Yesterday came the news that the pilot of the USS Enterprise, Mr. Sulu is set to be revealed as being gay in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.
John Cho, who's portrayed Sulu in movies since JJ Abrams rebooted Star Trek back in 2009 said that: “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,”
The move to reveal Sulu's sexual orientation was thought to be a nod to the original Sulu, George Takei who has been an outspoken campaigner on LGBT rights. Takei and his partner Brad Altman, were the first same sex couple to apply for a marriage licence in California back in 2008.
However, Takei has revealed today that he's not happy about the move. He describes the decision as "really unfortunate".
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” said Takei. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s creation, into which he put so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Takei said that he'd heard of the plot development a while ago and immediately raised his concerns. He said he wanted them to be "imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted”.
However Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty on the in series and co-wrote Beyond has come out and defended the decision.
In a statement released to The Guardian, Pegg said that: “I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration,” he wrote. “However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.”
Pegg went on to argue that by creating a new character purely to have the LGBT community better represented would have bordered on tokenism.
“He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”
Pegg also argued that original Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's decision to make the Enterprise crew straight was more a necessity of the time rather than an artistic decision, pointing to Roddenberry's pioneering work exploring diversity in the series.
“I don’t believe Gene Roddenberry’s decision to make the prime timeline’s Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time. Trek rightly gets a lot of love for featuring the first interracial kiss on US television, but Plato’s Stepchildren was the lowest rated episode ever."
“The viewing audience weren’t open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.”
Pegg concluded by saying that Sulu's sexuality illustrated the multiplicity of human experience across the space time continuum.
“Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details,” he wrote. “Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere."
Via The Guardian