Simon Pegg, writer and star of the latest Star Trek film, has told The Guardian that he “respectfully” disagrees with original Sulu actor George Takei’s criticism over Sulu being revealed as gay in Star Trek Beyond (see here).
Although gay himself, Takei yesterday revealed that he was disappointed with the decision as Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had conceived the character as heterosexual. He suggested instead that a new gay character should have been introduced. But Pegg believes that would have been tokenism.
“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration,” wrote Pegg in the Guardian. “However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.
“He’s right, it is 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?
“[Director] 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.”
Pegg also offers a final get-out clause for anyone who still can’t handle the fact that Sulu has been gay along, and in a week where everyone’s been claiming, “we’re all Welsh now” offers a heartwarming sci-fi/LGBT twist: “Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.”
(We can see that on T-shirts…)
“Whatever dimension we inhabit,” he continues. “We all just want to be loved by those we love (and I love George Takei). I can’t speak for every reality but that must surely true of this one. Live long and prosper.”