USA Today (by Jaleesa M. Jones):
Constance Wu has had it with Hollywood’s white savior complex.
The Fresh Off the Boat actress and two-time Television Critics Association Awards nominee posted a pointed letter to Twitter Friday, in which she criticized the whitewashing of Chinese history with the casting of Matt Damon in 2017’s action epic The Great Wall and called for Hollywood to change the narrative.
“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world,” Wu wrote one day after the trailer debut for The Great Wall, which features Damon as its dragon-slaying lead. “It’s not based in actual fact. Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. (Gandhi). Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time.”
Wu went on to challenge the argument that it’s hard to finance and profit from movies that aren’t toplined by white talent, and urged studios to consider the message tacitly communicated by scores of films that revolve around white heroes and struggling communities of color.
“Money is the lamest excuse in the history of being human,” she wrote. “So is blaming the Chinese investors. (POC’s choices can based on unconscious bias too.) Remember it’s not about blaming individuals, which will only lead to soothing their lame ‘b-but I had good intentions! but…money!’ microaggressive excuses. Rather, it’s about pointing out the repeatedly implied racist notion that white people are superior to POC and that POC need salvation from our own color via white strength. When you consistently make movies like this, you ARE saying that.”
Wu also questioned why projects starring entertainers of color aren’t given the benefit of the doubt — or the latitude to fail — that is afforded to projects starring white actors.
“If white actors are forgiven for having a box office failure once in a while, why can’t a POC sometimes have one? And how COOL would it be if you were the movie that took the ‘risk’ to make a POC as your hero, and you sold the (expletive) out of it?! The whole community would be celebrating! If nothing else, you’d get some mad respect (which is WAY more valuable than money) so MAKE that choice.”
The actress punctuated the call to action by invoking the importance of representation, particularly for children whose dreams may expand or contract based on the images they see, which are still decidedly limited according to Hollywood’s announced 2016 slates.
“If you know a kid, you should care too,” Wu argued. “Because we WERE those kids. Why do you think it was so nice to see a nerdy white kid have a girl fall in love with him? Because you WERE that nerdy white kid who felt unloved. And seeing pictures of it in Hollywood’s stories made it feel possible. That’s why it moved you, that’s why it was a great story. Hollywood is supposed to be about making great stories. So make them.”
George Takei on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry: “He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” recalls Takei, now 79. “But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.”
The Hollwyood Reporter (by Seth Abramovitch):
Star Trek has lived long and prospered for studio home Paramount, spawning six TV series and 13 feature films. True to its title, the latest big-screen outing, Star Trek Beyond, has gone where none have gone before: Star John Cho — who assumes the Sulu mantle for the third time in the reboots — has told Australia’s Herald Sun that the character is revealed to be gay.
The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.
And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.
Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Takei explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.
Proving that is not so simple a matter, however. Sulu never had an onscreen love interest duringStar Trek‘s initial three-season run. He did mention a daughter, Demora, who appeared in 1994’s Star Trek Generations, the seventh film in the series (she was played by Jacqueline Kim).
But the only reference to how Demora was conceived appears in a secondary canonical source: the 1995 Star Trek novel The Captain’s Daughter. “It was, to put it crudely, a one-night stand with a glamazon,” Takei explains. “A very athletic, powerful and stunningly gorgeous woman. That’s Demora’s mother.”
Takei first learned of Sulu’s recent same-sex leanings last year, when Cho called him to reveal the big news. Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead. “I told him, ‘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.’” (Takei had enough negative experiences inside the Hollywood closet, he says, and strongly feels a character who came of age in the 23rd century would never find his way inside one.)
His timeline logic, however, is enough to befuddle even the most diehard of Trek enthusiasts, as the rebooted trilogy takes place before the action of the original series. In other words, assuming canon orthodoxy, this storyline suggest Sulu would have had to have first been gay and married, only to then go into the closet years later.
Not long after Cho’s bombshell call came another, this one from Lin, again informing him that Sulu was indeed to be gay in Star Trek Beyond. Takei remained steadfastly opposed to the decision.
“I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen,” Takei says.
After that, all was quiet from Beyond until a few months ago, when Takei received an email from Pegg “praising me for my advocacy for the LGBT movement and for my pride in Star Trek,” he says. “And I thought to myself, ‘How wonderful! It’s a fan letter from Simon Pegg. Justin had talked to him!’” Takei was certain the creative team had rethought their decision to make Sulu gay.
That is until one month ago, when he received an email from Cho informing him that the actor was about to embark on an international media tour for Beyond. Cho said it was bound to come out that his character was gay, and “what should he do?” A disappointed Takei told Cho to go about his promotional duties, but that he was “not going to change” his mind on the matter.
“I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” Takei says. “I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”
Takei for his part is hoping to take Sulu in new directions as well, potentially on CBS’ upcomingStar Trek series, slated to premiere in January and co-run by Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller, who is openly gay.
“Star Trek Beyond,” the latest of the “Star Trek” movies, will show Hikaru Sulu with a husband and a daughter, according to a report by Australia-based Herald Sun newspaper.
John Cho, who plays Sulu in the rebooted “Star Trek” movies, told the newspaper that that the decision to reveal Sulu as gay was made by film writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin.
“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,” he told the newspaper.
He also told the Herald Sun that the decision was a nod to George Takei, who played Sulu in the original 1966 “Star Trek” television series. Takei and his now-husband, Brad Altman, have been together for 29 years.
Sulu will be the first LGBTQ main character in the franchise, which is known for breaking boundaries. The original TV series famously featured American television’s first interracial on-screen kiss in 1968, only a year after anti-miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.