being a pessimist is great i’m always either right or pleasantly surprised
I’m bored and thinking about it, so you know what was AMAZING about Khan in the original series?
Well I mean there’s the fact that he was a literal genetic superman who was also a POC, in the 1960s. Which was kind of earth-shaking for TV of the time.
But aside from that, yanno, little issue, I was always impressed as hell with Khan as a character, and as a point of world-building, because he single-handedly served as a fulcrum for a huge important chunk of Earth’s history in Star Trek.
First, Khan wasn’t supposed to be just this ferocious alpha-male killing machine. He was cool, too. He was this highly cultured, well-read, well-spoken brilliant guy. He paints! And composes! He offers up scintillating dinner conversation! He talks philosophy! (And captures the interest of Kirk and Spock, who both have a bit of an academic hard-on for Earth’s history; did you know that about Kirk? He’s a history geek.) And he gets the babes (gets a white babe, yet, which considering Star Trek also rolled out the first biracial kiss was also a big deal). Khan is not only a monster; he’s a vastly accomplished, well-rounded leader and strategist. THAT’S why he’s such an enormous threat.
And the other thing about Khan in the original show was Khan being precisely who and what he was was absolutely key for the Star Trek universe and its historical narrative.
In the show, after Khan introduces himself (with his actual name, BTW, because 1: he’s got an ego that says there’s no doubt he’s still in the history books and 2: he’s got balls the size of a binary star system and fuck you, come at him IF YOU DARE), Spock does his research and then shares his findings.
What Spock tells us is this (note that the movie just gives his name like it should mean something to the alternate universe cast and a new audience):
In the 1990s (yeah I know, perils of vintage sci-fi), most of the major powers of the world just couldn’t resist anymore and embarked on eugenics programs. Everybody wanted their own superman. But when they got them—bred to be smarter, faster, better, stronger, not to mention more ambitious and aggressive—the perfect humans didn’t see why anybody else should be ruling the world. So they rose up and started taking over. It was World War III as the world was pummeled by warlord gangs of angry, self-absorbed Captain Americas, and the nations of the world scrambled desperately to contain the rising tide of bloodshed.
Even among the superhumans, some of them were particular rock stars. In India, a man named Khan Noonien Singh rose to power. (The name suddenly makes sense! And yes, he was Sikh, they actually got it right.) While most other places were playing Lord of the Flies, in India Khan imposed order. He and his fanatically loyal following of fellow superhumans conquered India and then imposed and maintained law. He culled the population of the weakest genetics, began his own eugenics programs… It was a brutal regime, but compared to the slaughterhouse that was the rest of the world, it was practically enlightened. And he even got parts of his population to follow him.
And when the governments finally began to regain control, he was one of the last dictators to be brought down. The smartest, the most organized, the most dangerous, the most capable of instilling love and loyalty in his followers. When he was captured, he and his people were given a choice: they could be tried and probably executed for war crimes, or they could go into space on a sleeper colony ship, to drift until they came across another planet out there suitable for them to colonize.
They chose the latter, obviously.
And THEN, here’s the kicker, Khan and his fellow supermen were the reason the Federation formed. In the wake of WWIII, the world’s governments were so shattered and traumatized that they finally united into a true world government. They finally began to clean up their act. And bringing themselves to that state of functionallity is the reason the Vulcans contacted them, and befriending the Vulcans was what got the two planets to get together and begin to organize the United Federation of Planets.
So Khan turns out to be a literal lynchpin in the building of this entire universe, and the fact that he was a POC was intrinsic to his story. He was awesome, man. What a piece of narrative engineering.
WITHIN THE SAME WEEK.
on your left