As we learned yesterday, beloved Star Trek character Hikaru Sulu (played by John Cho in the new films) will be revealed to be gay in Star Trek Beyond. The makers of Star Trek Beyond framed the decision as a tribute to the original Sulu, George Takei, who’s been openly gay since 2005 and one of Hollywood’s most visible supporters of LGBTQ rights. Just one problem with that – George Takei apparently isn’t on board with Sulu being gay.
According to Takei, Star Trek mastermind Gene Roddenberry told him Sulu was canonically straight, and changing the character’s sexuality is a “twisting of his creation.” Takei also felt he wasn’t heard when he expressed his concerns to Star Trek Beyond writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin. Considering the original Sulu isn’t thrilled by his own “tribute,” you’d think the makers of Star Trek Beyond would just put their heads down and move onto another subject, but Simon Pegg has instead decided to publicly butt heads with Takei on the issue. Simon, buddy, this might not go well for you.
In an interview with The Guardian, Pegg explained why they didn’t just introduce a new gay character, as Takei has suggested…
“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him. 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?”
That’s a pretty weak point by Pegg – if you can’t introduce a gay character without them being a shallow token, that’s on you and your writing. Pegg then debuted his incredible ability to read the minds of dead people, revealing what Gene Roddenberry would have really thought about Sulu being gay.
“I don’t believe Gene Roddenberry’s decision to make the prime timeline’s Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time. The viewing audience weren’t open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations.’ If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.”
Would Sulu or other Enterprise crew members be something other than straight if Gene Roddenberry created the show today? Very possibly! But Pegg’s hypotheticals don’t mean much next to Takei’s actual discussions with Roddenberry about Sulu’s sexuality.
Gay characters absolutely should be a part of Star Trek. It’s long past time, and it totally fits with the series’ inclusive ethos. That said, Simon Pegg needs to chill out. If George Takei has an issue with Sulu being gay, I think we can very safely assume it has nothing to do with any anti-LGBTQ sentiment on his part. It’s all about Takei’s perception of the character, and who knows Sulu better than George Takei?
Aside from that, Sulu being gay in Star Trek Beyond is already done. The movie is finished. At this point, Pegg is just arguing for approval from Takei. Sadly, making a change doesn’t always come with a pat on the back.
(via The Guardian)