It was announced earlier today that as of Star Trek Beyond, Hikaru Sulu (portrayed in the new films by John Cho) will be openly gay, raising a daughter with his parter. Apparently the idea came from Simon Pegg, who both stars as Scotty and co-wrote the screenplay, and director Justin Lin as a way to honor the original Sulu, George Takei, who has been out since 2005 and has been an active supporter of gay rights. However, Takei is not as big of a fan of this change as one would have expected.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, while Takei is in favor of better LGBTQ representation in the media, he doesn’t think that making Sulu gay is the right course of action.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
It seems that Takei believes that this is a warping of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s character, who was canonically heterosexual, despite the fact that Roddenberry often pushed it to the limit to make Trek progressive, even featuring the first interracial kiss ever aired on television.
“He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” recalls Takei, now 79. “But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.”
Unfortunately, it appears that when Takei voiced his concerns to Pegg and Lin, they weren’t taken into account. While he was told of the change ahead of time, he didn’t feel “heard.”
“I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen.”
This is certainly an interesting predicament. What is more important: creator intent or expanding representation? If Roddenberry was as progressive as Takei claims, something tells me he would be on board with the new Sulu.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)