Sulu Likes the Boys

I few days ago I explained why I’m not a fan of movie reboots.

It seems I’m not alone. News broke this past week that the character Sulu is revealed to be gay in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond and the actor who originally played Sulu, and who has been openly gay since 2005 — George Takei — is not on board with the idea:

The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.

And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.

Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “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.”

Takei explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.

As nice an homage to Takei it is, I can understand Takei’s rejection of the idea. George Takei, the person, is gay, not Sulu. Being gay is Takei’s story to tell and champion.

Pegg responded, “respectfully disagreeing“:

Pegg expressed sympathy with Takei’s sentiment that mainstream gay heroes were belatedly coming to the big screen, but rejected the idea that this meant a new character needed creating.

“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?”

Pegg continued: “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.”

At the end of the day, the most important question will be, is the movie any good?

Why We Remake Certain Movies Over and Over Again

This is a good follow up to my post from earlier today on the movie reboots.

Ars Technica: New study could explain why we remake certain movies over and over again:

It’s the question that every movie fan asks in summer: why are there so many remakes and sequels and reboots? It turns out that science may have an answer. Unfortunately, if you’re hoping for more original stories, the prognosis is not good.

Two network theorists in the Netherlands, Folgert Karsdorp and Antal van den Bosch, just published a study on story networks in Royal Society Open Science. Story networks, they write, are “streams of retellings in which retellers modify and adapt retellings in a gradual and accumulative way.” There is also a basic structure that seems to underly how these networks function. To explore retellings, the researchers looked at more than 200 versions of the Little Red Riding Hood story, which had been retold over the past two centuries. They measured the stories’ similarity to one another with the amusingly named “bag-of-words” technique, which reveals how many words two texts have in common. Then they created a network diagram showing relatedness between stories over time. Earlier stories became what the researchers called “pre-texts” that inspired later retellings.

Once again, everything is a remix.

I’m Not a Fan of the Reboot

‘Ghostbusters’ backlash is about more than sexism, says producer Ivan Reitman:

The Ghostbusters reboot has received criticism questioning the need for a reboot, as well as the decision to cast four women as the ghostbusting stars. For his part, Reitman thinks the backlash has more to do with nostalgia than anger over a perception that political correctness influenced creative choices.

“I think there’s way too much talk about gender [when it comes to this film],” he said. “I think that many of the people who were complaining were actually lovers of the [original] movie, not haters of women.”

I’m one of the people who is not a fan of the reboot.

It really comes down to the fact that this is a money grab, not a move by an up-and-coming director who wants to honor the legacy of a classic film. Bullshit. This is Columbia Pictures wanting a cash cow for the summer.

It’s no secret Hollywood is out of ideas.

I also don’t believe in changing the ethnicity and sexual orientation of existing superheroes to make them more relevant in today’s world. I’d rather see people get creative and come up with new backstories and new superpowers younger generations can relate to.

The hero has a thousand faces, so give her/him a new one. I’d pay money to see it.

“…break things down, and find new value in the parts…”

Nathan Kontny with some great analogies to the creative process of stealing, breaking down and reconstructing:

Professional car thieves know that as soon as you steal a car, your next immediate task is to get it to a chop shop. A chop shop is an illegally operating garage that specializes in taking a car and almost literally chopping it into pieces. In less than an hour, a stolen car is chopped. Seats, windshield, airbags – every individual item is removed. Things with VINs are dumped, destroyed, or melted down.

Now, thieves have extremely valuable parts on their hands. Wheels, entertainment systems, air bags – all can go for hundreds to thousands of dollars on their own. Even melted down. A catalytic converter contains platinum going for $1500 an ounce.

And in their sale, they can’t be traced back to the original owner or the crime.

Everything is a remix.

The Art of Remixing

One of the things that I am most passionate about is showing respect for the ingenuity of others. Working in an ecosystem where I am often competing very closely, it is inevitable that I will be confronted with situations where the easy thing is to match/copy/remix someone else’s ideas into my own app.

What I have found very frustrating is that I haven’t been able to define what is acceptable in a manner that comes anywhere close to the importance I think this topic demands. Too often I am left with just an I’ll know it when I see it definition.

David Smith provides a great example of the art of remixing

I call it not being a lazy ass and using your brain to make something that resonates with you.