"Plato's Stepchildren" and Southern TV Stations

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Merry Stripmas, Sep 3, 2022.

  1. Merry Stripmas

    Merry Stripmas Commodore Commodore

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    Did any TV stations in the South actually refuse to air "Plato's Stepchildren" because of the interracial kiss?
     
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  2. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's a good question.

    I love how the Big Baloney myth about that kiss has been blown to bits by Fact Trek and others.
    • "Plato's Stepchildren" wasn't the first interracial kiss on television.
    • It wasn't the first one on American television, which happened later.
    • It wasn't the first one on Star Trek.
    • It wasn't even the first one on Star Trek that year.
    • And it wasn't even a real kiss.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
  3. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    To me it doesn't matter if it was the first interracial kiss but was known and publicised as the first interracial kiss on TV. And with popular admired characters.
    Was interracial marriage still illegal in some States when that episode was made? If interracial marriage was frowned upon then I suppose kissing would be a problem. I'm actually pretty shocked that interracial marriage was illegal ever .
     
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  4. Merry Stripmas

    Merry Stripmas Commodore Commodore

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    Laws against interracial marriage were declared unconstitutional in the US in 1967, so that was quite recent when "Plato's Stepchildren" was made.
     
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  5. Methuselah Flint

    Methuselah Flint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It was the first and only time in TOS between a black and white person though wasn't it?
     
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  6. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, except for the cut sequence where Bele and Lokai kiss...

    ...was that not what you meant? :p
     
  7. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Wait - what now? :vulcan:

    Yes - the decision in Loving v. Virginia was issued in June of 1967, so the "kiss," whether or not it was the first of its kind, was pretty bold. Not that it should have been of course.
     
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  8. Cash or Credit

    Cash or Credit Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  9. Maurice

    Maurice Snagglepussed Premium Member

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    The FACT-SIGNAL!

    We have a piece we've been sitting on for a long time concerning the interracial kiss thing and what even qualifies. You cannot employ the modern usage of "interracial" to the 1960s, where in the vernacular it meant "black and white" and not Desi and Lucy or Montalban and Rhue or Shatner and Nuyen. Miscegenation was the issue du jour.

    Then the question becomes is it the actor or the character they portray who has to be black? Because if the actor, well, we know a smooch that predates the Kirk-Uhura thing by years.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
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  10. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    From the racists' POV (and any studio that kow-tow-ed to said racists), it was obviously a problem whether the character or actor was black, instead of any other race, even if romance was not a plot point. On that note, I recall reading a 1980s-era interview with The Mod Squad's Clarence Williams III, who stated ABC and certain advertisers had eyes on the nature of his Linc Hayes character's relationship with co-star Peggy Lipton's Julie Barnes. Early on, the stories had Julie have some romantic interest in fellow, white MS-er Pete Cochran (Michael Cole), almost as if the attraction had been designed to ease the fears and or tensions of TV audiences who might wonder which one of her single partners would be a romantic interest.

    The idea of a romance within the team was dropped early in the series' 1st season. Amusingly enough, Peggy Lipton (who would marry composer/producer Quincy Jones in 1974) once said she was aware of the negative concerns from certain viewers, et al., so she hugged or kissed Williams III whenever she could in front of the cameras. It has been some time since I watched The Mod Squad from start to finish, so I'm not sure if her then-bold expression was retained in aired episodes.

    The bottom line of it all was that the miscegenation was an issue whether the character was black, perceived as black, or was portrayed by a black actor.
     
  11. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    To answer the original question, I believe that NBC worried that some southern stations might refuse to air it, but, in the end, this never actually happened.

    Despite exaggerated urban legends to the contrary.
     
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  12. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Having not seen the episode in awhile nor being aware of regulations concerning such things, could stations have opted to cut around it if so inclined?

    Much as some of them cut around Wesley saying that Starfleet doesn't lie? ;)
     
  13. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I meant to say the first interracial kiss on American television (which was not on Star Trek) "happened later" than the first interracial kiss on television. There was at least one such kiss on British TV first, if I recall. I'm not looking it up now because I'm at work.
     
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  14. mb22

    mb22 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  15. Cash or Credit

    Cash or Credit Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  16. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    I suppose its easy to be stereotypical of the South. I'm sure most people in the South are NOT racist or homophobic or misogynistic.
    So did these "racist" people in the South accept Spock being of mixed "species". Was GR afraid to screen "Journey to Babel" because of mixed species reactions?
    Was there any flack in the South or anywhere about Spock being mixed race? Or was it OK because it was mixed "white" species. Or was Spock such a popular character that people forgot that people accepted it.
    Didn't Kirk have a Native American wife?
    I thought in "Wolf in the Fold" there was a mixed race couple and nobody seemed concerned about that aspect of the episode. In "Metamorphosis" and "In Truth Is There No Beauty" there are implied mixed species relationship. Kirk and others "kiss" robots and Kirk, Spock, McCoy have alien relationships. Is that OK because the men were having relationships and nobody was stealing white women.
    I know I'm speaking in clichés but I'm wondering what was the real differences in attitudes being a non-American. Don't worry we have heaps of racism over here too unfortunately.
     
  17. mb22

    mb22 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  18. Donald G

    Donald G Commander Red Shirt

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    You're not American and you're not Southern. I am Southern, white, male and queer, and I was raised in the first decade following the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, and you are seriously underselling the prevalence of racism, homophobia, and sexism in white Southern society, especially during that era.

    American Southern racism is (or was) primary focused on white-black relations. That's where the taboo against interracial relationships was strongest. Extraterrestrials and noncorporeal entities like the Medusans and the Companion are fictional and don't count in the real world. Androids also don't count for this purpose. Individual Southern racists may have had a problem with relationships between whites and hispanics, or whites and asians, or whites and American Indians, but the prevailing cultural animus wasn't there in the same way. Those ethnicities were generally considered "close enough to 'white'" and by the late sixties/early seventies wasn't as culturally taboo as a black-white interracial relationship was. (It also didn't hurt if the "exotic" non-white character in one of those mixed raced fictional TV relationships was played by an especially attractive Asian, Latin, or a white (or white-passing) actor in brownface.)

    I cannot speak to whether any stations in Southern markets preempted (or refused to air) "Plato's Stepchildren on its network airing, as I was too young to have many reliable memories of 1969. I can say, however, that when Star Trek ran in syndicated reruns in my Southern media market in 1972 - the year the school system I first attended finally racially desegregated, by the way - "Plato's Stepchildren" did run in the immediate afterschool hours with the interracial kiss intact.

    [In the 1972-73, I and a number of white kids from my (and my grandparents') neighborhood were assigned to be taught by a black teacher. The parents of my neighborhood playmates raised a big stink about it and had their kids reassigned to white teachers. My parents didn't go along with the crowd and kept me with the teacher to whom I was assigned. During the elementary school years, our teachers tried to undo the racist cultural programming impressed upon us by our parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, for many of my peers, they have reverted to their parents' attitudes in late middle age.]
     
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  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I gather that when DS9: "Rejoined" aired, some stations cut to commercial before the same-sex kiss, and others just refused to air the episode. I'm not sure if it's different for network shows, but I don't think there's any reason local stations couldn't cut out or interrupt parts of them. They often did it with local news or severe weather alerts.


    It doesn't have to be a majority. Television isn't a democracy, it's a business. Commercial TV stations are afraid of losing viewers, and more importantly, losing advertisers, since it's the money from the advertisers that keeps them in business. If a minority of viewers drum up a big, noisy controversy, make it seem like they're a bigger deal than they are, it could scare off advertisers and hurt profits. So TV has historically been reluctant to risk that kind of controversy, and vocal minorities have often had a disproportionate influence on TV content.


    Right. Racists may be fools, but they at least (usually) understand the difference between fiction and reality. They know that aliens and androids and the like are just characters in stories, but they're played by real live actors. It was the actors of different ethnicities they had a problem with. That's why so many shows and movies back then had Asian, Native American, etc. characters played by white actors in makeup.

    There was a novel based on the 1989-90 TV series Alien Nation, Slag Like Me by Barry Longyear, where
    a murder that was believed to be motivated by racism against a human-alien marriage was actually committed because the human victim looked black to him (though the victim's ethnicity and gender were ambiguous) and their alien wife looked white, and the killer was more upset by an "interracial" marriage than an interspecies one. He had no problem with aliens from another planet as long as they looked white.


    Yeah. There's long been a ton of anti-Asian racism in American society and media, but there was always an exemption for hot Asian women, who were seen as fetishistically exotic and desirable (a fetish that persists in some circles to this day).

    There was also an exemption for assimilated Asians, ones who were entirely Westernized and devoid of any "inscrutable" Asian behavior or cultural allegiances. That's how TOS could portray Sulu (who wanted to be D'Artagnan and was afraid of a samurai) so positively while being so racist against Asians in "The Omega Glory" (where they were literally called "the yellow race") and "The Savage Curtain" (where Genghis Khan, one of the most brilliant military leaders and coalition builders in world history, was reduced to a nonverbal henchman of a white guy), and while basing so many alien species on Orientalist tropes of exotic noble savages (Klingons, Argelians, Elasians, even the Ligonians in TNG: "Code of Honor," as scripted).
     
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  20. Merry Stripmas

    Merry Stripmas Commodore Commodore

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    When ABC aired the "coming out" episode of Ellen Degeneres' sitcom back in the (I think) 1990s, the affiliate in Birmingham refused to carry it. The Huntsville, AL, affiliate carried it with a disclaimer, but they also refused to air ABC's "NYPD Blue" series for years, replacing it for a while with, of all things, "Star Trek: Voyager."