Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Star Trek Vent

I saw Star Trek Into Darkness last week. I'll say right off, I enjoyed it. It's a fun film. In fact, I enjoy every incarnation of Star Trek I've seen, minus Enterprise. (Side note, I'm not claiming to have watched every Star Trek episode there has been, but I've seen at least a handful of episodes from each show. Mostly TNG.)

The thing I didn't appreciate was (you guessed it!) how women are portrayed. Let's discuss (aka let me talk at you).

I'll keep this spoiler free just in case. 

In the original series, yes, Kirk was a hyper-sexed womanizer (is there an equivalent term that refers to multiple species?) and the women of Starfleet wore sexy miniskirts and go-go boots while the men wore pants. However, it was crazy progressive for the time so I let it slide. Women were more prominent in leadership roles (not as prominent as men, but progress isn't perfect) and minorities were better represented than a lot of shows that are on now. Plus, first televised interracial kiss, anyone? That's got to count for something.

Later on, Uhura got to wear the same uniform as her male counterparts in the movies. Some may tell you that's because of rank changes, but I'm crediting women's lib at least in part.

The Next Generation went even further by giving women similar uniforms as the men ALL (read: most of) THE TIME! Well, with the exception of occasional cleavage. Progress isn't perfect. But it's almost like the showrunners actually wanted the 24th century to kind of reflect the 20th. Huh... And while it's been a while since I've watched TNG, I do remember appreciating how women were written. Generally they were portrayed as people. That's really all you need to impress me. Setting the bar pretty low here.

Seems to me the movies have gone backwards in this respect. Again, both of J.J's Star Trek films were enjoyable. But come on. Do you really think women of Starfleet are going to be asked to wear this 300 years from now? Seriously, how is that even a little bit functional? The poor woman can't even sit down without constantly reminding herself to keep her knees together! Try it out, guys. Knees touching is not the natural state of your legs when sitting. It sucks.

When I saw this poster for Uhura, I was crazy stoked. See how awesome she looks? And yeah, this scene did kind of kick ass, but it came after Uhura chose a very inopportune time to discuss her relationship with Spock. Yes, it added some comic relief that even I appreciated, but even the following kick ass Uhura didn't make up for the plethora of lame Uhura.

Unfortunately, this is more of what we get. It really did seem like Uhura spent the majority of the movie either crying (mostly because of her boyfriend) or complaining (mostly about her boyfriend). I can understand why movie execs think a film needs a love story to sell to female audiences. It's because they're idiots, mostly, but why not. Let's pretend that women (who purchase over half of all movie tickets) are only drawn to shows with love stories. Do we really need to make said love story the central plot for the female character? I'll have to watch the movie again to be completely sure, but I'm remembering that the majority of Uhura's motivations revolved around Spock. The two actions she takes that I can think of that don't fall into that category are going out to speak Klingon to the Klingons and to help Spock fight John Harrison (I feel like I shouldn't have to call him that since just about every TOS fan has seen the movie and any non-TOS fan won't care, but I did say no spoilers). Other than that, her chief concern is Spock. It gets old.

And what was with Alice Eve's COMPLETELY useless underwear shot? Why was she even changing in the first place? Why did she bring Kirk along? If you want an underwear shot, add a sex scene and put it into context. Don't just shoot a woman in her underwear for 5 seconds because "hey! Fanboys and naked girls and trailer crumbs for fanboys cause they like naked girls!" I promise, it won't distract from bad storytelling.

Oh, and here's some fun news. Want to hear what screenwriter Damon Lindelof had to say about this? "Why is Alice Even in her underwear, gratuitously and unnecessarily, without any real effort made as to why in God's name she would undress in that circumstance? Well there's a very good answer for that. But I'm not telling you what it is. Because... uh... MYSTERY?"

He goes on to talk about a scene in which Benedict Cumberbatch had his shirt off that never got shot: "We scripted it, but I don't think it ever got shot. You know why? Because getting actors to take their clothes off is DEMEANING AND HORRIBLE AND...

Hahaha, oh Damon. You are just a hoot. Note the sarcasm in that previous statement. He went on to say in a series of tweets: "I copped to the fact that we should have done a better job of not being gratuitous in our representation of a barely clothed actress. We also had Kirk shirtless in underpants in both movies. Do not want to make light of something that some construe as mysogenistic. What I'm saying is I hear you, I take responsibility and will be more mindful in the future. Also, I need to learn how to spell 'misogynistic.'"

Technically an apology, then? Remember, Kirk was in bed with women both of those times. I suppose I'll take it (even though he kind of blames people for "construing" something that is blatantly misogynistic as being misogynistic) but I'll also hold him accountable next time. Kind of like how I'm holding him accountable now...

I love Sci Fi (and fantasy). More often than not, Sci Fi (and fantasy) portrays some truly fantastic women more than non-Sci Fi (and fantasy). Think Ripley, Leia, Buffy, Katniss, Eowyn, and Hermione. I want to see that trend continue and even improve, since even Sci Fi films with awesome ladies rarely pass the Bechdel Test. Sadly, Star Trek Into Darkness did not give me much hope for that. Welp, at least I've got Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D. to look forward to in that respect. 


  1. Remember that the earlier seasons of TNG still had the skirts but men wore them as often as women did.

  2. Thank you for your arguements. I agree with you 100%.