Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"That" Kiss

So, if you've read my review of "Plato's Stepchildren," you'll know that my overall reaction to it was to stand at arm's length, hitting it with a large stick, while screaming, "Kill it with fire!" You've also noticed that that particular episode contains within it one of the most famous kisses of all time, that between Captain Kirk - a white dude - and Lieutenant Uhura, a black lady. I found out some interesting stuff about that kiss, but none of it made it into the review because I was so completely turned off by the scene in which the kiss takes place. I'm frankly baffled by the fact that all anyone does is remark about one kiss, and they disregard that scene. Was that kiss really more important than the fact that Kirk and Spock were being forced against their will to rape their coworkers for someone else's amusement? Am I just confused because I really have no fucks to give if two people sharing a kiss are of different races, but it was really that important back then?
I've often thought about how Star Trek unwittingly became time capsules for the time periods in which they were filmed. Hair, costume, attitudes: they all seem to reflect the decade in which they were created. It's possible that at the time, interracial kissing was a bigger deal than forced rape, so that was what the focus became for that episode. Here, viewing it now, interracial relationships are NBD, but while we are embroiled in discussions about rape and consent, my 2015 brain has chosen to ignore the kiss and focus on the fact that Kirk is being forced to force himself on Uhura.

Food for thought, I guess.

Anyway, about that kiss...

It was the first interracial kiss on television.

Technically, "interracial" means any combination of two different races. Sooo, there were actually two instances of white/Asian kisses on television in 1966, a good two years before this episode aired. And nobody gave a shit.

So it was the first black/white kiss on television, right?

Star Trek was beaten to the punch by at least a year when Sammy Davis Jr kissed Nancy Sinatra on "Movin' With Nancy."

How about "it's the first time that Kirk kisses someone of his own species who is a different color"?

On television, anyway. We can't account for what Kirk does off-camera. Nor would I want to.

So who cared?
Supposedly, both the Sammy Davis Jr kiss and this one caused an uproar. But the only mail that they got at Star Trek was positive, with the closest exception being one guy who wrote,  "I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain't gonna fight it."
Technically, he was fighting it, sir. But your point is well taken.

One TV critic kind of wrote it off, saying that Kirk was being forced to do it because of Abusive Boyfriend, which he was. Both he and Spock apologized sincerely to Uhura and Christine for the actions that they were about to take.
The network was so concerned about viewers in the Deep South complaining that they insisted that the scene be shot twice, once with the kiss, and once without. But The Shat effed up the "without" scene, crossing his eyes at the camera, and the episode went out with the kiss intact. Now, I don't know if Bill screwed it up because he wanted to be part of that (supposedly) groundbreaking kiss, or because he was actually all for equality, but the fact that he intentionally ruined the shot delights me. There's another story, in which the network suggested that the couples be swapped, and Spock the alien kiss Uhura to make it less racy, but The Shat objected, saying that if anyone was gonna be a part of that kiss, it would be him. This seems to support the latter theory, but again, it doesn't trump the visual of Bill crossing his eyes at the camera.

I have no idea what the context is for this quote, but it works for my purposes,
so I don't care.

He Said, She Said
According to William Shatner, none of the kisses were real in the multiple takes they did of this scene. According to Nichelle Nichols, all of them were.
Make of that what you will.

Now run forth and kiss whomever you'd like, because 40+ years later, nobody cares, and those that do are full of shit.

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