January 5, 2010

Mixed Families in Star Trek

Posted in Interfaith, Pop Culture at 12:33 am by chavalah

Spock (right; Zachary Quinto) with Amanda Grayson (Winona Ryder)

I’ll be the first to admit that I never watched the Star Trek television series’/movies prior to this one (why is that? Two words: Star Wars :P) but what touched me most deeply in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 foray into alternate reality was the glimpse he gave us of Vulcan-educated MC Spock’s relationship with his human mother, Amanda Grayson.

The scene that survived the release depicted Spock, on the brink of his interview with the Vulcan Science Academy, asking his mother (in stiff Vulcan vernacular) to understand that if he purges all emotion, he doesn’t mean to imply “a reflection on you.” Zachary Quinto’s acting during this scene was just superb—I recognized myself in his character, his discomfort with confronting their differences, knowing that he spoke to his mother from within a world and a culture that he highly identified with, that they both lived in, but only he could truly be part of. (And let’s face it, the Vulcans were Jews. Thank you, Nimoy! <3)

It’s the same way I feel when I take Dad to a synagogue or a Jewish Community Center and suddenly, we’re in the middle of the Amidah, or watching a movie where Holocaust survivors fight Europeans to make aliyah. I BELONG, the world says to me, THIS IS WHO I AM. But then, I look over to my father, more than blood of my blood, the man to whom I owe my very life, and think, where does he?

I guess the ultimate answer is to not adopt an all-or-nothing mentality. Spock, for example, chose to stand out as the only Vulcan in Starfleet rather than join the Science Academy. He also chose a relationship with Uhura, not onto mixed-species but also an interracial romance. It was my second favorite part of the movie (y’all can keep Kirk. I’ve had my fill of cocky farmboys, thanks. :P)

As for me, I cannot choose to be Catholic but I can choose to love Italy, the birthplace of my grandparents and a part of my rich ancestry. I can also choose to love sci-fi—something my father appreciates but my mother doesn’t. Particularly Star Trek—my father grew up with the series, but my mother made me promise never to watch the latest movie when she was in the room. 😛 It really is too bad for her. She could understand so much more about the interfaith community she chose if she would only broaden her mind.

(Ani ohevet ot’chem, ema. 😛 Live long and propser.)

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1 Comment »

  1. […] One of the first entries I posted to this blog centered on J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek movie, and the complex ethnicity of Mr. Spock. It reminded me so much of my own identity, two parents of different religions/ cultures/ ethnicities…one foot in each world. […]


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