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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.
 
 
 
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 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.