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» Flare Sci-Fi Forums » Community » Other Television Shows » Cultural diversity rant (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Cultural diversity rant
Bernd
Guy from Old Europe
Member # 6

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I know many of you don't want to hear this, and will make up excuses, for instance, that the rest of the world was simply nuked to death. Thank you! I'm not anti-American, I just want to express how incredibly stupid, unfair and unrealistic it is to show humanity as a group of preferably male white American people - in a series which puts stress on *humans* as a group who have just found a way to live in peace and should now explore space together.

Already now, Enterprise strikes me as the series with the least human cultural diversity ever in Star Trek. Every human seen or mentioned so far in the series (corn farmers, admirals, Terra Nova settlers, crewmen) was US-American, except for Reed. I count in Hoshi Sato because of her obviously American accent. And Ethan Novakovich, despite his "exotic" last name, must be American too, for no one else would name their child for an inflammable gas. "Conestoga" is obviously something American too, although I didn't find out its original meaning. American customs and trivia rule the whole series. Instead of mentioning anything non-American, we even get the third reference to Amelia Earhardt in Star Trek, and to another guy who vanished too and of whom I've never heard before. I didn't even bother to check where he's from.

It is much easier to list the very few things that are not US-American: the Amazon University in Brasil, Hoshi's descent, Malcolm Reed, Phlox's mention of Chinese food. Am I missing anything? In any seven episodes of TOS, TNG, DS9 and even Voyager there are dozens of references to foreign countries.

Anyway, even if we take into account that Enterprise is made for the male white American viewer, there is much more cultural diversity in present-day USA than on a 22nd century starship of a united humankind!

*takes cover*

[ November 12, 2001: Message edited by: Bernd ]



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Bernd Schneider

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cptmkb
I WAS IN THE FUTURE, IT WAS TOO LATE TO RSVP
Member # 709

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I agree.

[i wrote a whole bunch of stuff about America in general here, but decided against it 1) because its off topic and 2) i dont want to be crucified, have a flag stapled to my face and mailed to Afghanistan]

[ November 12, 2001: Message edited by: CaptainMike ]



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"C'mon, tightly hold your hand / Take a deep breath, give them the finger / Are you worried that your thoughts are not quite.. clear?" - Our Lady Peace, One Man Army

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Lee
I'm a spy now. Spies are cool.
Member # 393

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Well, it's obvious really the way things are going right now. By 2150, Americans have killed everyone else. He may not realise it, but Malcy Reed owes his very existence, to say nothing of his place on the Enterprise crew, to Tony Blair wasting no time in getting on the "let's kill ragheads" bandwagon, and the fact that British firms leased half of one of the towers. . .

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Never mind the Phlox - Here's the Phase Pistols

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TSN
I'm... from Earth.
Member # 31

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"And Ethan Novakovich, despite his "exotic" last name, must be American too, for no one else would name their child for an inflammable gas."

"Ethane" is a gas. It's name comes from Greek and Latin.

The characters name was "Ethan". Only the consonants are pronounced the same in both words, and this name is Hebrew. Not even in the same major grouping of languages.

Of course, if I wanted to, I could pretend that I don't know how to pronounce "Bernd", and wonder why someone would complain about "inflammable gas" names, when he himself is named after a word describing something that's already been inflamed.


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Ryan McReynolds
Minor Deity
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I agree completely (with Bernd).

Despite being a white American male in the 18-35 demographic, I am often disgusted by the lack of diversity on most television, not just Enterprise. Shows that take place in present-day America don't often reflect our nation's multicultural heritage either. Even a show like Will and Grace, considered to be so notable for having prominent gay male characters, is still just four white people and almost exclusively white guest stars.

Anyway, back to Enterprise, I might take exception to Hoshi... she is not only a trained linguist, but one with a supernatural gift for languages. I think she could easily be Japanese even if she sounds American, given these abilities.

As far as rationalizations go, in the case of the Middle East and Asia, bombing is unfortunately a likely possibility, especially if the whole civilizations bombed out of existence from "Space Seed" (TOS) were quite literal (whether the Eugenics Wars were in the 1990s or linked with World War III in the 2050s). That doesn't explain much regarding Europe... nor the fact that at least half of the Americans should be of non-British descent!

[ November 13, 2001: Message edited by: Ryan McReynolds ]



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Enterprise: An Online Companion

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." --Phillip K. Dick

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cptmkb
I WAS IN THE FUTURE, IT WAS TOO LATE TO RSVP
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Actually, Gregory Hines was a regular on Will & Grace for quite a while.

The past couple of Trek shows have gotten around the whitebread factor by including a lot of aliens in the cast (for example: none of Voyager's human regulars were of African descent. But they had a Klingon and a Vulcan that were played by African-American actors (ooh..big deal! Super Friends had Black Vulcan way back in the 70s.)

Star Trek is still waiting for a prominent Indian cast member, and also for many ethnic characters that seem to have not been born in the US. Uhura was supposed to have been from the United States of Africa, and thankfully still had some of her culture intact (and her first language was Swahili). No real idea where Bashir grew up, seems he was of Arabic & British descent. Harry Kim's home was also unclear. Sato seems to share traits with Sulu: even though they are of Japanese heritage, they both seem quite American. Sulu grew up in San Francisco.

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"C'mon, tightly hold your hand / Take a deep breath, give them the finger / Are you worried that your thoughts are not quite.. clear?" - Our Lady Peace, One Man Army


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Masao
doesn't like you either
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If Phlox was hanging around SF, he was probably eating American-style Chinese food with that very sweet, bright red sweet and sour pork, chop suey, and fortune cookies.

I haven't see the episode yet, so who's this other missing person you mention?

Conestoga wagons are named for a city in Pennsylvania.

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When you're in the Sol system, come visit the Starfleet Museum


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PsyLiam
Hungry for you
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For most TV shows, it's not a problem. At uni, I hang around with about 14 people, all of whom are white. Not because I'm trying to avoid the "darkies", but just because that's the way it's ended up. And people DO tend to group with people like themselves. (I do have one Asian friend, from a Hindu family, although he's about as Hindu as Bashir was...) You can't have a go at, say Friends for showing that, because that's how most people live.

Should Star Trek be different? Yes. Is it different. Yes. Is it different enough? I dunno. I haven't seen Enterprise. And do we want to get to the Power Rangers level of "One black? Check. One Asian? Check. Roughly even number of boys and girls? Check. Guy with ADD? Check. Guy who eats dogs? Check."

And assuming the education systems of the world improve (and that America continues to scream at anything unfamiliar), it's not unlikely that foreign-types will be taught English with American accents.

Oh, and BTW, Bashir's dad was a Cockney. Through and through. And had a good accent too. So Bashir's probably from around that area too. Someone try and find an episode where he says "grass" (or a word that rhymes with it) and see if he puts in an extra "r" between the "a" and the "s".

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Yes, you're despicable, and... and picable... and... and you're definitely, definitely despicable. How a person can get so despicable in one lifetime is beyond me. It isn't as though I haven't met a lot of people. Goodness knows it isn't that. It isn't just that... it isn't... it's... it's despicable.


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Mikey T
Driven
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I agree also with Bernd that Star Trek should be a bit more diverse. But I hate to say it, the viewers that watch the show are really of Anglo-Saxon descent. As I recall, as of the 2000 US Census, only 30% of the American population was made up of minorities. Do all of them watch Star Trek? No. Neither do the 60% who are not recognized as a minority group by the census, but still they outnumber the minority groups. So until the US population is at least 50/50 with ethnic diversity split, expect to see a mostly white cast in American TV shows. Hell, I want to see a gay Asian character in Will&Grace, I want to see some people of Arabian descent in the background of Enterprise, I even want to see the girls in Sex and the City date Black and Latin boyz. But one could only dream...

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"It speaks to some basic human needs: that there is a tomorrow, it's not all going to be over with a big splash and a bomb, that the human race is improving, that we have things to be proud of as humans."
-Gene Roddenberry about Star Trek

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Hunter
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quote:
I do have one Asian friend, from a Hindu family, although he's about as Hindu as Bashir was...)

Bashir was quite obuvisouly from a mideast backround. Didn't he once say that Shal El Bashir, the poet was a distant relative?(I'd check my Encylopedia but I'm posting this from work)

quote:
And do we want to get to the Power Rangers level of "One black? Check. One Asian? Check. Roughly even number of boys and girls? Check. Guy with ADD? Check. Guy who eats dogs? Check."

Well no, of course not. However, given the demograhic situation of the Earth by the mid-2000s, certain nationatlites should have more screen time than they have.

Of course there is the question of if the writers could write different nationalites without resorting to boorish sterotypes or conversly make them just cheap Americans with funny names.


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Bernd
Guy from Old Europe
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quote:
"Ethane" is a gas. It's name comes from Greek and Latin.
The characters name was "Ethan". Only the consonants are pronounced the same in both words, and this name is Hebrew. Not even in the same major grouping of languages.

I'm aware of the difference. But to people who don't have English as their first language it will always sound strange as a name.

quote:
And do we want to get to the Power Rangers level of "One black? Check. One Asian? Check. Roughly even number of boys and girls? Check. Guy with ADD? Check. Guy who eats dogs? Check."

I don't think that it has to do with political correctness, but just with the ability to acknowledge the fact that there is cultural diversity in the present and that there should be in the future too.

quote:
I haven't see the episode yet, so who's this other missing person you mention?

"Ever heard of Judge Crater? Disappeared in the early 20th century."

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Bernd Schneider


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Masao
doesn't like you either
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Judge Crater?!?! I haven't heard a reference to Judge Crater in about 20 years! He was the 1920s equivalent of Jimmy Hoffa. Disappeared without a trace. I doubt many people under the age of 60 have heard of him.
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Masao
doesn't like you either
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Here's some more on Judge Crater for the morbidly curious:


Judge Joseph F. Crater is one of the most famous missing men in America, perhaps even the world. On August 6th, 1930, he told friends he would be attending the Broadway play, "Dancing Partner" that evening, and was never seen or heard from again. Nobody has been able to explain why Judge Crater disappeared, although there are no shortage of theories. Earlier in the afternoon, Crater went to his office, and removed a large number of papers from his files. He also cashed a check for a very large sum of money. It is also unlikely that he ever showed up at the theater to see the show. Since he purged his personal files, obtained a large amount of money, and seemed to form an alibi with the theater, it seems the most obvious answer is that he disappeared on his own accord. But no one can explain why he would wish to disappear. The corruption investigators failed to turn up anything on him. So there didn't seem to be any danger of a scandal. Some say he was murdered by members of the underworld (whom he knew). Some even say he experienced some sort of religious conversion, and ran off to Mexico. By now, it is doubtful whether we will ever know what happened to Judge Crater.


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Omega
Some other beginning's end
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I've been wondering about this, occasionally. My current theory is that Earth's government has become uber-socialized by the 22nd century, and the Americans can't stand it, so we all left. Thus our disproportionate representation in 'Fleet.

As for China and India, I'm guessing the entire region got nuked in WW3, which is why in over 500 hours of filmed Trek we've NEVER seen anyone from that massive segment of the population.

Oh, and Kim was likely from Korea, or at least of Korean descent. "Kim" is the Korean equivalent of "Smith".

And you know, frankly, I find it refreshing that they didn't give Sato a stereotypical Japanese accent. In 200 years, there should be LOTS of people of certain descents with accents you wouldn't expect. Take Picard, for instance: French, but with a Brittish accent.

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"This is why you people think I'm so unknowable. You don't listen!"
- God, "God, the Devil and Bob"


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Ryan McReynolds
Minor Deity
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quote:
Originally posted by CaptainMike:
Actually, Gregory Hines was a regular on Will & Grace for quite a while.

Hence the part where I said "almost exclusively" rather than "exclusively."

Regarding Bashir, he's half diverse... he's of Middle Eastern descent, but he's from Knightsbridge, England, according to Robert H. Wolfe. He's got the looks, but not the background.

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Enterprise: An Online Companion

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." --Phillip K. Dick


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