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My Favorite Character Is Spock

racism scifi Asian
Phil Chu
Phil Chu
Making software since the 80s

You might assume, as a software developer, that my favorite Star Trek characters are the engineers, like Scotty and Geordi. Star Trek does indeed do a good job of showing engineers as real people with full personalities, not half-dimensional geeks who need to be shown what it means to be human (on network TV, that instructional job is typically filled by a young attractive woman).

The only complaint I have about Star Trek engineers is their annoying habit of fixing warp core engines in the nick of time, thus leading to poor risk management by Star Trek viewers-turned-engineering-managers the world over.

But not for that reason, my favorite Star Trek characters aren’t the engineers. Rather, I sympathize with the not-quite-humans, like Spock and Data. They’re the ones who are always getting lectured on humanity. It reminds me of the liberal arts grads who, with every new Facebook scandal, smugly say if only techies took humanities courses… Hey, news flash: it’s not love of technology behind ethical lapses, it’s love of money, power, ego… the classics. And stop watching The Big Bang Theory (honestly, I find it entertaining, but it’s not a documentary), and stop idolizing Steve Jobs. He was no peach. Give some of that respect to the Woz.

Also, as an Asian-American, I empathize with Spock and Data for their identity issues. If Spock didn’t have pointy ears and no one was the wiser about his Vulcan ancestry, maybe everyone would have treated him normally (except during his once-in-seven-years hormonal rages) and not like he’s from another planet (although there was that one time-travel episode where they passed of him off as Chinese…) And if everyone didn’t know Data was an android, instead of constantly explaining the nature of humanity to him, they might have just assumed he was an unhealthily pale, socially awkward, irritatingly precise, cat aficionado. Or an engineer.