“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.”
Star Trek: Into Whiteness
If you look at the Star Trek wiki page for Alternate Khan, it says this:
“Khan’s background is suspected to be Sihk, from the northern region of India.”
It also posts a picture of Ricardo and says it’s one of the few historic pictures of Khan from the 90’s. Right next to Benedict’s very white face.
If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself.
Still haven’t read official spoilers yet, but it seems the Khan suspicions are coming true… and I’m not happy about it in the least. Especially because Cumberbatch has no idea how privileged he is — he once complained to a magazine that some people point out his privilege as a rich white upper-class Brit, and he wished he could move somewhere else where people wouldn’t do that. The nerve of some people, huh?
Actually, I’m pretty sure that was a Guardian article where the journalist said that it was basically okay and encouraged for us to bash rich/ privileged people, and the Guardian being the pseudo-left wing paper that it is, it was a totally trite article and made me so pissed off, because discrimination is discrimination, no matter who you’re discriminating against. I don’t care if you have 20 billion or 20 pence, you’re still a person.
As for this, few points:
i. this is an alternate universe story line, so… is it so inconceivable that characters might be different, like they were in the first movie?
ii. “even when they get screen time in Hollywood, minorities always play villains!” Hmm. Sulu & Uhura.
iii. How about the possibility that Cumberbatch was the best actor for the job, despite his skin colour? Is it so difficult to believe that, despite being white and Eton educated, perhaps there wasn’t an actor that was available that suited the role of Khan more so than Cumberbatch, who has proved his skill & worth from not only being a LAMDA graduate, but also as a great stage & TV actor?
And hey, guess what: it’s so racist that Hollywood cast another white Brit as a villain! All Americans are still hung up on the Revolutionary War! etc.
Um, no. Humans are irrefutably humans, but how much of a person someone is seems to depend on their wealth and status. Someone under the poverty line is seen as less of a person; they are “welfare queens,” they are “greedy,” they are “entitled to handouts.” People with Cumberbatch’s level of money are the class of people who encourage these stereotypes or do nothing to dispute them.
If an oppressed person hates their oppressor, they are not oppressing their oppressor. There is no such thing as reverse racism.
i. Alternate timeline is not a valid excuse for whitewashing a character. The Original Series was famous for having one of the first interracial kisses on TV, and now it’s backsliding to this.
ii. Even when they get screen time, minorities always play cheap villains. Moriarty will always be a White man. Villains who are thugs, who are plain evil with no motive, are black or Japanese or Mexican. Gang members. But villains with pathos? Interesting villains with motives and backstories and complicated, genius plans? They are White.
iii. Stop. You’re a racist.
Also, Britain is an empire that conquered India and appropriated its culture for its own amusement. Having a White Brit play an Indian man is a blatant continuation of cultural domination and a show of White “superiority.”
^ The link to the cached article where Cumberbatch was accused of whining, because people treated him differently because he was ‘posh’, which has since been removed because it was the most trite piece of work ever. It basically said it was okay to mock and discriminate against someone who was rich, because apparently, people with money are so privileged and live in their own universe that they need a reality check.
^ “Benedict Cumberbatch has exposed the chink in our collective PC armour”.
Essentially, I am colourblind, I don’t care what the colour of your skin is, you’re a person, and I will like you/ hate you because of your personality, not by your class, creed or colour.
I don’t understand how posh bashing is acceptable. It’s discrimination.
i. Actually an alternate timeline is pretty much a script-writer’s cop-out for writing what or how they want. If someone made the conscious decision that casting a white man would be better than casting an Indian man simply because of sales, then yes, that’s racist. But what if it was simply because Benedict Cumberbatch was the best person available, and so simple hired the best actor they could possibly find?
ii. Sherlock was written in the 19th century, where racial standards were different. Moriarty was a caucasian male in the novel. Of course, you can black/yellow/brown wash him in an adaptation, but apparently changing a character’s colour is racist. Also, I never considered Khan to be an interesting villain. I actually considered him to be pretty horrible and dislikable for all the talk about his perfection and his intelligence. The Eugenics War backstory was a showcase of this; I saw Khan’s bent on world domination pretty tepid as a motivation, since it was biologically motivated, and essentially something that cliched villains usually plan.
iii. Years of the disparity in people judging me by my skin has made me blind to colour. I’m Eurasian, and I’m always the a different colour in a different place. I’m white to Asian people, and Asian to white people. And so I’ve become colourblind, because people are people, and being judged by your skin colour is idiotic.
Don’t call someone over the internet racist when you have no idea of who they are.
What I hate is when people try to make something out as racist when, really, it isn’t.
The British Empire collapsed in 1950, and ended with Hong Kong in 1997. Bringing up the British Empire as an argument for racism is pretty much the same as bringing up the Japanese Empire when arguing about how you should treat Japanese people today. The countries are no longer what they were more than half a century ago, so why are you judging them by what the used to be. I’m not saying that imperialism wasn’t a horrific thing, nor am I telling anyone to suck it up and forget about it; it was horrific, but the governments and the people who did those things are gone.
Why is a double standard okay? Why is it okay to say any colour should be given priority over another? People saying that it was racist to cast Benedict Cumberbatch are judging him by his skin. Isn’t it possible that he might have be chosen by talent talent and not colour, since we live in a meritocracy?
What if there wasn’t someone who was more talented or suited play Khan than Cumberbatch? Are you saying that Cumberbatch shouldn’t get a job because he’s white, and because he’s white he will have other opportunities anyway since this is a white man’s world?
And you’re right, there is no such thing as reverse racism, but I never said that there was. Not hiring someone because they’re white is as racist as not hiring someone because they’re black/yellow/brown. Every coin has two sides.