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Monday, June 2, 2008

Aliens Aren't Asians.

From the Vulcans and Klingons of Star Trek to the myriad aliens of Star Wars, to the Mimbari, Centauri, and Narns of Babylon 5, extraterrestrial non-humans, and human reactions to them, have been used to address racism toward racial minorities in the West, primarily the United States. Although borne of good intent, this tactic for combating racism is neither ideal nor the smartest option.

Firstly, the aliens with their corresponding 'race:'

From Star Trek, the foremost 'Asian' aliens are the Vulcans. The Vulcans physically have straight black hair (in later series, brown is also seen), sallow (yellow) skin, and slanted eye....brows. Socially, they are logical, and have an enormous degree of composure. Culturally, their writing system seems to be based on a cross between Chinese (vertical, with separating lines drawn onto the paper) and Indic script (flowing, with lines connecting words), while they meditate and practice martial arts. Other 'Asians' in Star Trek are the Andorians--with whom the Vulcans are often hostile--who play the part of the Palestinians (in this case, the Vulcans are the Israelis).

In Star Wars, including the so-called Expanded Universe, extraterrestrials bearing resemblance to Asian nations are also quite conspicuous. Duly criticized, was the portrayal of the Nemoidians as greedy, cowardly, immoral, business-oriented opportunists--charges often leveled at Chinese. Similarly, the critics pointed out that the Toydarian, Watto, played to Middle Eastern stereotypes. Also in the Middle Eastern vein--to some degree--are the Twi'leks and Hutts. Meanwhile, the Chiss are clearly a Chinese-Japanese mix, with the Vagarie being the Mongols. The Noghri bear a similitude to Filipinos. And the Yuuzhan Vong are used to address the South Asian caste system, Islamism, and East Asian warrior 'ethos.'

For Babylon 5, there are the Mimbari, a race that dresses in Chinese-Korean style garb, holds stereotypically Asian ethics, and is considered more advanced than, but more culturally stagnant than, humanity.

Overall, the 'Asian' aliens often tend to not get such a bad shtick, often considered to be more advanced technologically and more civilized than the humans (who--somewhat offensively--are practically synonymous with 'white' Westerners). Which is merely a manifestation of the actual world, where those of Asian descent are largely less mistreated in the West than those of African descent. As will be seen in the next part of this series, 'African' aliens do get a bad wrap.

[This is the first part of a four part series, concluding with an article on how these 'racial aliens' are used to address the concept of racism; this article is primarily to set-up how aliens are linked to human 'races,' while the last in the series will actually address the racism part. The next article will discuss 'African' aliens.]
Found this article interesting? Check out:
The Vegetarian Diaries.

The Roadmap to the Future.
The Roadmap to the Future--Africa.
The Roadmap to the Future--Asia.
The Roadmap to the Future--Europe.
The Roadmap to the Future--Latin America.

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Found this article interesting? Check out:
History: The Roadmap to the Future.
History: The Roadmap to the Future--Africa.
History: The Roadmap to the Future--Asia.
History: The Roadmap to the Future--Europe.
History: The Roadmap to the Future--Latin America.

The Science Fiction Channel + Technorium.
The Vegetarian Diaries + Biologeel.

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