Finally, Sulu is getting more attention in the "Star Trek" universe! Unfortunately, the source of the attention is dividing the actors in the "Star Trek" family.
Casually revealing John Cho's Sulu to be gay in the new "Star Trek Beyond" movie was meant, in part, to honor George Takei, the original Sulu actor who is also gay. But Takei seemed to surprise the new cast members with his negative reaction to boldly going where no character had gone before.
"I'm delighted that there's a gay character," Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. "Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene [Roddenberry]'s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate." Takei said he wanted the filmmakers to create a new character with a history of being gay, "rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted." Spock would admire that logic, if nothing else.
Simon Pegg plays Scotty, and he also co-wrote the new movie's script; he and director Justin Lin are credited with the idea of making Sulu gay. Pegg shared a written statement with the Guardian reacting to Takei's reaction:
"I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.
He's right, it is unfortunate, it's unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn't featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the 'gay character', rather than simply for who they are, and isn't that tokenism?
Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn't something new or strange.
It's also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It's just hasn't come up before."
Read more here. His reasoning is also sound and Spock-worthy. This is turning into quite a debating society! Speaking of Spock, Zachary Quinto (who, like Takei, is also openly gay) reacted to Takei's response in an interview with Pedestrian.TV:
"As a member of the LGBT community myself, I found it slightly -- I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed. I think any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema, you know -- I get it that he has his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character. But, you know, as we established in the first 'Star Trek' film in 2009, we've created an alternate universe. And my hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be."
Sulu being gay isn't meant to define him, and John Cho said they don't make a big deal about it in "Star Trek Beyond," which opens July 22.
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