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nattering about Star Trek Beyond and suchlike - KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life
ramblings from a mad fedora'd writer
kradical
kradical
nattering about Star Trek Beyond and suchlike
A version of a couple things I posted on Facebook (that prompted massive conversation there)............

It's been announced that Hikaru Sulu will be established as gay -- or, more accurately, having a husband and daughter -- in Star Trek Beyond, partly in tribute to George Takei (who himself thinks it's a terrible idea, as he always played Sulu as straight). Here's the thing -- he's the only character among the Big Seven who can be so established, because he's the only character whose heterosexuality (or, at least, interest in women) wasn't made clear. Chekov had the yeoman in "The Apple" and his old girlfriend in "The Way to Eden." Scotty had women he was fond of in "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and "The Lights of Zetar," not to mention his flirting with Uhura in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. As for Uhura, there's also her ideal man shown by the salt vampire in "The Man Trap." McCoy had the yeoman in "Shore Leave," Natira in "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky," his ex-girlfriend in "The Man Trap," and his ex-wife, not canonically established until the 2009 Star Trek. Spock had Leila Kalomi in "This Side of Paradise," the Romulan Commander in "The Enterprise Incident," and Droxine in "The Cloud Minders," not to mention T'Pring in "Amok Time." And Kirk is the most heterosexual character ever.

But Sulu? Nothin'. He's the only one of the six main male characters in the entire history of the TOS crew to never be given a love interest. Closest we came is in "Mirror, Mirror" when the alternate-universe Sulu hit on Uhura, but that's the Mirror Universe, and for all we know, he pulled the same shit on Chekov.

There are bits and pieces here and there, of course: Sulu was just as affected as the other men on board by Mudd's women in their eponymous episode and by Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but both cases involved chemical pheremonic enhancement, natural for Ilia, artificial for Mudd's "cargo." There's the animated episode "The Magics of Megas-Tu" in which Sulu conjures a woman and kisses her on the bridge, but that entire episode is full of nonsense, and the animated series' canonical status is variable in any case.

My favorite is the argument "he has a daughter!" from Star Trek Generations, as if that proves he's straight, as if homosexual people can't possibly have children, which would be news to (to name three prominent gay men in the nerdy community) David Gerrold, Neil Patrick Harris, and Samuel R. Delany and their kids.

Many are dismissing this particular revelation as yet another case of the Bad Robot folks "not getting" and "rewriting" Trek, even though establishing Sulu as having a husband changes nothing we saw on screen between Sulu's first appearance in Trek's first season in 1966 and his last in the Voyager episode "Flashback" in 1996 (or, for that matter, in the Bad Robot movies of 2009 and 2013).

One thing that those folks will cite as another example is the Spock-Uhura relationship, as it isn't based on anything that happened in the original series!!!!!!

Except it totally is. One thing I have realized in doing my weekly rewatch of TOS for Tor.com the last year or so is that they did not pull Spock-Uhura out of their asses. There is evidence to be found in "The Man Trap" when Uhura's asking Spock about Vulcan, in "Who Mourns for Adonais?" when Uhura's performing repairs, and in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" when the Spock/Kollos gestalt quotes Byron's "She Walks in Beauty" at Uhura.

But the best evidence that Spock and Uhura were an item in the original series was in "Charlie X." Here's what I wrote in my rewatch of that episode:
The mess hall scene when Uhura sings along with Spock’s Vulcan lyre playing is Exhibit B in the evidence that Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman did not pull the Spock-Uhura romance out of their asses for the 2009 Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. I can see the pair of them rewatching the original series and getting to this scene.

KURTZMAN (not a Trek fan, pauses after Uhura’s done singing): So, those two are fucking, right?

ORCI (a longtime Trek fan): Of course not. What are you, nuts? Spock would never...

KURTZMAN: Seriously? They’re totally fucking. I mean, it’s 1966, so they can only show much, but still. Watch the scene again.

ORCI (yanks the remote out of Kurtzman’s hands and rewinds, then watches the scene again): Holy shit, they totally are!

It is my fond hope that people come out of reading my rewatch realizing that a) Jim Kirk was NOTNOTNOTNOT a maverick who disobeyed orders and went his own way and did what he wanted and b) that the Spock-Uhura romance is a perfectly legit interpretation.

Current Mood: nerdy nerdy
Current Music: "Blowing in the Wind" by Bob Dylan & The Band

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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 11th, 2016 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
At the end of Star Trek V, Sulu (and Chekov) are clearly admiring the muscles on Vixis, the Klingon first officer, during the reception. That's actually the closest that established cannon came to acknowledging Sulu as being heterosexual (and it didn't dispel the notion of him dating men - he could have played both sides, for all we know).


Mike S.
pseudohistorian From: pseudohistorian Date: July 11th, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Although I do get the canon arguments, there was still something beyond that (so to speak) which wasn't sitting right with me--even though I couldn't put my finger on why and felt it might not be my place to assert a strong opinion--so reading J. Bryan Lowder's piece for Slate on the matter made some of the points about why I was uneasy better than I could.
kradical From: kradical Date: July 11th, 2016 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, FWIW, I find that article to mostly be wrongheaded. Lowder has just decided to assume that there were other sexualities going on on the ships, we just didn't see them, which is akin to having an entirely white bridge crew and just assuming that the black people and the Asians and the Latinos were all on other shifts or served in different parts of the ship. Nice for you to make that assumption, but it doesn't change the fact that the writers and actors are writing from a position of heteronormativeness and being exclusionary.

He also just basically decides that Q and the EMH are queer because of how they behave, which is pretty goddamn offensive, to my mind, though others may disagree. That kind of stereotyping certainly doesn't do anything to make me consider his argument kindly.....
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