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29 July 2009 @ 10:57
 
As part of International Blog Against Racism Week, peri_peteia has an excellent post about the significance of Uhura and Spock's relationship precisely because Nyota Uhura is not a white girl.

ETA: from discussions in comments:

I am so deeply frustrated at folks equating discussions of Uhura as a character with 'shipper debates between Spock/Uhura and Kirk/Spock fans. Because it's very much not about that--nor is it about het fans versus slash fans. Or TOS fans versus AOS fans. And I think that's part of the problem--folks trying to take cheap shots at people with whose opinions they disagree by reducing the discussion to an "us vs them" situation and then dismissing their points out of hand as "sour grapes" and the like.

I do think that the relationship dynamics in AOS versus TOS are a part of it. I've seen a lot of people justifying their objections to Uhura and Bones' roles being presented with equal importance and the new dynamics of Kirk/McCoy and Spock/Uhura "square" as wrongly supplanting the TOS Holy Trinity of Spock/Kirk/Bones. That what they dislike and even resent about the new film relationship dynamics is the unnecessary change to what they perceive as the desired status quo.

Given that in TOS canon that Kirk was kinda pissed at being stuck with Spock as his XO instead of his BFF Gary Mitchell, it's not as if Kirk and Spock were BFFs from the get-go. A lot of their close relationship comes over time, and is really more of the focus of the films than the series. If the presence of McCoy doesn't threaten the Kirk & Spock friendship in TOS, I don't see how it becoming McCoy and Uhura suddenly makes Kirk and Spock becoming BFFs impossible, personally.

I think there is a feeling among some fans that the Kirk and Spock friendship in STXI should or must have the same weight and importance and significance as it did in TOS in order for the relationships to be considered valid or worthy. And they are uncomfortable with the idea that AOS is both recontextualising relationships and taking them in different directions that may not result in the exact same Kirk and Spock relationship that people loved in TOS. Not necessarily because of the Kirk/Spock subtext, but that is a factor for people who have invested themselves in the Kirk/Spock relationship in fan works.

But "different" does not mean "lesser" or "wrong" any more than it means "better" or "correct". It just means different. And we've already travelled down the one road and explored its every nook and cranny over 40 years of canon, and fan works, and meta. Personally, I prefer taking the new road and seeing where it leads us. Even if we recognise the landscape from the new vantage point, that doesn't mean we'll still need to end up at the exact same destination. No matter what happens, the journey is a new one because these are no longer the exact same people as their Prime counterparts. They have had different experiences, created different relationships, and I want to see those new relationships grow organically over time, now.

EMETA: To say "I don't see race" or "I don't see gender" strips the characters of some of their importance and impact, and diminishes them to me, because it's so important that they be recognised for who they are and what that means to all of us.

Even if you're looking at the characters, that doesn't make Spock not white. Any more than it would make Tuvok not black. Or Sulu not Asian. When you look at the characters, you need to see the character--and that includes the actor's ethnicity, because it's a part of who they are, and not only informs how the audience responds to them, but how they fit in the larger context of the fictional universe.

For example, it's HUGE to me that Sisko is black--and that his relationship with his son Jake is the strongest, healthiest, most well-rounded child-parent relationship in Trek. And while in the fictional 24th century it may be no big deal to have a Black Man In Charge, in the 20th Century when the show was filmed and aired, THAT IS HUGE. That is important. And most of all, THAT IS AWESOME. The same way that while there are other female captains and XOs in Trek, Janeway was hugely important to have an entire series anchored by a female captain for the first time in the franchise.
 
 
 
StClair: oopscmdr_zoom on 29th July 2009 17:23 (UTC)
And here I thought it was just about her not being James Kirk.
(THE SLASH MUST FLOW.)
ljc: facepalmstaraljc on 29th July 2009 17:38 (UTC)
I am SO DEEPLY FRUSTRATED at folks equating discussions of Uhura as a character with 'shipper debates between Spock/Uhura and Kirk/Spock fans. Because it's very much not about that--nor is it about het fans versus slash fans. Or TOS fans versus AOS fans. And that's part of the problem I think--folks trying to take cheap shots at people whose opinions they disagree with by reducing the discussion to an "us vs them" situation and then dismissing their points out of hand as "sour grapes" and the like.

I do think that the relationship dynamics in AOS versus TOS are a part of it. I've seen a lot of people justifying their objections to Uhura and Bones' roles being presented with equal importance and the new dynamics of Kirk/McCoy and Spock/Uhura "square" as wrongly supplanting the TOS Holy Trinity of Spock/Kirk/Bones. That what they dislike and even resent about the new film relationship dynamics is the unnecessary change to what they perceive as the desired status quo.

I think there is a feeling among some fans that the Kirk and Spock friendship should or must have the same weight and importance and significance as it did in TOS in order for the relationships to be considered valid or worthy. And they are uncomfortable with the idea that AOS is both recontextualising relationships and taking them in different directions that may not result in the Kirk and Spock relationship that people loved in TOS. Not necessarily because of the Kirk/Spock subtext, but that is a factor for people who have invested themselves in the Kirk/Spock relationship in fan works.

But "different" does not mean "lesser" or "wrong" any more than it means "better" or "correct". It just means different. And we've already travelled down the one road and explored its every nook and cranny over 40 years of canon, and fan works, and meta. Personally, I prefer taking the new road and seeing where it leads us. Even if we recognise the landscape from the new vantage point, that doesn't mean we'll still need to end up at the exact same destination. No matter what happens, the journey is a new one because these are no longer the exact same people as their Prime counterparts. They have had different experiences, created different relationships, and I want to see those new relationships grow organically over time, now.

ETA: I know you were just being flip. But you just lit the fuse on something that was bound to explode eventually.

Edited at 2009-07-29 17:41 (UTC)
StClair: zoomcmdr_zoom on 29th July 2009 18:15 (UTC)
I know you were just being flip.

Yeah. Sorry. (Sorry also about the "unpaid edits.") Thanks for your understanding. I have the luxury of watching all of this from a rather bemused remove, not really being invested in either camp. So I smirk at the transparent shipping - but I did read, and thought quite a bit about, the linked post. Thanks for that too.

A post I'd intended to make a week or so hence in my own journal: three months on, I've come to dig the new takes on the characters (especially thanks to the further exploration of them by you and other talented authors). I've even come to accept and enjoy Pine!Kirk and Pegg!Scott, about whom I was very dubious before. Mind you, I still hate the production design (get your damn flashlight out of my eyes, JJ, and stop playing with your Big Red Balls and your sea ice monsters) and the science is absolute trash, but then, when has it not been in ST?

It is what it is, and in a lot of ways it is better, or at least offers the potential to be. (In some others it seems to be different for the sake of being different, or because someone couldn't be bothered, and that's what nags at me still.)

Done now, I swear.
StClair: oopscmdr_zoom on 29th July 2009 18:26 (UTC)
addendum for clarification: the things I gripe about being different aren't the character dynamics, which I enjoy - only technical/design details, mostly the ship and the sets. Dismiss it as cranky old fan grumbling if you like.
ljc: star trek (pike/number one so into her)taraljc on 29th July 2009 18:38 (UTC)
I'm a TOS fan since childhood, and I don't really have issues with the ship and sets. Especially when I look at the differences in production design from "The Cage" to the rest of TOS, for example. I just fell in love with the updated bridge set in part because it was so faithful to the layout we knew from TOS. And with AOS Enterprise being 3 times the size of TOS Enterprise, it made sense in terms of scale that the engine room would be ginormous-er. I just chalk all of that up to the change in focus from exploration to defence in Starfleet after the Kelvin's destruction, the same way Enterprise-E is a sleek battlecruiser in the wake of Wolf 359 and the Dominion War the like, and no more floating Hyatts with families aboard. So it makes totes sense to me that the AOS Enterprise differs from her TOS counterpart.

But then, that's also a fangirl versus fanboy thing, too. I've noticed (mostly from posting at TrekMovie.com) that things like that tend to matter may more to the guys than the gals. It's like the eternal debate over the size/shape of the windows on the TARDIS being something you see the guys get riled up about, more than the chicks.

Edited at 2009-07-29 18:39 (UTC)
StClair: oopscmdr_zoom on 29th July 2009 18:54 (UTC)
Changes after the point of divergence, I can understand. But changes before? Shouldn't Capt. Robau and his bridge crew have been wearing uniforms like the ones in your icon?

And you're right, it's probably a guy thing. Boys and their toys. :/
ljc: star trek (pike)taraljc on 29th July 2009 18:58 (UTC)
Why? My icon is Enterprise from 2254. The Kelvin was from 2233, a period we've never seen before on-screen in any film or series. Why wouldn't they wear some version of a uniform between Archer's and Pike's that's different and unique?

It's not as if Starfleet uniforms don't up and completely redesign every 10 years all the way up through 2387... I mean, look at the uniform changes from TOS to TMP to WOK alone...
StClair: zoomcmdr_zoom on 29th July 2009 19:07 (UTC)
Point well made, and I shall withdraw from the field.

(Though it may be silly (like so much else in Trek) to change that often, you're right, it is established. And I suppose it could be worse; we could have the damn footie pajamas back.)
Darkrose: trek enterprisedarkrosetiger on 29th July 2009 22:10 (UTC)
get your damn flashlight out of my eyes, JJ

Love the LensFlare. The LensFlare Is Your Friend. All of JJ's sekrit messages will be clear when you embrace the LensFlare.
StClair: oopscmdr_zoom on 29th July 2009 22:45 (UTC)
NEVAH

(after about an hour of that, I felt like my icon)
PROBE UNIVERSE: fandom st: brb fangirlingliviapenn on 29th July 2009 20:15 (UTC)

And they are uncomfortable with the idea that AOS is both recontextualising relationships and taking them in different directions that may not result in the Kirk and Spock relationship that people loved in TOS. Not necessarily because of the Kirk/Spock subtext, but that is a factor for people who have invested themselves in the Kirk/Spock relationship in fan works.

Man, I saw someone comment the other day (can't remember where, might even have been your lj) that they disliked Spock/Uhura because they felt like it was TPTB trying to downplay the intensity or whatever of the Kirk/Spock relationship, and I was like "...... man, if that's the movie they make when they're trying to DOWNPLAY the Kirk/Spock relationship, I don't even know what a movie where they were trying to HIGHLIGHT it would look like!" When have we ever gotten such a K/S-y movie??? I mean, in terms of structure (the way it highlights their two childhoods, like a rom-com showing the two leads' lives before they meet) it's K/S all the way. And in terms of plot it's effectively a buddy movie. I mean, the whole LAST 2/3 OF THE FILM is, *overtly*, the way it is because Kirk and Spock's relationship is *so important* that Spock Prime would rather risk the destruction of Earth and Nero's success than go aboard the Enterprise himself. Because the most important thing isn't even saving the Earth, it's establishing an awesome epic life-changing K/S relationship! I cannot even imagine what more a K/S fan could want from a reboot than a movie like this, where it's firmly established *by Leonard Nimoy himself* literally saying, "Kirk and Spock, you must become BFFs or the universe is out of joint." Sheeeeeeeeeeesh.
PROBE UNIVERSE: fandom st: brb fangirlingliviapenn on 29th July 2009 20:17 (UTC)

But really, this is something that I say all the time-- the presence of an icky girl doesn't necessarily make something unslashy. I said it about Smallville's "Red," I said it about The Sentinel's "TS by BS," I said it about blah blah blah. Some people's definition of "slashy" seems to be "No girls allowed," but in a lot of cases, hell, it makes it MORE slashy. (I mean, if I were a huge K/S shipper and wanted to write Reboot K/S, yes, it's very tricky to get rid of Uhura in a believable and non-offensive and non-handwavey way, but then on the other hand, THIS SPOCK HAS SEX WITH HUMANS. Canon. How much easier is it to write K/S when Kirk doesn't have to spend eighty pages wondering if Spock's a virgin? *G*)
juli_x on 29th July 2009 20:47 (UTC)
Seriously.
If you're about Kirk and Spock, I don't know what more you could ask for from the movie. Apart from the point you mentioned, the movie changes the long history Kirk and Spock had on TOS with other characters (Spock and his 11 years with Pike and Kirk on the Farragut with Garrovick). I think Abrams even came out and said that for him Star Trek is really all about Kirk and Spock.

But I admit I don't get caught up in shipper wars. The arguments always get too intense for me - and the ones I've seen in other fandoms lead to a lot of actor bashing.
Taiamutaiamu on 29th July 2009 20:44 (UTC)
Hmmm...I'm not sure you were wanting a response to this, but I was just wandering by, and I had some thoughts:

I must admit, I'm still getting used to the idea of Spock/Uhura. The relationship had never honestly occurred to me. But you're right: 'new' and 'different' don't mean 'bad', and I'm baffled at the outcry I've seen around fandom.

Putting the romantic possibilities aside, how does Uhura threaten the K/S friendship? Is Spock so small an individual that he can't have deep relationships with more than one person? Somehow, I think not.

What I'm wondering is if people expect AOS Kirk and Spock to have the same depth of friendship their counterparts right away. I admit my knowledge of TOS is shaky, but surely K and S Prime didn't declare, upon meeting each other: "Hey, it's my long-lost buddy!"

My point being--relationships take time. AOS Kirk and Spock started on shaky ground, sure, but there was definite respect and maybe the hint of friendship between them at the end of the movie.

We know TPTB are hoping AOS will create a new movie franchise, at least, and I think the success of the NuTrek movie ensures at least one sequel, if not more. So, who's to say that this Kirk and Spock can't eventually reach the friendship their prime selves did? And, I, for one, am interested to see how that plays out.

Okay, I'm done ranting now. Thanks for the space. :)
ljc: star trektaraljc on 29th July 2009 20:48 (UTC)
Given that Kirk was kinda pissed at being stuck with Spock as his XO instead of his BFF Gary Mitchell, it's not as if Kirk and Spock were BFFs from the get-go. A lot of theire close relationship comes over time, and is really more of the focus of the films than the series.

If the presence of McCoy doesn't threaten the Kirk & Spock friendship in TOS, I don't see how it becoming McCoy and Uhura suddenly makes Kirk and Spock becoming BFFs impossible, personally.
StClair: zoomcmdr_zoom on 29th July 2009 23:09 (UTC)
This.
infiniteviking: 10infiniteviking on 29th July 2009 20:36 (UTC)
..Awesome post. *reads several times*
JagfanLJjagfanlj on 30th July 2009 03:36 (UTC)
Awesome Post Is Awesome
...the significance of Uhura and Spock's relationship precisely because Nyota Uhura is not a white girl.

My initial reaction to that sentence was, "Buh, Wha? But Spock isn't white either!" I thought that you were talking about inter-racial couples. *rolls eyes*

peri_peteia is a terrific writer, concise and articulate.
ljc: star trek (spock/uhura)taraljc on 30th July 2009 03:44 (UTC)
Re: Awesome Post Is Awesome
Oh honey. Even if Spock is an allegorical space Jew because he's Vulcan, the truth is... he's played by a white boy. Like, a seriously seriously white boy. So it matters? But yes. peri_peteia is indeed made of AWESOME.
JagfanLJjagfanlj on 30th July 2009 09:32 (UTC)
Re: Awesome Post Is Awesome
I look at the characters as independent of the actors, but I see your point. Although, the phrase "allegorical space Jew" made me giggle -- since Leonard Nimoy is Jewish.
ljc: star trek (spock/uhura)taraljc on 30th July 2009 16:12 (UTC)
Re: Awesome Post Is Awesome
Even if you're looking at the characters, that doesn't make Spock not white. Any more than it would make Tuvok not black. Or Sulu not Asian. When you look at the characters, you need to see the character--and that includes the actor's ethnicity, because it's a part of who they are, and not only informs how the audience responds to them, but how they fit in the larger context of the fictional universe.

For example, it's HUGE to me that Sisko is black--and that his relationship with his son Jake is the strongest, healthiest, most well-rounded child-parent relationship in Trek. And while in the fictional 24th century it may be no big deal to have a Black Man In Charge, in the 20th Century when the show was filmed and aired, THAT IS HUGE. That is important. And most of all, THAT IS AWESOME. The same way that while there are other female captains and XOs in Trek, Janeway was hugely important to have an entire series anchored by a female captain for the first time in the franchise.

To say "I don't see race" or "I don't see gender" strips the characters of some of their importance and impact, and diminishes them to me, because it's so important that they be recognised for who they are and what that means to all of us.
rubynye: Zoe in Midair (bleeding_muse)rubynye on 31st July 2009 03:02 (UTC)
Re: Awesome Post Is Awesome
Oh, my word. THANK YOU. I could not possibly agree more.
JagfanLJjagfanlj on 31st July 2009 10:56 (UTC)
Re: Awesome Post Is Awesome
And while in the fictional 24th century it may be no big deal to have a Black Man In Charge, in the 20th Century when the show was filmed and aired, THAT IS HUGE.

I get the importance, believe me, just as I knew that having a black woman in a command staff position on the original series was ground-breaking for both blacks and women. (For my comments on that, see this post above.) But it was Nichelle Nichols who broke that ground, not Uhura. Just as it was Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew, who made new breakthroughs in the Star Trek franchise, and not Sisko and Janeway.

When I read a book or watch a show or movie, I throw myself into that world. The willing suspension of disbelief breaks the forth wall and I'm there, in the middle of the action. I don't analyze the performances or who comes from which race, because I'm caught up in the situation. Later on, when I have time to refelct on the show, is when I take note of the message the author or actor or producer was trying to convey. An actor's personal history might inform their performance -- depending on what school of acting they favor -- but when I watch Spock and Tuvok I should see Vulcans. Just as when I watch Nell, I should see a young woman who has lived her entire life inisolation, and not a Yale graduate who was indrectly the cause of an assasination attempt on a President.