By Guest Contributor Kendra James
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is like The West Wing. But in space. With a Black president. Kind of.
That’s normally how I find myself trying to describe the show to the uninitiated, as I firmly believe that it’s the Trek series you have to use when trying to get people into Trek canon, especially people of color. Deep Space Nine (DS9) causes a strange division in the world of Trekkies. I’ve always found (non-scientifically; I just spend a lot of time at cons) that people either love it or loathe it. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to show it to my kids.
DS9 has your aliens and spaceships, and characters do occasionally say things like “set phasers to stun,” but the Trek cheese-factor is more often than not outweighed by the political storyarcs covered over six out of the show’s seven seasons, its criticisms of 20th century history, race relations in America, and lead actor, Avery Brooks, who stars as Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko–the first and only African-American captain to lead a televised Star Trek franchise.
In both the original Star Trek series (TOS) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), the existence of the United Federation Of Planets provided a perfect excuse to ignore (human) race and racism completely. The Trek franchise has always featured black actors and actresses, well developed Black characters, and TOS even featured the first televised interracial kiss in the episode “Plato’s Kiss.” Both shows dismissed racism on Earth as being as outdated as using money, instead highlighting racial politics between alien species rather than humans.
This model may have continued through DS9 had they hired any other actor to portray Captain Sisko. However, Brooks–a Shakespearean-trained actor, graduate of Oberlin College, and the first African-American to earn an MFA in acting and directing from Rutgers University, where he has also worked as a professor–brought much of himself to the role, and that included an emphasis in the importance of the African-American experience. Even nearly three hundred years in the future. Whether Trek fans were ready for it or not, DS9 brought the topic of race closer to home.
by Latoya Peterson
I came across this gem while browsing the Hathor Legacy. Blogger Ankhesen Mié has been watching the debate on fan forums about the Trek reboot (specifically the Spock-Uhura relationship) and decided to create a quiz around some of the most common sentiments:
1) Do you feel horrified when you see Spock kiss a woman who looks like Uhura, and don’t know why?
2) Do you look at Zoe Saldana and feel you “just can’t trust her” but can’t say why?
3) Do you think Uhura’s not a very feminine character, but just can’t say why?
4) Would you prefer Spock to be with Christine Chapel over Uhura?
5) Do you think the Spock/Uhura relationship—in the story—is controversial because of Uhura?
6) Do you consider yourself a “die-hard” Trek fan but still don’t agree with the pairing?
7) Have you watched all things Trek—shows, films, interviews, etc. pertaining to this cast—and still think this pairing “came out of nowhere”?
8) Do you think the kissing was “just wrong” and that Zachary Quinto was hurt by the writers? Continue reading
You’re playing a black ops soldier in the adaptation of the graphic novel The Losers, out in April. Do you enjoy roles that require you to run around and shoot a gun?
Zoe Saldana: Like you wouldn’t believe. It turns me on in a way that I shouldn’t be saying. It’s not the guns that turn me on, though—it’s seeing women in a commanding position. It’s boring to always play the victim. [In sobbing victim's voice] “Rape me! I’ll have your child!” Eff that! Why don’t you have my baby and wait at home while I go kill some motherfuckers? [Laughs.] It’s just very empowering. I just want to play roles that, in some way or another, resemble the kind of person that I am, the kind of things that I’m attracted to.
So what sort of roles won’t you play?
Zoe Saldana: I have a hard time accepting roles that typecast a culture. I don’t need to play Juana, the prostitute from Washington Heights, in every movie. If it’s been done before, you don’t need my help. Latinos, we’re not all pimps or prostitutes, we don’t all deal drugs; not everyone in Jamaica smokes weed; not every Middle Easterner is a terrorist. It’s boring, offensive, and hurtful. I’m not bitter about it, I’m just saying that I would like to retain accuracy of certain cultures. Some people will do these roles, but I’m fine with being poor. [...]
OK, we know you signed a non-disclosure agreement, but can you tell us any secrets about Star Trek 2?
Zoe Saldana: [Laughs.] I did make one request to J.J., which was that I really wanted my character to kick some ass, so he said he’s going to think about that. Just so you know, you guys aren’t the only ones in the dark when it comes to J.J. He’ll hold a surprise up until the last minute, even with the people that he’s working with.
—”For the Uncompromising Zoe Saldana, Hollywood is a Battlefield,” Complex Magazine, January 2010
(Image Credit: Suede Magazine)
Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. GarcíaAnd back we are, with the new hotness! Our table meets up once again to discuss:
* Our least-favorite guest-star
* Where the revamped series should go from here
* Why Uhura Matters, regardless of timeline
And much more!
Arturo: so, everybody catch the review thread?
Andrea: ya did good, arturo!
Arturo: What amused me were the comments that went like, “Great review! This movie still sucked!”
Andrea: I suspect those critiques came from the Star Wars contingent
Mahsino: “admiral madea” killed me
Arturo: I know it killed Andrea. Ha. Well, at least Perry did.
Diana: I was like, the Matrix movies had Cornel West. Star Wars had Sam Jackson. The new Star Trek? Tyler Perry? WTF
Mahsino: Me and my brother had a huge silent wtf in the theater. Who did he pay off for that one?
Andrea: for real.
Arturo: Like I told Andrea, if the guy’s a fanboy, I can’t blame him for wanting in on it.
Andrea: I can. He just doesn’t get that he’s not as cool as whoopi.
Arturo: Hell, N’Sync wanted to play Jedi.
Diana: Was no one else available?
Diana: He can’t act without a dress
Andrea: he can’t act with a dress
Mahsino: Was Keith David not available for the “cool black guy” role?
Mahsino: The suit was Steve Harvey bad
In light of the reaction to Perry’s appearance, we present:
Eight POC Men The Table Wants To See Instead Of TP In The Sequel:
3.Billy Dee Williams (to piss off the Lucas fans)
4.James Earl Jones (to really piss off the Lucas fans)
5.Michael Eric Dyson
6.Colin Powell (’cause Starfleet is the military, after all)
During the editing process, I noticed a glaring disparity, so allow me to add:
Five POC Women Arturo Wants To See:
1.Gina F’ing Torres
Our discussion, though, did lead us to this suggestion:
Andrea: f-ck it. Barack Obama
Mahsino: why not? He can’t be worse than perry
Diana:Obama, I’m wit it. Michele too
Arturo: Y’know, the “Barack=Spock” media meme is making me leery. it’s anti-intellectual.
Mahsino: I hate the comparison. It’s as if Spock is the new “mulatto.”
Arturo: well, to the other Vulcans, apparently he *was*
Diana: half-breed, that was a big slur on Spock
Mahsino: what, we aren’t post-species-ist in the future? I half expected Bones to bust out with “some of my best friend are Vulcan” they way his tone was going
Andrea: no, that wouldn’t have been Bones, though
Diana: And Star Trek is supposed to be positive about the future
Arturo: It’s *positive*, but it was never pollyannaish. There’s been eps centered around racial issues throughout canon
Andrea: The kicker is, people feel they’re being complimentary with the Spock comparison, i.e. the Greenwald piece from salon.
Mahsino: The Spock/Obama composite pics make me bust out the side-eye
Arturo: Like I said on the thread, though, Bones’ remarks weren’t presented as being as virulent as the sh-t Spock heard back home
Andrea: but to your comment about race not seeming illogical, arturo….it doesn’t surprise that the vulcans came out their mouths the way they did.
Diana: Bones’ beef with Spock was more understandable. The little vulcans were just mean
Arturo: Kids are f’d up, on any world.
Andrea: racism has its own logic.
Arturo: until Spocky opened up the can of whoop-ass
By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also Posted At Arturo Vs. The World
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Let’s get the questions out of the way now:
Is the command structure in the new Star Trek entirely ridiculous? Yes!
Is the “Red Matter” the epitome of flimsy sci-fi “science”? Yes!
Is a small, evil part of me disappointed that we didn’t see Tyler Perry as Admiral Madea? Kinda!
Is Classic Spock’s entire presence a series of plot-connecting contrivances? Definitely!
Does any of this make the film any less enjoyable? Absolutely not!
No, the new Star Trek (iTrek, for short) is not anything like the original series. That’s the whole damn point, one that’s acknowledged early on. This is a different timeline – doesn’t mean prior canon doesn’t count; just that the game is different from here on out.
And even then, this story and this ensemble nailed the most important aspect of any Trek movie – the relationships between the Enterprise’s core group – while at the same time redefining them. In short: Uhura hooking up with Spock? Good. Uhura hooking up with Spock over Kirk? Great! Continue reading
by Latoya Peterson
So, this week, I made a shocking discovery: my boyfriend is a trekkie!
I have no idea how we went this long without exposing his latent nerdiness, but here I am watching Star Trek: First Contact and preparing to check out John Cho tomorrow.
In the meantime, he’s some race-related Trekkie goodness from the wilds of the interwebs:
Hyphen Magazine published Race to Space: Asian Americans, stereotypes in Star Trek’s Final Frontier:
“It meant a lot to me seeing George (Takei) on television,” Cho says. “It was like, ‘look at this guy who isn’t wearing a cone-shaped hat’ and it was stunning. He was just alone on television as an Asian American. So when this project came along, I was very keen on doing it because it was a legacy I really wanted to be a part of.” (Read a full interview with Cho in the Film section.)
Takei was one of the few Asian Americans with a starring role on TV when he played Sulu, helmsman of the Enterprise, in the first Star Trek series and in six movies.
“As a fan but also as a scholar of Asian American pop culture, I’ve always been impressed with the Star Trek franchise and its efforts toward inclusion,” says Phil Yu, a self-professed Trekkie who also blogs as Angry Asian Man (www.angryasianman.com) and is a web producer for Yahoo Movies. “It presents a utopian view of future and has always included Asians on the ship.” [...]
“There are serious issues of racism, in an academic sense, and you can see how it plays out in how Asian men, black men and Asian women are represented,” says Daniel Bernardi, author of Star Trek and History: Race-ing Toward a White Future. “Yes, you put some people of color on the show. Now that’s good, but how did you use them and to what end?” [...] Continue reading