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Star Trek Voyager:  Chakotay

Another response to Star Trek Voyager:  Chakotay:

>> You know what — Chakotay got more "culture time" than Harry Kim the Korean character. <<

Chakotay should've gotten more "culture time" than Kim. For one thing, he was a Maquis rebel, so he should've shared some of the rebels' anti-establishment beliefs. For another, he wore a sign of his indigenous culture on his face. Someone who's willing to display a tattoo so prominently is not likely to be totally assimilated.

>> This guy [Lincoln Geraghty] is way too political and the idea that US history and indian rights should be a focus on Voyager is as silly as having any black character dealing with slavery — in the 24th century. <<

And yet, the original Trek dealt with racism or slavery in several episodes.

>> The US doesn't even exist at this point anyway, the Federation being the galactic equivalent of the UN. <<

I don't think it's ever been established that today's countries no longer exist in any form.

>> Perhaps the fact that the average UN ambassador wears clothing means he or she is succumbing to evil white man domination. <<

Wearing the Earthman's outfits, including mini-skirts for the women, is a sign of exactly who dominates and who doesn't.

>> It seems like he has an issue with Chakotay not being a north american indian and conforming to his stereotypes of what he should be. <<

No, he has an issue with Chakotay being a generic or New Age Indian rather than an Indian from an actual tribe.

>> I am surrounded by central american indians and they have almost no cultural connection to their "indianness" being so assimilated into Spanish-based culture. <<

Scotty, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura all had deep connections to their cultural roots. So did Picard, who was contemporaneous with the Voyager crew.

>> This guy is a dope with an agenda to push and an axe to grind. <<

So far you haven't really challenged his arguments. I'd say he wins the debate.



The debate continues (2/9/06)....
>> All the asians I know (and I know ALOT) are first generation or immigrants themselves. <<

I've known many Asians too. Many were several generations removed from their traditional cultures. The ones who were relatively new (e.g., second generation) still showed signs of their original cultures. They spoke the old languages, ate the typical foods, etc.

>> In a sci-fi series I think it doesn't really have the same degree of place as it would in a present day "reality" based show. <<

The various Trek series put the lie to that. In the original series, culture was integral to the characters of Spock, Scotty, and Chekov. They couldn't have existed without their multicultural backgrounds.

In DS9—perhaps the most multicultural Trek show—Kira, Dax, Odo, Quark, Bashir, and even O'Brien had strong cultural traits. Sisko and Worf were the most obvious ethnic characters, but the others were at least as diverse. I don't think a single character was plain vanilla with no ethnic or cultural traits.

The other two Trek shows were notable for having token minority characters with no real cultural traits—the exceptions being Data, Seven of Nine, and the standard Klingon and Vulcan characters. Chakotay was a lame and failed attempt to make another character "ethnic." The point is that if two Trek shows had culturally diverse characters—with real diversity, not token diversity—the other two shows could've had it too.

>> How much exploration of white cultures was shown by white members of the crew? <<

White characters generally don't need to search for or connect with their culture because they're surrounded by it. As Spock made clear, the crew was inundated with Earth (meaning Euro-American) culture aboard the Enterprise. But again, see characters such as Scotty, Chekov, and Picard for whites with real cultural backgrounds.

>> How much black culture? <<

There are only hints of cultural background in the characters of Uhura and Dr. M'Benga. I don't recall much of anything in the backgrounds of Geordi, Sisko, or Tuvok. So? The shows shied away from making the characters too black. The creators were either wary of being too obvious or afraid of being too controversial. Ideally they should've done more.

>> Clearly more dominant and yet he complains about the lone indian. <<

Yes, because the attempts to give Chakotay a background were stereotypical and unpersuasive.

>> where is the German representation? Where are the indians from Bombay? <<

The issue is doing the characters they chose to do right. The issue is not trying to do every possible ethnicity in four series with 30 or so major characters. (If you count "Enterprise," it falls into the category of Trek shows that use minorities as tokens.)

>> Does he complain about Dr Bashir being assimilated and not praying as a good muslim? <<

No, because Bashir shows signs of his background in his character. I don't know how much DS9 explored this background, but you can see hints of his cultural and social upbringing in his everyday actions. Not so with Chakotay and the other tokens.

>> No, instead its about a practically extinct people (by the 24th century at least) <<

I think Chakotay's people were supposed to be alive and well, not "practically extinct." But if they were practically extinct, Chakotay could've bemoaned the fact that he had lost his traditional culture and was now assimilated. Even that would've given his character depth. And it would've been real, not phony or stereotypical.


The debate continues (4/24/06)....

>> My complaint about Star Trek was there were already too many white people in the future. Common sense shows that this wouldn't be the case then (I had this same conversation with a bunch of LSH fanboys that were pissed thta the new Star Boy is " black" . They got real defensive when I said that more of the LSH should be as well.) <<

I've complained about the same things, especially in regard to the LSH.

>> To me the best approach is to have a variety of "ethnic " characters so that you aren't making any one character a spokesman for a group. <<

I've never suggested a character should be spokesman for a group. But he shouldn't be a cipher or a hodgepodge of stereotypes, either. Chakotay is arguably both.

>> A real writer would be able to have 2 indians on Voyager and have completely differant personalities (or any other ethnic group for that matter) instead of just fixating on ethnic identity. <<

I haven't fixated on Chakotay's ethnic identity. He's poorly conceived as both a minority and a character.

Nevertheless, if you're talking in generalities, ethnic identity is a legitimate issue. It doesn't matter how diverse and interesting a cast of white characters is if it doesn't represent reality.

My two PEACE PARTY heroes are polar opposites in terms of personality, though they come from the same roots. Since I'm making my characters real, just as you suggest, I have a right and reason to criticize who aren't doing the same.

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