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. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which would tie in with what was established in the episode Ensign Ro on TNG where apparently the Bajoran name custom of family name first, individual name last is so alien the rest of the galaxy can't comprehend it and a majority of Bajorans do simply allow people to address them by "traditional" naming conventions.

    Which is itself a very clunky means to establish exposition and proves that Star Trek does have an American-centric view of the world. After all, there are cultures on Earth that place the family name first, among them, the Chinese, Earth's culture with the largest population. But then Bajorans put their family name first and that's some weird and confusing alien thing they have to abandon in order to fit in with the rest of the galaxy.
     
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  2. Enterprise1701

    Enterprise1701 Commodore Commodore

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    Indeed. It was ridiculously terrible writing within TNG standards given that they went out of their way to imply that Worf never had to register as 'Worf Rozhenko' for Federation bureaucracy. 'Crewman Celes' just cements the bad cake as Chakotay and Tuvok never had to register Anglo-style legal names either.
     
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  3. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There are many cultures within Earth alone that have more names than a First/Middle/Last name paradigm.

    Many Arabic names can get really long.
     
  4. Ragitsu

    Ragitsu Commodore Commodore

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    Which, oddly enough, can be considered Asian...
     
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  5. somebuddyX

    somebuddyX Commodore Commodore

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    I was thinking about this thread and about how easy it is do this name thing. I did it with one of my characters in Poser. I had a guy called Donald Alexander and I hadn't thought about what he looked like but basically had him as a white guy. Then I thought I'd never made an asian captain character yet so I made him asian. I think it's very easy to think like this and not have it be malicious. In the end I realised I was going to have to split my guy into two characters anyway so I'm going to give my asian guy a different name and have Donald Alexander be the white guy I'd originally intended.
     
  6. Serveaux

    Serveaux Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Star Trek remains America in Spaaaace!
     
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  7. Ragitsu

    Ragitsu Commodore Commodore

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    Awesomemerica.
     
  8. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    I do wish Star Trek really did live-up to the "Starship Earth" moniker. It's just another feel-good tidbit that every boss man -- from Roddenberry to Kurtzman -- has loved to champion but never really supported.
    I'm pretty sure that if you looked "forgettable" in the dictionary, There'd be a picture of Voyager. I didn't recognize the name at all. So I checked MemAlpha. I had completely forgotten Zoe McLellan was on the show. Zoe McLellan!
     
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  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not familiar with this. First of all, are you referring to Spaceship Earth [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceship_Earth]? And secondly, what did the boss men say about it?
     
  10. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Just that the E is "really Starship Earth flying through space" in the sense that it (and the crew) are supposedly a stand-in for all humanity (or "the human condition" if you prefer).
     
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  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I see, the claim being that they represent "humanity," when they actually represent "America" much more closely. Yes, I read that claim plugged repeatedly by Roddenberry, et al.
     
  12. valden

    valden Commander Red Shirt

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    I can understand this as a person of color too, who is african. I too have some reversion in how the new series have characterises many of their black characters too, especially when some of this show are meant to be prequels.

    hollywood has a history of generalising people of colour characters based on some few exposure to what they have already seen and they tend to do little research on people of colur characters. I think Laan may be stereotyped her too much as the way too serious Asian woman, kind of how lucy lui was in charlie's angel films.
     
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  13. ichab

    ichab Commodore Commodore

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    I wasn't a fan of Cumberbach's casting either. I was enjoying Into Darkness up until he uttered the words "I am Khan." then the movie went completely south for me. If he would have stuck with the name John Harrison and just been one of the OTHER guys in that botany bay ship then it would have worked. Beyond the obvious ethnicity problems he had none of the traits that made that character stand out in the first place. Very bad casting.
     
  14. Ragitsu

    Ragitsu Commodore Commodore

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    There isn't much in the way of Vietnamese Star Trek talent.
     
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  15. Enterprise1701

    Enterprise1701 Commodore Commodore

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    Indeed. I agree with your point, though for the sake of comprehensiveness, may I ask if you mean Vietnamese citizens or diaspora? Ian Alexander is of maternal Vietnamese background, though Alexander has obviously never lived in Vietnam.
     
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  16. vulcancicada

    vulcancicada Commander Red Shirt

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    I tend to agree with OP's analysis. I found La'an's name a bit strange and I was honestly distracted by Michelle Yeoh being 'Philippa Georgiou' because it is super Greek and I kind of wanted to know why. Yes, I think in the future it will be difficult to match up names with ethnicities, so it doesn't necessary follow that a person should 'look' like their name. However, OP is right that there is a pattern. I also think humans will mix more and culture will become more complex if globalisation continues. Another point is that Starfleet may attract people with complex backgrounds; not everyone is suited to leaving their home and wandering about. I have been out of my country for five years and watched so many people return to their hometowns while I'm still out here. There's a reason for it.

    As for the dominance of the English language, as an English teacher who has taught in five countries, I can tell you, English is not as dominant as people in western democratic nations believe it is. It is a serious indicator of western imperialism that people think English is universal. There are so many people who don't speak it. They may watch Trek with subtitles or dubbing just like we watched Squid Game. It is not universal. I would also disagree that Asians are not watching Trek. I lived in two countries in Asia and met tons of Trek fans. Representation is not a tricky thing. It's pretty easy if you're capable of coming out of your culture.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's true on Earth, but since English is generally the accepted universal language of space, science, and engineering, I think it's plausible for science fiction to depict it as the lingua franca of spacegoing humanity in the future.

    Although what Americans tend to forget is that we're exceptional in being mostly monolingual. I gather that the great majority of human beings are conversant in at least two languages, generally their native language and whatever lingua franca is dominant in the region. English is the most widely spoken second language in the world. That's really what a lingua franca is for -- not to replace people's native languages, but to give them a common basis for communication with people who have different native languages.
     
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  18. valkyrie013

    valkyrie013 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    To bring up another movie, Bulliet Train.
    Was an asian book, with a wholy asian cast in the book. Yet for a few token characters, theres no asians in the movie. It got some heat for that.
    Now, it was an awesome movie, Brad was really good in it, but it was brought up, why no asians? They could have set it up in Europe, on one of there trains, but they kept it in Japan.
    A good quote from somebody was, well there are not that many asian super stars, well they said, You never LET asians be the stars in movies, so how can there be asian actors/actresses with name recognition, if you never let asians STAR in BIG movies??

    Honestly most americans couldn't name but a few east asian actors/ actresses.
     
  19. Tiberius Jim

    Tiberius Jim Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    While I've noticed this, it doesn't bother me. Both my kids are Vietnamese and Laotian on their mother's side (and look about 95% like her, too) but have my English last name, so to look at them on paper you'd never know that they're Asian.
     
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  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, that happens, but the problem being pointed out here is that it happens far too often -- we constantly see Asian characters in Trek with Western names, but only rarely see Asian characters with Asian names, and virtually never see Western characters with Asian names (unless you count Leila Kalomi, but that was an invented "exotic" surname that doesn't actually exist.) Nobody's saying it's impossible or wrong in the individual case, just that it's overused to a degree that feels like cultural erasure. If the Federation is as egalitarian as advertised, then we should see a less biased mix of name origins.