This is a hot topic. The debate is intense. I don't say that in challenge. I'm saying that in warning.
WARNING: This is my journal. I am the OP. Get the slightest 'tude with me and you will simply be banned.
WARNING: Know your Trek lore before you comment. If you aren't familiar with the entire Star Trek franchise, this is way out of your league. That being said, this is not an open discussion on all things Trek--long discussions which deviate from the core topic will be deleted to make way for others.
WARNING: The core topic has to do with the new Star Trek film. If you hated the new film, skip this altogether.
Last but not least, the main theme here is self-examination. You don't have to post, but if you do, be ready to defend yourself if you type something that's even the slightest bit questionable. And by defense, I don't mean trolling, flaming, or merely getting a 'tude. That too will result in banning and deletion--no questions asked. Consider this a final warning.
Here’s a simple quiz to know whether or not you have a racial problem with the S/U ship. Many people who liked the film but disliked the ship insist they aren’t doing so because of latent racist attitudes, and most of them seriously believe that.
But how can they know…for sure?
First, allow me to preface this with: being a person of color, having friends of color, liking celebrities of color, listening to music performed by people of color, even previously dating/marrying people of color doesn’t exempt you from being racist. Racism has existed in America since its founding; racism got America this land and racism got the cities built. Racism helped America's economy flourish for centuries. For some people, it’s etched in so deeply they don’t even know they have it in them. So simply beginning arguments with “I’m honestly not a racist” doesn’t help you.
State your piece. If it’s racist, it’s racist. If it’s not, it’s not.
You cannot get mad at people of color if you do, in fact, discover a racist aspect to yourself. It’s like a saying or doing a stupid thing and then getting mad at everyone else for your own behavior. Be an adult; hold yourself accountable, and make a decision. Either you want to stay this way or you don’t. If you do…to each his own. If you don’t, then make no mistake, it takes hard work, sacrifice, and regularly being brutally honest with yourself to actually change yourself.
That said, answer these questions very honestly (notice they are highly Uhura-centric--focus on that in discussion):
1) Do you feel horrified when you see Spock kiss a woman who looks like Uhura, and don’t know why?
2) Do you look at Zoe Saldana and feel you “just can’t trust her” but can’t say why?
3) Do you think Uhura’s not a very feminine character, but just can’t say why?
4) Would you prefer Spock to be with Christine Chapel over Uhura?
5) Do you think the Spock/Uhura relationship—in the story—is controversial because of Uhura?
6) Do you consider yourself a “die-hard” Trek fan but still don’t agree with the pairing?
7) Have you watched all things Trek—shows, films, interviews, etc. pertaining to this cast—and still think this pairing “came out of nowhere”?
8) Do you think the kissing was “just wrong” and that Zachary Quinto was hurt by the writers?
9) Do you think Spock wasn’t very “Vulcan” for being with Uhura?
10) Do you think Uhura forced herself onto Spock in the turbolift?
11) Out of the other dramatic elements in the film—death of Kirk’s father, destruction of Romulus, destruction of Vulcan, death of Spock’s mother, near-destruction of Earth, Kirk’s overly-speedy promotion, the massive death toll of young, innocent Starfleet cadets—is the Spock/Uhura relationship what sticks out to/bothers you the most?
12) Do you feel a “strong black woman” should never be in an onscreen relationship because you think it “weakens” her character?
13) Do you feel the same about a “strong white woman”?
14) Do you tell yourself Spock would never find Uhura attractive?
15) Do you tell yourself Zachary Quinto would never find Zoe Saldana beautiful, or that Leonard Nimoy never found Nichelle Nichols attractive?
16) For white girls only: Do you sometimes/often/all the time wish Spock kissed a white character so as to make it easier to picture yourself in her place?
Analyzing the Answers
If you answered yes to 1-12, no to 13, and yes to 14 & 15…you have a problem. If you’re a white girl, there was no wrong answer to #16. Wishing an actor/character would be intimate with someone who looks more like you for the sake of fantasizing, oddly enough, is actually quite normal.
But let’s analyze the others now, shall we?
Do you feel horrified when you see Spock kiss a woman who looks like Uhura, and don’t know why?
“Not knowing why” a white person kissing a black person bugs you is a common symptom of latent racism. It never bugs non-racists; they really don’t care. That’s not to say they don’t notice the difference in skin; they just don’t care. **update** People are actually trying say this is too "ambiguous". I don't know how, but fine. I'll say it again: if you see two people of different races kissing, and the fact they are of two different races and kissing bothers you, you have a problem. Rewording this question, being "nicer", etc. isn't going to magically change that fact.
Do you look at Uhura and feel you “just can’t trust her” but can’t say why?
This goes in line with the first question. When Obama was running for president, many white citizens told reporters they “just couldn’t trust him.” They said it was in his face, then his eyes, then they erroneously called him an Arab (by the way, not taking time to differentiate people of color is a huge symptom of racism. If you can’t tell the difference between a black man and an Arab, you have a problem). They could not find any other reason to dislike him. He was an educated, polite, spiritual, articulate, sophisticated family man with no criminal record (or connections) and who was once a champion for the poor.
But there wasn’t something about him they “just couldn’t trust.”
Do you think Uhura’s not a very feminine character, but just can’t say why?
Uhura’s character has never been tomboyish or butch. She’s almost always seen in a skirt. She wears make up, jewelry, and clearly feminine hairstyles. She sings girlish songs, flirts, and is often told she’s beautiful by those around her. In the new movie, she even wears a long, girly ponytail. There’s a highly racist notion in America that black women aren’t feminine or beautiful. Hollywood has done damn near everything to perpetuate this notion. If you can’t put your finger on why you don’t think Uhura’s feminine, you have a problem.
Would you prefer Spock to be with Christine Chapel over Uhura?
People wonder why this could make them racist. That’s because Spock and Chapel have absolutely nothing in common except pale skin. Anyone who’s watched TOS knows this combination could never work, not even just for sex. Chapel focuses too much on Spock’s human side, conveniently neglecting his alien heritage because it makes him seem “Other.” This is a great nod to the experiences of many biracial people whose significant others have always focused on whichever half they felt the most comfortable which, while consistently ignoring/devaluing the “Other” half. Also, Chapel thinks because she’s a pretty human, Spock should automatically be attracted to her. Many people of color get hit on every day by whites who become shocked when people of color politely decline. They often having trouble grasping the notion that being white doesn’t automatically translate to being attractive.
Chapel has been shown as subservient and needy, desperate for his approval—and Spock has rejected her repeatedly. Not only that, if you can look at Chapel and honestly admire her characterization in TOS, you’ve got a bit of a sexist streak in you as well (and if you’re a woman, that doesn’t make you exempt from being sexist). Roddenberry no doubt did this deliberately to show that a highly intelligent and confident man doesn’t need a helpless, begging female at his feet. **update** Just because there's a huge Spock/Chapel following doesn't magically make the characters--as they are written--compatible for each other. Uhura is more compatible, and that was deliberately done. So if you're shipping S/C, the "better compatibility" argument isn't yours. Try again.
Do you think the Spock/Uhura relationship—in the story—is controversial because of Uhura?
Here’s what throws people: Spock is the “Other” in this relationship, not Uhura. In the new film, we can see how human males like Uhura fine (Kirk in particular). What shocks Kirk is the sight of a fellow human in the arms of an alien. To a slight extent, Spock offends fellow characters who witness their relationship—not Uhura. Humans in the Trek verse understand why a man would date Uhura; they have trouble, however, understanding why Uhura—who could have anyone—would date a Vulcan.
Do you consider yourself a “die-hard” Trek fan but still don’t agree with the pairing?
Posters often abuse the adjective “die-hard.” To be “die-hard” means to accept whatever your favorite writer/director/TV/film offers you—whether you get it or not. If you consider yourself a “die-hard” Trek fan but this is the one thing you just can’t accept, you have a problem. Kirk died in Generations. Data died in Nemesis. Vulcan’s been destroyed in the new film. Amanda Grayson is dead. Several young cadets also died because of Nero. In short, there are way too many major events to disagree with in the Trek verse, so out of all that, the S/U ship really shouldn’t bother a “die-hard” Trek fan at all.
**update** As I wrote in my follow-up post, you cannot dictate a world to its creator. If you're a "die-hard" fan of a 'verse--watching, reading, and researching everything--you should be in the know. You should know who did what and why. You should know the creators' motivation. If you disagree with something, then you should be able to use canon info and commentaries from the writers, directors, etc. to support your arguments. If you do not have their backing, you better regroup and form a convincing argument. Did they pull a race fail? Were they being sexist? Find your evidence. If you still can't, then maybe you need to ask yourself why you have such a problem.
Artists are not waiters; they're creators. They're not here to take your orders. They can give you general elements like action or humor, but at some point, they need to get their message across and do what means something to them.
Have you watched all things Trek—shows, films, interviews, etc. pertaining to this cast—and still think this pairing “came out of nowhere”?
This goes in line with the previous question. If you are a “die-hard” Trek Fan, then you of all people should know this relationship existed since the beginning—racism, ironically, kept it from being properly explored. If you “just don’t see it”, then understand the creator, the actors, the writers, and directors have confirmed this ad nauseum. The internet is filled with concrete evidence; more than enough, no doubt, for a “die-hard” fan like you. If you still can’t see it, then it’s because you don’t want to see it.
Do you think the kissing was “just wrong” and that Zachary Quinto was hurt by the writers?
If you think the kissing was just wrong and feel Quinto was hurt…why don’t you also feel bad for Saldana? Anti-S/U-shippers never show her sympathy when they do Quinto. Both are actors bound by contract. Both followed the same script. It takes two people to passionately kiss each other. So why is Quinto the victim and not Saldana?
Do you think Spock wasn’t very “Vulcan” for being with Uhura?
Anti-S/U-shippers love this excuse. Sorry; it doesn’t hold, even for all you nuTrekkers. One, Spock himself is half-human; he didn’t just magically appear out of nowhere. His father, a full-blooded Vulcan married a human, and retained his status as a high-ranking Ambassador and revered thinker not just on Vulcan, but within the entire Federation. Two, Spock was more likely to end up with a human instead of a Vulcan anyway, as he loved his mother dearly, and would very likely want a woman from her species. Also, in TOS, he dissolved his bond with his mate T’Pring. That should have been a huge cue. **update** People seem to think I mean the kissing scene here; I'm actually referring to the entire relationship. That they assume this is all about the kiss brings us back to square one: they're bothered by the kissing. It shows they're blowing the kiss (witnessed by only about two people) out of proportion, which is a sign of a problem. Furthermore, if you or someone you loved were going on a suicide mission, would you care about kissing (for possibly the last time) goodbye in front of a couple of people? Be honest!
Do you think Uhura forced herself onto Spock in the turbolift?
If you have watched this film repeatedly, listened to the commentary, read articles with cast and crew interviews, and you still think so, you have a problem and serious one, because you most likely a harbor the subconscious feeling blacks are an aggressive and dangerous people.
Out of the other dramatic/traumatic elements in the film—death of Kirk’s father, destruction of Romulus, destruction of Vulcan, death of Spock’s mother, near-destruction of Earth, Kirk’s overly-speedy promotion to Captain, the massive death toll of young, innocent Starfleet cadets—is the Spock/Uhura relationship what sticks out to/bothers you the most?
If so, enough said.
**okay...maybe not enough said**
Refresher: You just sat through a film where six billion people were murdered. Thousands of young soldiers were also murdered trying to rescue the six billion. Thousands of innocent young people who will never return home, much like the ones in America's war right now. Somewhere in between the staggering death toll, a young man grieves the loss of his mother and his world and gets a kiss from his girlfriend, whom he kisses back. Is the kissing really what bugs you the most? Spock having and getting a kiss from his girlfriend...is worse than genocide?
Do you feel a “strong black woman” should never be in an onscreen relationship because you think it “weakens” her character?
Thinking so possibly means you prefer black women stay safely celibate and not reproduce, and where S/U is concerned, certainly not with white guys. Holding up a black female character as a strong, untouchable paradigm of virtue and self-respect—so long as she stays single—is actually quite insulting. Being desired doesn’t make a person weak, nor is being seen as beautiful or sexy. There’s nothing wrong with any of those qualities, especially when they are balanced with intelligence, competence, and respect. Uhura is all these things, therefore it’s more realistic that she would be pursued/in a relationship, rather than celibate. Remember, Roddenberry wanted to express this aspect of her in TOS, but racism prevented him from doing so, as it has for many subsequent black female characters. Also, the “strong black woman” is a cliche. If you adhere to it faithfully, you have a problem.
A good example of what Uhura should have been more like is Zoe Washburne from Firefly. She’s tough and smart…and married, and sexual. We see her be tough in a fight, but tender and vulnerable with her husband, who very obviously adores and desires her. That’s called balance, children.
Do you feel the same about a “strong white woman”?
If this question caught you off guard, you have a problem. If your instinctive first answer was “no, because that’s different” you have a problem. If you think there’s no such thing as a “strong white woman,” you also have a problem.
Do you tell yourself Spock would never find Uhura attractive?
If so, you have a problem. Uhura is a beautiful woman; this is both plainly obvious and established many times onscreen. She has many admirers. In the area of personality compatibility, Uhura has the most in common with Spock; and she is one person he is willing show himself actually being fond of—Vulcan stoicism or no. She has his full confidence in all things, whether professional or artistic (she’s the only human he’s willing to teach the Vulcan lyre). Roddenberry deliberately wrote her character to be as similar to Spock’s as possible as he intended them to be a couple. Nichelle Nichols actually auditioned for her role by reading dialogue written for Spock. In the new movie, their similarity is established even further (they’re both total nerds, for example).
Do you tell yourself Zachary Quinto would never find Zoe Saldana beautiful, or that Leonard Nimoy never found Nichelle Nichols attractive?
No, it’s not the same question. If you’re begrudgingly willing to accept Spock would find Uhura attractive, but comfort yourself with the belief the actors could not be attracted to the actresses, you have a huge problem. Especially since the actors have repeatedly confirmed otherwise. And if you insist they must be lying for the sake of press, then you have a severe problem.
Now kids, notice my use of the word "problem". The quiz in no way defines you; it just asks to see if you might have a "problem." People's heads have been exploding rather than admit they just might have a "problem". God forbid you have a problem...as though a problem can't be fixed.