Meestal begin ik mijn artikels met “het is al zoveel jaar geleden dat…” Deze keer zou ik echter willen schrijven: “Het is NOG MAAR vijftig jaar geleden dat op de Amerikaanse televisie een kus te zien was tussen een blanke en een zwarte.” Niet toevallig was deze kus dan nog veiligheidshalve in de toekomst geprojecteerd, het ging namelijk over een kus tussen captain Kirk (William Shatner) en één van de bemanningsleden van zijn Star Trek-capsule, de zwarte Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Nog straffer: het was een kus die ze eigenlijk niet wilden geven, het werd hen opgelegd door telekinese! Kortom, much ado about nothing, zeker als men weet dat bijna tien jaar eerder er reeds een interraciale kus te zien was op de Britse commerciële zender ITV (zie onderstaand artikel van Wikipedia).

The first interracial kiss on television seems to have occurred years earlier on British television on February 1, 1959, in the UK on the ITV Armchair Theatre adaptation of Ted Willis’s play Hot Summer Night. A later broadcast, You in Your Small Corner, featured a kiss between black actor Lloyd Reckord and white actress Elizabeth MacLennan, and was broadcast live on the UK’s ITV channel in June 1962. Another such kiss occurred in 1966, when in The Wild Wild West, James T. West (Robert Conrad) and Princess Ching Ling (Pilar Seurat), shared a white and Asian interracial kiss (“The Night the Dragon Screamed”, aired Jan 14 1966). In the same year on I Spy, Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) and Sam (France Nuyen) also had a white and Asian interracial kiss (“The Tiger”, aired 1966 Jan 5). There had also been a kiss between Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nancy Sinatra on Movin’ with Nancy in 1967, a year before “Plato’s Stepchildren” [zo heette de bewuste aflevering van Star Trek, RDS] aired.
The episode portrays the kiss as involuntary, being forced by telekinesis, perhaps to avoid any hint of romance that would risk outrage among some viewers. Also, William Shatner recalls in Star Trek Memories that NBC insisted their lips never touch (the technique of turning their heads away from the camera was used to conceal this). However, Nichelle Nichols insists in her autobiography Beyond Uhura (written in 1994 after Shatner’s book) that the kiss was real, even during takes in which her head obscures their lips.
When NBC executives learned of the kiss they became concerned it would anger TV stations in the Deep South. Earlier in 1968, NBC had expressed similar concern over a musical sequence in a Petula Clark special in which she touched (!) Harry Belafonte’s arm, a moment cited as the first occasion of direct physical contact on American television between a man and woman of different races. At one point during negotiations, the idea was brought up of having Spock kiss Uhura instead (as Spock was half Vulcan), but William Shatner insisted that they stick with the original script. NBC finally ordered that two versions of the scene be shot: one in which Kirk and Uhura kissed and one in which they did not. Having successfully recorded the former version of the scene, Shatner and Nichelle Nichols deliberately flubbed every take of the latter version, thus forcing the episode to go out with the kiss intact.
There were, however, few contemporary records of any complaints commenting on the scene. On the other hand Nichelle Nichols observes that “Plato’s Stepchildren”, which first aired on November 22, 1968, “received a huge response. We received one of the largest batches of fan mail ever, all of it very positive, with many addressed to me from girls wondering how it felt to kiss Captain Kirk…”

Een gedachte over “Vijftig jaar geleden: de eerste interraciale kus op de Amerikaanse televisie

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