January 07, 2014

Controversies in Star Trek into Darkness

From Wikipedia:The film was criticized for a scene with actress Alice Eve's character Carol in her underwear, which was called "wholly unnecessary" and "gratuitous." Screenwriter and producer Damon Lindelof apologized on Twitter for the scene: "I take responsibility and will be more mindful in the future." On Conan, Abrams addressed the matter by debuting a deleted scene of actor Benedict Cumberbatch's character Khan taking a shower. Eve addressed the underwear controversy at a 2013 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention and said, "I didn’t know it would cause such a ruckus. I didn’t feel exploited."So all the Starfleet chicks are in skirts and none are in positions of power. Uhura is turning into the communications girlfriend/sidekick/secretary once again.

But Lindelof thinks putting Cumberbatch in a shower scene would've corrected the grotesque sexual imbalance throughout the new movies? Wow.Despite an acclaimed performance from Cumberbatch, Christian Blauvelt of Hollywood.com criticized the casting of the actor as Khan Noonien Singh, considering that the character had been "whitewashed into oblivion," since Khan is of Indian descent in the Star Trek canon. There have been similar accusations of whitewashing by fans and American Sikhs, with Star Trek: Voyager actor Garrett Wang tweeting "The casting of Cumberbatch was a mistake on the part of the producers. I am not being critical of the actor or his talent, just the casting."

On Trekmovie.com, co-producer and co-screenwriter Bob Orci addressed Khan's casting: "Basically, as we went through the casting process and we began honing in on the themes of the movie, it became uncomfortable for me to support demonizing anyone of color, particularly any one of Middle Eastern descent or anyone evoking that. One of the points of the movie is that we must be careful about the villain within US, not some other race." George Takei, the original actor of Hikaru Sulu, was also disappointed with Cumberbatch's casting.

“The second one, where Benedict Cumberbatch played Khan, I thought was unfortunate. Benedict Cumberbatch is a wonderful actor. I love everything that he’s done, but if he was going to be playing that character, J.J. should have made him an original character that’s singular to him. Because the Khan character first appeared in our TV series, Space Seed, and Ricardo Montalban was sensational in our second movie—he was the title character, The Wrath of Khan, you know! The other thought that Gene Roddenberry always had in the back of his mind—and that was his philosophy—was to embrace the diversity of this planet."

—George Takei, who originated the role of Hikaru Sulu and appeared in Star Trek films and TV episodes
So the producers are as blind to their racism as they are to their sexism? So much for Gene Roddenberry's vision of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. That's so 1960s.

If you don't want to make a brown guy the terrorist villain, then don't call him Khan, you flippin' idiots. Especially since his being a genetically enhanced superman from the past wasn't necessary to the plot. But if you do name him Khan, he needs to be a Khan.

A brown guy who's clearly superior to the white guys isn't necessarily bad or racist. But there are ways around any potential problems. For instance, show his white followers so his presence isn't some sort of racial statement. Or show other Sikhs--perhaps his descendants--who disagree with his supremacist attitudes.

Then there's this:Orci noted that when trying to create the "gigantic imagery" required by a summer blockbuster, Kurtzman suggested a scene where the Enterprise rose from the ocean. With that as a starting point they (and Lindelof) came up with the cold open in Nibiru, which blended action and comedy and was isolated from the main story in an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark."Rose from the ocean"...so they came up with a "gigantic" (i.e., colossally stupid) image first, then wrote a story around it? In other words, they failed Writing 101? Plot and characterization determine individual scenes, not vice versa. Duhhh!

And a cold open that rips off the racist cold open of Raiders? Stealing from the aliens, dodging their spear-chucking savagery, and demolishing their native culture? And having the last laugh as they foolishly worship the Enterprise? What fun!

Also, "isolated" from the main story? That's stupid-speak for a sequence that's irrelevant and a waste of time.

Kirk doesn't learn to respect the Prime Directive or other Starfleet directives. In fact, his primary lesson is that he's right to disobey superiors like Admiral Marcus. Even villains and traitors aren't as bad as a bad boy like him, who can do good by breaking all the rules. When you're Captain Kirk, you really are a tin-plated god with delusions of grandeur.

Below:  Indigenous people bad...run!

No comments: