Boldly Going Nowhere. Star Trek and the Limits of Hollywood’s Imagination

(Spoilers for the new film abound)

For me, Star Trek has always represented a very specific future. A future that had potentially outrun so many of the ills of present day society and, in specific, the ill of white supremacy. I won’t lie and pretend that this is an ideal that any of the series’ presents in a very strong manner — Deep Space 9 perhaps came the closest to presenting this by showcasing a complex Black captain/father/partner as the lead — but it was an ideal that I allowed myself to fantasize as living just beyond the screen.

And so as Chris Pine, Karl Urban, and Zachary Quinto stood triumphant near the end of the most recent installation to the Star Trek macrocosm, Star Trek Beyond, I realized that while the universe I had conjured in my head was potentially beyond white supremacy, the one that was depicted on-screen in front of me most definitely was not. In fact, this future seemed worse than the present — it felt almost like a dystopia. (more…)

@ChrisRock, #OscarsSoWhite, and Asian Jokes

Reviews have been mixed to negative on Chris Rock’s performance as host of the Oscar’s on Sunday night. And while there are a number of critiques that break down Rock’s performance well (see here), I want to give the spotlight to two articles in particular.

First, Grace Ji-Sun Kim — an associate professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion — over at Time magazine put out a quick piece highlighting the failure of Chris Rock to break out of the black-white binary. And in the process, perpetuate the same kind of tokenism and racism that so many black people are upset at hollywood about directing towards them.

In one skit, Rock brings out three Asian children (KIDS! CHILDREN! BABIES!) whom he refers to as his accountants (get it, because all Asian people are successful and good at math) — and then, kicks it up a notch by telling the crowd that if they had a problem with his jokes they should tweet about it on the phones that were also made by those kids (get it, because child labor is fucking hilarious). (more…)