So. Star Trek into Darkness. Let's talk about it. I'll try to keep this spoiler free as possible.
|[Image text Spock and Kirk Start Trek into Darkness poster]|
But enough of that, let's get to the meat of what this summer blockbuster series is about: the gender messages of the film.
I have respected how the Stark Trek franchise, since the start, has had a fairly diverse representation of people among the cast members. That fact remains true in this most recent incarnation. Women and people of color are all over Starship Enterprise performing various roles. However, disappointingly not many of them get actual speaking roles.
Let's be real: overall it's a white dude's film (sigh, what else is new?) The main action is created by and between white men and there are far more dudes running around the ship than women.
There are two female characters of note: Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and the new chick to this
|[Image text: Uhura and Spock at the control board.]|
Because the potential of these two female character is so high, I was even more annoyed when they did so little with them. Uhura plays an important role in a few critical scenes, but overall she is reduced helping one of the main male characters including Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Kirk (Chris Pine.) Women are such good little helpers, aren't we!
Similarly Carol's skills are important in their understanding of a new weapon, but she is reduced to being the rebellious daughter of the evil Admiral Marcus (trope alert!) Her main character arch (if she's even important enough to actually be said to have one) revolves around this "daddy issues" -esque motif. Furthermore, when things get really serious, Carol is injured by the grand villain (Benedict Cumberbatch) and is unable to meaningfully contribute to the forward motion of the story at all.
One of the most annoying parts of the depiction of the only two significant female characters in the film is that they are both romantically tied to men. Uhura is outwardly in a relationship with Spock and there is a flirtatious (although not fully realized) relationship between Kirk and Carol. In what was by far the most infuriating scene of the film, Carol unnecessarily changes clothes while talking to Kirk. She insists that he turns around but ultimately he and us, as the audience, get to see Carol for about 5 seconds looking exactly like this:
|[Image text: Dr. Carol Marcus in only black bra and panties.]|
1) There are ways to build sexual tension between characters without the audience ogling at a female character's body and
2) As mentioned, they never even played out the possible relationship between Kirk and Carol, so what was the point of this scene if not to pander to the male gaze?!
I literally rolled my eyes and scoffed out loud at that scene.
|[Image text: Spock and Kirk talking.]|
Later, Kirk's life is the one now in danger and in a touching scene between Spock and Kirk, Spock breaks and we see him feel again, as he is terrified that his friend will die. This not only goes against what Spock had set out for himself (to no longer feel) but also the nature of the Vulcan people who are more logical than emotional. It was actually nice to see the story display two men who were so close that emotions ended up fully flowing between them.
That aside, I am still disappointed with how underutilized and exploited Uhura and Carol were. The media is chock full of empowering stories about men. It's the status quo. So even when they are not stereotypical (like the emotional exchange between Kirk and Spock) I want more female voices, characters, and stories represented.
It just wasn't good enough.
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