This fervent, unapologetic geek was very pleased last Tuesday to receive her pre-ordered copy of Star Trek Reboot. The next week or so was spent viewing and savoring the delicious nerdy goodness. I even coerced the roomie and Lisa into watching it–both of them sat down thinking they’d just humor me for a few minutes, and then…excellent.
This film confirmed a long-lingering suspicion that has dogged me since I first began watching Star Trek: Vulcans are Asians.
1. Vulcans like logic. They don’t express emotion. The stereotype goes something along the lines of Asians are rather logical as well; brainy, calculating, very good at math and science. Model minority much.
Learning: on Vulcan, it’s the pits!
I mean, it’s the Vulcan Science Academy that Spock applies to, for chrissakes. I can’t really picture a Vulcan liberal arts college.
2. Vulcans are the perpetual aliens. Anyone who knows an ounce of Asian American history gets this.
For no good reason, two Spocks for you.
3. Vulcans are…mysterious! Cue the erhu music.
For Kirk he offered “a sense of building, and of inevitability,” says Abrams, and for Spock “something sad,” says Giacchino, “with a voice that felt alien, not of our place,” that led to the choice of the Chinese stringed erhu as lead instrument. LA Times
French horns signaled Kirk’s nobility and a Chinese stringed erhu denoted Spock’s alien nature. Variety
The first time I really listened closely to the music in the theater, I turned to my dad and said, is that a freaking erhu?! For the most part I love Giacchino’s soundtrack but the erhu/Vulcan theme always makes me squirm.
4. Vulcan homes look like zen retreats. Not the best image, but this was from Enterprise episode “The Awakening”.
Please take off your shoes before you come in.
5. The clothes! Vulcans dress like Han dynasty Chinese. Or, if you prefer, in Japanese kimono. (Except that Japanese kimono are derived from Han dynasty clothing, thus confirming my mother’s assertion that everything, including Japan and Star Trek, was invented by the Chinese.) This influence was not so pronounced in the older incarnations of Trek, particularly in TOS and TNG, where Vulcans wore what looked like pajamas decorated with gigantic rhinestones. But it’s definitely noticeable in the Enterprise series, as well as in First Contact.
I’m not sure what happened in the reboot movie, where the Vulcan outfits look like some barfy Edwardian-middle ages-Galliano grab-bag. But I guess the erhu makes up for it.
6. And I have saved my most potent proof for last.
THE BOWL CUT.
I admit it. Every Asian child I have known–including myself–has been subjected to the bowl cut. Perhaps Vulcans will finally make this ‘do cool.
Star Trek, I love you. And Vulcans, I love you too, although love is an illogical emotion for your species and my race. Just kidding. Glad we could hash this all out. Live long and prosper.
(Or, if you prefer, longevity and prosperity.)