SCREEN-L Archives

January 1999, Week 4


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
Matt McAllister <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 15:59:39 +0100
text/plain (100 lines)
Hi everyone,

Actually, I feel that the original Star Trek was more culturally diverse
than The Next Generation.  In the original version, you at least had
reoccurring crew members that represented (however stereotyped or
superficial) some semblance of different cultures: Swahili culture;
Scottish culture; Russian culture; Japanese culture. Episodes would make
occasionally references to these backgrounds, and in some cases a
character's accent highlighted them. In Star Trek The Next Gen, you have
two choices as a character: Anglo Saxon or alien.  Picard, the supposed
French captain, speaks with a British accent and drinks Earl Grey tea!
Georgi's ethnicity or cultural background was never, in any episode that I
recall, even referred to (at least Uhura's was, however briefly).

Perhaps in TNG, what substituded for race was the guest star aliens.  The
alien races that they encountered were defacto the racial other.  And, more
often than not, they were treated in a "stereotyped" way (ALL Ferengi act
like this; ALL Borg act like this), unless they were assimilated in Anglo
Saxon culture during the course of an episode (like Hugh the Borg).

Just my maybe-not-well-thought-out two cents.

Matt M.

>Actually for a discussion like this, you'd be much better off with "Babylon
>5" which not only has a broader range of characters (including at least one
>major gay character) but very explicitly deals with the problems of
>conflicting cultures, in fact that's probably the show's main theme.  On
>"Star Trek: The Next Generation" the characters work together as a unit and
>are to a larger degree interchangable, as best indicated by a former enemy
>Klingon being a member of the crew.  Cultural differences are mostly used
>for coloration and in the eternal Star Trek optimism are usually something
>that can be fairly easily resolved.  (The original ST had even less
>difference, as does Voyager while Deep Space Nine has much more.)  On
>"Babylon 5" these differences are actual differences, many times
>irreconcilable, other times they can only be worked out on a personal level.
>As for STTNG, Geordi is indeed "blind" though since the visor allows him to
>see I'm not sure how much of a handicap this should be considered.  Captain
>Picard is indeed played by a British actor but the character is supposed to
>be French; again this makes no real difference in the show.  There are in
>fact nurseries on board the Enterprise as seen in one of the recent movies
>(Generations I think) but the implications of this (or anything involving a
>long-term storyline) aren't really explored.  It's interesting that
>Roddenberry and a significant number of fans insist that the Enterprise is
>not a military ship despite the military protocol, structure, behavior,
>training, etc; again it's that ST exploring the future outlook.  And of
>course the point of military training is precisely to erase differences
>which is why ST has an "inclusive" family.
>>The Truman Show/Pleasantville - the way things used to be
>The Truman Show has widely been interpreted as how things are *now*, though
>I didn't see how it engages with any kind of reality, cultural or political.
>>Unit Two - The Black experience
>>The Color Purple
>>Malcolm X
>>Do the Right Thing
>These films don't have any direct bearing on the "experience" of any black
>person that I know, none of whom were ever slaves, revolutionaries or
>rioters to the best of my knowledge.  Perhaps, a Charles Burnett film like
>"To Sleep With Anger" or something like "Soul Food" might provide a better
>Lang Thompson
>"Goethe once proposed that a museum of the
>inauthentic be created in Rome, in which plaster
>casts of all the antiquities that had been
>discovered could be displayed." - Moatti, Search
>for Ancient Rome
>Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite

Matt McAllister  e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Department of Communication Studies, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA  24061-0311 USA  ph: 540-231-9830  fax: 540-231-9817

Department of Communication Studies at Virginia Tech Seminar Series:

Popular Communication Division of ICA:

Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama.