Part II : The Inspiration for Spock and Other Star Trek Staples
The Unlikely Origin of Spock and the Color Scheme
Photo by Charles Kremenak
Vulcans and Spock
Spock and Vulcans have a very unlikely origin indeed. The impetus dates to Roddenberry’s time in the LAPD and his close friendship with Police Chief William Parker. Suprisingly, the top law enforcement officer in Los Angeles is best remembered for his explanation for the Watts Riots. “One person threw a rock,” Parker explained, “and then like monkeys in a zoo, others started throwing rocks.”
Wow! How could one of the most beloved figures in television history be inspired from such a low born origin. Well, even Spock would go in search of the facts, and Parker’s association with television writer Jack Webb begins the parallel. Joe Fridays' Just the facts, ma’am derives directly from Parker and would certainly warm Spock’s heart.
In accordance, Parker took into account that there were never enough cops on the beat. So he introduced a modern, military efficiency to make up for the manpower shortfalls, according to Glynn B. Martin's op-ed in the LA Times.
A model many municipalities copied, and Parker does get points for minority hiring. However, the opportunity to rise in the ranks was severely limited. But worse yet, LA policing helped ensure a de facto form of segregation that kept communties of colors in their place. “The first time I ever saw my father disrespected by another man, it was a white LAPD officer on a so-called routine traffic stop, because we were on the 'wrong side of town,'” wrote Anthony Asadullah Samad in LA Progressive.
So the harassment of minority communities prevailed, and Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler wasn’t shy about singing Parker’s praises. Without reservation, Chandler referred to the Police Chief’s racial overreach as the white community’s “security blanket,” wrote John Buntin in City Journal.
Oh my, all the ugliness, where does Spock fit in. Jon Ponder in Playground to the Stars cited a 1984 Gene Roddenberry interview with the LA Times. “He played the right-wing autocrat, but there was another side to him,” Roddenberry recalled.
Star Trek's creator always noted Parker’s openness to new ideas and his wide range of intellectual interests. Imprinted on his creative mind, Roddenberry eventually gave birth to Spock. An adherence to “infinite diversity in infinite combinations” became a Vulcan staple, according to Ponder, and once again, Parker provided the unlikely source.
Of course, Spock would exhibit profound surprise at his origins. But the Science Officer wouldn't let emotions get the better of him, and his response would simply role with the duality. "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Uniform Color Scheme - Red, Yellow and Blue.
The Starfleet colors have obviously shifted over the years. Given all the original series jokes about the ill fated red shirters, you might not have noticed that Picard and Riker’s fate was never sealed.
That’s because there’s a psychological crossover between red and yellow, according to Rayven Holmes' article in Old Moxie
Red - Aggression, Importance, and Power
Yellow - Caution, Courage, and Inquisitiveness
So the roles of red and yellow reflect the confusion, and since the next generation, the uniforms have been tweaked. A darker shade of red highlights importance and power and limits the away mission fatality rates. In other words, the most competent officers navigate the most perilous moments, and their decision making abilities leaves everyone better off, according to Holmes.
As for those tasked specifically with security matters, yellow now signals caution, and having inquisitive courage, helps get the job done safely.
On the other hand, the blue suits have remained. In psychological terms, that's trustworthiness, reliability and confidence. Science Office Spock and his attire screams a dispassionate devotion to the facts, and when it comes to all the dangers of the unknown, we need the soothing color of powder blue to signal the logic.
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