REPRESENTATION IN TREK

In watching YURI’S NIGHT 2021 I was a little peeved by how Sister Peace and Rod Roddenberry, while presented as experts on Gene Roddenberry’s vision of TREK, were somewhat unprepared in their comments.

Rod was apparently unaware of what kind of bomber his father flew in WW2, and was unable to recall the name of Gene’s series THE LIEUTENANT. Given that this was part of his prepared introduction, I found that rather disappointing.

More confounding though was what came next; Sister Peace enthusiastically spoke on what she characterized as optimistic futurism in STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (a series this writer finds overall to be very cynical, violent, and conspiratorial), exemplified – she said – by Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) becoming the first black female captain in the history of the franchise (DIS; “That Hope Is You” Part 2 – 2021.01.07)…

That statement – which is patently incorrect – erases the contribution of four other actors in five roles over the last 35 years.

I certainly welcome Burnham to this legacy, and I still feel that female captains of color are underrepresented in the franchise on the whole. However, I find it distressing to see the contributions of these actors, and the legacy of older TREK at trying to be representative, undermined in order to hold up DISCOVERY as being groundbreaking. Sadly I see and hear a lot of disparagement of old-TREK paired with such mistaken claims that new-TREK is “rectifying longstanding injustice in the franchise.”

That’s patently not true given the observable record, and must be very disappointing to the people who worked to bring that diversity to screen – people like Gene Roddenberry.

Perhaps she just hasn’t watched any other TREK, I don’t know. If that’s the case she really isn’t an expert on Gene’s vision, and either way her claim paradoxically insinuates that TREK wasn’t inclusive under Gene’s stewardship.

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