I saw Star Trek today with my parents and my brother. It was so cool! Spock was really great. I think I liked watching him more than Kirk.
My Star Trek backstory: I was a Star Wars kid. My brothers and I watched my dad’s VHS tapes of the original trilogy many, many times. My parents watched both Star Wars and Star Trek, although Mum favored the latter. She thought it was more creative than Star Wars, it could do so much more, explore different ideas. I think she saw the original run on television. Both parents watched The Next Generation and Voyager, and Daddy watched Enterprise. I watched TNG as a kid, saw some episodes of Voyager, and I’ve seen a couple episodes of the original series. Haven’t seen any of the movies. Except for the newest one, of course. Yes, this was my first Star Trek movie. *grin*
So back to the movie. Figuring out who the characters were was fun; since I’ve only seen an episode here and there I only really knew Kirk, Spock, and the doctor. But from popular culture I’ve picked up Scotty, Uhura, and Sulu, and I learned about Chekov from Futurama. *grins* I didn’t figure out who the other guy driving the Enterprise was until I heard him pronounce Vs as Ws. XD
I’m not sure that I like knowing who some of the actors are though. While seeing Zoe Saldana was a delightful surprise, I see her more as Zoe Saldana, not Uhura, which kind of ruins things… It doesn’t help that I haven’t really seen Uhura in the tv show, so it’s more Zoe playing a part for me, not Zoe playing this character that I should know.
Another big surprise was Simon Pegg! I didn’t recognize him until his second camera shot, and even then I wasn’t sure until Mum whispered to me, “Hot Fuzz,” and that she was sure it was him. I’ve never seen Scotty in the show … or at least I’ve seen him portrayed in Simpsons and Futurama more often than in Star Trek which probably isn’t a good thing, heh. But I really liked the character. I really liked Simon Pegg. XD I never did see that movie where he was playing that running character.
Watching John Cho was fun, but I kept remembering him in his Harold (& Kumar) role, and yeeeah that sort of really ruined the role for me. murrr. But again, I haven’t seen much of Sulu in the show so I was watching him playing a character, not playing someone I should know.
During the course of the movie I realized, hey, Star Trek was really cool, it had an Asian character in it! Sort of like Whoopi Goldberg’s story about loving Star Trek and seeing a black woman on tv. Because I remember early in the movie there was another Asian character, who I think got blown up, but regardless he was there, being Asian.
Normally I hate being so ethnocentric, I mean why should it matter what ethnicity or color someone is, right? We should all be colorblind. But I’ve been thinking about Asians in the media more and more, starting from the time when I heard about Avatar characters in the live-action movie being cast as white people. (Or at least all the good guys.) Um, nice way to whitewash a story which is so very influenced by Asian cultures.
I’d read Derek Kirk Kim’s blog entry about Avatar and his story about how he and his brother loved acting, but never tried to make it in Hollywood because they didn’t want to get stuck with stereotypical roles. Then when I linked it online, someone told me her husband quit acting for the same reason.
While I didn’t care at the time about the lack of representation of Asians in the media (I don’t need to see “myself” on the screen because … well I just don’t, I’m secure enough to not need it), I realized oh, it’s not just about me, there are Asians out there who would like acting jobs but can’t get them because … they’ve got Asian faces. Hollywood (rightly?) thinks that most of America can’t connect to an Asian face, they need to see a white (or sometimes black) face to really empathize with the character.
(Mum is of the opinion that Hollywood isn’t really as liberal as it seems, because everyone is white. There are some black actors, a handful of Asians, very few of any other ethnicity. No one is willing to use non-white actors, lest they put off everyone else in the industry. But I digress.)
This week I saw a new episode of Without a Trace that had Chinese people in it! When I saw the previews I was intrigued, it’s not often there are Asians on tv. (I still remember that episode of Cold Case that was about the Japanese internment camps, which I will not comment about here.) I stepped in about 20 minutes into the episode, and I was really happy to see Asians speaking English with American accents, like most Asians that I know! But the more I watched the episode, the more it was about a Chinatown scandal and about being ethnically Chinese.
So … wow. Chinese people only go missing when it has to do with being from China, huh? Or in the case of the other episode, Japanese people only go missing when it involves the internment camps.
I asked Mum, why are Asians in the media always portrayed as being ethnically Asian, not as Americans with Asian faces? She said it’s because Hollywood just doesn’t get it, they don’t know what Asian Americans are really like, they can only think in terms of country of origin.
I guess not only do Asians not make it as actors, they don’t make it as writers either?
I put forth all of that in order to, in a roundabout way, explain why I really love Star Trek and how it’s so cool because it had an Asian character in it! Now I feel like watching the original Star Trek series just so I can know those characters. I will just have to grit my teeth and bear it whenever Shatner’s on screen…
edit@10pm, August 9, 2009: I found an entry someone wrote on Livejournal about the character Uhura on Star Trek that I really enjoyed reading and thought I’d link it here.