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I didn't use to be so sensitive about it, but that's the double-edged sword of identity politics. It trains everyone to think according to those lines, so when I see it now, I think "this is supposed to be offensive according to The Rules, but isn't being treated as such". I can't really turn it off. And when a friend of me makes a point to complain about whitewashing in Hollywood, what am I supposed to do? NOT point out that Hollywood also remakes white European movies with American actors because the idea of a non-English movie with subtitles scares them? Isn't that essentially the same thing as casting white, English-speaking Americans in a movie about historical Egypt? I mean, I certainly feel more represented by Swedish actors in a Swedish film than I do by I-can't-believe-it's-not-American Daniel Craig in an American one.
Anyway, on to Star Trek. One problem that people fail to get with Star Trek is the dichotomy between representation and commentary. Due to Trek's nature, its commentary is largely allegorical, because it presents a future where current day problems have already been solved. When they cast Nichelle Nichols in the 60's, they were doing so in an atmosphere where blacks had just barely gotten equal rights (in the US), but they didn't use her and her character as a vehicle for direct racial commentary. They did so through allegorical aliens, or historical commentators. Same thing in DS9, with Far Beyond the Stars, the Skreea, etc. etc. Or with Worf, as a character torn between worlds and judged by both. And we might have never seen Bashir and Garak kiss, but at least Trek had a bunch of LGBT allegories.
So you can have direct representation in Trek, but not direct commentary. It reminds me of that DS9 episode Melora, or something like that. The one with the girl in the wheelchair, which had some direct commentary on the handicapped. Yeah, not a very good episode. But then there was the episode where O'Brien does hard time, except it's only in his head, and it's a great metaphor for the experience of PTSD, reminiscent of The Forever War (which had tons of gay representation, BTW). I've come to regard The Inner Light as a very good allegory for someone who has lost their homeland, as someone close to me has, and it helped me understand their position. Jadzia Dax was a good metaphor for transgenderism, and I even saw similarities between her and someone who later came out as transgender. Now when I watch DS9, I suddenly notice all this typical trans talk that I never noticed before, even when it's obvious stuff like "you used to be a man". Because it's presented as a science fiction thing, you just take it in stride, but it doesn't lessen the impact of the issues being discussed. And I wonder if the writers ever noticed themselves, because they didn't when they made Data an accidental allegory for autism, or Worf one for second generation immigrants.
I think that's the power of science fiction: To strip away the prejudices we have with an issue close to us, in order to bare the essential operant qualities of it. Apparently even without realizing it, when people focus on the philsophical implications before they even realize there are real world applications for them, such as with "the man who has no emotions".
I think the VOY episode Nemesis kind of deals with my issue. We, the audience, assuming that these are the good guys because they look like us. The fact that Chakotay is taken in by them, despite being an outsider to the conflict who should remain neutral. And there's their weird cult-speak, which kind of forces an American audience to take a different view to these very "human" aliens. It also really worked with Chakotay as a main character, which is kind of rare. I don't know, I can't really, completely articulate it. I thought the episode was kind of goofy when I first saw it, but grew to really like it over the years. It's a powerful episode about identity and making assumptions about it. Something about this issue would have to go according to those lines.