In a new interview with Metro Weekly George Takei (TOS: Sulu) talks in depth about the diversity in Star Trek. Takei said that he he was proud to be part of the production with the first interracial kiss calling it “a real breakthrough.” But Takei also defended the series for not having a gay character saying that it would have pushed the envelope too far. Also in an unrelated bit, Takei revealed a bit about what we may see with John Cho’s Sulu in the new Star Trek.
Excerpts from the interview
METRO WEEKLY…[in] the mid 1990s, there was an effort to get a gay character onto Voyager or Deep Space 9, I believe.
TAKEI: I remember having a discussion with Gene Roddenberry. He was an extraordinary man, a real visionary. He used to tell the Star Trek cast frequently that the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth. And the strength of the starship was its diversity, the crew coming together and working in concert. You saw not only the visual diversity of race and ethnicity, but we had a Russian at the time of the Cold War, when we were mortal enemies. We had a Russian as a trusted member of the team. [Roddenberry’s] view was that even that kind of adversarial position — intense, fierce adversarial position — can be overcome. The irony is today we have the International Space Station, a spacecraft out there, and once-mortal enemies, Russians and Americans, are working side by side.
Gene was truly an enlightened person, and he said, ”It’s silly, this homophobia and all this legislation and prejudice against equality.” But he felt that in order to make the statements that he had been making on Star Trek, it was important for Star Trek to be on, and network television is the most conservative medium of communication. If he pushes the envelope too far, the envelope gets burned up.
METRO WEEKLY: Despite no gay characters, the nuance of inclusiveness must have gotten through, as Star Trek’s gay following seems huge.
TAKEI: It’s been huge! They get the idea of diversity. We can all be part of this larger society and make our own unique contributions. That was Gene’s philosophy. Unfortunately, Gene passed away after The Next Generation was put together. The Next Generation was still with Gene’s participation, but after his passing a different group of people took over and they did not necessarily share Gene’s humanistic philosophy. David Gerrold, who wrote the script for ”The Trouble with Tribbles,” wrote a gay script, which he wanted to have done on The Next Generation. But that couldn’t be done because of the temper of the times. However, that script now has been filmed and is being put together by the fan manifestation of Star Trek [Star Trek: New Voyages].
METRO WEEKLY: If you’d been as publicly out in the 1990s as you are now, do you think producers and writers would have evolved the Sulu character into a father and made him a captain?
TAKEI: Well, that’s an iffy question, isn’t it? They knew I was gay, but I was not talking to the press. So I don’t know. It’s kind of tantalizing. But I do think that my character, becoming a father and becoming a captain, I’d like to think that would’ve been possible. Some of the people knew [I was gay], but they still made my character grow the way it did. If I had talked to the press back then, I don’t know. It’s a big if.
MINOR SPOILER FOR NEW MOVIE
Takei also revealed a bit about John Cho’s Sulu
It’s a younger Sulu. As a matter of fact, he has some bravura heroics in this movie coming out. We know that Sulu’s passion is fencing and there’s a lot of fencing going on.
NOTE: This ties in to John Cho’s recent comments about Sulu being a ‘badass’ and doing a lot of training for action scenes
Full interview at Metro Weekly
NOTE ON COMMENTS
TrekMovie.com tolerates a diversity of comments, but bear in mind we do not tolerate intolerance.