"The Trek ramblings of a geeky Drag Queen"


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Racist Star Trek episode?

My Next Generation re-watch continues, and I have just passed what Jonathan Frakes has dubbed the 'Racist' episode: 'Code of Honor'.

I have heard him state that this was his all time worst episode, and far be it for me to contradict the First Officer, but I'm going to disagree. It is clear why he has labelled the episode as racist as the 'aliens of the week' are all black and wave spears around. At times you half expect Michael Cain and his regiment to come storming in.  But racism works both ways - why can't a species all be one race? This is not set on earth after all.

We are used to Star Trek giving actors a strange hair style or stylised set of costumes to wear and then calling them a different race, and this usually happens when an episode requires numerous members of that species to appear.  Making mass alien make-up prosthetics can be too expensive and time consuming to do, but we have never before (or since) had one particular human race depict an entire species. If you think about this from a Star Trek universe point of view, it is not that hard to believe that the whole population of a planet could all be black, depending on the climate and evolution of the planet. What does seem awkward however is the method of keeping us thinking that this is a different species. They keep the black 'human' actors, like Levar Burton, out of the way, basically saying that the only way to recognise a Ligonian, as opposed to a human is by the colour of their skin.

Having said that, here is why I can forgive the race implications. The episodes message is nothing to do with race or religion, it is in fact dealing with sexism and feminism. The plot twist at its conclusion has the women turning the tables on the lead Ligonian and depose him from power in quite a shrewd way. It turns out the females were always the ones calling the shots and having the wealth. It is unfortunate that the 'Zulu' style culture that the writers created totally over shadows the point of the story.

Aliens of the week. Look familiar?

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