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George Takei

Once Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu, now he’s a web favorite and a big voice for gay rights.  We’re talking with the singular George Takei.

George Takei poses for photographers on the red carpet before Comedy Central's "Roast of William Shatner," Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP)

George Takei poses for photographers on the red carpet before Comedy Central’s “Roast of William Shatner,” Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP)

On the original Star Trek, actor George Takei was Mr. Sulu.  The intergalactic Japanese-American citizen of the cosmos – or at least the Federation.

He was one cool helmsman in space, on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  Nearly fifty years later, George Takei is on new frontiers again.

The little boy who grew up in an American internment camp is now the wide-grinned elder mastering Facebook.  He’s a social media superstar.  A bold and funny activist for gay rights and much more.  The star who says “Oh myyy!”

This hour, On Point:  George Takei.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest

George Takei, actor best-known for his portrayal of Mr. Sulu in the TV show Star Trek. Now an internet sensation, and author of “Oh Myyy! (There Goes the Internet).” He starred in and inspired the musical “Allegiance,” based on his experiences in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II.

From Tom’s Reading List

CBS Los Angeles “‘My mother said I made my theatrical debut in the maternity ward, when she heard that stentorian yowl,’ Takei said. The actor has been at the forefront of the marriage equality debate. He’s been legally married to his husband, Brad, for the past four years and they’ve been together for 25.”

The Los Angeles Times “If you get frustrated when flight attendants make you shut down your electronic tablet or digital reading device during takeoff and landing, George Takei has got your back. The actor who portrayed Sulu in the original “Star Trek” television series and in films is so fed up with having to turn off his gadgets on airplanes that he launched a petition earlier this month on the website Change.org, calling on federal officials to reconsider the policy.”

The Huffington Post “‘Oh my’ indeed! George Takei — Facebook’s favorite meme dispatcher — is the latest celebrity to get turned on to the erotic bestseller (and Random House bonus provider), ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’”

 

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  • Ray in VT

    Today’s program page image in part addresses the question that I would like to ask Mr. Takei.  I wonder if he ever feels burdened, either professionally or personally, by having played an iconic role such as Mr. Sulu.  On the one hand one is beloved for that portrayal, but does he ever feel that it has overshadowed both his other work and his personal life, especially given the rabid nature of many Star Trek fans.

  • keltcrusader

    My son was in NYC for his Senior Class trip in early Dec and he saw Mr. Takei on the street. He told me he didn’t ask for a photo or autograph, even though others in his party did,  because he felt Mr. Takei should be free to live his private life without being bothered every moment when he is out and about.   

  • Wahoo_wa

    George Takei is clearly a national treasure.  What a great guy!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    But does he still play with swords?

    It’s so cool to see someone be such a positive force just by living their lives and sharing a bit of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000547234033 Karla Tonella

    I would be forwarding George’s wonderful Facebook postings but all my friends already subscribe! Love his droll comments even when he’s passing on fan contributions.

  • Paulo Marreca

    Just wanted to say hi from Brazil to George! O Myyy!

  • Ariel Segall

    I rediscovered Mr. Takei’s work about a year ago, and have been following him with great delight ever since. I’m consistently impressed by his humor, kindness, and utterly delightful wit– especially in response to the many ills and injustices of the world. (I laughed *so* hard at the ‘OK to be Takei’ video; to be simultaneously so funny and so *meaningful* is just brilliant.)
    If I can face life with half of his grace and joy, I’ll consider myself to be a successful human being.

    To Mr. Takei– thank you for being you. You are a tremendous inspiration, and I wish you all the best.

    – Ariel, from Boston (don’t know why my name’s not showing up at the top)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Given all Facebooks attempts to create revenue streams, I’d love to know if they’ve tried to make George Takei into one.

  • ensteph

    Although fictitious, given his iconic status as a space traveler, George should be invited as a guest to the space station. How wonderful would that be and how many tweets would that generate!

  • sheryltr

    Mr Takei, Thank you so much for your gentle good humor and your hilarious fb posts. You are indeed a national treasure!

    • http://www.facebook.com/nastydiaper Richard Frank

      ooh myyy, ghoohst wryyyter

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1131548971 Cynthia Floyd Page

    I attended my first Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in August 2012. George was my absolute favorite. He was warm, charming, and gracious to Walter Koenigh who shared the stage with him. He inspires me!

    I have to ask: do you ever get tired of retelling of your Star Trek adventures?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1296796187 Elizabeth Scott Valek

    Can’t wait!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rob-Robertson/1829833485 Rob Robertson

    At what point did you first realize just how big you were becoming on the internet, and why do you think it happened to such an extent? I follow you on facebook and try to never miss a post. Sorry you didn’t make it to London for the Big Star Trek convention there this past October.

    • http://twitter.com/kopyor Jesse Grayman

      Takei’s new book “Oh Myyyy” explains the rise of his internet celebrity, even into the digital details of how facebook algorithms determine how his posts are seen (or not) by his fans.  It’s a quick, easy, fun read!  

  • MarkVII88

    I love how Mr. Takei can laugh at himself and use his celebrity and sense of humor, in conjunction with social media and the internet, to promote the theme of awareness and acceptance for all people. My wife and I follow Mr. Takei on Facebook and we especially enjoyed how he called out the homophobic school board member from Arkansas for his horrible Facebook posts in front of the entire nation.  Go George!  Oh Myyy indeed!

  • Lisa Sen

    Lisa in Stowe, Vermont.  In the era when many use offending others, or offending groups as a means to boost their following, Mr. Takei has proven that there is another way to engage people and build an incredible following.  I was especially appreciative during our acrimonious presidential campaign to read Mr. Takei’s posts.  He never hesitated to state his opinions, but did so with respect and an appreciation that good, kind and intelligent people can disagree on important issues.  Because his approach enlists humor, respect and thoughtful conversation, he makes it possible for people who both agree and disagree with him to hear what he has to say.  Many could learn from his example…and it’s a blast that my young teenage sons and I all find him hilarious!

  • geraldfnord

    I don’t think that there was a single “Star Trek” fan in my high school who wasn’t frequently called a ‘faggot’ [you may euphemise that to 'an anti-gay slur' in the unlikely event this were read on-air]; I don’t know about the others, but in my case it almost guarantied that I would grow up to support gay rights as a matter of course—the faces of homophobia were argument enough.

    Mr Takei should also be congratulated for integrating the Green Berets, decades before equality and even ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’.

    Query: If Mr Takei could choose an actually Japanese family name for his “Star Trek” character, what would it be?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WETCXC4334GDYATSRTSIGFTTGY michael

    Mike in RI – I’d be interested to hear Mr. Takei comment on his pre-Star Trek work  I wonder if he had a hard time finding roles that were substantive, and more than some producer saying “find me an Asian for this part.”

  • KirksvilleJulie

    Julie in Kirksville, MO – I’d like to ask Mr. Takei what he thinks of the way women were treated on Star Trek. The men all got to wear the same uniform, but the women had to wear short skirts and high heels. Must have been a reflection of our culture – civil right first, then women’s rights. Just like after the Civil War!

    • http://menwholooklikedoncherry.com/ Big Bobby Clobber

       Because that’s the it WAS in the 23rd century!
      Now get back to the kitchen and get me a beer!

      • KirksvilleJulie

        Is that a synthohol beer?

        • http://waterboarding.tk/ Claude Balloune

           Ah forget it.  Get him a Saurian brandy instead, and when he’s off-balance, hit him over the head with an iron skillet.
            Oops.  Wrong series.

    • http://waterboarding.tk/ Claude Balloune

      I always noticed this too. And I’m a straight guy who often pointed out this peciar attire to my fellow macho StarTrek watchers back in the ’60s and ’70s.
      Of course they would respond with the usual homophobe innuendo.
      Huh. Maybe the female crew members were part of an intergalactic RadioCityhall Rockettes troupe.
      Seems to have carried in to the NextGen series also. I could never take my eyes off of Counsellor Troi, even if I did think HER uniform was somewhat…ah, inappropriate.  ;-)

      • KirksvilleJulie

        Claude, how very sensitive of you! I have to admit, I agree about Counselor Troi! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/gabrielled3 Gabrielle Christine Mai Do

      I don’t have anything against that. I’m female and I think the dress-like uniform for the women was pretty cute; what’s so bad about it?

      • KirksvilleJulie

        Well, you try running from flesh-eating aliens in a mini-skirt and high heels!

        • http://waterboarding.tk/ Claude Balloune

           Or worse, getting a heel caught in the metal grates in the transporter room.

      • http://menwholooklikedoncherry.com/ Big Bobby Clobber

         Exactly!  YOU are my kind of StarTrek babe!
        Now go get me a beer, and clean this damn house!

  • Glen Gorham

    Mr. Takei, what you do is a lot bigger than the LBGT community or the Japanese American community. You are coming to bat for all of us. For tolerance. Thank you.

  • plessy92

    The Plessy and Ferguson Foundation announces George Takei as our ‘Equity Ambassador’ of the day! He is also our first Equity Ambassador because he just inspired me to come up with that roll. Thank you, George!

    • http://www.facebook.com/rgeorge.busby R George Busby

      Is it the sandwich or dinner type? (Plessy92, dear, The word you perhaps should have used was “role”.)

      • plessy92

        Sooo embarrassed, thank you!

        • KirksvilleJulie

          Actually, role is correct for a role that someone is filling in the theater or elsewhere. Roll pertains to bread served during a meal or for making sure everyone is present.

          • http://menwholooklikedoncherry.com/ Big Bobby Clobber

            Or for  something that’s done in the hay, with one o’ them cute StarTrek chicks!
            Them guys on the Enterprise sure were lucky dudes!

          • JustMea2

            but isn’t there another meaning to “roll” cause i hear William did a lot of that with the female cast members………… :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002467726646 Benjamin Sidney Kidd

    from a far away fan in Scotland, thank you for your attention to equality and your lovely way of bringing to attention of people who may not normally think of these things…

  • hennorama

    Best.Voice.Ever.

  • http://menwholooklikedoncherry.com/ Big Bobby Clobber

    Big deal !

    George and I ‘friended’ (FB term) each
    other last year !

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    George has a great sense of humor. More power to him.

  • http://twitter.com/KumoConsulting Kumo Consulting

    Just wondering if the double meaning of his catchphrase and title to his new book is intentional?  ‘Oh Myyy’ / omae (which is a Japanese way of saying something like, ‘You fucker’.

  • JGC

    Just a coincidence, but maybe a cosmic coincidence?  I was reading the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of The Atlantic earlier this evening, and just now I am reading the great comments about Takei from the OnPoint community.  This paragraph struck me from the article  “Animal House: Ted Yoho and His Fellow Freshmen Promise to Make John Boehner’s Life Even More Hellish”, by Ben Terris:

    “I don’t know how you expect to win with a name like Yoho,” said Lee Childers, a sales manager at the lumber mill.  “I had to look you up to make sure you weren’t a Jap.”  Yoho laughed. He told me later that he’d added his photo to campaign bumper stickers to clear up any confusion about his ethnicity…. In the car ride home from the lumber mill, (Yoho) laid out his post-election game plan.  “You ever hear of the Kobayashi Maru test?” he asked me, referring to a military training simulation from Star Trek.  Yoho explained:  Mr. Spock designed the Kobayashi Maru challenge as an unwinnable scenario , to teach cadets how to accept defeat.  But before taking the test, James Kirk reprogrammed it so that he could beat it.  “When he was accused of cheating, Captain James T. Kirk said it wasn’t cheating – that the game was designed to fail, so he changed the game,” Yoho said.  “That’s what I’m going to do:  change the game.”

    Freshman U.S. Representative Ted Yoho, representing the 3rd district of Florida, a “recently redrawn, deep-red slice of northern Florida”,  was sworn into office today.  Takei still has a lot of work to do with minds as intransigent as this.   

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