George Takei was first cast in ‘‘Star Trek’’ two decades after World War II, when American racism against his Japanese ancestry still burned strong.
Takei is also gay, and he played Lieutenant Sulu — who was revealed to be gay last year, 50 years into a series that has always celebrated diversity in its cast and stories, as Michael Cavna noted in The Washington Post.
So who better than Takei to respond to a spate of racist and race-tinged criticism that greeted a trailer for the series’ new installment, ‘‘Star Trek: Discovery,’’ featuring high-ranking black and Asian officers — women, to boot.
NextShark, a news and culture site that aims to appeal to “young english-speaking Asians around the world,” collected a choice sampling of comments below the trailer: ‘‘oh great a woman captain again”; ‘‘The captain looks like she was affirmative action’ed onto the bridge”; ‘‘BLM black.’’ There were plenty of racist slurs.
MSNBC brought Takei on Sunday to get his take — probably knowing that, aside from his Trekkie history, the actor has loudly protested Hollywood’s history of ‘‘whitewashing’’ American entertainment.
‘‘People are finding the time to hate on ‘Star Trek’ for having diversity,’’ host Joy Reid prompted. ‘‘What?’’
‘‘Well you know — today, in this society, we have alien life-forms that we call trolls,’’ Takei replied.
He explained: ‘‘And these trolls carry on without knowing what they’re talking about and knowing even less about the history of what they’re talking about. And some of these trolls go on to be presidents of nations.’’
Yeah, Takei was going to bring alien analogies and President Trump into this space fight.
The president hasn’t said anything about the new show, at least not in public. But Takei is no fan of Trump. He wrote for The Post last year about how Trump’s threats to ban Muslims from the United States recalled the Japanese internments through which his family suffered during World War II.
Which came up again on MSNBC.
‘‘These people claiming ‘Star Trek’ is racist genocide, or whatever, ‘white genocide,’ don’t know what they’re talking about,’’ Takei said. ‘‘They’re equal to the president of the United States.’’
‘‘Discovery’’ actually features many white, male characters — enough that some fans criticized it for not being diverse enough, before the trailer brought on the troll attack.
The series’ casts have always looked more diverse than those of most contemporary shows: from the ’60s-era run with Takei and Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura, to later installments where a woman and a black man commanded starships. Actress Michelle Yeoh will portray the ship’s captain in ‘‘Discovery.” (The Washington Post)