Butawhiteboy Cantbekhan

Star Trek: Into Darkness is the second of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek films. These films have a good budget, great actors, and are action-packed and endearing in many ways.

They also have their problems. The most recent and notable of which was the casting of Khan. Khan, who originally appeared on The Original Series and later in Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan, was the product of eugenics (less the genocidal type and more the selective breeding and genetic augmentation type) from the Eugenics War. He was a POC, which was a bold move (among many bold moves) for Star Trek (suggesting that a perfect human would be something other than white). And it was not just progress for the sake of seeming progressive—it makes sense that any “perfect specimen” of humanity would not be monoracial.

But I don’t really want to talk about multiracial people or eugenics at the moment—I want to talk about casting. Because (I hope that this is not a spoiler for anyone), JJ Abrams chose to whitewash the character of Khan, as he is played in the film by Banananut Cheerios (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Now, Boomerang Contradict (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an actor on BBC’s Sherlock series, and is therefore entirely unavoidable if you are on Tumblr. He has a lot of fans who would be delighted to watch him play anything. While I bear him no personal ill will (though I am fatigued by how much he shows up on Tumblr), I am definitely in the “seriously this was a terrible choice for Khan” crowd.

The following image was the original post of Butawhiteboy Cantbekhan. And it’s perfect. Because, well, whitewashing a POC into a white dude is a step backwards.

More recently, someone posted on Tumblr that no one should hate Blenderman Crumbucket (Benedict Cumberbatch) “for being white,” on the grounds that that is racist. The following was my response:

It’s not hating on him for being white. It is, in fact, a very justified moral outrage at Khan being whitewashed. Which makes no sense for a number of reasons.

It’s really JJ Abrams who is responsible — actors are, I think, expected to take major roles that they are offered (under most circumstances). But it’s not a lack of diversity on its own, and it’s not just normal whitewashing (like if they had cast a white woman to play Storm in X-Men, which would still be awful).

Khan is a genetically enhanced product of eugenics. He’s a perfect physical specimen (which can have many interpretations, certainly), is absolutely brilliant, and absolutely no augments should, realistically, be monoracial. It makes no sense.

Combine something that upsets me as a nerd (that he just doesn’t fit the idea of Khan) with the great-step-backwards whitewashing of an intellectual mastermind (who was a groundbreakingly progressive choice in TOS), and we all have every right to be angry about Into Darkness.

No one hates Benadryl Copperpot (Benedict Cumberbatch) for being white. I don’t think that anyone hates him for accepting that particular role. But I do think that many of us hate the idea of him portraying that role.

PS: I was pretty fond of Fringe but it seems like it’s JJ Abrams’ mission in life to make me want to set him on fire. He might succeed.

PPS: If you think that I’m getting all worked up over nothing, think about Disney’s Lone Ranger film. In which they could not bring themselves to cast a Native American as a Native American.



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Jar Jar Abrams

 

I awoke one day and twitter was all abuzz about JJ Abrams signing on to direct the next Star Wars film. If you have been in hibernation for the past few months, George Lucas sold LucasArts to Disney, and Disney announced that Star Wars: Episodes VII-IX will happen. Episode VI is expected to come out in 2015.

Now, I’ve loved Star Wars for most of my life. That’s true, I think, for a lot of people who were born after the first three films came out. I enjoy the prequels—they do a number of things very well, though they have their shortcomings. Honestly, much better than any of the films is the current series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which is expected to move from Cartoon Network* to DisneyXD after this season, now that ownership of the series has changed hands. Hopefully, none of the content of Clone Wars will change. It’s seriously just . . . so much better than the films. Have a marathon of Clone Wars with some friends and then try to watch one of the films. It’s a weird experience.

I am cautiously optimistic about Disney’s ownership of LucasArts. I mean, Disney is a giant, terrifying corporation. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to quality. This is the company that made the iconic movies that dominated just about everyone’s childhoods. They’re not out to ruin the franchise that they just paid billions of dollars to buy. Plus, Leia is a Disney Princess, now. Super exciting.

Now, JJ Abrams will be directing the next film. Once I have learned all that I can about something, I usually react fairly quickly with “I love this” or “I hate this.” According to high-powered executives on some comedy shows (like Better Off Ted), that would make me a great leader. However, when the JJ Abrams-as-director thing was announced, I had a more cautious reaction.

First of all, JJ Abrams destroyed the planet Vulcan in his first Star Trek film, for which I will never forgive him (yes, the planet is ugly and brown, but seriously the Vulcans are awesome leave them alone). At least now he will be in a setting where the destruction of planets is less of a shock and more of a fact of life.

JJ Abrams’ previous projects are . . . well, interesting. He did a wonderful thing for Star Trek. And while I have some issues with a few things from the 2009 Star Trek film and while all that I know from the trailers for the next Star Trek film is that there will be many explosions and that Benedict Cumberbatch’s face is as ridiculous as his name, I’m glad that he’s doing it.

Lost is much-acclaimed by some people but irritates me to no end. That said, JJ Abrams really just did the pilot of it and then the writers and showrunners after that kind of had no idea where they were going with it. The best things that I can say about Lost is that they had two former cast members from Babylon 5 and that Lost was filmed on the same island as Dante’s Cove.

Fringe is definitely a weird show (and it recently had its finale), but it’s a truly enjoyable show that I . . . did not watch all of the way through.

So I really think that we should be open-minded about JJ Abrams taking on Star Wars. That said, I was “open-minded” about M. Night Shyamalan adapting the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender (one of the greatest shows of all time) into a live-action film, and The Last Airbender turned out to be an outrageous abomination. I’m not saying that I would kill him, but if M Night Shyamalan were dying of thirst and I had an unlimited supply of water, I don’t know that I would share. And I don’t even drink water.

So, JJ Abrams needs to be careful and make something that will please the show’s fans and possibly even attract some new ones. But we should not just dismiss him or these new Star Wars films because we’ve been disappointed in the past.

 

*This is probably for the best, as Cartoon Network apparently likes to cancel its best and most well-rated shows. Like, for example, Young Justice is ranked #2 on IMDB of Cartoon Network’s shows, but they have failed to renew it for a third season. I am all kinds of outraged over this. They’re keeping The Annoying Orange and some of their other, um, “stellar” programming. Oh, and they’re continuing to air live-action shows. On Cartoon Network. Because that makes so much sense. (No but seriously I am so irate with them)



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Run, Hillary. Run!

photo of hillary clinton down pictures
Like many of you, I am already sick and tired of the media speculating on who will run in 2016. Like Christmas music in grocery stores, each election cycle seems to come earlier and earlier, in both cases driving people into fits of madness.

I do not want to hear about it on the news. I’m pretty safe in that, since it is almost 2013 and I do not have to watch the news like an old person to know what is happening in the world. It’s better for my sanity, that way, really.

That said, oh my goodness. Hillary Clinton for President. Please, you guys?

She’s not my perfect candidate, in that she once said that she was unhappy that there was a video game which players could hack to unlock sexual content. She is not my perfect candidate because ideal candidates for the office of the Presidency are all fictional. So David Xanatos/Scorpius 2016 and Elizabeth Weir/Adelle DeWitt 2024 will just have to remain my personal fantasies. Alas.

Other than that, Hillary is pretty darn near perfect for the job. Support for her is now at an all-time high, a lot of people are saying that they would like to see her run. And, by the way, support for her is even higher now than it was when Texts From Hillary started, and that was a huge bump to her popularity—if mostly out of silliness.

Until it was decided that Obama would be the Democratic nominee in 2008, I was TeamHillary. And while I have been very pleasantly surprised by the Obama Administration, I think that a second Clinton Administration would be even better than the first—kind of like how the second Bush Administration was much, much worse than the first.

So, can we have this happen, please? We are really behind on having a female President.

By Star Trek Captain rules, old white guy is followed by black guy who is followed by . . . powerful intimidating woman (that’s Kirk or Picard, followed by Captain Sisko, followed by Captain Kathryn Janeway). Mind you, that’s intelligent powerful intimidating woman. Not scary uninformed Alaskan terrors. The equivalent would be a Klingon* captain, and no Star Trek series has had one of those just yet.

So, let’s put off talking about who should be our next President for a while longer, but oh my goodness let’s silently hope that it is Hillary.



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The Women Of Star Trek

photo of star trek pictures women photos
I am not Star Trek’s biggest fan. I love science fiction; I like Star Trek. I’ve been watching it since early in elementary school (though not regularly until I was watching Star Trek: Voyager in middle school). It’s neat. At its very beginning, it was very cutting-edge. And, for the most part, the Star Trek franchise comes across as progressive.*

The original Star Trek series had the first televised interracial kiss—and that was in the era of censoring comic books because they showed a nameless black astronaut floating in the background. And that’s awesome. But there are downsides to nerd culture, and those are reflected in Star Trek. Star Trek is not always quite so progressive. Sometimes, when compared to other television shows, it lags behind.

While both of these are changing, nerd culture has not, historically, been incredibly friendly to the gay community or to women. To be clear, that has changed a great deal in the past couple of decades (and especially in the past few years). But the women on Star Trek: The Original Series were too often sexual contrasts for the womanizing buffoon that was Captain Kirk.

So, Star Trek had the first interracial kiss. Babylon 5, also known as the greatest science fiction show ever made, had two male characters go undercover as a pair of newlyweds (and, of course, neither batted an eye, because of course same-sex marriage is commonplace in 2260). On Babylon 5, it was also suggested that two female protagonists may have been lovers (though this was progressive for an early 1990s science fiction show, but not for television in general). To my knowledge, the first same-sex kiss between men on a science fiction show was on Stargate: Atlantis. Star Trek tends to convey messages like this symbolically, through interactions with alien cultures.

Star Trek’s treatment of women is, honestly, almost confusing. Captain Kathryn Janeway captained Voyager; she is one of the strongest (and most delightfully terrifying) female characters (or characters, really) whom I can imagine. With Kate Mulgrew’s fantastic …

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