Check out the following commentary on Star Trek Into Darkness, from Racebending.com:
In the original Trek, Khan, with his brown skin, was an Übermensch, intellectually and physically perfect, possessed of such charisma and drive that despite his efforts to gain control of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk (and many of the other officers) felt admiration for him.
And that’s why the role has been taken away from actors of colour and given to a white man. Racebending.com has always pointed out that villains are generally played by people with darker skin, and that’s true … unless the villain is one with intelligence, depth, complexity. One who garners sympathy from the audience, or if not sympathy, then — as from Kirk — grudging admiration. What this new Trek movie tells us, what JJ Abrams is telling us, is that no brown-skinned man can accomplish all that. That only by having Khan played by a white actor can the audience engage with and feel for him, believe that he’s smart and capable and a match for our Enterprise crew.
The original (re)post of this quote on Tumblr added the following commentary:
[This] parallels what Rawles was saying earlier about the possibility of Moriarty being a person of color:
- “…The actual issue is that black people aren’t often allowed to play full and complete characters, and an antagonist who isn’t unintelligent, thuggish cannon fodder is just as much of a rarity for black men as the stubbly hero who saves the world or wtfever. “
- “…The stereotype in no way intersects with brilliant geniuses who choose to step outside of the boundaries of society in order to exercise their intellect while having no concern for lesser beings.
Or to break it down further: the problematic stereotype regarding black people is that of being, in essence, subhuman. Characters of the Moriarty (and Holmes) archetype are rooted in being superhuman.”
You see? It’s more complicated than “people of color get typecast as villains.”
Black people get typecast as an extremely specific type of villain - they’re thugs, brutish and animalistic. South Asian actors are similarly typecast as scary oppressive (usually coded Muslim) terrorists.
But when your villain is of the superhuman archetype? When they’re brooding antiheroes, when they’re nuanced, when they’re multi-faceted?
(And check out this post on the glorification of white criminality in shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, Weeds, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, etc.)
Furthermore I’d like to comment on the last JJ Abrams Star Trek movie, which I just saw recently for the first time. The villain, Nero, could definitely be described as “brutish and animalistic.” Nero is a Romulan, a race which in the original series was played by white actors. In the recent movie Nero was played by Eric Bana. Who is half Croatian. And who, more to the point, is depicted, like the other Romulans, with sort of uncomfortably pseudo-tribal face tattoos. Which were not a part of the character design for the Romulans in the original series.
Just, what are you doing Hollywood
I DON’T WANT TO STUDYYYYYYY
high tide and low tide in great britain. photographs by michael marten
tried “zesty jalapeño” chips because I thought they’d be exciting but NOW I WANT TO DIE