So arguably, I’m going to be talking about a touchy subject. It’s not my intention to anger, provoke, or insinuate any kind of reaction. I’m mainly just offering some thoughts to an issue that came up recently that I’m questioning the timing of.
A video uploaded last week talked a bit about the heavily anticipated Strange New Worlds Star Trek show with Pike, Number One, and Spock. It’s a show that since the second season of Discovery, the fans have been begging CBS to create. The cries and pleas only got louder when Short Treks began to tease the concept more and more, and when actors began dropping hints without saying a whole heck of a lot. It was maddening. It was a constant will they, won’t they Q&A. Then on the 15th this month, they finally dropped the curtain and announced the show, and there was much rejoicing. (Especially from me.) We’re getting our Pike show, my mind is going wild with the possibilities, and I absolutely cannot wait for this show to get on the road.
Fast forward to the announcement, and I can’t help but feel very perplexed by a certain thought pattern that has reared its head. I don’t want to call it a complaint, or criticism yet, but it’s definitely baffling me a bit. I’ll call it a concern. That concern is the thought that this show feels a bit regressive in that it stars three white leads, and that it doesn’t seem to be very diverse in this aspect. I gotta say, with all due respect… this is just something I can’t get behind right now.
This is a show we were begging CBS for. We begged for it because of how phenomenal Anson Mount portrayed Pike, because Ethan Peck did a wonderful job with the iconic Spock, and because Rebecca Romjin brought to life the character in Number One that had been buried for five decades. These three people had amazing chemistry, portrayed their parts well, and we wanted to see more. So CBS says there will be more, and suddenly, now it’s not diverse enough.
I’m telling you, this fandom is weird sometimes.
Look, this is a criticism I would normally back 100%. Part of the reason I love Discovery and Picard right now is that not only are the crews of each show really interesting and fun to follow, but because they are among the most diverse in the franchise, and it all feels wonderfully fleshed out. I am one of the many that rolls my eyes when some nut on YouTube whines in a video about Star Trek forcing SJW ideals or some political left-wing agenda. I’m exposed to it quite often. You learn to just say “Fuck ’em”. I celebrate Star Trek’s diversity, and I’ll even criticize the franchise when it doesn’t handle it properly (cough cough Enterprise). If I felt Pike’s show was going to be regressive in this manner, I’d 100% say “Yes, this show cannot, and should not hold back on one of the most celebrated aspects of the franchise. Diversity is a very strong element in Star Trek.” So why am I not doing so right now?
Because as of writing this, the show was announced just over six days ago.
Not only did we already know what we were getting into when begging CBS to make a show with these three characters (I mean, we’d be up in arms if they changed any established traits we know in these characters, let’s be honest.), but if you ask me, the producers are already aware that the cast will need some diversity. We’ve already been teased with new characters for this show who represent other people. The Short Trek, “Ask Not” gave us the young Thira Sidhu (Amrit Kaur), who was given quite the test of faith by Pike himself. I’ll be really surprised if she doesn’t come back for this show. In this same way, I imagine that any other people they create and bring forward for this show will be made with this diverse approach in mind.
You can say what you want about Kurtzman and his production crew, and how they tell a story, but they know how to represent diversity, and are not afraid to show it in some pretty controversial ways. Such as Seven of Nine’s bisexuality. (It feels so good to see these characters free of Berman’s actual regressive tendencies.) It wouldn’t surprise me if this same approach might come at us again with lesser-known characters like Number One or any other character they decide to recreate, like Boyce. Who’s to say they aren’t part of the LGBTQ Community?
But another thing that really grinds my gears here is that of all the excitement that I’ve seen regarding this show, not one single comment of excitement or praise has been centred on someone’s thankfulness about Star Trek centring on a straight white guy again. That’s not why people like Pike. Granted, I’m sure there’s somebody out there happy for that reason, but again, we say fuck ’em. That’s not why we like Pike. We like Pike because he’s a compassionate human being. We like him because he helped a hurt, and betrayed crew heal after their previous captain hurt them in a way that shook their very faith in Starfleet. We like Pike because he’s an awesome character, he represents the core ideals of the Federation wonderfully, and he’s written wonderfully. I can’t help but feel this concern for a lack of diversity in the crew is very premature.
Now don’t get me wrong. If this show does indeed feel like it lacks a good fleshed out and diverse crew, or if it feels like the diversity aspect is being handled poorly, I will be among the critics to say “Hey! Fix this!” Diversity has always been a core strength in Star Trek, and should it stumble here, I’d want something done about it. But again, that’s speculation, and given the track record of the diversity in Discovery and Picard, it’s not very strong speculation. The truth is, we don’t have a full character ensemble to look at, and what we do have, has been given to us based on established characters given to us before. And to be fair, one of those characters, we still don’t exactly know a lot about. Again, Number One’s character is still a very progressive role that I’m very excited to see fleshed out, and with as little as we know about her, I wouldn’t be against her being a part of the LGBTQ Community. It’s not fair to assume that the producers and creators are going in with a regressive mindset.
Now the video in question I found to be fairly harmless, and I believe that the person behind it had the best intentions when making the video. Having watched it, I just found the focus to be a bit jumbled and by the time it ended, I didn’t feel like much was accomplished. The author themselves admitted to just kinda talking in circles a good chunk of the video. They talked about how they wanted to see diversity, but that they still liked Pike, and were still excited for the show, that they believed that a diversity checklist was not a good idea, yet was almost necessary right now. But the real kicker for me was that they admitted they had faith that Kurtzman and his crew would bring forward more diversity in the character ensemble. So by the time the video ended, all I could really ask myself was what the overall point was if they believed that Kurtzman would deliver on this show’s diversity. They said that the subject matter was a good thing to discuss, and I would agree with them, but… this early? When we know so little about the show?
I feel that this is something we need to give the producers time to properly develop and create. The only reason we know of these three characters is because of their roles on Discovery. We know little to nothing else about who will be on the show. And until we do, I find this kind of discussion on this show unneeded, and even a bit pointless right now. We are still on top of the world in the announcement of this show. Why spoil it so soon?
Now it needs to be said that I am not at all trying to say that people should not advocate for diversity and representation. Please don’t mistake my stance here for that. But you don’t panic about burning your brownies 15 seconds after you put them in the oven. I’m looking at the track record that Kurtzman and his crew have, and I have absolutely no reason to believe they won’t give us some fantastic, well-written, and diverse characters in this ensemble. I expect them to even because I really don’t want a cut and paste copy of the crew we saw in “The Cage“. It wasn’t just white, it was incredibly white. Yeah, you can bet I want to see some diversity in that crew. But again, I have no reason not to believe this diversity won’t happen. Quite frankly, Kurtzman hasn’t failed to deliver on this front before. Why start believing he’ll regress now?
Again, this is not me saying I am against the avocation of diversity in Star Trek. I will always pull for representation in a show that is based on cooperation and tolerance. But before we crucify the show for lacking that representation, maybe we should wait until they start announcing cast members that go beyond the three leads that we already knew were guaranteed to be in the show. But that’s just my two cents on the topic.
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