Sunday, April 22, 2007

Star Trek as Racist?

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The following quotes come from a book titled, Race-ing towards a White Future. This scholarly analysis of Star Trek (mostly TOS and TNG) was written by Prof. Daniel Bernardi.

Trekdom invites its readers to critique this scholar's viewpoints. Is he being fair to Star Trek? Why or why not?

A few quotes:

"Trek perpetuates the longstanding myth of the natural and humane right of white rule and occupation into and beyond the final frontier."

Star Trek represents the paradox of 1960s liberalism:"The more ideologically hegemonic liberal values seem and the more open to difference liberal modernity declares itself, the more dismissive of difference it becomes and the more closed it seeks to make the circle of acceptability."

About Plato's Stepchildren, the TOS episode that broadcast the first interracial kiss on network TV, Bernardi writes, "The coupling between black and white is coded as undesirable and perverse, a thing to be resisted or kept at arm's length."

"The integrated cast was kept at the margins of most stories and in the background of most shots."

Sulu was "only supposed to look Asian. Otherwise, he was fully assimilated to European values, thus reflecting the destruction of his Asian-ness."

Uhura was "more of a token than a truly integrated character," and her only real screen time presented her as an exotic "prize" for white colonial fantasies.

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"The Undiscovered Country... ends up perpetuating more stereotypes than it challenges and questions. The whiteness of the Federation ends up morally supreme, as the critique of humanocentrism fails to hinder the manifest destiny of white superiority."

"For all its rhetoric of humanism, diversity, and plurality, The Next Generation presents us with a future where everything from the multicultural past to the assimilation of dark aliens smack of a neoconservative project."

Bernardi's Conclusion:

"The point: wherever we come from, the course of evolution, of advancement and sophistication, is literally and metaphorically, physicallly and socially, white. Humans and aliens of color might not get there, or if they do, they have to 'assimilate' and ultimately mind their place... That's TNG's (and Trek's) version of the promised land."