FOR ALL OF YOU ASKING
Star Trek was about overcoming racism. A large number of people of color in the cast helped that. For example, famously, Whoopi Goldberg has stated that she decided to go into acting after seeing Nichelle Nichols on screen, playing someone who wasn’t a maid but a a strong, capable black woman. Having a man of color play Khan, a man who was seen as a “eugenic ideal”, IE a man bred to be perfect, was also huge, even though he was a villain. It would have been so easy to cast a classically white, blonde, blue-eyed man in that role of the ‘ubermensch’, but Star Trek was never about doing what was easy, it was about challenging the status quo.
Now yes, the casting of Ricardo Montalban, as amazing as he was as an actor, was still very problematic. Casting a Hispanic man as an Indian man perpetuates the stereotype that all non-white people can be lumped into one category, and that is, of course, extremely flawed. But, for a show made in the 1960’s, having a man of color- any color- be seen as a genetically superior man was still quite progressive.
It’s sad to see that, now in 2013, we’ve gone backwards rather than forwards. Benedict Cumberbatch may not be blonde, but in most other respects he is a very Aryan man. Casting a man of color was one step forward. Casting an Indian man would have been one step forward. Now, we’ve taken two steps back.
I wasn’t around in the 1960’s. Maybe people gasped when a man of color was called a “eugenic ideal”, (a word often used in connection with the movement of making the world a whiter place). Maybe they took it in stride.
But I hope that, today, people would gasp at that title being taken from a man of color and placed on a white man instead, showing that, no, a man of color can’t be the apex of evolution. He could in the 60’s, but not now.
And that’s not a message that should ever be sent.