absolute reality, so it's easy to change them to fit actors. There have been productions of Shakespeare where noted actresses have played King Lear or Prospero. To insist that an imaginary creation must be immutable is misunderstanding the nature, and the power, of creativity.

    Gene Roddenberry apparently approached Star Trek as a dramatization of Kirk's logs rather than a literal depiction, and thus was perfectly fine with making changes to correct earlier shortcomings. When he had the Klingons redesigned for TMP, he asked fans to accept that they'd always looked that way and TOS had simply gotten it wrong due to limits of budget and technology. So I'm sure he'd be just as fine with saying that, say, Robert April was always black and "The Counter-Clock Incident" just drew him wrong.
     
  14. Sci

    Sci Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    @Christopher said everything I wanted to say perfectly. Thank you.
     
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  15. TerryTrek

    TerryTrek Captain Captain

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    What about Asian 'Jenna Mitchell' .... preceding 'Gary Mitchell' as Enterprise navigator? What a coincidence.
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's almost as though they're making little tips-of-the-hat to a sixty-year-old television program without everything having to be a literal match-up.
     
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  17. TerryTrek

    TerryTrek Captain Captain

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    Using the same names is the best 'tip of the hat' they can come up with ? That's lazy.
     
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  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, it's weird that they named characters Kyle and Mitchell, but luckily they're both fairly common names, so we can assume it's just a coincidence. I mean, heck, TNG had two people on its staff named Ron Moore (distinguished by middle initial, D. the writer and B. the visual effects coordinator). So it can happen.
     
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  19. TerryTrek

    TerryTrek Captain Captain

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    So TOS Chief Kyle will take over Transporter Room from SNW Chief Kyle...

    and TOS Lt. Mitchell will take over Navigations from SNW Lt. Mitchell...

    Continuity 'bent but not broken.'

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Clearly it's not a "tip of the hat" but a "flipping of the finger" if you know what I mean...