After a week when I’ve been feeling kind of cranky about pop culture, it was nifty to hear that it turns out that the role of Spock seems to have been written as gender-neutral — and that Nichelle Nichols, who was eventually cast as Uhura, read for the role. I’m not sure why this isn’t default practice more often. There are a lot of characters in a lot of projects that don’t inherently need to be male or female, and that very much includes action heroes in an era of high-powered weaponry. You don’t need to be able to overpower someone with six inches and 50 pounds on you as long as you have enough ammunition. Maybe that’s more of a comment on the generalized lack of specificity in entertainment writing more generally. But it does mean there are opportunities to be taken advantage of. If you’re writing a show where the characters’ backstory can be filled in over time, it doesn’t have to be a weakness. And while writing parts to be race or gender-neutral may mean some more work for casting directors, it doesn’t seem like it should be overwhelmingly onerous burden, given the potential creative benefits.