To be honest, when you asked the question, I didn’t have all that much to say. Subsequently, there’s been a bit more.
Let me start with the original Star Trek (1966-1969). I was not a big fan, but my father was. I suspect it was because it had a strong black character in Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols), just as Mission: Impossible had with Greg Morris’ Barney.
I did watch the reruns enough so that when The Next Generation started, I was primed. I saw the first five Star Trek movies, featuring Takei’s Sulu (hated #5, was bored by #1, but liked the middle three).
I vaguely remember that George Takei was politically active. When he was running for office in Southern California, the Fairness Doctrine (1949-2011, R.I.P.) was invoked, precluded local stations from showing Star Trek in syndication during the campaigns, lest the program provide him with unfair advantage.
I didn’t think much about Takei until he came out as gay in 2005. That was obviously quite liberating, as he became more visible in the public eye. And when he joined Facebook in 2011, his wit engendered millions of followers. He became a TV pitchman, usually working his catchphrase, “Oh, MY!” into each ad.
More importantly, he spoke out for gay rights, and for those Japanese-Americans who, like himself as a child, had been interred in camps in the United States during World War II. I guess I really like a good Second Act story, and the George Takei narrative is that.
I don’t follow him on social media, but he’s often reposted, so I get to see his wisdom, and I’ve even shared them, usually in the fortnightly roundups. Sometimes it’s humor, often in a science fiction vein. Frequently he is pointing out political injustice. He was, this election cycle, a nag to Bernie Sanders supporters who weren’t switching to Hillary Clinton, and I found THAT annoying.
Recently, it was announced the Sulu persona in the Star Trek reboot is gay in honor of George Takei. Interestingly, Takei found the news “really unfortunate” because it is twisting of “Gene [Roddenberry’s] creation, to which he put in so much thought.” It’s not surprising that he is so protective of the integrity of the character he brought to life.
Apparently some Star Trek fans have gotten all bent out of shape over the storyline news. The late Gene Roddenberry did promise to include gay people in Star Trek, but the studio put the kibosh on it. George Takei’s opposition is to Sulu’s character being gay, but would have embraced a different, not so well established character having a same-gender relationship.
Undoubtedly, there are many Trek fans who are gay, and want to know that they can be represented on on the Enterprise t, which I’m sure George Takei, more than most, understands.
Bob Fletcher Dies at 101; helped interred Japanese-Americans