I watched the latest “Star Trek” film in IMAX this past weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see Faran Tahir, a Pakistani-American who played the lead villian in “Iron Man” last year, as Captain Robau of the Starship U.S.S. Kelvin.
According to an article on scifiwire.com, Tahir was cast by Director J.J. Abrams specifically because of his ethnicity, which is a tradition of the “Star Trek” series since the 60’s when Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had a mutli-ethnic cast depicting the future in a “color-blind” and “racism-free” society (of course are still not at that level yet, although we do have a Black President).
Although Tahir is not the first South Asian actor to play a Starship Captain in a Star Trek film (Vijay Amritraj played the first south asian captain in Star Trek IV), he is definitely the first Pakistani (and Muslim) to play one!
This is a big step forward, because normally Pakistanis (and Muslims) are only depicted as terrorists and bad guys (i.e. Like Tahir’s character in the “Iron Man” film) and it was nice to see him as a good guy who is also an intelligent and brave leader.
My only criticism (WARNING SPOILER ALERT) is:
Why did they have to kill Tahir’s character off in the first 15 minutes of the movie?! I know in the past, minority characters were typically the first ones to get killed off (i.e. the black guy who is usually the first to get killed by the monster in a horror film, etc.), but come on now!
A friend of mine commented that “he (Tahir’s character) died valiantly” in the film….well this may be true, but at least they could have had him fight back against Nero (Eric Bana) and not just get killed instantly!!! Do you think Captain Kirk would have just stood there and let a Romulan come at him like that without even throwing a punch? I don’t think so!
Also I find it interesting that Captain Kirk’s father, George Kirk (who takes over as Captain of the U.S.S. Kelvin once Tahir’s character Robau leaves the ship to meet with Nero), is considered a hero because he pulls a Kamikaze suicide mission and rams his ship straight into the Romulan ship to allow his crew to escape to safety.
Don’t get me wrong – it was definitely a Heroic act – but let’s be realistic here: Would they call the “Pakistani Muslim/Middle-Eastern” Captain Robau a “Hero” if he was the one flying the ship on a suicide mission?! I don’t think so! More likely they would report it as Terrorist Act:)!
Just Some Food for Thought:)
Overall I thought the latest “Star Trek” film was well done. It was much more action oriented, than past Star Trek films and thus many “Trekkies” are not very happy with it. But since I’m not really a Star Trek Geek (I’m more of a “Star Wars” Freak:)), it was an enjoyable film to watch fore me! Check it out on IMAX if you get the chance.
Maybe in the near future, we will see more positive Pakistani (and Muslim) characters not only in Science Fiction films, but in other types of movies as well!