LeVar Burton Talks Geordi’s “Plausible” Return On ‘Star Trek: Picard’ And “Insulting” Romance Storyline On TNG

After his summer stint as a guest host for Jeopardy!, LeVar Burton has now moved on, recently announced as the host of a new game show based on Trivial Pursuit. In a new profile in Rolling Stone, the veteran actor talks about the moment he has been having in 2021, and he also talks about his past and possible future on Star Trek.

Geordi on Picard “plausible”

Since April 2020 LeVar Burton has been suggesting a return as Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: Picard. Earlier this year the actor confirmed he will not appear in season two (which has now completed production), but again said  a future appearance was reasonable to “assume.” Now speaking to Rolling Stone, Burton now seems a bit less sure when asked about a return to his Star Trek: The Next Generation character:

I’m not psychic. Look, I love Star Trek. I love my castmates. Here’s what I will say about Picard: I do believe that whatever else is going on in his life, in the storytelling that they’re engaging in now, he still knows these people. It is certainly feasible, if not plausible, that they should show up at some point during this current adventure. We’ll see.

The third season of Picard has been in production since early September. If Burton were to be part of season three he would likely know by now. And while it is possible, there is no indication yet the series will continue after three seasons.

LeVar Burton and Michael Dorn visited the Picard set in season one when Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes were guest stars

Geordi’s TNG (lack of) romance storyline “insulting”

The interview turned to his time on Star Trek: The Next Generation where he described Geordi’s VISOR as “iconic,” pointing out “that young people, male and female, put headbands over their eyes and play Geordi La Forge, is proof positive that it is an iconic image.” But when asked what he would like to see changed about the character, Burton was definitive, saying, “He’d get laid.” When it was pointed out that it was weird how Data the android got more action than Geordi, Burton didn’t hold back, saying:

Weird? It’s insulting. Whether they are aware of it or not, those white men who wrote the show had an unconscious bias that was on display to me and to other people of color. Their blind spot is revealed in the fact that a Black man never was successful at one of the basic and most … My wife says, “There’s a lid for every pot.” It’s true. The idea that Geordi never found a lid for his pot is ludicrous. It’s preposterous, and it’s insulting.

Burton specifically felt the storyline where Geordi had a holographic romance with a copy of the real Dr. Leah Brahms (“Booby Trap“) was problematic:

And that’s part of the problem, right? In their attempts to be cute, they inadvertently created an aspect of Geordi’s character that is very uncomfortable.

From TNG “Booby Trap”


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Do not be embarrassed. It was a different time and a different way of telling stories. On the other hand, it was a pity that the writers never succeeded in creating a real romantic relationship with a woman for Geordy, so the character did not develop pass his awkwardness

I mean I think its good that he’s pointing out that it was a different time and there was a different way of telling stories. It was a racist time, and it was a racist way of telling stories. Star Trek, in so many different ways has been guilty of a lot of racism and I’m glad he’s calling it out and bringing attention to it. The writers didn’t fail to succeed in creating a real romantic relationship. They failed to even attempt to value a character of color enough to build his character in the same way they did the rest of the (white male) main crew. The only crew member of color or women crew members that got any better treatment aside from some really infrequent B plots was Worf; and that is a whole other ball of wax re:portrayal of crew members of color.

I just had to laugh at this, Star Trek TNG ‘racist’ LOL.

Yeah its the catch all excuse these days when things don’t go your way. I’m surprised he didn’t blame racism for not getting the Jeopardy gig.

Yeah, why would anyone think that given the new host is….

/s

Jesus dude, you need Jesus.

Is Racism under every bed? Georgia was one of the most loved and developed characters in the series. Tell me which engineer had dating life except Torres who was engaged already then married. Until Trip, no one seemed to consider engineers to have a dating life in the Trek universe. How many times did Picard get “laid” in the same series? Vash, was his outlier romantic interest and I can’t think of a scene where you could say they got around to consummation the relationship. While not perfect, Star Trek attracts many of us who are people of color because it gives us a world where the foolishness of racism is behind us. It’s a beautiful world. Let’s create it and not drag Star Trek into ours.

Only because a crew member in a Sci-fi show doesn’t have a relationship shown it does not mean that the writers are rasists 🤦🏻‍♂️ Star trek by the way as far as I know was the first tv show that had a black woman, a Russian and an Asian in key roles..

There’s nothing wrong with pointing out racism when one sees it. It doesn’t mean that the people were evil. It just means that they were products of the biased time they lived in.

A lot of people use the term bias instead of racist because it feels less threatening to people. The problem is that individuals act out bias. When an institution like a Star Trek TV show acts out biases on the basis of race, that’s institutional. That sounds more like racism than bias. The show was sexist too.

They did suggest he ended up marrying Leah Brahms in All Good Things but we know how that timeline ended, that said if he shows up in Picard I’m sure he’ll be happily married with a family.

I am fully counting on the powers that be for Picard will mess that up, going by how they have done so far. (But I would than more than happy to be proven wrong.)

Honestly TNG was rife with cringeworthy “relationships”. They tried to pedal a progressive future that swung between Galactic Swingers Club and Everyone Becomes Kinda Rapey. DS9 was even worse.

Did anyone watch the First Contact 25th panel that Larry N hosted last week? It was a lot of the art folks who are back working on Picard. One of them seemed to confirm that Levar is back. At the very least, he was on set.

Doug Drexler posted the whole panel on his FB. That’s where I saw this.

Michael Dorn and LeVar Burton were also on set during the shooting of Nepenthe even though they were not in the episode. So being on set doesn’t mean being on the show. Now if he was on set for several days and in costume that’s a different matter, or course…

He’s not wrong! Though it’s not his fault–it’s a sign of the times in which the show aired.

I thought it was refreshing to have at least one character not be a chick magnet.

Harry Kim has entered the chat.

…who wasn’t just a glorified extra.

Lol!

Patrick Stewart, at the time, also wanted Picard to get some piece of the action if you know what I mean. So he’s not alone in that regard.

Still, Picard at least got to successfully romance someone once a season. The closest Geordi ever got was to marry Leah Brahms in an alternate reality. In the finale.

Geordi stands out like a sore thumb as the only character from TNG, DS9 and Voyager not to have any kind of romantic relationships, past or present. It’s peculiar. A couple characters on Enterprise and Discovery are in the same boat, but considering how many episodes and films Geordi was part of, I understand Burton’s frustrations.

Reed was really frustrated and even lamented it on E Squared. That HE was one of the few who did not get paired off. Which is why I think blaming ethnicity for it is misplaced.

I’m pretty sure Levar has a better sense of that then you. All due respect.

With all due respect, not necessarily. Sometimes people are too close to things to get a true reading of the situation. Or are influenced by other perhaps even unrelated events. Not saying he was wrong. He may be correct. Just that his conclusion was not the most likely one.

And when he did, it was often pretty cringe-worthy (Insurrection). There’s a reason most actors aren’t also writers.

Really? It’s “white men” now that wrote the show, not writers anymore. Wow. Watch out white men writers, in the future, don’t show a black person as a nerd, bad at school, bad at dating, evil, clumsy, stupid, incompetent. The result is Michael Burnham. That is insulting.

Nobody thought: Oh Geordi is uncomfortable with women, he is black; racist combination.
I thought it helped identify with the character, as a Star Trek fan in the 90s it was not easy getting laid.

I hope Burton was joking.I would be very disappointed with him if he was not.

Well, all the writers at the time were white men, and the black character was the one who was always being turned down by women. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but the writers were sending a certain message. If there had been more diversity in the writers’ room, they might have been able to avoid that.

It is only sending a message to viewers who see colour. By the way, Naren Shankar is not white. But he was not there in season 3 when rhey made Booby Trap I guess.

All viewers see color. It is impossible not to see.

Children don’t. But let me rephrase: Only people that are racist (maybe the word is too strong)/ have experienced racism, make the connection between the colour of a character and a negative character trait and interprete subconcious bias into it.

I suppose infants don’t, but children learn to see race at a very young age. We have all grown up in a racist society, so we all experience unconscious biases. The all white writer’s room certainly had unconscious bias, and they transmitted that bias to their viewers. It isn’t the fault of the writers. It was unintentional on their part. But that is why it is important to have diverse writer’s rooms.

Honestly, if the writers of tng were able to weigh in here they would probably just own up to their bias and pledge to try to be better. People get fragile when a black man voices his opinion.

Do you just speak in self-righteous Twitter buzz words? Anyone can voice an opinion and people are free to debate that opinion. You seem “fragile” that some are voicing different opinions.

Calm yourself.

Well, not all black men have the same opinion. Unfortunately with this whole fascist cancel culture- you are probably correct. They likely would just say they made a mistake. The thing is, what so many folks don’t seem to understand, is that just because something is offensive to a person, doesn’t make it racist thing. It might just mean they are overly sensitive.

Go back to Fox News.

Truth

WRT children, I kind of agree with you. It’s been hard and painful to me to explain to my kids what racism is and the history of slavery and persecution in our country. After that, the innocence is gone. My son even said he was glad he wasn’t black, after hearing about slavery and the recent BLM protests. He has a good mixed friend and a cousin who is mixed Asian who has been bullied for being half Japanese as well as on the spectrum.

I guess we all have subconcious biases and are products of our culture and how we were raised. I didn’t have many black friends growing up and like LGBT folks as well, I admit, I wasn’t as sensitive and didn’t really think about all the crap these folks have to deal with just because of their skin color. It’s completely stupid, cruel, un-American, ignorant, and all-around disgusting and, unfortunately, it’s come roaring back thanks to the alt-right/white nationalists/racists who supported Trump.

Honestly, I don’t think that race entered into Geordi generally being a loser in love. My impression was always that it was just a play on the lame engineer stereotype, like I said earlier. Being an engineer, I’ve met a lot of guys who obviously have problems with the fairer sex, but Geordi never struck me as being one of them.

But maybe I’m wrong. I’m white. Maybe I just can’t see it.

Oh, yeah, Geordi had another love interest: Aquiel.

Well… My kid is half Asian and he has never had any issues whatsoever. My wife, who is East Asian, came here over 20 years ago and has never had any issues either. Our kid learned all about the history, good and bad in his school. Not CRT, but the facts. Including the FDR Japanese interment camps in WWII and how Chinese were imported for cheap labor to work on the Central Pacific RR. He is well aware slavery existed and has a good understanding of the world. He knows all this and his only thought on the matter was that he is glad he is living here today than back then as today is a billion times better. Yes, we have taken a step backwards due to the crap you mentioned. But that crap that is going on is not back because of alt-right nationalists and the like. I doubt there are enough actual true believing white supremacists in the entire country to fill an NFL stadium. before 2020 there were precious few gatherings of those types of any note. It happened but was pretty rare. No, the reason the crap you refer to is going on is because of the actions of socialist, racist antifa types who found a new voice due to encouragement from our national legacy media and the new administration. Those types have been emboldened and seem to be everywhere now days. Very sad but this sort of thing can’t last. Society just won’t allow it to. And maybe one day we can get back to the days when “racism” wasn’t the first thing someone jumps at whenever they feel wronged for some reason.

“I doubt there are enough actual true believing white supremacists in the entire country to fill an NFL stadium.” Total misinformation. The FBI has recently categorized White Supremacy as the number 1 terrorist threat in the US and its domestic. These “militias” You always hear about in the woods of pretty much every state sitting on bunkers full of guns? White Supremacists. It’s actually on the rise these days. If you seriously think there’s not enough gun toting weirdos now that want to “fight for freedom” but have White supremacist views and motives at the heart of their movement, take a look around. We have more now than ever and they’re going to cause a lot of grief over the next 20 years.

Yeah… Take a look around you… It’s complete hogwash that it’s the “Number 1 terrorist threat.” If true it’s the most invisible threat on Earth. They never show up or do anything. How can they possibly be a threat? White Supremacy is on the decline. It has been for decades. It’s getting smaller and smaller as it should. There are much bigger domestic threats out there. They make themselves known on what seems like a weekly basis. Or less. They aren’t invisible at all.

Charlottesville? And, just today: https://news.yahoo.com/white-supremacists-stage-bizarro-rally-021956089.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall

And, you are aware that there’s been a dramatic increase in hate crimes against asians and jews in the last few years? It’s been well documented.

And Ahmaud Arbery? I assume you heard about that.

BTW, my nephew has said he wishes he wasn’t Japanese due to the bullying he’s experienced at school.

As for Anitfata, yeah, those guys are douchebags too. Same with the stupid, violent Portland anarchists who latched onto the BLM protests along with the looters and other criminals.

I didn’t say it was non-existent. I said you rarely hear from them. That Charlottesville thing was years ago and was pretty much the last time we heard from any of them. That story of those folks in DC… Why is it assumed they are white supremacists? No one has heard of the name of the group, there was no evidence they were and from what I have read and many suspect feds were involved. So, no. I wouldn’t count that.

And yes there has been a documented rise in crimes against asians. However in most of them the perpetrators have been African Americans. Does that make those crimes related to white supremacy? The Aubry case was the only high profile recent murder case where race could have been a factor. A couple of outliers does not = a chronic problem.

Sorry for your nephew. But his case is definitely NOT the norm. My mixed son, nor my 100% east Asian wife have not experienced anything like that. Anywhere we have gone. It is more likely that is more common.

Not remotely true.

An entire field of academic study – Art History/Visual Studies (Culture) – would disagree with your statement. Folks study these dynamics.

You made it worse. If you “can’t see color” (and no one believes anyone who says that anyway) then you can’t see discrimination.

I get it, you really do just speak in slogans, waiting to pounce on anyone who uses an antiquated expression and ascribe to them the worst motives.

You know, it’s funny, because as a kid I truly “did not see color”. I live in Europe, so it was somowhat imprinted on me through movies that USA is a diverse country and I never perceived people through the color of their skin. It was just… natural, that Americans come in wide variety.

Children can see the difference in color, but not the difference in people.

Of course people recognize that people have different colors just like cats and dogs have different colors. But like was mentioned, that makes little difference to children. They don’t see anyone of a different color as any different than them, and they shouldn’t.

If they do, it’s because they were taught that way. Growing up, I never knew racism. It wasn’t taught to me. I never had any bias toward anyone because of their color.

My dad’s best friend is a white man married to a black woman. Their son was my best friend. That is the kind of world I grew up in. I’ve lived around so-called blended or mixed families my whole life. We have always been the same. We never seen anyone as different. It wasn’t until I was called a “you-know-what lover” later in life that I even realized that there were still racists in the world. And yes, I had heard about people that didn’t like people because of the color of their skin by the time I was like ten or so, but I didn’t know them. They weren’t any friends of mine.

Like I said, color never mattered. Sure I noticed it as a kid, heck I noticed my dad had darker skin than me, because of his Native American ancestry, but he’s my dad…I never thought of him as different than me. Plus my sisters took more after my mom, they were very white.

Anyway, the society isn’t racist. Some people in society are, but society itself isn’t. I believe that people in general, at least when bias isn’t taught; view all as equals. If the “white writer’s” had no intention of being racist, than they weren’t being racist. They were just writing and chose Burton’s character to be the lonely man. I think it’s more racist to look at it and say that there was some kind’ve unconcsious, completely undefinable bias from the so-called “white writers.”

“Children can see the difference in color, but not the difference in people.”

Well said.

Well, that would be lovely if it were true.

Look, as someone of colour, who despite being born here, has constantly been questioned if I really belong here, I assure you that racism exists, prejudice exists, and while it’s slowly changing, there are systemic injustices (not individual acts of injustice) perpetuated by laws and governments.

North American societies have used race / ethnicity as the basis for institutions and laws to perpetuate people of one colour as winners and others as losers for centuries. You don’t overcome centuries’ worth of the slave trade, reconstruction, the failure of reconstruction, a century of segregation and Jim Crow laws overnight.

There are people alive TODAY whose grandparents were owned by other people.

It was within living memory that people protesting for their civil rights were beaten, hosed down, had dogs sicced on them, went to jail, or outright killed.

Just because we verrrrrry recently, in the timescale of history, passed laws to guarantee equality doesn’t mean the playing field isn’t still tilted, nor that some groups wish to keep the playing field tilted because they wish to remain in power. Look up gerrymandering!

As just one example, there is a massive wealth gap between black and white families. In 2021, US Black families have a median wealth of about $24,000, whereas the median White family has wealth of $189,100.

A big part of this transfer of wealth was a historic government policy of redlining (denying mortgage insurance to predominantly Black neighborhoods, lowering home values). It’s what created the “good” vs “bad” parts of town, by deliberately starving one side of investment.

Then, there was the policy of denying G.I. Bill benefits after WWII to returning Black servicemen, that were otherwise provided to White servicemen: College educations and low-cost FHA home financing.

Education is how you get a better job, and houses are the primary vehicle for wealth transfer between generations, so by this systemic government policy, Blacks were kept back, and Whites were given a huge step up and a financial windfall that only grew over time.

I say this because, while it might be bruising to White egos, you live in a society that created all of its historic wealth by exploiting African slaves (in today’s dollars, George Washington was worth $500M), or later, vastly underpaying people based on skin colour, and when faced with Black poverty and social ills, White society invokes many defensive tropes to avoid looking in the mirror. “Everything’s good now, so those people must be lazy / need to pull up their bootstraps!” and the egregious “I don’t see colour.”

Saying “I don’t see colour” is tantamount to saying “I refuse to acknowledge that there are historical and ongoing wrongs, social prejudices and unjust policies which affect you and make your life worse and your people’s life collectively worse, and frankly, I don’t want to know about them, because I don’t want to care about it, and hey, that all happened hundreds of years ago, didn’t it? I wasn’t alive then.” 🙄

“It is only sending a message to viewers who see colour.”

Call it a day. No reason to take you seriously now.

If nobody teaches you irony you might not get the subtext of a statement.

If no one teaches you allegory you might not find the second layer of an allegorical story.

If no one teaches you racial diffences you might not attribute discrimination to the colour of a person. And sometimes people discriminate other people because they do not like a certain person, not basing it on their skin colour.

And as Elektroskansen pointed out, being from Europe where societies used to be very homogenous people never talked about race – at least in our generation – so you never learned / experienced racism. I never understood Americans’ preoccupation with race until I had social studies at the university.

OK. If they wanted a male character to be awkward with women who should it be? If not Geordi that left just Riker and Picard. Two MAIN characters both in leadership roles. Certainly not going to be the Klingon and Data had his own issues.

Damn them for casting a black actor and then make him imperfect in one aspect.

That’s must be a real predicament. You cast an actor of colour and then you make the character imperfect in one aspect. Two aspects, he was also blind . Damn those writers and oh, those casting people for casting a seeing person as a blind guy. Then again, the actor is black. That should make it okay again.

It would be less of an issue if they had more than one black human in the cast. Or if they had some black writers. And, yes, it is a little awkward that they have a sighted actor playing a blind guy, but Geordi can pretty much see when he’s wearing the VISOR anyway.

Maybe Geordi could but Lavar has claimed that he could barely see a thing.

And no, it’s not awkward in the least that a sighted actor was playing a blind person.

Uh, well, they pretty much had to have a sighted actor play a blind man if the VISOR was going to work in any believable fashion.

Good point. Would have looked like shitty tech if Geordi constantly bumped into walls.

I don’t know, I suppose a skilled blind actor could possibly fake it, memorizing his surroundings and so forth, and make it appear as though he could see. But the question is would a TV series in the late ’80s and early ’90s take the extra time and effort to do that? Doubtful.

Characters with sight play blind characters all the time. So that’s not remotely awkward. Now we’re gonna have an actual blind actor playing an Aenar in Strange New Worlds. That literally just happened.

People shouldn’t be cast based upon if they have certain disabilities that the character they play has.

They are actors, and therefore they should be cast based on how they play the character. Are they able to actually play the character? For example, what if a scene required that a person who eventually is in a wheelchair is walking? How would they play that scene?

Try again when facts actually support your opinion (though the main thrust of your opinion has merit). Burton is referencing his entire time on the show and then specific story points, that occurred in specific episodes. Burton point also misses out there was another main character that never got laid on screen on the show. That happened to be a white male. Wesley says hi! But the episodes that he really focuses on are Booby Trap and Galaxy Child. The third season had Melinda Snodgrass (Who joined late 2nd season and lasted through the end of the third) as part of the writers room she also talks about how unhappy she was with Piller’s handling of the writer’s staff, where she and several of the experienced writers thought he treated them like inexperienced writers. But she’s there. And from the 2nd episode of the 4th season to the last episode Jeri Taylor was in the writer room, and started with season six was leading the writers room. There was also a women in part oft he first season’s writers room, but turnover was exceptionally fast… So for the bulk of the series there have been at least one writer who wasn’t a white male.

I’m pretty sure Wesley and Ensign Lefler got it on. If nothing else, it was clearly shown that Wesley could be in a relationship. Geordi wasn’t even seen to be in a successful relationship, ever.

Geordi is seen making out with a woman in Transfigurations. Riker gives him an attaboy. Sure, he never got a great relationship episode, but it’s not like he was a sexless automaton.

Not sexless, but you can’t deny that the vast majority of his interactions with woman on a romantic level where awkward at best and boarding on creepy more than once.

Yep, and so were Data, Barclay, and Wesley. They were all borderline creepy nerds who had difficulty talking to women. TNG knew its audience too well. ;-)

So I’m sure in reality there are no shy humans who have dark skin color and I’m sure ALL relationships of ALL black people in the world are ALWAYS working perfectly. Shame on the writers who doesn’t cope with reality. I’m sure if we could change the camera angles on the enterprise to where we wish everyone who has dark skin color would have a bad or no relationship and everyone who’s white would have happy perfec relationships. Of course that’s what Gene Roddenberry and star trek always stood for and is known for.

I didn’t see color as the factor for why he wasn’t good with the ladies… I saw him as unlucky with the ladies because he was a smart dork who was into dorky things… which felt relatable as a young Star Trek fan.

Edit to add: Expanding on this slightly, Geordi being non-white was never even a thought which crossed my mind regarding his bad luck with women until this interview. To me, Geordi was the analog of dorky super smart awkward guy with glasses.

He did say it was a subconscious bias. That’s usually the form such biases take. It’s not a deliberate thing, but often unless they go out of their way to reach out, they’re more likely to think of writing for people that look more like them. Compare to DS9, where they did go out of their way to incorporate Brooks’ racial experiences into the show, with Past Tense, Far Beyond the Stars, Baddabing Baddabang, and What You Leave Behind, and they were very conscious of the importance of showing a loving father/son relationship between Ben and Jake.

I respect Brooke’s experiences but at the same time while Far Beyond the stars was great, his speech in Badda Bing felt like it was forced into the show, it’d be like a modern day brit still being angry at a Dane for Viking raids centuries ago. I’d like to think that by the 24th century everyone’s moved on and humanity is truly one.

it a sore point that the ‘rat pack’ era was one that discriminated against those of colour, despite sammy davis jnr being part of it.
and even he was treated badly.

good of ds9 to have vic in the show but not be blind to the era’s faults.

Agreed, that said I think by the 24th century anyone thinking about those times would be like ‘damn we were collectively stupid back then, anyway moving on’

So you really think that such smart folks like the star trek tng writers and Gene Roddenberry himsels are not able to get their subconscious into the front of their minds to see that in a show that’s set in a FUTURE OF EQUALITY it’s not the right think to discriminate black people?? (which it is never of course!) .. You know, God knows I’m ENTIRELY, just entirely for equality of all human beings from the bottom of my heart. But people really should stop trying to see things where there are none!!!

My thoughts exactly! There are plenty of people who fail at romance, and Geordi was and still is somewhat of a role model for me. He made me more comfortable, proving that a person’s worth is not restricted to getting laid. He was smart, had responsibilities which he did not fail at, he was a ranked officer, with career and achievements. Geordi’s character makes you think you’re still a worthy human being, despite being single. And it makes me angry that Burton doesn’t seem to understand it. In fact I feel kinda offended by his words now. It’s like he’s looking down on me, because “I failed at the basic-you-know-what”. He lost a noticeable chunk of respect on my eyes. It’s so nu-Trek to forget about what Gene had in mind when he envisioned our future, and focus on today’s morals and goals, just shown happening in space. Terrible.

Such an idiotic statement, he’s just trying to pander to the times we’re in now, that writers room was certainly not all white and male, and to imply it was just disregards the great work by Naren Shankar and Jeri Taylor just to name a couple.

Found the racist 👆

In defense of the show, arguably the “nerdiest’ and (in stereotypical terms) possibly least romantically involved regular or semi-regular character on the show was Barclay, who was white. Also, at about the same time, DS9 brought us a heroic black captain who was married (twice); marriage (before the production of “Picard”) was never depicted of any other regular character in Star Trek, with the exception of Worf (at least in another timeline, in which he was presumably married to Troi (“Parallels”). Picard, who was thought in some circles to have had the potential of being romantically involved with Beverly Crusher, never did seem to be successful in that relationship, and this was evidently by design (see also Memory Alpha on this topic). By comparison with Kirk, Picard was utterly chaste, with few exceptions (e.g., as Karmin in “Inner Light”).

Right. In some sense, all these characters were created this way because Star Trek had a reputation revolving around Kirk bedding every woman. Some people have tried to say this was not “true.” But it is how general audiences saw Kirk’s character. And I wouldn’t doubt that a lot of the TNG writers had read Simone de Bouvoir and at least one of the second wave feminist theorists.

Sisko was far from the only character who was married. Worf, Jadzia, Tuvok, Tom, B’Ellana, Riker, Troi, Phlox, and T’Pol were all main characters who were married. Also Kirk that one time he had amnesia.

Phlox had six wives!

Don’t be ridiculous. He just had three.

And it was “wondrously complicated”.

Interesting. I’ll clarify to limit my statement to characters whose marriages were consistently or centrally depicted in the series or episode in question. Jadzia, I will admit, is a good example, since she was married to Worf. So is Riker (“Generations”) and Troi. However, if you were to point out, for example, an episode in which Tuvok’s marriage was clearly depicted and central to it, I would appreciate it. Same with Tom, B’Ellana, Phlox, and T’Pol.

Yeah, Picard being uncomfortable with women and children was the writers being anglophob or francophob. Pick one.

Troi being incompetent in her job just stating the obvious was hellenophob or also anglophob. Pick one.

Riker being afraid of his own command was canadophob? Good that that storyline was not given to Sisko, Brooks would lead a compaign now.

Barkley being a nerd? Ateamophob writers . Clearly.

Crusher being kinky only having sex with ghosts and weird symbiont lifeforms; irophob or gingerphob.

The writers must have been jewish, because Spiner had the best part. Wait, was that anti-semitic?

Come on, Mr Burton, you can do better.

Apologists for racism will always make themselves known, as you’ve just proven.

Pulling the “apologists for racism” card and so effectivly ending the discussion. That is not helpful for the discussion. Helpful would be if you add a new aspect.

And no, we do not all live in the same society. Not everybody here is from the US. But if everything is really racist there in 2021, or every action taken is perceived as potentially being racist, then granted, I would also be grumpy all the time and only see the worst in people and in what they do.

You can always count on the bigot talk about racism as if it’s a “card” other people pull out to make them look bad. It’s called gaslighting.

“Racism card” is an unfashionable expression that refers to false charges of racism. The implication of your trendy blather is that any charge of racism is automatically true and anyone who tried to deny it would then be a racist. You’re doing the “you’re a witch and if you deny it, that means you’re a witch” routine as promoted by hucksters like Robin DiAngelo. Carry on.

Apologists for racism will always call racism claims a “card,” as you’ve just proven.

A genuine racist can deny being a racist and a non-racist can deny being a racist, even if the non-racist uses an older term that your sect insists is proof of witchcraft. We’re dealing with a new secular fiery religion that’s looking for witches to burn, especially if they use one of the evil, forbidden words.

Yeah… I see people making Kafka traps more often these days. The fallacy where if a person denies being X then that is proof that a person is X since only a person who is X would deny being X.

It’s ridiculously childish, actually.

Walmart employee, no college? Sounds you are one of those.

…says the simpleton who stupidly claimed Burton has had no career, despite his having had a long and successful one.

Exactly right Timo. These commenters are telling on themselves.

Not that it matters in this discussion, but Riker wasn’t Canadian. He was from Alaska.

Lol right , Valdez. Somehow I confused Alaska and Canada. :)

Well, they both get a lot of snow.

God forbid a black man have an opinion on the portrayal of his character.

No, that’s not it. He can have his opinion. Just that he said that his portrayal was negative because the writers where white. He blamed racism.

Just like you did. “A black man”. Can’t you just say “a man”. There is always the subtext of racism.

God forbid a human express an an opinion and another human disagrees with it.

Jean-Luc and Beverly were previously married in the alt-future of All Good Things… (where she was also “Captain Picard”.)

She took the name of the husband/man and kept it? Outrageous.

Good point, I missed that.

Kirk got married in “The Paradise Syndrome.” McCoy got married in “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” and this was his second marriage since he was divorced. Spock was married to T’Pring until his marriage was annulled in “Amok Time,” then Picard attended his wedding decades later. O’Brien married Keiko on TNG. Paris and Torres got married on Voyager. Riker and Troi got married in the films. Quark married Grilka. Rom married Leeta. Picard and Crusher got married and then divorced in the TNG finale’s alternate future, and that was Beverly’s second marriage. Pulaski had ex-husbands. Worf married Dax. Stamets and Culber are married. Troi and Worf were married in an alternate timeline. Sulu had a husband in the Kelvin timeline. Tuvok had a wife. Phlox had three wives. The Doctor had a wife in “Endgame.” Chakotay and Seven were married in “Endgame.” Paris and Kes got married in an alternate timeline. Jake grew up and got married in “The Visitor.” Sisko had two wives, Jennifer and Kasidy. Lwaxana and Odo were briefly married. And Chapel was engaged but her fiance vanished. I’m probably missing some. :)

… Picard attended Spock’s wedding? Wow. I looked that up. Said once… and never mentioned again!

And yet Sisko had no problem in the romance department. Interesting…

The real difference there is that Sisko was the lead. LaForge was a supporting character.

Nor did Worf.

 It is certainly feasible, if not plausible, that they should show up at some point during this current adventure. We’ll see.”

Translation – “I’m in talks and can’t say more.”

Frist, it is hardly unreasonable that a character just couldn’t find a mate in a 7 year time frame. That said, I would agree that the way they handled Geordi’s romantic pursuits was pretty bad. I chalk that up to Geordi being a weak and dull supporting character but it must be said that the way they handled all the characters was pretty bad. And while there is the possibility that his reasoning for it has merit, the odds that is true are low enough that that should not be the first place one goes to when considering reasons for the treatment of the character. Had Geordi been white, I think it VERY likely the exact same thing would have happened. It’s an ensemble cast but Geordi just was not one of the leads. He was supporting. Had Burton been cast as Riker he would have gotten some just as often as Frakes’ Riker did.

I’m surprised Burton used the race card to complain about Geordi’s lack of sexual conquests. Worf is played by a black man, and he got lucky with Keylar and Deanna.

I think the character of Geordi changed a whole lot from season 1 to season 2. Once he became the chief engineer, Geordi was portrayed as the typical nerdy STEM person who has trouble getting a date and makes more friends with machines (Data, Hugh) than full humans. The Visor was like a nerdy pair of glasses. I identified with Geordi because of that, not because of his race.

Do you really think Black folks didn’t complain about this back in the 80s/90s? He’s not playing the ‘race card’ – you folks LOVE to gaslight people with that term – but stating reality of how many black characters were portrayed back then.

Exactly right.

I apologize for using the phrase “race card.” I recognize it is insensitive and wrong. However, Burton’s statement still did not make sense since Worf, in the same show, did have some romance.

I also think that there is still the problem of racial representation in any show. .

Worf was a Klingon who had Klingon romances so not comparable to La Forge except they were both played by black actors. Burton’s comments about the writers not knowing how to write for a black man are still valid, Worf isn’t a “black man” in the show.

Proportionately, I would say there were a large number of black characters in shows back then. So many have been forgotten. Nowadays everything is misproportioned, and that’s what people don’t get. It’s like white people are the minority these days. It’s not just that, but even characters with different gender identities and sexual orientations. It’s good to represent what exists in the real world–the problem is, it’s getting to the point that there’s more represented than what believably exist in the real world. Does that make sense?

I mean I don’t mind it that much, but I can see how people could think of older shows as being racist or homophobic or whatever; simply because they didn’t have as many characters that fit the “woke” standard or whatever it’s called. I remember a ton of shows when I was a kid that had characters of all colors. Sexual orientation and gender identity was far rarer, but it also wasn’t as common in the real world either. That doesn’t make it bigoted in any way. Just accurately portraying things the way they actually were.

Anyway, I know not everyone is gonna agree with me, but I don’t think the problem with racism is in the past–definitely not in Star Trek. The problem is today, it keeps coming up in the media and everywhere you look someone is accusing someone of racism. Someone says they don’t like Mexican food and BOOM they’re labeled racist. It’s silly and it doesn’t help the issue at all.

There are actually people in this world of every color that are racist, and yet we wanna focus on fictional characters? Absolutely stupid. People cried about Khan not being Sikh in Into Darkness. But guess what? In The Wrath of Khan he was a White Mexican! That’s dumb. Everybody seemed to be perfectly okay with a black Jimmy Olsen in the Supergirl series, but not even once has there actually been a red-headed Jimmy Olsen on screen. The closest was the Ashmore dude from Smallville and he wasn’t that much of a ginger. Believe it or not racism does go both ways. It’s like Larry Elder once said, when a black man calls another black man an Uncle Tom nobody cares, but when a white man calls another white man a “you-know-what lover,” then it’s terribly offensive. But what’s the difference really? Racism is racism.

khan was a sikh played by a mexican actor.
‘sherlock’ got picked for ‘darkness’ because he was a top worldwide tv star at the time.

I’m surprised you used the term “race card” in 2021.

K’Ehleyr

Yeah, I was kind of bummed back in the 80’s/early 90’s when they failed to hook him up with someone. Intelligent, lonely guy. That is what I related to, not his race. He was just “Geordi” to me.

I think this is the best comment here.

Was it that kind of show, though?

None of the characters did particularly well in the romance department, I’d argue. Troi and Worf was the only significant romance during the TV run (O’Brien and Keiko?) — it set up potential romances (Troi/Riker and Crusher/Picard) in season one and largely abandoned them for most of the series (something growing between Crusher/Picard was increasingly hinted at toward the end — and we saw them divorced 25 years later but never together).

I always thought the awkwardness was partly the trope of Geordi being an engineer/nerd — and maybe growing up a bit isolated because of the VISOR. And wouldn’t Geordi being a chick magnet have played *into* the stereotypes at the time?

Also, although the actor might have liked it, would it have been that interesting to the rest of us? I can’t think of a single TNG story that would have been better with Geordi (or anyone else) getting action.

Relationships and potential romances tend to drag down Trek, going back to Kirk/Rand and including Dax/Worf, Kira/Odo, Kes/Neelix. Janeway/Chakotay, Paris/Torres, Seven/Chakotay, T’Pol/Tripp, Burnham/Tyler, Burnham/Book etc etc etc.

I’m not including Kirk’s mostly cheesy affairs of the week (Edith Keeler excepted)– the whole point was usually that he couldn’t settle down because of the ship.

“That a Black man never was successful at one of the basic…”

Worf did alright.

Can’t we just say it was bad writing? Why do people have to search for agendas behind everything these days? I mean Geordi was a character who very rarely was written in a good manner. Remember how he treated Scotty and what a jerk he was being to him. He was perhaps the most inconsistently written character on the show.

I have to agree with the consensus. This swipe implying that white = racist whether we are aware or not is just bs. Sure I agree it sucks that Geordie wasn’t the ladies man but I hardly think this was a race based bias. I seriously thought we had evolved past this but alas the message of Dr Martin Luther King Jr isn’t coming in as loudly as it once has. We have a long way to go on all sides.

Didn’t Geordi have a romantic relationship with a woman who was a murder suspect? You know, the one where the “dog” did it. Okay, it’s not TNG’s finest hour, so I can’t blame Burton for forgetting it.

Hang on, there’s also the episode where Geordi gets a zap from the John Doe alien guy and all of a sudden he’s confident and making out with Julie Warner in the turbolift. I know that sounds like a fever dream but it happened, I swear.

Aquiel

I really hope that Picard lasts 3 series and that’s it. It needs to be something small. It can’t last 10 series. It just can’t. I see it ending with the Golem body breaking down – explaining why they didn’t use it much – So Culber’s line in Discovery has more weight to it. And not just ” Why cant every dead person have a golem body and live forever ? ” – Because they have a very low success rate and last about 3 – 5 years.

Also have Picard MAYBE recruited to the Q continuum. What bout Picard BECOMING the Q form Encounter At Farpoint – it turns out he’s the one who’s been guiding his life this whole time to make sure he makes all the right choices ? Could be a cool idea but honestly I don’t trust the writers to nail it.

Except for trek, his career is almost nonexistent. And yet he complains.

Nonexistent? A house hold name. Roots, reading rainbow, caption planet and Trek. Ground breaking characters. Helped raise my generation of children, on par with Mr Rogers and Big Bird. What have you done?

Well, there was this little mini-series (I know, they are almost ALL mini-series these days) back in the 70’s called Roots that made him a household name…

Black man had an opinion they made folks a little uncomfortable so folks immediately have to diminish his life.

“Except for trek, his career is almost nonexistent.”

Those determined to display their ignorance will inevitably do so.

He starred in Roots, one of the most revered and important TV miniseries of all time. He hosted Reading Rainbow, an extremely popular and respected children’s television program, for 23 years. for which he received 12 Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. He costarred with Steve McQueen in The Hunter, earning an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor, and also portrayed Martin Luther King Jr. in Ali. He starred on the TV show Perception for two seasons. He’s received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, served as the Grand Marshal of California’s Rose Parade, and had countless guest appearance roles on Fantasy Island, Murder She Wrote, Becker, Big Bang Theory, and other shows. Plus, he voiced popular characters on Captain Planet, Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, and other shows. He’s guest-hosted various game shows, such as $25,000 Pyramid, and he came very close to hosting Jeopardy this year. He’s directed episodes of Charmed, JAG, Las Vegas, and other very successful shows. And throughout his careers, he has been several times nominated for or awarded Emmy, Daytime Emmy, Image, Genie, Black Reel, Grammy, TV Critics Association, and Chicago International Children’s Film Festival awards. Oh, and he’s also authored three successful books, and he currently serves on the board of directors for the Directors Guild of America, while teaching Master Classes in storytelling. He is, in short, a household name who is beloved by EVERYONE in Hollywood–and I say that as someone who works there. People in our industry adore him, and so do generations of children and sci-fi fans.

So… what have YOU done, Marius? I guarantee you it doesn’t compare to Burton’s successes.

Dang, mic drop. 🎤

I yield the floor. :)

Wait, what?? I recall reading that when the TNG cast was announced, except for LeVar Burton, the cast was largely unknown to American audiences. Including Patrick Stewart. Gotta love the conceit of the Trek fan base, that assumes this series is the pinnacle of the careers of on screen talent.

Well, yes and no. When the TNG cast was announced, Levar Burton was definitely the most well-known at the time. Thanks to Roots and Reading Rainbow, he had become a household name.

However, Patrick Stewart was also recognizable because of his work in such popular films as Excalibur, I Claudius, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and especially Dune and Lifeforce. I knew who he was before TNG existed. When the cast list was released, I said “Oh, I know him from Dune and Excalibur.”

Jonathan Frakes was a known actor among soap opera fans for his recurring role on The Doctors, and prime-time viewers knew him well since he was among the main cast members of John Jakes’ North and South, which was very highly rated. (I recommend it, by the way, in case you’ve not seen it. The first two miniseries are fantastic. The third… not so much.) I immediately realized Frakes was George’s brother from that miniseries.

Michael Dorn was one of the regular cast members on CHiPs. Brent Spiner was a fan-favorite character actor for his hilarious appearances on Night Court. And Wil Wheaton was VERY well known because of Stand By Me. In fact, Wheaton was easily the other most recognizable member of the cast besides Burton, because everyone back then had seen Stand By Me, and he was the main star. But many TV viewers definitely knew Spiner’s and Dorn’s faces and voices, even if they didn’t know their names, since CHiPs and Night Court both had huge viewing audiences.

Really, it’s the three women actors who were the unknowns. All of the men were recognizable to some extent by that point, but while Denise Crosby, Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis had all taken on prior acting jobs, nothing was overly memorable… with one unfortunate caveat: Sirtis had appeared topless in a couple movies, and some popular celebrity skin magazines from the 1980s had published photos of those scenes. So even though people may not have known her name, her… er… appearance was known. As for Crosby, she got a lot of press after being hired because of her iconic grandfather.

The most unknown of the bunch, then, was McFadden.

I remembered Denise Crosby from 48 Hours. Not being a soap opera guy I had never heard of Frakes and since I never watched Chips I had no idea who Dorn was. I only recognized Patrick from Excalibur AFTER seeing him on TNG. I watched the movie again and went, “Hey! It’s Picard!”

CHiPs kind of sucked, so you didn’t miss much. I watched it anyway, because I was a kid in the ’70s and there weren’t a lot of channels yet. :)

I was a kid in the 70’s too. But Chips just didn’t speak to me.

I never thought about it in terms of implicit bias. Although I thought the bias had more to do with the fact that he portrayed a nerdy techy who loved a robot. Surely, a tech nerd would have trouble getting laid in the eyes of the writers during that time!

I was just thinking a lot about his, as I’ve heard Levar talk about this in the past. Because of that it’s informed the way I watch and rewatch TNG. To my mind the way he plays Geordi is pretty amazing considering the lack of central story lines he gets. Geordi is charismatic, kind, competent, calm under pressure, selfless. He’s also a very attractive man. Most of this comes from Levar and not from lines that are written for him. I think it shows the writers short comings and implicit bias that they made him a creep and clueless with women considering the depth of character Levar gave them to work with.
Like Patrick Stewart coming back as Picard I hope the writers work with Levar Burton on his hopes and opinions on the character that he beautifully inhabited to facilitate a return. Oh, and bring back Keko O’Brien and allow her to shine too :)

I’m a 66 year old Black man, and I disagree strongly with Levar Burton if he is saying that racism is the reason Gordi didn’t have a successful romantic relationship on TNG. I can understand his possible frustration, but it’s simply wrong to cite racism as the underlying reason. None of that is to say that the writing on TNG was fully “woke”, but it certainly never struck me as being racially insensitive, let alone racist.

Yeah. I have nothing but respect for Burton. He’s a great guy and highly talented. But racism definitely was not the issue here, given the great material given to Worf, Guinan, Sisko and Tuvok on TV, and to Uhura in the movies. The real problem was Geordi–he wasn’t all that interesting a character, and Burton played him with a bit too much earnestness, so the writers likely found him difficult to write for.

a little bit of racism can be found everywhere. I am Italian and in Star Trek the Italians seem extinct. the only ones there are sometimes are Italian-Americans from Little Italy with a mafia face. an embarrassing stereotype that has become unbearable since in Italy there is a huge difference between regions but we are all identified in the same way …

“I love Italian. And so do you.”

Apparently not, huh?! Yeah, although you can find a long list of Italian surnames used throughout Star Trek, there don’t appear to be any prominent Italian characters.

Does Holo-Da Vinci count?

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Italian

I guess they forgot about Worf and Sisko…

Specious comparison offered in the response to Burton: do I have point out Lit 101? Data is the machine who wants to be a man, and Geordi is the man who is more comfortable around machines. Skip to Brent Spiner becoming the breakout star of the series and the resulting high number of episodes detailing his exploration of humanity (which is established in the pilot), and “action” would seem rather unavoidable, especially considering the eccentric series creator set him up as “fully functional” from launch.

Geordi was a vague character at first, given few defining features besides his VISOR, and eventually is turned into “engineer who is consumed by working on engines.” That this stock type offered the least interest to writers as far as delving into personal details is hardly surprising. That they failed to develop the character much further is also unsurprising considering the show had to service the many storylines of its most popular characters Picard, Data, and Worf plus a fair amount of service to Riker and Troi. That the show was science fiction adventure in nature also limited the screen time for the personal lives of every series regular.

But the writers gave one of the franchises most touching relationships to Geordi– his friendship with Data. Geordi ends up being Starfleet’s most brilliant engineer who saves its flagship countless times while also becoming best friend and savior to Starfleet’s most unique lifeform. Not bad for a character who ranks 6 out of 7 in terms of narrative importance for series regulars.

I’m afraid the centrality of Michael Dorn makes the unconscious bias claims rather implausible, unless one is to argue that the writers were unconsciously biased in favor of Black Klingons and unconsciously biased against Black humans. That the TNG showrunner created a Star Trek series in 1993 that centers around a Black family also does not add weight to this grievance. In fact, Burton may have it rather backwards– the role of brilliant engineer who is the consummate professional was not a role that would have commonly gone to a Black actor in the late 1980s.

I might also add that the second-highest ranked writer-producer on TNG was a woman and its writing staff included an Indo-American and a Cuban American.

As I noted in another comment, there were studio biases of TNG’s time that would affect things like cast diversity- but that doesn’t fall on Michael Piller’s and Jeri Taylor’s writers’ room.

Well put.

I have no idea how the TNG characters were created, but it’s always seemed to me they were written as quick sketches over a lunch break with a deadline fast approaching.

…uh, he’s an android who wants to be human! Uh, she can… read minds! Uh, he’s a Klingon in Starfleet! Do we have time for one more? Okay… he’s a blind man… who can see! Right, that’s it.

That any of these characters became pop culture icons is something of a miracle.

Now that I think about it, I take that back. It wasn’t a miracle exactly, rather it was a testament to the talent of the actors and the writers to make those sketches real people. LeVar can take some pride in that, I suppose.

I actually don’t think any of that cast besides Patrick and to a lesser extent Spiner, are very good actors at all. I think that also contributed to the blandness of the characters.

It was more like…

We need a Spock-like character. Let’s have an android.

I confirmed my memories of a shapeshifting dog – Geordi had a strange romance with Aquiel Uhnari, a Haliian. And Ronald D. Moore confirmed he married Leah Brahms in the series finale. So considering this was a space adventure show and Geordi was not a lead character, his limited romantic escapades do not justify accusing harried writers of racial animus, by proposing to know the secret layers of of their minds. And to some of the commenters herein, sanctimony does not make one clairvoyant.

To those who feel like Burton is calling the white writers room racists, you’re not reading his statement. He specifically mentions that “Whether they are aware of it or not, those white men who wrote the show had an UNCONSCIOUS BIAS that was on display to me and to other people of color.” That’s the key, an unconscious bias. Every single human alive has unconscious biases, it just the nature of who we are. In race theory, these biases are referred to as “implicit biases,” and while related to racism, an implicit bias is not directly racist, as it is not a conscious thought or decision.

What this boils down to is that, in the late 80s/early 90s, in a writers room of mostly white males, this same writers room would be filled with implicit biases. Whether this directly lead to Geordi being the only male character not paired off in a romantic relationship (and even being portrayed as somewhat creepy around woman) can be debated, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all, if you asked one of the TNG writers about this, they would agree with what LeVar said.

Yes, but only psychics or deities can accurately describe the unconscious inner workings of another’s mind. Asserting broad social theories is not the same as proving it in an individual’s case. LeVar would have us believe that while the very progressive Piller was creating and producing Deep Space Nine centered on a black father and son, he was unconsciously sabotaging the romantic life of Geordi LaForge because he unconsciously couldn’t stand to see a black engineer get laid. What laughable hogwash, yet so many go along with it due to fear of being called out for offending the new social dogma… that’s looking more and more like a fundamentalist religious cult.

But to be clear, there were studio biases relating to when the show was made– e.g. now they wouldn’t have the captain and the first officer both be white guys- but this kind of thing of how the show was initially set-up wasn’t the doing of the writers’ room.

Before anyone asserts that Piller had Sisko’s wife die out of his unconscious bias against black men having sex, I’ll note that Deep Space Nine was based on the western formula of a single father raising a son on the frontier, e.g. The Rifleman. Spoiler: Sikso eventually remarries.

Implicit bias is a well known and well studied field of psychology. Sure you can never be 100% positive what is going on in an individuals mind, but we do have some broad-stroke understanding of the human psyche, and that includes implicit bias.

And again, there is nothing inherently wrong with implicit biases, it’s a fact of human nature. The issue comes in when said biases are pointed out, and you (not you directly, but you in the general sense) refuse to recognize them or do anything about it.

I understand what unconscious bias is. It exists. I don’t see how it applies here. If anything, making Geordi a ladykiller would have played into biases/stereotypes at the time.

I thought the engineer who was more comfortable around his engines was a sweet choice for Geordi, who was a little set apart because of his visor. Surely flaws are more interesting to play. I don’t recognize any racial tropes in how the character was portrayed.

Nobody did great in the love department on that show — Riker’s hookups ended in murder and the ship being taken over, if I recall correctly. The only real coupling among the mains was Troi (who’d had a few embarrassing romantic mishaps) and Worf (played by a Black actor).

Sometimes actors, especially Trek actors who go to conventions and get a lot of reinforcement from fans, tend to confuse their characters with themselves.

I guess maybe Burton wanted some love scenes, but that doesn’t mean Geordi the character was done a disservice.

If we want to talk racist depictions, why did Geordi only hook up with a darker skinned alien subspace comm officer?

Also, “I’s scared Geordi!” Terrible episode (except for Riker’s “pull your head out of your ass” talk).

He didn’t only hook up with a darker skinned person. See the episode “Transfigurations.”

I find it strange that he finds this insulting. It kinda hurts my feelings, considering I still have yet to find someone myself, and I felt that one of the things that makes his character so relatable to me now is that he was constantly finding himself alone.

It was never about race in my mind. I’m white but I saw myself in this man. To me his character was just that much more relatable to me because he was a lonely man. I don’t know why so many people in Hollywood are always trying to play that race card.

Besides, his character may have been a black man constantly alone, but it’s not like it was like that with all of the black characters.

I don’t agree with him on the “lid for every pot” thing. Plenty of people don’t find partners in life. Especially people with disabilities. If he was actually sensitive to the disability community he would see this… It’s an unfortunate truth (something I know all too well). Now whether it would have happened with Geordi is another issue. Geordi was a bit awkward but he wasn’t socially incompetent. At least not like Reginald Barclay. And I also don’t like that he qualified the writers being white. I’m actually disappointed in him, but not surprised. Everyone has to make something racial these days

Also – the lid for every pot makes for boring scifi. The connections on Voyager – which made more sense on a stranded ship – were the least interesting part of the show.

I actually thought the Leah Brahms thing, while a little cringey, was quite neat, ultimately. They shared a connection (the ship) — and I always thought it was actually a sweet story (and he ended up with her in one reality).

What a huge shame that Stewart almost ignores everybody in “Picard” who made/influenced him become -Picard- in the first place.

What are you talking about?

The Leah “romance” wasn’t great, but LaForge had a great role in “Arsenal of Freedom” — not only in taking command but carrying out the only extended “Kirk-like” tactical maneuver in all of TNG, where he used the battle section to destroy the probe. So he got some good stuff during the show.

Jeordi never got laid because they were trying to stereotype him as an engineering nerd, that’s all. Worf (another black man, albeit Klingon black) not only had a gorgeous wife but child as well, and when his wife died, he got it on (and remarried) with a gorgeous white woman. There were stereotypes, but they weren’t racial. Jeordi was the nerd, and nerds don’t get laid often, if at all. They sleep in the lower decks, where no one goes.

I think Mr. Burton makes a good point. I also think the writers were playing to geeks and nerds with La Forge and Barclay. But I did find it odd during the series that La Forge never was given the chance to have a real romantic relationship. Barclay was so neurotic I could believe it in his case, but not La Forge for the entire series.

What I was actually hoping for during the series was that his “caretaker” personality would be dealt with in a positive way via a romantic storyline and he could gain some self-confidence in his relationships with women that mirrored the self-confidence he had as an engineer.

It wasn’t really that kind of show. I can’t think of a single episode that would have been better with Geordi in love.

Geordi’s iconic “VISOR” was a futuristic metaphor for nerd spectacles. Stereotypical engineering nerds didn’t start getting laid until the Big Bang Theory made it a thing. It was pretty obvious LaVar was not into playing out that stereotype though.

Burton is right about Geordi’s failure with women. I’m white and I disliked it. Now, I thought it was more to portraying him as a brainy engineer, a stereotypical, shy, clumsy nerd, but Geordi was never that at all. He was a likable, kind, guy and his awkwardness with women never seemed credible to me. But Burton might be right too that there might have been a racial bias there as well. Riker was always supposed to be TNG’s ladies man and Alpha-male Worf certainly became one. Somehow, the writers decided that one of the characteristics of Geordi was always going to be his failure with the opposite sex. I thought it was lame and insulting too.

But, am I surprised that the Geordi character wasn’t treated well in this regard? No, not really. There were others, Dr. Crusher’s relationship with Picard that was largely ignored. Wesley’s precociousness. And, finally, Marina Sirtis’ role as the psychologist on the bridge.

It could have been worse.

I really like Levar Burton. I think he’s a fine empathetic actor and a class act. And, despite mistreating these characters from both their conception (Troi) and their execution ((Geordi, Wesley, Dr. Crusher), TNG was and is still a great show. I’m rewatching it now with my wife and kids (who’ve never seen it), and my wife, especially, is impressed by a lot of the writing and acting (although she can’t stand Dr. Crusher).

And Burton’s right about the VISOR too. I’ve read interviews in the past that said he was concerned about it because he wouldn’t be able to use his eyes for his acting but when he heard how many disabled people were inspired by it, he changed his mind. And it is iconic, absolutely.

Finally, I don’t get why any actor would want to be a gameshow host, except for money. I’d rather see Burton in a new, dramatic series or something like that. He deserves it.

There are always winners and losers in love as well as other things. They had a similar winner/loser in love dynamic in Voyager, too, with Tom Paris and Harry Kim. It’s just a dramatic motif. Typically nerds don’t have the time to socialize since they spend more time with their métier, their life’s passion, their pygmalion, their work. (And in reality they often are higher on the autistic spectrum than non-engineers). Hence they are short on the social skills, charisma, and more pragmatically, time, to seal the deal on many romantic opportunities that appear. I don’t see a problem with that at all, esp. since Star Trek’s core social interactive premise is that individual crew members are ultimately metaphors for different psychological attributes. It has always been true by historical tradition: Star Trek characters are in fact formulations of psychological principles.

The idea that someone is unconsciously bias of black men is a softer way of saying that those people are racist. I find that insulting. To say ALL white men are racist whether they are aware of it or not is highly illogical. We are not all alike.

I would be comfortable with saying EVERYONE is biased against something,and we are certainly are aware of it. I don’t even know how a biases can even be unconscious. I feel as if they are just making stuff up now.

If we want to end racism we first need to stop blaming races for the actions of individuals of that race. Blame the individual writers and not the color of their skin.

Unconscious bias is exactly what it says.

Well intentioned people may still be biased without realizing it.

That’s why it’s helpful for people to speak up and challenge choices that appear to be evidence of such bias, and to put in place practices in the workplace to avert the bias.

Representation in writing rooms is one way to avoid it.

One of the ways we avoid it in my workplace is to use blinded job applications and assessment processes as much as possible. It’s astonishing how different the screened pool of candidates is when the applicants names and other identifying information is blanked out.

I still don’t buy a person can not be aware of their biases. I think it’s a made up thing in order to be able to accuse someone of being racist for example in a soft way. It’s telling someone that you know what’s in their hearts and minds better then they do. That is just silly.

Feel free to disagree with me and you obviously do but that’s the way I see it. We have to stop telling people what they think and ask them.

We all have unconscious biases. We have grown up in a society that teaches us certain lessons, and we take these lessons in whether we mean to or not. I certainly don’t think of myself as racist, but I do recognize that I have biases that I am aware of and biases that I am unaware of. I wish I didn’t, and I do my best to avoid letting my biases control my interactions with others, but those biases will always be there. If we don’t admit that we are biased, then we can’t confront our biases.

Sorry, I still don’t think we can unconsciously have anything, let alone biases. Unconscious means not conscious. That means you DO NOT have consciousness. If you do not have consciousness you do not have thoughts. You can’t think something if you don’t consciously think it. That’s the whole reason for consciousness. We think our thoughts and form biases that way. It doesn’t work if thr brain is off.

You cannot be unaware of a thought you are not thinking. How exactly do you know what thought a person isn’t even thinking? The person themselves can’t know it. Are we saying we punish someone for something they MIGHT think? How do we know what that even is? There is no clear science on this. It’s akin to snake oil, there is no substance to the claims. There has never even been a method proven to cure so called unconscious bias. I rest my case.

I kind of agree, the term “unconscious bias” seems like an oxymoron by itself and I kind of think it is a made up academic term to give reason or excuse for peoples actions or to penalize people for something they are not aware of. The philosophical implications of the idea can be dangerous and can kind of lead into a Minority Report esque idea of the future where they were judging crime by using precogs and peoples unconscious minds. And this brings up more dangerous issues like even if people think negatively or destructively for a tiny bit would it be alright in the future to judge and prosecute them just because for a second they thought about doing something unlawful.

We absolutely all have patterns that other folks see but we don’t.

Unconscious biases are absolutely real, although I don’t think racial biases have anything to do with Geordi not getting laid.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Every person of colour (myself included) has encountered unconscious bias from other people. If you haven’t encountered it, it’s probably because you’re in the dominant social group that gets to define the biases towards all the other groups.

For years, black people were portrayed as thugs in movies and TV. The fear of black-on-white crime was exaggerated by certain groups in order to lobby for more punitive laws, or humiliating stop-and-frisk actions, or to devalue the neighborhoods where black people lived as “the bad part of town”, so that white people felt unsafe there.

You never saw Black people in national TV ads. You didn’t have Black characters as leads in national TV shows other than a handful of sitcoms. You never saw natural Black hair shown as beautiful (outside of magazines aimed at Black audiences). Black people with lighter skin who conformed to White beauty stereotypes were more acceptable than those with dark skin who did not. While some of this was conscious bias, the effect was to pass into people’s unconscious biases. “I have never seen Black people held up as beautiful, so black skin and hair must be ugly,” — even among Black people themselves. (And among Indians, I must add, thanks to British colonial values).

Ask any Black man if they have seen a White person flinch passing them on the street, or a woman clutch their purse a little tighter in an elevator when they get on board, or heard them saying “oh man this neighborhood seems sketchy.” All that is not based on conscious biases (i.e. from experience and fact) but on things that filter into their unconscious based on everything their culture tells them about Black people and Black culture.

If you’re of Indian descent, WOW it’s amazing how white people will display stunning ignorance straight to your face, confusing you with any of a dozen other subcultures or groups, or manage to somehow wrap a put-down in a compliment about something, or people make assumptions about what religion you believe, what food you eat, how they will immediately tell you they love Indian food and all about the trip they took last year (omg it was sooo spiritual) but not how they didn’t actually see the real India, they saw the tourist version.

None of this means they’re racist, but it means they have an image in their minds created by White perceptions of another culture and people, NOT directly from experience or from what people of that culture tell them directly; which has shaped their preconceptions and therefore they unconsciously create a set of biases.

They may think they’re enlightened but they don’t know what they don’t know (i.e. the Dunning-Kruger effect) and their ego doesn’t want to admit they don’t know, or that they might have biases they’re not aware of.

That’s why it’s helpful for people to speak up and challenge choices that appear to be evidence of such bias, and to put in place practices in the workplace to avert the bias.

Alright, you used the word evidence there. So far, the evidence points to Geordi being underserved in the romantic department but not totally devoid of relationships either.

On the contrary, I think the bias was against the character of Geordi LaForge, or lack thereof. Honestly, beyond the VISOR, there wasn’t much of a character there. That is to say, the writers never bothered much to go beyond his blindness and that nerd-with-future-specs novelty, and his interest in engineering and awkwardness with women were an extension of that.

Worf and later Sisko on the other hand had backstories that were more than a piece of tech stuck to their faces, so they had better, meatier stories involving their cultures, their careers, and, yes, their romances.

So no, I don’t think the writers had a bias against Geordi’s race. I think the evidence points to them having a problem with thinking of Geordi as anything but a nerd.

“Booby Trap” wasn’t problematic at all.

“Galaxy’s Child,” on the other hand…

And don’t, “It was a different time.” I was creeped out about it then for the same reasons it’s creepy now. That terms like “gaslighting” didn’t exist then doesn’t change anything. It was still a thing.

Star Trek Picard would have made far more sense with Geordi in the lead role. Member “the most toys” where Geordi couldn’t sleep because he thought Data was dead? Nobody even mentioned LaForge during the love scene at the end of PIC. And based on the book where Geordi survived the synth attack on Utopia Planitia, LaForge should have had plenty of time to obsess about Data and go on a crazy mission with Han Solo to go find Data’s daughter without mentioning Lal. Or Lore. Or without questioning the fact that a human consciousness had already been transferred into Soong type androids. Twice. Or without wondering where Elton Soong came from since Noonien and Juliana never had children.

Picard tolerated Data. Geordi loved him.

Season 1 of PIC makes far more sense with Geordi.

And then we wouldn’t have needed all that nonsense with the Borg, the Romulan drama, and brutal murderer “seven of nine”.

Well it could have been worse. At least they didn’t force-fit awkward romances like that one Picard with that boring as could be Anij. “Oh Jean-Luc, please experience a perfect moment in time with me.” Lol

That was in the movies, which I don’t include as TNG.

But yeah, it was terrible- and at Stewart’s request.

There’s a reason most actors don’t write their own material.

I always thought it was because he was an engineer. A gear head. His best friend was an android and his girlfriend was essentially the ship. It never occurred to me it was because he was black.

Re: The 2nd in-blue-text quoted paragraph: Well …… Michael Dorn … and K’Ehleyr in TNG? And then Jadzia Dax in DS9?

Okey-dokey…so TNG was sooo offensive, like…er…when Data tried that beard?! 5 minutes he had it! Are we to infer that he wasn’t ‘man’ enough? And how come young Ensign Crusher never met a nice lad? Those 1+1/2 girls he kissed never convinced me…and, Oh yes, Lt Barcley…now there’s sexism, racist TNG in one man……not now Riker, I’m, er, gonna, er, finger yer missus…k?

Unfortunate to see LeVar milking the current climate with these rather ill-expressed and honestly, dishonest comments. Just because of one character trait within a TV show. A character trait which actually made Geordi more interesting then “Oh look, we have another babe magnet over here!”.

Geordi being like that was a part of his character, not due to the colour of his skin. Much like Barclay, who was portrayed faaaar worse in all departments. Though, unlike Barclay, Geordi (granted, in an alternate future) we found out becomes happily married with kids.It was all about growing and becoming comfortable with the person you are. Much like Geordi’s sadness/insecurities in being blind (as seen in The Naked Now to Insurrection).

It looks that, certain people are using perceived prejudices to their advantage, in order to air grievances that does not really relate. I am of Asian descent, but do not begrudge the writers for not promoting Harry Kim in the main timeline etc. It’s just a part of his character’s journey. It seems everything is racists these days, just makes a mockery of real racist instances that really DO need addressed.

Definitely not surprised by some of these tone deaf content