I then posted the following on my Facebook wall:
This led to the following discussion with Michael Cooke:
In my high school experience one unpopular Trek fan was literally driven to tears with the taunt of "Spock is Gay!"--I wonder if she slashed her wrists when George Takei came out?
Star Wars at least has its classic first movie, a truly great movie. Star Trek has had a great many movies, not one coming close to 'great'.
Let's recall that there were four series (five if you count the cartoons) and a bunch of movies after the original series. Collectively they determined the nature of the Trek universe. And that universe is no better or worse than any typical fantasy universe.
I don't recall any great moments of racial or sexual politics in the Star Wars mythology. And the point of this posting was to compare the two universes. How do you figure Star Wars is better than Star Trek in this regard, Mike?
Data's brief foray into sex was kind of silly. That happened during TNG's first season, when a lot of silly things occurred.
That said, I find the Star Wars universe, with its fascism, politics and poor people suffering--it's got a better claim to realism than Trek's utopian vision, in my opinion.
What I said was that the subsequent series and movies addressed the problems. They made Trek 1) no worse than the typical fantasy universe and 2) better than Star Wars in that regard.
True, Star Wars wins on political realism. But Star Trek wins on cultural and biological realism. Every alien race and world in Star Wars is constructed of cardboard. They may look alien, but they have no substance whatsoever.
That's why Star Trek counts as science fiction (barely) while Star Wars is better classified as space opera.
Some better than none
At least the original Star Trek had minorities in it. That's a lot more than the original Star Wars could say for itself, a decade later. "A long time ago, in a pure-white galaxy far away...."
When you say Star Wars has more political realism, you're basically dodging my point, Mike. Let's try again: How do you figure Star Wars is better than Star Trek in terms of racial or sexual issues?
Incidentally, I've criticized Trek at length in postings such as these:
The Indian-Star Trek Connection
Star Trek Voyager: Chakotay
So try to avoid your usual tactic of assuming you know what I believe. Okay?
Really the character Data pissed me off royally in terms of 'new Trek'. No artificial intelligence interested in sexuality would be capable of ignoring homosexuality, yet Trek kept it's tradition of projecting into the future the prejudices of today.
The bottom line of course is quality, and really it's perfectly possible to create good stories for either 'universe'. So far the Star Wars cartoon is setting a new standard by being better than the latest few movies. And I have enjoyed the retro ('pre Kirk') Trek show, what I've seen of it.
I did call them fantasy universes, not SF universes...right?
I haven't seen the new Star Wars cartoon, so it may be doing great things. Some Star Trek novels are doing great things in terms of adding political and scientific depth to the ST universe.
My TiVo has recorded all the new shows on network TV. I don't think I've seen any gay characters yet. In 2010, homosexuality is still the love that dare not speak its name.
Trek writers = morons?
I now have no TV and only enjoy what is shown online.
The science fiction argument is my father's, it's all fantasy to me, I don't distinguish. I figure if you're going to use science you should get the science right--but science is not important the way plot and characterization are important.
It actually takes effort to offend me. If the folks writing Next Generation simply thought it through, the character of Data could have developed sexual feelings like we do--not in his control. But NO, they have to have Data not know and be curious--which makes them BIGOTS to have Data never consider homosexuality--because the character most naturally would at least consider it without an existing sexuality.
Star Wars features characters comfortable in their skin and is a war story--in war what counts is if you can fire your gun straight, not who you sleep with. So the heterosexist omission is inoffensive. As for sexism, Princess Leia is far more liberated than Uhura.
Star Wars is a war story...so every aspect of it that isn't political or military is one-dimensional cardboard. Didn't I say that already?
Captain Janeway, Major Kira, T'Pol, and Dr. Crusher are among the female Trek characters who are deeper than Princess Leia.
That's no excuse, the show demonstrated that sexuality was new to Data, as such they put themselves between a rock and hard place. They could have Data discover sexuality has been programmed into him and there would have been no harm, no foul. But what they did was put a character in a place where homosexuality is an inevitable question--and not raise that question. Not cool, and I know the writing is of such a caliber the writers put it in and a producer removed it! No other way unless you want to tell me TNG was written by morons.
But the real problem was the producers. Here, read about LGBT in Star Trek:
LGBT in Star Trek
Homosexuality in Star Trek
Anyway, you're putting a lot of emphasis on Data's one sexual encounter. It was a few minutes out of 178 hours in one series out of six. I'm judging the whole when I say Star Trek is better than Star Wars overall.
For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.