The original ‘Star Trek’ showcased a multi-national/multi-ethnic cast. There was Chekov (Walter Koenig) a Russian, at a time when the U.S. and Russia were immersed in the Cold War. There was also a Japanese member of the cast, Sulu played by George Takei and a black woman, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Uhura and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) shared a kiss in the episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ which was not aired in some areas, mostly the Southern area of the United States. Plus… I mean Kirk did it with a green lady in one episode. At any rate, the point was that at some point, humanity overcame political differences and came together. They then went forth into the stars to spread this message of equality and acceptance. That has carried over to the various spin-offs since, including ‘Deep Space Nine’ which featured an African American captain, Benjamin Sisko played by Avery Brooks, and ‘Voyager’ which featured a Caucasian female captain, Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew.
So ‘Star Trek’ has always been about inclusion and advancement.
Except some people didn’t take away this same message. The newest ‘Star Trek’ series, ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ which will be available to stream on CBS All-Access later this year, features another multi-ethnic cast, but the lead character is first officer Michael Burnham, played by ‘The Walking Dead’ alum Sonequa Martin-Green, although her character will mostly be referred to as “Number One.” Martin-Green is an African American woman. Her captain aboard the starship Shenzou is Philippa Georgiou, portrayed by Asian American woman, Michelle Yeoh.
Some people have an issue with this. Though actors usually stay mum in order to avoid controversy, Martin-Green has made a statement in regard to this controversy:
“It’s one of the foundational principles of Star Trek and I feel if you miss that then you miss the legacy itself. I’m incredibly proud to be the lead of this show and be at the forefront of an iteration of Star Trek that’s from the eyes of a black woman that’s never been done before, though obviously there’s been other forms of diversity that have been innovated by Trek. I feel like we’re taking another step forward, which I think all stories should do. We should go boldly where nobody has gone before and stay true to that.”
In a separate interview, George Takei, who is Japanese American and gay said:
“Today in this society we have alien life forms that we call trolls. And these trolls carry on without knowing what they’re talking about and knowing even less about the history of what they’re talking about. And some of these trolls go on to be presidents of nations … These so-called trolls haven’t seen a single episode of the new series because it hasn’t been aired. And they don’t know the history of Star Trek, that Gene Rodenberry created this with the idea of finding strength in our diversity.”
I’m not sure how anyone could watch ANY of the ‘Star Trek’ TV shows or movies and not get the message of acceptance and unity. Having women in a powerful position doesn’t rob men of anything… particularly because this is a fictitious TV show.
No release date has been set for ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ but it is expected to become available to stream this fall.
Source: Entertainment Weekly