While every one else my wife and I knew around New England cheered the Patriots against the Ravens, we watched To be Takei, which had been recently added to Netflix. This documentary by Jennifer Kroot covers the bulk of George Takei’s life, from his childhood internment in a concentration camp to his current success as a purveyor of nerd humor and LGBT rights activist. This is done using Takei’s narration (with occasional commentary from his husband Brad) giving the movie a very personal tone, that remains incredibly upbeat despite the obstacles he was able to overcome. Takei’s current play Allegiance about the detention of Japanese Americans is used in the film to create a sense that everything comes full circle to the film.
Jennifer Kroot’s greatest achievement is to not allow any single label to define her subject. Takei in his exuberance grows with each challenge that faces him. From struggling to avoid the stereotypical roles hurled at Asians as his acting career began, to remaining closeted until Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed San Francisco’s gay marriage bill. Takei speaks of the quiet dignity his parents tried to maintain as prisoners denied due process by their government with the term Gaman, and it was fascinating to hear him relate that experience to why he would no longer live a lie. As Leonard Nimoy commented the energy to live in secret must have been exhausting.
To be Takei chronicles the incredible life of a man who persisted in his dreams and is currently enjoying a second act in his career. While in the scope of human events the Life of George Takei is not terribly important, but I enjoyed spending 90 minutes with him.
Mr. Gott is the author of the Fanboy Horror Hybrid Rising Dead, click HERE for more on his work, or to send him hate mail.