The unique Star Trek ran for under three seasons, however in that quick time it had, to place it mildly, an outsized cultural influence. That partly needed to do with the collection having aired within the late nineteen-sixties, an period when a bunch of long-standing norms in American society (in addition to in different societies internationally) appeared to have come up for re-negotiation. Via its science-fictional premises and twenty-third-century setting, Star Trek might take care of the current in ways in which would have been troublesome for different, ostensibly extra sensible packages.
In “Plato’s Stepchildren,” an episode from 1968, a number of members of the Enterprise’s crew discover themselves captive on a planet of telekinetic, ancient-Greece-worshipping sadists. It was there that Star Trek staged one in every of its most memorable moments, a kiss between William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and the late Nichelle Nichols’ Lieutenant Uhura. It arises not out of a relationship that has developed organically between the characters, however out of compulsion by the powers of their “Platonian” captors, who pressure the people to carry out for his or her leisure.
Regardless of that narrative loophole, the scene nonetheless frightened the administration at NBC. They imagined that, on condition that Shatner was white and Nichols black, to point out them kissing would provoke a adverse response amongst viewers in elements of the nation traditionally hostile to the concept of romantic relations between these races. Guaranteeing that the scene made it to the air as written (Nichols later remembered in her autobiography) necessitated such techniques as sabotaging the alternate takes shot with out the kiss: “Invoice shook me and hissed menacingly in his finest ham-fisted Kirkian staccato supply, ‘I! WON’T! KISS! YOU! I! WON’T! KISS! YOU!’”
The Kirk-Uhura kiss did event an important many responses, virtually all of them constructive. That Nichols and Shatner — to not point out Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and all their different collaborators – pulled it off in the proper means on the proper second is evidenced by its being remembered greater than 50 years later as “TV’s First Interracial Kiss.” In reality there had been interracial kisses on tv for at the very least a decade (one, on a 1958 Ed Sullivan Present, concerned Shatner himself), however none had made fairly such a convincing assertion, even to skeptics. “I’m completely against the blending of the races,” as Nichols remembered one viewer writing in. “Nevertheless, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk will get a stupendous dame in his arms that appears like Uhura, he ain’t gonna struggle it.”
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embody the Substack publication Books on Cities, the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by way of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Fb, or on Instagram.