Junot Diaz (via luciaferr)
The genre has no problem imagining a future full of spaceships and aliens. A racially integrated society, though?
I thought this was a really interesting article, outlining what the author, Noah Berlatsky, sees as four main ways Hollywood sci-fi handles race. They are:
- Metaphor (as in The X-Men or TOS’ “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”
- Tokenism (again, something you can see on Star Trek and Berlatsky argues also applies to Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian)
- Diversity - imagining a world where whiteness is not the default. Berlatsky points out this almost never happens in Hollywood but some SF writers like Ursula K. Le Guin do this frequently
- Direct approach where racial issues in Sci Fi are dealt with “as if they are affected by or continuous with racial struggles in the present”. He cites Hunger Games as an example, where District 11 is presented as a segregated, impoverished black district, implying racial discrimination.
Tom Hawking at Flavorwire has another interesting response that I think is complementary, pointing out the need to better acknowledge the science fiction being created by people of colour.
I think it’s a very fair case to make that creators - especially white people working on Hollywood movies and mainstream TV - should consider why it feels more comfortable to avoid addressing racial issues directly and take action to improve representations of people of colour in terms of quantity and quality.
I do take a bit of issue with Berlatsky saying Uhura “backfired” in TOS because she was too tokenized. Certainly the TOS creators could’ve done more with Uhura, but she was still a hugely important character.
Berlatsky points out the techniques above can each be used well or poorly (For example, I would argue “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” would be metaphor being used well). Can you think of other ways we see these methods used in Star Trek, for good or bad?
i’m so tired of this “misogynist with a heart of gold” hollywood trope
i’m so tired of these leading men who treat women like shit until they meet the “right” kind of girl who is worthy of their respect
revealing that they were a good guy all along
i’m so tired of being told my humanity is negotiable
what if “lucy” was about lucy liu casually beating up pervy white dudes instead
and the story was about an asian woman who gets justice from the white men who used and abducted her
and it was an effective commentary on white imperialism, the violent commodification of asian people and asian culture by western society, the demonization of asian people, and the continuing history of violence on unwilling asian bodies especially those of asian women by white people
and what if when a pervy white dude asks the asian woman “do you speak english” while he’s in fucking taiwan, she shoots him in the head instead
what if this movie wasn’t going to be a bunch of white imperialist nonsense masquerading as something “progressive” at the expense of faceless nameless asian bodies