Today is a big day for George Takei: it's the debut of his new YouTube series, "Takei's Take," a bi-weekly production in which the beloved Star Trek actor and gay activist discusses current affairs, technology, pop culture, and really whatever he damn well pleases, because he's George Takei and no one can stop him.
In this week's episode, Takei debates the pros and cons of Google Glass, a new piece of technology of which he's clearly wary. He has concerns over privacy, of course, and also the price astounds him, but a cleverly spliced clip of progressive MIT professor Noam Chomsky saying an unrelated "it" "is a way of destroying democracy" suggests Takei has some serious misgivings about how Google Glass will be used by those in power. And rightly so.
Before "Takei's Take" debuted, the actor spoke with the website ReadWrite about not only the project, which came about through a collaboration with the AARP, but also the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Takei is clear on where he stands on this matter: the Olympics should move from anti-gay Russia to someplace more hospitable to diversity. We have to learn from history, he says, particularly the 1936 Olympics that gave Adolf Hitler a power boost.
"In 1936, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] granted Germany the Summer Olympics. Three years before that, Hitler came to power. And he passed what seemed like, in the whole larger context, an innocuous law saying Jewish professors will not be given tenure. Then he had the Olympic stage, and his power and influence and stature grew," says Takei, before drawing the rhetorical line to Putin:
"That's precisely what we're doing here with Putin. There's high unemployment amongst young people in Russia and he needs to have a scapegoat. So he passed that homophobic law, which essentially gives license to the thugs and hoodlums to assault anyone they perceive to be gay or lesbian. They accost them, humiliate them, beat them, sometimes so severely, they're killed. It would be highly irresponsible for the IOC to put the Olympics there."
The IOC's silence on this matter, he says, amounts to "spinelessness."
While the debate over the Olympics continues (and, yes, it will continue), take some time to enjoy the first installment of George Takei's new YouTube show, "Takei's Take."