By Ray Charlston
This article is a transcript of my recent conversation with Dr. Norman Frederickson. Dr. Frederickson is the President of the Campaign for Equality, Justice and Peace. We discussed Star Trek’s long history of racism and sexism, as well as plans by Paramount to launch a new Star Trek series next year.
RC: Hello Dr. Federickson. Thank you for agreeing to join me to discuss this topic.
NF: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
RC: Dr. Frederickson, what is your response to those who say that Star Trek is not racist? What can we say to those who claim that Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, was not only not racist, but an avowed anti-racist?
NF: It really reveals how little progress we’ve made in terms of racial issues. Some will point out that in the original Star Trek series, the Enterprise crew included an African-American woman, a Japanese man, even a Vulcan, played by Leonard Nimoy, a Jewish actor. Captain James T. Kirk was played by William Shatner, who is Jewish. However, Shatner looks and sounds like a gentile! This is not a Semitic looking guy! White gentiles watching Star Trek could easily see him as one of their own, identifying with him, and forgetting that he was Jewish! What could be more Anti-Semitic than selecting a Jewish captain who neither looks nor sounds Jewish? Not only that, but there isn’t even a hint as to his Jewish identity in the series.
Kirk is presented as an all-American boy who grew up in Iowa of all places, it doesn’t get much whiter than that! The women that Kirk is interested in, are all invariably gentile. Kirk even chases after a green woman. That’s fine with Star Trek, as long as she isn’t Jewish! Likewise Spock, played by Nimoy, shows no signs of being Jewish in Star Trek. Although the Vulcan hand sign derives from the Jewish priestly blessing, how many people will recognize it or even know that fact?
Although Star Trek features a variety of races, even in the original series, the actors of those minority groups were marginalized and oppressed. Non-whites were taking orders from whites. Women were taking orders from men. This is unacceptable. It is immoral and it disgusts me. Star Trek can rightly be regarded as an extreme expression of white neo-colonialism. We don’t keep our blacks on plantations anymore, or our women in the kitchen. Now they are on space ships, but they are still our servants. They are still taking orders from whitey! Nothing has changed in the distant future in which the events of the Star Trek universe are based!
RC: What about the United Federation of Planets? Isn’t it basically a means for white men to gain control over non-whites and alien races and to oppress them?
NF: Precisely, that’s exactly what it is! In Star Trek, there is a United Federation of Planets and countless inhabited worlds are members. A lot of people see this as a kind of galactic UN, with humans offering aid and assistance to various alien races as part of their mission. That sounds very noble and altruistic doesn’t it? But alas that is only how the Federation is intended to be superficially perceived. In reality, this Federation is merely a ruse for white men to gain control over other worlds and dominate them. Starfleet is run largely by white men from Earth, and it dominates the United Federation of Planets. There is nothing progressive about that!
In Star Trek there is the Prime Directive, a rule forbidding any interference with developing technologically backward worlds that have not yet achieved warp drive capability. Captain Kirk violates this rule whenever it suits him. While somewhat more concerned with obeying the rules, Captain Jean-Luc Picard also admits to setting that rule aside when he feels that there are larger issues at stake. Star Trek captains have rather consistency seen themselves as above the law.
At one point in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard made contact with a brownish proto-Vulcan race, the Mintakans. The Mintakans regarded him as a deity, and the Enterprise as some kind of magical sky ship. Picard was admittedly not pleased with this development. He worked to dissuade the Mintakans of this notion, but the purpose of the episode was to establish the Mintakans intellectual inferiority, in a flagrant example of racism.
There can be absolutely no doubt that the Star Trek: The Next Generation writers were doing a parody on cargo cults, in which aboriginals worship white men, deifying them. These aboriginals regarded their airplanes as some sort of magical birds, capable of carrying humans inside them and bringing food and treasures with them. The Mintakans provided a way for the writers to express their mocking disdain and contempt for aboriginal island peoples. In short, their belief that it is morally acceptable to conquer and enslave them, that these people ought to rightly regard white men as gods! It’s outrageous racism! How dare anyone try to claim that Star Trek is somehow progressive!
RC: Could you talk some about the role of women in Star Trek?
NF: I would be happy to. In Star Trek, women are also marginalized and even dehumanised. Essentially, women are used as eye candy, objectifying them to boost male-viewership. Or they were written into the series as romantic accessories for the ship’s captain or other male crew members. The original uniform for females in Starfleet was incredibly short and rather tight, having been clearly designed to objectify them. No woman would choose to wear something like this of her own free will! The uniforms were clearly designed by men in order to degrade women!
Later in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deanna Troi, the ship’s counsellor, would wear a short uniform somewhat resembling the original uniform for female crew members in the first series. Then they switched her uniform, putting her in a tight fitting kind of body suit. Finally, toward the end of the series, they decided to have her wear a normal Starfleet uniform like the rest of the crew! I wonder how many letters from feminists it took for that to finally happen? Deanna Troi was portrayed as a calm and mild mannered women most of the time, when she could have been portrayed as strong and independent.
Both of the main female characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Counsellor Troi, and Dr. Beverly Crusher, had long hair. The show wanted them to appear somewhat traditionally female. Why couldn’t they have had short hair? Why couldn’t one of them have been a rather masculine lesbian? Obviously, they wanted to keep male viewers tuned into the show, and they weren’t afraid to stereotype women in order to do it! Indeed, objectifying and stereotyping women has been Star Trek’s stock and trade from the very beginning!
By the fourth season of Star Trek: Voyager, Jerri Ryan was selected to join the cast in a bid to increase ratings. It could be said that at the time, Jerri Ryan was a woman who virtually epitomized Nordic beauty. The decision was made to have her wear extremely tight clothing showed off her figure. She was a woman with long blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin and a youthful appearance. Ratings increased 60% once she joined, revealing just how sexist the public is! I could hardly stand to watch Voyager after she joined the show. Her feminine appearance and stereotypical Aryan beauty just made me sick!
One of the most annoying Star Trek characters ever was also introduced on Voyager. Neelix, a slightly brownish character who wouldn’t shut up, and was clearly designed to make white people hate those with brown skin! Despite Neelix having brownish make up, they used a white actor for the role! They did one thing right though, they gave Neelix a pretty white girlfriend, although she eventually broke up with him. Unfortunately, she had a very soft and feminine voice, but at least they cut her hair very short so that she’s not completely feminine.
Now some critics of my views on Star Trek have pointed out that Jadzia Dax was a science officer in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Let’s be honest here; she was selected as yet more eye candy for the largely white and male Star Trek audience. Why couldn’t they pick a less attractive science officer? Jadzia Dax, despite having several lifetimes of knowledge and life experience, owing to her symbiont, is generally portrayed as a fun and easy going young woman. In fact, DS9 regularly objectified women. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of their objectification is that they constantly used white women! If they insist on parading around beautiful women, why couldn’t they occasionally use women of colour?
In Quark’s bar there were dabo girls, basically scantily clad showgirls who egged on customers to keep gambling, emptying their pockets at his sleazy establishment. Later in the series Rom, Quark’s brother, marries Leeta, one of the dabo girls. Initially given a minor role in the series, she becomes a more frequent character on DS9. Why is that? I’m sure it had nothing to do with her soft pleasant voice and stunning beauty! She nearly ruined Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, constantly distracting viewers from the narrative of the show.
About the only alien race with a strong woman ruler in Star Trek, is the Borg. The Borg incidentally are an evil race of cyborgs who enslave other races, turning them into drones by forcibly injecting nanoprobes into their bodies. These are arguably the most evil and terrifying characters in the entire Star Trek universe. Of course, they have a woman leader! It’s really hard to imagine a franchise more sexist, and more chauvinistic than Star Trek!
RC: Some people will point to Gene Roddenberry’s affair with a non-white woman to argue he couldn’t have been racist, won’t they?
NF: Oh yes, that argument really has no merit whatsoever! Although it is true that Gene Roddenberry had an affair with Nichelle Nichols, an African-American woman, and actress. She played Uhura in the first Star Trek series. Let me be clear, this does not absolve Roddenberry of racism. Strom Thurmond also had an affair with an African-American, and even had a child with her, yet we all know he was a racist hate monger who deeply hated all blacks because of the colour of their skin! Besides marginalizing woman and minorities, Roddenberry manifested his racism through the creation of various fictional alien races. They provided him with the perfect outlet for expressing his stereotypically racist views. They give him just enough cover that he could express his racism, and when confronted about it, could fall back on the claim that these were fictional alien races!
RC: Could you tell us more about those alien races and how they represented manifestations of Gene Roddenberry’s racism? I would love to hear specific examples.
NF: Absolutely. It has been documented at some length! Arguably the greatest example of this are the Ferengi, an alien race that regard greed, avarice and selfishness as virtues. This race of unscrupulous capitalist profiteers clearly has its roots in anti-Semitic canards about Jews. They are portrayed as a race willing to commit any crime, or engage in any kind of dishonesty or trickery in order to turn a profit. This race is known for its very large and ridiculous looking ears.
Many of the Ferengi race are involved in gambling and a kind of legalized prostitution known as holosuites in which customers may have relations with holographic women for a price. The Ferengi treat their women as slaves. In Ferengi society women are forbidden from even wearing clothes or leaving their own homes. Ferengi cultural attitudes toward women may well be inspired by the Torah, in which women are legally considered slaves.
The most prominent Ferengi character in Star Trek, Quark, was played by Armin Shimmerman, a Jewish actor! Incidentally, Quark’s nephew Nog is also played by a Jewish actor. The Ferengi even have a sacred book, the Rules of Acquisition, which anti-Semites have compared to the Jewish Torah or the Talmud. The book has even been published and the rules are available online on various fan web sites!
The Rules of Acquisition include injunctions such as “Once you have their money, you never give it back.” Anti-Semites find parallels between some of these rules and Jewish religious law. Another example is “A contract is a contract, but only between Ferengi.” These hate mongers point out that Judaism permits a Jew to charge a gentile interest but not other Jews. “Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.”- Deuternomy 23:20
An interesting relationship in Star Trek, which is expressly highlighted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is that of the Cardassians and the Bajorans. Roddenberry expressed his disdain for minorities through the Bajorans, and parodies their victim status. Bajorans are portrayed as a backward religious people who worship the wormhole aliens as prophets. Bajoran women are portrayed as strong, independent, and aggressive, utilizing Anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish women. Although the Ferengi for Roddenberry, typified Jews the most, they clearly influenced the creation of the Bajorans as well.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine includes many references to a past occupation of Bajor by the Cardassians, and to the many crimes the Cardassians committed against the Bajorans. Clearly Star Trek is making fun of suffering minorities, and trying to make allegations of past racial grievances sound tiresome to privileged whites! Bajoran griping seems to never end, and Bajorans are depicted as being racially prejudiced against any Cardassian they see, viewing their entire race as collectively guilty for the actions of only some Cardassians in the past!
Cardassians, in contrast to the Bajorans are portrayed as orderly, intelligent, ambitious, well-dressed, patriotic, and realistic in their views and attitudes toward human nature or in this case, the nature of various alien races. In one episode, in which Miles O’Brian is taken to a Cardassian court, it is also shown that they have a highly efficient no-nonsense legal system, which they regarded as the best in the quadrant.
It is implied that Cardassians have achieved a crime-free society through fascist and totalitarian measures. Star Trek writers use Cardassian culture to seductively lure the public toward fascism! They want governments to adopt fascist measures in order to persecute innocent minorities! They want young African-Americans, accused of crimes, to be locked up forever with the key thrown away! They don’t want you to look deeper for the real causes of crime, like poverty and racism! No, they just want you to hate criminals!
Romulans are another major example of Star Trek racism! They are portrayed as a cold and calculating race. Unlike the Vulcans, their closest relatives, they are said to have emotions, but the only ones they ever seem to express are selfishness, suspicion and cynicism! They fit well-established racist depictions of Asians. In Star Trek V, an Asian actress even plays the role of a Romulan! Could they possibly make this any more blatant? Gene Roddenberry married his second wife in a Shinto ceremony in Japan, was it there that he learned to hate the Japanese and all Asians?
Klingons are one of the most famous races in the Star Trek universe, if not the most famous. They are often portrayed by African-American actors. Even when Klingons are depicted by white actors, they are wearing brownish make up. Klingons have jagged yellow teeth and are depicted as not overly concerned with basic hygiene. They are shown to be a savage, violent, and vulgar race lacking self control.
Klingon impulsivity and cruelty is tempered with their sense of honour, however, many violate their own codes of honour whenever it suits them! Klingons are clearly presented as an inferior race. Often as little more than dirty, gagh eating, drunken louts and hooligans, who go looking for physical confrontations. When a Klingon belches out loud in Star Trek V, the aforementioned Romulan woman says “I expect that’s Klingon for hello.”
In Star Trek: Voyager, a new race, the Kazon appear for the first time. They are basically just a newer version of the Klingons. It would be fair to say they are the Delta Quadrant Klingons. Incidentally, the Kazon also have dark skin and dark hair! In fact, many Kazon have dread-lock type hair styles. The comparison to African-Americans is in some ways even more apparent with the Kazon than with the Klingons! If anything, Star Trek actually becomes more racist over time!
Vulcans are essentially a race of white masculine racists. In Vulcan culture, emotions are shunned and all emphasis is placed on allowing logic and reason to guide society and social interactions. Vulcans are portrayed as a wise and successful race for having shunned emotion instead of having embraced it. In other words, Vulcans are the opposite of blacks and women! They are the least cool and the least vibrant of all Star Trek races. They are stereotypical white nerds! Granted, some Vulcans are portrayed as Black but they are still acting white!
Although Star Trek was started in 1966, it wasn’t until 1993 that a Star Trek series finally featured an African-American in a leading role, namely Benjamin Sisko, commander of Deep Space Nine. It took 27 years for that to happen! It wasn’t until 1995 that a Star Trek series finally had a female captain. A full 29 years after the creation of Star Trek! Talk about slow, the Enterprise may be capable of warp 9.5, but when it comes to social progress, Star Trek is moving as slowly as a snail!
The last Star Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise, ran from 2001 through 2005. Logically, the captain should have been gay! We’ve had a woman, we’ve had an African-American, now it was time for a gay man, yet Paramount made the decision to cast Scott Bakula, who has been married twice, as captain! Bakula has had gay roles before. He would have been able to convincingly play a gay captain, yet Paramount revealed the extent of its profound homophobia by denying the world a gay captain! To add insult to injury, with Star Trek: Enterprise, the chief engineer Trip Tucker has an annoying Texas accent that is so bad, he makes the series unwatchable. Why they felt the need to send a dumb redneck into space is beyond me.
Unfortunately, Star Trek has a long history of homophobia! Gene Roddenberry actually admitted to being a past homophobe in a 1991 interview with The Humanist! Of course Roddenberry said he changed and was no longer a homophobe, as most homophobes will claim in order to avoid justified criticism. Yet, did Roddenberry offer any signs to substantiate his stated change? No, not one! There is no reason to believe he did not die hating “fags,” as he admitted he used to call homosexuals! That alone, should be enough to get everyone to boycott Star Trek, and burn any Star Trek memorabilia they may own! Even if Roddenberry had changed, there should be no forgiveness ever for that kind of past homophobic hate!
In a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Host” Dr. Beverly Crusher falls in love with Odan, an alien life form who survives using different bodies as hosts. Odan is surgically transferred from a male to a female body. Dr. Crusher, suddenly loses interest in the relationship, limiting herself to a rigid heterosexuality! As Psychologists and Sexperts now recognize, no person is entirely heterosexual. Sexuality is a continuum, and everyone feels some level of attraction to some people of the same sex. The prudish and repressed Dr. Crusher however, chose to rigidly cling to heterosexuality when given an excellent opportunity to explore a same sex relationship! She had a chance to encourage a whole generation of young people to experiment sexually, yet she failed miserably!
It wasn’t until after Roddenberry’s death in Star Trek: Voyager, that a gay character makes a one episode visit. In “Message in a Bottle” the doctor is sent to the sickbay of the USS Prometheus. The ship has been commandeered by Romulans and the doctor activates the holographic EMH on the Prometheus! You see this gay “character” is actually a hologram, he isn’t even a real person! To make matters worse, he never actually states he is gay, however he acts and sounds like a very annoying stereotypically gay person.
Clearly Star Trek: Voyager decided to have a gay character designed to annoy or disgust viewers rather than to make them more accepting of homosexuality! On top of all that, this EMH is a coward, and the doctor from Voyage must exert some effort in order to convince him to help him fight the Romulans! The Prometheus EMH, it turns out, is played by a bisexual actor! Star Trek couldn’t even get a gay actor to play a gay hologram! How sad is that?!
George Takei played the role of Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek. Some people may point out that he did come out publicly as a homosexual in 1995! What took him so long, I have to ask? Unfortunately, his character was never gay and even had a daughter in one of the Star Trek films! Sadly, Sulu does not count as a gay Star Trek character! According to Takei, his fellow cast members knew he was gay but were “cool” about it, knowing that if it got out in the past it would have cost him his career! What a bunch of despicable cowards! How are gay youth ever supposed to get the courage to come out of the closest with piss poor examples like this! How can the world learn to accept Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and the Transgendered if they all stay in the closest?
Fortunately, the new Star Trek series planned for 2015 will finally feature a gay captain! Unfortunately Paramount couldn’t resist creating a stereotypically gay character for the position. It is being reported that this captain will sometimes wear a pink cardigan sweater, he will speak with a pronounced lisp and have a pet Chihuahua that he carries around with him in a small purse! The character sounds like an insult rather than a victory for LGBT rights.
The new gay captain will chase men, as much as Kirk likes to chase women. In one episode, it is rumoured he will get into a fight for hitting on a man who isn’t gay! At least half the time he’ll be shown in the ship’s bar trying to pick up guys, ordering girly drinks and talking to the new African-American gay male version of Guinan. Why can’t Paramount have a serious gay captain instead of a silly clown like this? Unfortunately, the studio remains as homophobic as ever! If you thought Voyager and Enterprise were bad, wait until you see this!
RC: It sounds like another terrible series. They should have cast Bakula as gay in my opinion. As you said, he could play a convincing gay captain very well. They really screwed up not making him gay! There are so many Trekkers who are misguided progressives. They think Star Trek is somehow a progressive show. They want something to be proud of. They want to watch a series that inspires them. What could be more inspiring or a greater source of pride than having a gay Star Trek captain, one who isn’t a total flake? A gay captain who is just like us, except gay!
NF: I agree. It’s true, they had their chance and they blew it, yet again. Something else has escaped many people’s notice. Where are the Muslims on Star Trek? I have never seen a single Muslim on Star Trek! Why aren’t there any Muslims on Star Trek? There was Dr. Julian Bashir, but he was the most white acting Arab ever. Furthermore, he never gave any hint of being Muslim. We are told that Gene Roddenberry was an atheist who believed that mankind would have outgrown religion in the distant future when the events of Star Trek take place. Unfortunately, that explanation doesn’t hold up. There have been Native Americans on Star Trek, even religiously practicing ones like Chakotay on Voyager who played the First Officer. The Bajorans have a religion too! Again, where are the Muslims in the Star Trek universe? Were they all killed off?
Where are the transsexuals on Star Trek? Where are larger or heavier women on Star Trek? Have you noticed there are no women of larger size on Star Trek? Everyone is either average or anorexic! Star Trek has an opportunity to show viewers that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colours, but do they do so? No, sadly they don’t. Star Trek promotes an idealized version of the female body which is totally unrealistic!
Star Trek: The Next Generation featured an interracial marriage between Miles O’Brien and Kieko Ishikawa. Why is it that whenever there is an interracial marriage involving a white man, he is marrying an Asian woman? Why can’t white men marry African-American women? This marriage just plays out another racist staple about the submissive and passive Asian woman.
Why is it that there was never a single gay marriage on Star Trek? Although there was a kiss between Jadzia Dax and another woman, it was explained these two were lovers when one of them used to inhabit a male body when her symbiont was inside a former host. So, that doesn’t really count! In the mirror universe, as portrayed in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Kira from there seemingly falls in love with the other Kira and later she has a relationship with Ezri Dax. She isn’t a lesbian though, but at best a bisexual, also expressing interest in male characters. She is also portrayed as a major villain with no sense of personal ethics! Way to go Star Trek, make the first real bisexual character into an evil despot!
RC: Let’s talk about some of the characters on Star Trek and how they reinforce stereotypes and racism.
NF: The most prominent Bajoran in Star Trek, is obviously Major Kira. She comes across as angry, belligerent and domineering most of the time! Commander Sisko is the stereotypical angry black man. He even gets into a fist fight with Q in one episode. He often raises his voice and grows impatient easily. By contrast Captain Picard, the white male captain, was depicted as measured in his actions and reasonable. Picard is the wise old white man, Sisko, the impulsive younger angry black guy!
Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation is a black Klingon, he responds to everything by suggesting fighting or violence. The more reasonable Captain Picard constantly has to use his position to restrain him from getting everyone killed. Captain Picard is also an older white male captain in a nod to Ageism. While Kirk, who was younger in the original Star Trek was portrayed as somewhat impulsive and lacking in self discipline, Picard, the older and the whiter Captain is shown as possessing superior qualities and abilities. Kirk is prone to frequent rule breaking, Picard much less so! Star Trek is clearly racist, sexist, ageist and even speciesist!
RC: Does Star Trek ever speak out against gun violence? I think it actually encourages gun violence. Does it not? They were flashing weapons all the time on Star Trek, they called them phasers!
NF: Star Trek is shooting everyone with phasers! Glamorizing guns and weapons! Indeed it is standard Starfleet procedure for the crew to go armed on any away missions! Anytime the crew leaves the ship for a strange alien planet, you can be sure they are armed! If this were the real world, the crew would be more likely to injure themselves by carrying phasers instead of defending themselves effectively with them! It’s completely unrealistic!
Perhaps most disturbingly, at Star Trek conventions, replicas of the phasers are often worn as part of the costumes that fans make. Some children are even seen playing with toy phasers! It is disgusting, and it only serves to strengthen the glamorization of gun violence and the radical gun culture! How many children are dead because of Star Trek’s phasers? We may never know, but it is a lot, you can bet on that!
RC: Besides the Romulans, and the marriage of the O’Briens which you mentioned earlier, Star Trek marginalizes Asian Americans in other ways, doesn’t it?
NF: Yes, it absolutely does! In Star Trek, Asian-Americans are always marginalized. In Star Trek: Voyager, ensign Harry Kim basically goes along with whatever scheme or irresponsible idea Tom Paris comes up with. Although he mildly protests them, he is depicted as weak and a follower and not a leader! He never advances beyond the rank of ensign so far as we know! Why couldn’t Star Trek reverse the two roles, with Tom Paris as the hapless follower and Harry Kim as the daring crewman who gets all the girls? Unfortunately, yet again, Star Trek adopts stereotypical roles for Asian men!
RC: At least with Voyager we finally see a female captain though.
NF: True. Unfortunately she is portrayed as a very masculine woman. Eventually her hair is cut short, she is curt with the crew, she has no romantic relationships with any males or females during her time on the ship. She can be a bit abrasive. She’s the stereotypical female leader. She can’t balance her femininity with her role as a leader. Male society says you have to have one or the other and not both. Men can’t be seen as following a soft spoken feminine woman, they have to be following a rather curt and aggressive one with fairly short hair! They make her hair very short later in the series.
RC: An excellent point! Star Trek is also speciesist isn’t it?
NF: Yes, it is. Although Data, an android, is recognized as a person by Starfleet, he is portrayed as a kind of wanna-be human. He constantly expresses his wish to become “more human” and he isn’t proud of being an android! Clearly, androids or artificial humans are not recognized as equals. In fact, in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Starfleet has legal hearings as to the personhood of Data, revealing just how much it was questioned. The message is clear, human life is seen as somehow superior or more valuable when compared to that of artificial life forms like androids!
RC: Doesn’t Star Trek also endorse white culture, white music, white literature? And even white elitism at times?
NF: Absolutely! I’m so glad you brought this up! Jean-Luc Picard. What kind of name is that? It’s obviously French. Captain Picard is a white man! With him, Star Trek clearly took a major step backwards! Not just any white man, but an elitist upper class French white man no less! Patrick Stewart, the actor who plays Picard, was previously a Shakespearian actor! In the series, Picard’s brother owns a wine vineyard in France inherited from their family! Picard keeps a copy of the works of Shakespeare in his office! The crew puts on enactments of Shakespearian plays! Picard is a tea drinking, book reading, privileged white male who minority viewers are completely unable to relate to! They can’t understand him! He isn’t cool at all, he’s just another tired bald old white man!
Data and Geordi La Forge are another example, although somewhat less so than Picard. Despite La Forge being African-American, he and Data solve Sherlock Holmes mysteries in the holodeck! Why couldn’t they go sailing and listen to Reggae music or something? Why does it always have to be an elitist white form of entertainment. Of course the tone of entertainment becomes somewhat more populist on Voyager. Though even then Tom Paris likes to frequent a French bar on the holodeck on occasion, and Captain Janeway likes to converse with Leonardo Da Vinci! Why can’t they visit with Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Ghandi? Why can’t they march for civil rights or LGBT rights on the holodeck instead for a fun and educational activity?
RC: Star Trek, in its various shows, was basically an elitist franchise for white males? It actually became more elitist over time, at least until recently?
NF: Precisely! Star Trek: The Next Generation for instance, probably the most successful of all the Star Trek programs, featured morality tales intertwined with complex science fiction plots. Science fiction only appeals to white male nerds and white intellectuals. It has no mass appeal. Sure some minorities, mostly Asians and some women like Star Trek, but they have always been in the minority among Trekkers! It is mostly white men. Anything that mostly white men follow can’t possibly be good!
Many African-Americans are functionally illiterate. How are they going to understand and enjoy a plot about Lt. Barkley’s brain somehow becoming interfaced with the Enterprise computer, or the birth of new life forms made up entirely of artificial technology? Time travel, holes in space, parallel dimensions, all of these are fictional concepts that entertain privileged white males. They have no great appeal to people of colour or women, because Star Trek is an elitist, racist, sexist and white privileged franchise!
RC: You’ve talked a lot about Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager. You haven’t said a great deal about Enterprise or Star Trek the 2009 film.
NF: Essentially Star Trek has become unwatchable. I am forced to agree with some of its racist fans on this point. Enterprise reveals a crew that doesn’t seem to have the faintest idea what it is doing. The characters are relatively one-dimensional. Essentially, the philosophy of Star Trek has been replaced with an old western. It’s reverting back to its less sophisticated original form as a space western, but with even less of a plot. Lots of fighting, not a lot of interesting story telling. Not a lot of interesting ideas are presented.
The 2009 Star Trek film had special effects, strange angled camera shots, more lens flares than I have ever seen in any movie before, and lots of fast-paced action, but no plot. Why does a movie even need deliberate lens flares? It was majorly annoying. The film does include an interracial or inter-species kiss between Spock and Uhura but the actor who plays Spock is gay in real life, so that doesn’t count. The kiss is obviously contrived. Spock is also a Vulcan, the entire occurrence doesn’t add up.
Kirk is portrayed as an obnoxious jerk who literally wants to bed every woman he can find. Even green ones! So, he hasn’t changed all that much. It was the worst Star Trek I have ever seen, and that’s saying a lot as bad as Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Enterprise were! While interracial, or in this case interspecies couplings, deserve promotion, the total lack of any kind of compelling plot or storyline negates any good that Star Trek could be doing. Can this franchise really be sustained without any sort of a plot and with all the philosophical musings of the earlier Star Treks stripped away? Time will tell.
RC: We’ve talked about Star Trek but what about Star Wars? Star Wars is racist too isn’t it?
NF: Are you kidding? Two words, Jar Jar. The annoying character who speaks gibberish, runs around like an imbecile and has big lips etc. The character was so annoying that fans created an illegally edited no-Jar-Jar version of the film! George Lucas may be married to a woman of colour, but he is not above creating racist characters for the Star Wars universe. Perhaps Lucas is a sadist and married his wife in order to degrade and torment her? I’m sick of people saying he can’t be racist because he’s married to a black woman. That position has no merit whatsoever! One might also ask where are the gay characters in Star Wars? Where are the Hispanics? Where are the transgendered? Where are the Muslims? Of course Star Wars is a whole different topic.
RC: Unfortunately, we are out of time. Thank you Dr. Frederickson for joining us. It was a pleasure talking with you as always.
NF: Likewise, thank you for having me. Good bye.
RC: Good bye.
If you enjoyed this article, would you consider making a donation of any amount to support our work? You can make a donation by clicking the paypal on the top of this web site. Please read our website disclaimer before donating. All donations are final and non-refundable.
Copyright © 2014 Diversity Chronicle All Rights Reserved.