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Start Trek Musings ETC AND SPOILERS SO NO COMPLAINTS

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I posted this on my Tumblr but thought I’d repost it here.  I rarely rant like this, so hope you guys are cool with it, haha.

You are officially spoiled if you read below, NO COMPLAINTS!

Up front I will say I enjoyed this latest Star Trek movie a lot.  It was super noisy, but enjoyable, beautifully executed, and I particularly like some of the secondary characters, Spock was excellent, etc etc.  I just want to share an observation that stuck with me:

Where are the women?  The strong women?  The women we’d like to see in 200 years?  Where are they in this world?  They certainly aren’t around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.)  In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with “important” people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER.  Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?!  How can that happen?

For main characters, Uhura had a FEW nice scenes (as a vehicle to humanize Spock mostly), but that other woman character was the WORST damsel in distress ever.  I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot.  I loved her bob.  That’s it.  What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight?  A tomboy?  Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice?  Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved.  From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this.  A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy.  Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!

I don’t know if I’m extra sensitive about this issue or what, but I don’t think so, it’s a trend in media today. When I walk into the theater, I see men on posters.  Mostly white men, the same men we see over and over in movies.  Seth Rogen, Owen Wilson, Brad Pitt etc. Where did the women go?  We are telling people that only men are worth centering storytelling around, and that’s just bullshit.  And the problem is we unconsciously define the world and our culture through media.  These things are subliminal, we absorb them, they formulate the “given” that influences people’s life choices.  It might be a little thing on the surface, but this stuff is what prevents women from being as interested in math, or business people or tech etc.  Where are the examples of women in media to strive for, to make that stuff seem possible?  I don’t see many.  And that makes me sad.

People ask me why I don’t like Disney, I say, “Think of a princess.  Tell me three adjectives that come to mind.  Now do that with a prince. Now do that with the phrase, “leading character”.  We will all probably align around a lot of common ideas, Princess: taken care of, rescued, pretty dresses. Prince: adventurer, proving himself, manhood, Leading Character: chiseled white guy in his thirties, rockin’ body, girlfriend in peril.

Ugh.

I dunno about you, but it’s kind of boring to see the same thing over and over again.  So I guess, rambling away from the Star Trek thing, if you’re creating something, think of the first three adjectives that come to mind, then:  Do something different. It’s time to invent new cliches.    For all of us, please.

  • Scott Oldfield

    First, I agree with pretty much everything you’re saying. However, I wonder how much of the decision making was based on the types of character who were in the original series. Do you think Abrams and crew were hampered by that are was it even a consideration for them?

    • RANGERII

      So, Scott, is Felicia Day equally outraged when one of her Supernatural cast-mates, Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki, walks around gratuitously shirtless for the titillation of female viewers in a way and with a timing that does nothing to advance the plot or storyline of Supernatural? It has happened numerous times during the eight years of that show. I’m guessing she’s not outraged enough to turn down the paychecks they offer her for her appearances in the show.

      • Spade

        Did you even read what she wrote?
        She didn’t actually complain about the underwear scene as far as I can see.

      • SirHoneyBadger

        Sexuality, or lack thereof, taken by itself, doesn’t have any bearing on matters of gender equality.
        In Supernatural, the two main characters–and note, they are main characters who’s attractiveness is one of the major draws of the show, and shows do require actual viewers to survive–show intelligence, sensitivity, fallibility, and vulnerability. They have understandable fears, emotions, and pain, and their family–including questions and concerns about having and raising children–is extremely important to them, and to understanding who they are.
        Not exactly stereotypical for heroic men in fantasy television.
        When they interact with women, they relate to them from a position of basic respect, bereft of any misogyny, and as people first, albeit the point is made that the Dean character is immature and oversexed–although not to an unrealistic degree.
        Both Dean and Sam are given plenty of deep, intricate characterization, with personality traits that often belie their genders.
        As are, very much, the women on the show, which has contained some of the toughest, most independent, smartest, most realistic and well-acted, and most wonderfully age-defying female characters in all of television history.
        Yes, of course there’s plenty of eye-candy, but it’s there for both the boys and the girls, young and old alike, indiscriminate of race, and in generous helpings.
        Supernatural may not be the embodiment of equality for the whole human race, but as-is, it’s pretty fair and equal, and far better than most of what’s out there.

      • Raven

        I am a Supernatural fan. A big one. I also think the guys are hunks, though that’s not why I love the show. They RARELY ‘walk around with shirts off…’, actually, and there have been a number of strong women throughout the seasons, too. Please, don’t diss J and J and the Supernatural writers. They do a good job.

        • Vangirl

          Hey I was telling a friend about this yesterday, though the boys are completely beautiful shirts off you dont see it often.. I like that.. They are not selling the boys as eye candy like in say “True Blood”

  • TT

    maybe one reason why to this : men are the ones writting movies

  • Paul Notarfrancesco

    This is what I loved about Joss Whedon. He created strong female leads without falling prey to stereotypes and cliches. I remember reading an interview in which he talks about this same issue, citing kitty prude as his favorite comic character.

  • Hakim

    In a way, J.J. was quite true to the original series here, where women seem to have had exactly that main function, ideally in short dresses.
    What struck me most when I read your post: it’s not only “men in space”, it’s Americans in space… Like in the old series. To imagine that we conquer war and hunger on earth and then ultimately space… but still behave like normal 21st century ppl, is quite astonishing and in fact something TNG improved upon a lot. Crazy that J.J. falls back into old pattern…

    • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

      Good point. Star Trek is an American creation, so I technically understand the nationalism, but it would just be way more accurate and exciting if nationalities varied on the Enterprise. I mean, Chekov’s there and he’s loveable, but they are making him look like a bit of a doofus. His main action is running and his tag line is: “Uhhm, okay! I can do that!”

  • http://jimmykincaid.blogspot.com Jimmy Kincaid

    Wow. I didn’t think about that while watching the film but I should have. I really don’t know why there weren’t more women. All versions of the TV series had women of various ages,races, etc.

    I too am a fan of Alias so it makes me wonder why a man like JJ Abrams who is great at creating and writing for female characters would fail to have more women in the film. Also, he should know that there will be a large number of women in the theater–my best friend was one of them. If some of them are there only because they were with someone it would be nice to them to see more women onscreen so maybe they would become fans as well. The world needs more female sci-fi fans.

  • Chad Miller

    As this was to be a re-imagination, JJ had free reign to do as he pleased. BSG was a re-imagination and did a decent job of swapping out male to female leading characters (Starbuck). Star Trek had a perfect opportunity to do such a thing, but no such luck. I think Scotty would have been a good female lead (no offense, Simon).

    • RANGERII

      Because BSG didn’t show gratuitous scenes of Tricia Helfer that were sexy and revealing, right?

      • Bebe

        It’s ok for a woman to be sexy, for a man too, as long as sex appeal is just a part of a complex personality. Helfer’s character was at times powerful and persuasive, sometimes vulnerable, very clever, unique in a race of sameness and definitely advanced not just her own story line but the whole plot.

    • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

      Interesting thought. Idk though. I’m female and a feminist (though I think ‘equalist’ would be a more accurate label for everyone to use) but I don’t want/need any beloved characters to swap genders. Abrams could just as easily write more strong female characters and cut down on five to ten minutes of action to give said characters a few more intimate/intellectual scenes. Also, cut down on the humor fluff. I love humor, but in these movies even just a few scenes of Uhura and Spock drama seem to overwhelm her character, which says something about how they’re writing her (i.e. weakly). I hope Uhura develops into something more than the sassy and subtly skilled girlfriend in future films. Not fully complaining though. The scene with her on Kronos was awesome.

    • Zara Mokeev

      yes i would have loved to see scotty as a woman in my view Karen Gilan would have been ideal she did great SF in new doctor who , is a known Star Trek fan and is Scottish with an actual scottish accent. no offence to Simon Peg but i would have liked some one Actually Scottish.

  • tonewaugh

    I don’t disagree with you.

    Many spoilers ahead:

    The story was stuffed to the point of over-stuffed with callbacks for hard core fans – references to the original series and films, retcons, etc. Huge number of references to one of the better if not the best of the old films – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. (With a lot of reversals, since this is an alternate timeline – probably too many to the point that it becomes very “writerly,” overly winking at those who catch the exact quotes or the reversals of the original quotes or action.)

    The female science officer/stowaway that I think you are referring to, who had a scene in her underwear, was Carol Marcus, with whom, in the original timeline, Kirk at some later point has a son. I believe she appeared in that earlier film as age-appropriate vs. the older William Shatner of the time in that film (upper 40s?), and by now they are apart and have a fully grown son. So perhaps this explains her a bit – she becomes a romantic interest for Kirk, so she’s the right age for him now and is depicted with some of the sex appeal that would make sense for a character like Kirk.

    So her role was actually nothing but fan service – she’s there cause Kirk is going to have a relationship with her. She can’t be older, unattractive, or overweight because she has a future part to play as a romantic partner for Kirk and this is set in stone, sort of – alternate timeline stone, anyway.

    I guess that addresses 5% of your objections.

    The later TV shows had more women in positions of power than this film did.

    This film is not art, it’s a summer blockbuster, and, as you say, it’s noisy. It will make money domestically if teenage males see it frequently.

    NY Times just published a piece about how this summer there will be a record 17 blockbusters, and there is possibly a blockbuster bubble right now – risking putting some studios out of business if the films misfire. They sometimes have to take in $800M in the box office to break even! (Assuming $200M production, $200M marketing, and sharing $800M box office with distributors/theaters.) That’s a lot of teenage males needed to fill seats.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/18/business/as-hollywood-leans-on-blockbusters-the-flop-looms.html?_r=0

    Soderbergh has a scary quote in that article: “Mr. Soderbergh went on: “I’m curious to see what he’s going to watch — he’s a white guy in his mid-30s. And I begin to realize what he’s done is he’s loaded in half a dozen action sort of extravaganzas and he’s watching each of the action sequences. He’s skipping over all the dialogue and the narrative. This guy’s flight is going to be five and a half hours of just mayhem p*rn.”

    (Your filter blocks the actual word that Soderbergh used, I had to put an * to avoid moderation.)

    So that’s the target audience for this kind of film. One has to lower one’s expectations for these types of films and keep your hands over your ears at times.

    Avengers may have included Scarlett, and she was smart and capable, but still she had to be in skin tight black.

    The best character work these days for either gender is being done on cable TV.

    Blockbusters are based on action comics which have traditionally been written by men for boys. They are STILL drawing Power Girl with that same crazy chest and outfit. I guess those comics sell in the numbers they need. The editors aren’t idiots or neanderthals at DC; they try subtler stuff, and the economics don’t work. And they cancel comics at the drop of a hat. (You know how many times they’ve cancelled, killed off, or retconned Supergirl?!)

    Sorry for the long email, but my ears are still ringing from Star Trek… I was only happy during the brief periods when things weren’t exploding.

    • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

      A lot of good points. I simultaneously feel bad for actresses and wish they’d demand more control over there portrayal. But really, I just feel bad for them. They’re not in control. Scarlett couldn’t have demanded to NOT be in a bodysuit. You might wanna look up an EW interview the cast of the Avengers did together. They talk about “The Pro” (a superhero prostitute) and one of the male actors (think it’s the guy who played Hawkeye but unsure) talks about how it’s so funny. Meanwhile, Sir Joss Whedon reluctantly admits that it’s funny but awful and Scarlett points out how problematic it is. I was daydreaming the other day about how I’d like to see Wonder Woman made. I’m so terrified about what may come of that movie, if it ever comes to fruition. I don’t demand that females write every female-led movie, but I think it’s very important that females write and/or direct Wonder Woman and am worried that’s not going to happen.

      How did I get to this topic? Haha…

      • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

        *their portrayal

        Spotted that goof right away and had to fix it.

  • tonewaugh

    Hmmm, didn’t work, still got moderated. Oh well.

  • Jamie

    …. So if they had offered you a short skirt yeoman’s uniform and a couple of lines you would had said no?
    I do agree with you about women in the movie …. but the same could be said for men, there were not any “extra” characterd developed at all. It all went by so shallow and fast, I left the theater dazed, having to explain it to my kid … but somehow I enjoyed it. I just hope the next one has whales in it.

    • Cathy

      I was wondering the same thing as Felicia complained about the exact sort of character she portrayed on this season of Supernatural.

      “A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy. Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!”.

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  • in8sworld

    I agree 100% but lets be honest – the movies are aimed at the segment they think will PAY to see them.

  • http://claydowling.com Clay Dowling

    Okay, glad I’m not the only one who noticed that. Zoe Saldana is lovely to watch, and what I wanted to watch most was her kicking tail. At most she tweaked some tails. The admiral’s daughter, she didn’t do that much for me. She could have been a more interesting character; she was well placed to do it. Her entire role was full of strong character defining opportunities that were passed over.

    I saw Iron Man 3 last weekend, and noticed the contrast in the way women were portrayed. Gweneth Paltrow could have easily just been there for eye candy. She’s very well qualified for that role. Instead, she was busy rescuing her super hero boyfriend, keeping his company afloat, and rescuing herself the second the bad guys weren’t paying attention. We also had cool female bad guys, kicking butt and taking names. I also couldn’t help but notice that Joss Whedon got a special thank you in the credits, and I suspect those female characters are what he was being thanks for.

  • angryninjamonkey

    There was a Russian on board. There were a variety of aliens (limited variety due to nascent StarFleet). It wasnt just Americans. I am however, also noticing a lowered diversity of women who are decent actors. And some of that may also be intentionally or unintentionally controlled. I have to agree though that the original series and its characters were being held to pretty well. But since this is an alternate timeline, there is no need to do that. They have automatically setup a new environment in which there can be strong female characters and they dont see that. Maybe they will take advantage of that next movie.

  • angryninjamonkey

    Also, this is less of a reimagining and more of a reboot of the franchise. As such, a massive shuffle to the cast (and genders thereof) would not be acceptable to fans old and new. Entirely NEW characters with minor links to the original timeline is the way to go. Diana Muldaur played a strong character in the blind ambassador in TOS. Then sorta played the lame damsel in other roles. But overall – written by men, for men. The interview of Abrams with Jon Stewart said blankly, this is a movie for the general public and less for the fans. The fans are older, socially progressive hippies would have loved a strong female character. But the general movie going public is one that is more young and male. With needs such as pretty faces, partial fan service (changing scene), loud explosions, fast action and shiny FX. Caron Marcus is Jim’s ex-wife in previous timeline (and second trek movie) She was played much stronger than this one. Although this one is much younger and probably hadnt gotten a chance to get into biology.

  • Leahelm

    You weren’t the only one to think so: “Trek’s demographics tell an interesting story that contributes to that theory: the audience skewed heavily male (64 percent) and older (73 percent over the age of 25). In comparison, the first movie did a better job reaching women (only 60 percent male) and younger audiences (only 65 percent over 25). ” http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3686&p=.htm

    • B Paul

      I only know two “trekkies”, and they are both women.

  • Amber Dawn

    I am totally with you. I did enjoy seeing Uhura get to do more actiony stuff. And I liked that there was somewhat diverse (“alien” and human extras – particularly liked the black, not so skinny bald lady on the bridge in several scenes.) But I was wondering where the lady admirals were, dammit! And I kept hoping blondie girl would turn out evil so as to be more interesting.

  • MdShafiqM

    Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

  • http://appliedphlogiston.wordpress.com Jerry

    My wife and I were both particularly disappointed with how little was done with Uhura’s character. She needed to be given something to do and be other than “Spock’s girlfriend”. Just as it would be ridiculous to reduce Spock to being “Uhura’s boyfriend” and nothing else, it was ridiculous to see her written in such a one-dimensional way. Very frustrating stuff in an otherwise-fun flick.

  • Matthew Kenealy

    I will say that I loved the movie, but J J needs to tone down on the lens flares, seriously. And I would say that females aren’t represented fairly in Hollywood in all movies lately, true to the show females never had a big role in Star Trek but this is 2013, we should be finally getting over the gender stereotypes and finally have some strong Female roles in movies and TV. Which is why I like all the roles you play in TV like in Eureka, The Guild and Supernatural as they are outside the usual roles females play, and you aren’t just there to be a pretty face. Though you are pretty anyway.

  • http://www.22balmoralroad.net/ Darren Poulson

    Nice rant! ;)

    I’ve not seen the film yet, but it doesn’t really surprise me. Mr Roddenberry must be turning in his grave.

    Oh, and totally agree with the disney princess thing. Thats been a bugbear of mine for a while now.

  • Michelle
    • http://radnerd.com RadNerd

      That’s your argument? She has a cute photoshoot and she’s banned from ranting about the lack of strong female leads? You girl, have some deeper issues you need to get sorted out. Also, please, for the love of Khan, learn how to shorten your URLs.

    • John 4

      I don’t see anything about that photo that is anything other than Felicia being Felicia, just because she’s pretty doesn’t detract from her point one bit. It was nice in Tangled for a Disney movie to have a Princess be the one that took center stage and the male was kind of a fool, but the typical standard are weak damsel-in-distress types. I’m always happy to see a stronger female character who doesn’t have to be the prettiest thing in the world. Which is why on of my favorite companions to Dr. Who was Donna Noble.

    • Pixel

      If you’re implying that a woman cannot be sexually attractive and a strong character at the same time, that is utterly ridiculous. Let’s take a look at Buffy the Vampire Slayer for example, (in which Felicia starred). Buffy was a feminine character but she still kicked ass. The most powerful characters in the show were women. AND SUPER HOT. To say that one denies the other…. that’s the embodiment of misogyny.

  • JAS

    Thank you so much for articulating my own reactions exactly. You are not extra sensitive. You are spot on. In the early 2ks tv and film seemed to be evolving in this department, but what has happened in recent years? It’s all gone the wrong way again. I know the pendulum swings both ways in social evolution, but it hasn’t ever swing far enough yet towards consistent, realistic female rolls in our storytelling. I’m at the point now where it’s not just eye roll annoying or boring, it’s pissing me off.

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  • urban_feral

    My first thought on leaving the cinema was that the movei didn’t pass the Bechdel test, and the only two named female characters were both defined by their relationships with men. Also, the movie was shouting at me, both literally and metaphorically.

  • http://lunatics.tv Terry Hancock

    Thanks for pointing this problem. I have to agree that this was a major failing of this movie — and of the previous one — but honestly these movies are such train wrecks of major problems that I couldn’t really take it seriously long enough to notice this point.

    I was mostly struck by the way they tore the Star Trek canon into tiny shreds, to say nothing of the laws of physics. To be fair, all of the old ST series played pretty fast and loose with scientific plausibility, but these movies push it so far that it totally throws me out of the story. It’s hard for me even to imagine how the writer THOUGHT the physics would work.

    And of course, any officer training program that would put THIS immature man-child Kirk in charge of a starship is impossible to take seriously. I can buy the alternate universe theory that Kirk might have grown up into a very different (and more broken) person without his father (who knows? maybe?), but NOT that the resulting personality would also be able to get through the academy and be given a command — especially under the ridiculous circumstances in the previous movie.

    So it’s very hard to take any of the rest of this revision seriously.

    I DID enjoy watching this movie and the previous one — as long as I’m not trying to take them seriously, they are mildly entertaining. But they both leave me wanting.

    It would have been possible to write an equally-entertaining, but infinitely more satisfying script. I think I could have done much better myself, and I’m sure there’s someone in Hollywood with those skills (maybe? I hope).

  • Tom

    I think the issue is largely with the source material. In TOS every away mission was Kirk, Spock, Bones and a male red shirt.

    Uhura wasn’t even particularly good at her job, to be honest. It wasn’t until Crusher in TNG that there was a strong female character in Trek. But then there was Kira, Dax, Janeway, Torres, 7 of 9, T’pal. The shows definitely redeemed themselves in this way, but the films are based off of TOS, so it’d be awkward to shoehorn in a strong female lead where there wasn’t one. Nerd rage can get a bit strong if too much stuff is screwed with.

    • notamaiar

      That’s kind of a weak excuse, to be honest. TOS was as progressive as it could possibly be – as it was allowed to be, under the restrictions placed upon it by the thinking of the day. Look up the famous First Interracial Kiss on Television (which it actually wasn’t) in Plato’s Stepchildren, and the stories Nichelle Nichols and others tell about the furor surrounding it, and how hard Roddenberry had to push for it. They were convinced (and I quote Nichelle from a panel she did in Vancouver this year) it would be “the end of the world.” Uhura wasn’t the only female regular because the writers and showrunners didn’t want any more ladies on the bridge, but largely due to the network vetoing a female 2IC (played by Majel Barrett!) on the grounds that it was “implausible.” Part of Star Trek’s prime directive has always been (with, admittedly, varying levels of success) the championing of progressive attitudes. Progressiveness, though, is relative, and means very little unless considered in context. That applies both to rear-facing critiques of TOS and current and future incarnations of the franchise. Saying that the canon looks regressive to us, from here, in 2013 doesn’t excuse the lackluster effort (and sometimes outright refusal, even scorn!) on the part of current authors to build on or even invoke its core themes.

  • Stjarna

    I am planning to go see Star Trek tomorrow, so will take my binoculars to search for the females in the story.

    What a blinding observation you make Felicia.

    When Ripley hit the screens in Alien in 1969, a new age was born, but seems a retreat has been happening and older ways are haunting us now.

    Female actors of the world unite and write to Obama to put it right.

    This is supposed to be an age of equity, in the kitchen and on the battlefield.

    Looks like Ripley’s vanquishing of the alien beast must be fought again.

    WARNING: beast may contain acid for blood.

    Stjarna

  • erickson winter

    Here here (or, her her?). I haven’t seen the movie yet but this isn’t really a new issue. I personally would very much enjoy watching a movie that pays attention to this particular issue. When I take my daughters to a movie, and they ask me why the decision makers are all colors, genders and races, I would like to say, “of course… We made it really far with old white guys, but wanted to be better and that requires representation of every faction”

  • Wendy

    There were strong females in TOS, *in the context of the time it was broadcast*. There wasn’t much back in the 60′s – Emma Peel, Honey West… there were a lot of women on TOS as guest stars that were strong-ish, and of course Roddenberry wanted to make Majel Barret “Number One” in the original pilot, but was shot down by the network.

    Compare Star Trek to “Bewitched” for example, or the Jetsons, or the Disney films that were in the theaters during the 60s.

    The problem with Abram’s reboot of the franchise is that he didn’t grow up with it and he doesn’t “love” it; he doesn’t think it should be a vehicle for philosophy or exploring concepts or controversies. To him, it’s a platform for an action-adventure and a way to make a lot of money.

    How well did “Cloud Atlas” do at the box office? The reason the strong female character/high concept films aren’t made all the time is because they don’t make money. As long as “art” is a “business” things that make money will win out.

  • Theresa

    Thank you, Felicia! I noticed this problem about halfway through the movie, and it was terribly distracting. There were exactly three female characters with more than two lines: Uhura, the damsel in distress, and a woman on the deck that reported the power status of the ship.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/111732421448820226514 Chris Routh

    You make a strong point Felicia, actually the Starfleet Command scene was a little shocking to me. Star Trek may not have had a lot of female lead roles in TOS, but the Starfleet Command positions were usually well represented.

    This scene from the start of ST:6 comes to mind: http://goo.gl/RUua0

    While it’s still less than half of the people at the meeting, there is a much better female representation here than in the new movie.

    They need to improve this, but definately not by replacing core characters like Chad Miller suggested. Especially Scotty.. he’s a scotch-loving scotsman engineer that calls the Enterprise a lady and I would have sworn off the series if they did anything to his character. Bring new characters on board, this is an alternate timeline after all.

  • Gary V

    “that other woman character” was Dr. Carol Marcus. She’s the mother of Kirk’s son in “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.” Of _course_ she’s pretty! Kirk didn’t sleep with ugly women / aliens :) I really loved the homage to “Wrath of Khan” by including a character other than Khan.

  • e rainbow bee

    when the first trailer came out, all i noticed was the lack of women being badass. that blonde chick screamed, Uhura looked frightened or was kissing Spock… i was quite disappointed. i’m sad to hear that the movie itself is the same way.

  • MacAllen

    This is where I disagree with JJ vs TNG. Where is Dr Leah Brahms? Dr Beverly Crusher or Dr Polaski? Picard answered to several female admirals. Troi was a sex symbol for a season, with her “cosmic cheerleader” outfit, then the smarter her character became the less skin she showed and the better it got. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the completely gratuitous underwear scene, but the sole purpose of it was eye candy. Had she then done something badass, that would have at least justified her being there. And Zoe? Whine much? How can she go from Columbiana (where she’s a badass) to pouting passive aggression over Spock?

    And on a side note that’s not necessarily related…where are the canon aliens? Andorians, Tellarite, and Caitians helped form the Federation…where are they? If JJ threw in a female Andorian security officer who was a bad ass, I would watch everything he made for the rest of time :)

  • http://thefloatingworld.smugmug.com Peter Green

    To be fair to Alice Eve, they had to cast someone who would pass for a younger version of Bibi Besch, the older Carol Marcus from The Wrath of Khan. [Well, I say "had to"... some of their casting decisions are baffling. On one hand they take great pains with say, Quinto as Spock and Urban as McCoy (who does an utterly brilliant job in that role), and then cast complete NON-lookalikes for Scotty, Chekhov... and terrific actor that he is, nevertheless Benedict Cumberbatch could not look LESS like #spoiler redacted#. Also confused that Carol is now a weapons specialist and not a terraformer. Continuity, who needs it? :/ ]

    That said, I agree with the larger point being made, although I confess it hadn’t really registered until I read Felicia’s piece. We do seem to be going backwards – I caught a few season 2 episodes of Warehouse 13 recently and the script-writing process appears to be “What pretext can we use this week to get Myka into a hot outfit?”. ?_?

    • http://thefloatingworld.smugmug.com Peter Green

      Hey, your comment system isn’t displaying my “look of disapproval” emoticon correctly. :(

    • notamaiar

      You know, that just pinged with me: how weird is it that JJ has Carol Marcus building exactly what the Klingons thought she was in the original film?

      I would love to think that was a deliberate shout-out, but sadly I know it was just the unwillingness to write her a role that made narrative sense.

      She is a pretty good lookalike for Bibi Besch, though.

  • http://rjccourt.tumblr.com/ Robert Courtemanche

    And Khan as a white guy – really?!?!? How many great actors of Middle Eastern descent or from the subcontinent were passed over for a pale, white dude. And he was a terrible over-actor too.

    To Wendy – movies are a business. We can’t ignore that they cost a lot of money to make and the people who fund them want to make money back. Until movies are funded by a group of totally wealthy philanthropists (like the Medici family in the Renaissance) then that will continue to be how “art” will be a slave to finance.

  • Nije Nego

    This requires a bigger rant/analysis than can be provided in one comment, but I will say this: the admiral’s daughter character was completely irrelevant to anything. The plot, the story, the characters – none of these were in any way changed due to her presence. In fact the Wikipedia plot entry for Into Darkness doesn’t mention her at all. The entire reason for her to be there is that one scene where McCoy looks at her while she’s undressing so the movie can have a semi naked scene with a hot chick. You can’t even claim she’s there to show McCoy is a womanizer or something, rather he’s in that scene just so we have a reason to see her body. So, you have free reign to add any new character you want, (and you take the time to make sure to specifically show the character will stay on for the next movie) and you make her all about fanservice? Pretty lame in my opinion.

    • Tom

      It was Kirk who saw her in a state of partial dress. She’ll also go on to be the mother of his son.

  • Toby Owens

    I’ll see your rant, Miss Day (a well warranted one IMO), and I’ll raise you one of my own:
    Where are the disabled characters in film? I mean the ones written/portayed as real people instead of caricatures of disability. I could rant on for another 5,000 words and barely scratch the surface on this, but you seem interesting and kind (plus you’re a totally innocent bystander) so I won’t subject you to my unchecked rage :)
    Anyway, enough about my thoughts… Yours were well spoken and you make a great point.

  • Toby Owens

    My deepest apologies for the giant smiley emoticon in my previous post. I had no idea when I typed a : followed by a ) that my subtle gesture would morph into a disturbingly large cartoon. There’s a lot of bad blood between me and the giant emoticons so I was mortified to find one in my own post. I hope you can forgive me, Felicia.

    • http://www.feliciaday.com Felicia

      hahahaha forgiven :)

  • Daniel

    What do you expect from a franchise with such a stupid premise (space aliens that look almost, but not exactly, like us and speak English) that grew out of a TV series with such phenomenally bad writing and acting? Transporter beams and FTL travel??? Really??? I have not seen this movie, but I have seen the occasional Star Trek episode and I certainly would not expect anything from it but more of the same.

    In both politics and entertainment, the people with the power frame the stories from their own point of view, and to make themselves look good. There are books and movies out there with strong female characters. Why waste your time on Star Trek?

    And thank you for reinforcing my previous opinion that there’s no reason for me to see this movie.

  • Tom

    The Dr Marcus character is a future love interest of Kirk’s who will go on to give birth to his son. Makes sense she’d be a young attractive woman whom the young attractive Captain will fall in love with.

  • Moniqa Aylin

    I had to hunt down the curvy, nameless black woman on the bridge, usually at the corner of the frame. More of Navigation Officer Darwin, please! http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1490300/

  • Clinton

    The prequel comic “Countdown to Darkness” had a female Mudd character that seemed to fit some of these criteria. Would have been nice to incorporate her into the movie. Interestingly enough, however, almost all the cast was supporting to Spock in this go-around. (BTW, I did like the film.)

  • Mark

    Just as an FYI there are 6 women at the meeting of captains

  • RANGERII

    Perhaps the rest of us will pay more attention to what you have to say, Felicia, when you turn down the paycheck for the next appearance Supernatural wants from you unless they promise to never again gratuitously show Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki shirtless for the titillation of female fans of that show.

    Or we could all join in realizing there’s not a thing wrong with female viewers of Supernatural enjoying seeing Ackles or Padalecki half-naked nor with male viewers of Star Trek enjoying seeing Alice Eve half-naked. Especially since in both cases such scenes did nothing to advance the plot of Supernatural any more than Eve’s scene advanced the plot of Into Darkness.

    • Nije Nego

      My problem with this (can’t speak for Felicia) isn’t the cheese, it’s the fact that the character is there solely for that purpose in this film. This is especially stupid if it’s intended to be an important one somewhere down the line as some people claim. The only way this could be more stupid and ham fisted is if all her scenes were added in just so you would know who she is by the time the next movie happened, but in such a way not to disrupt or alter the plot in any way. Every time she does something it immediately gets cancelled out in the same or next scene. You need her to open the torpedoes safely? Turns out she just rips out a piece and anyone could have done that. She’s the admiral’s daughter so he won’t destroy the Enterprise? She gets beamed out the moment she’s done with her emotional speech. I am starting acting lessons now so I can convincingly pretend to be surprised and outraged when she’s just as inconsequential in the next film and then at some point Kirk gets a text saying “it’s a boy”.

  • Shane Dodd

    Kameron Hurley (author and awesome person) just did an article concerning women in stories, or more to the point, women starting out in stories only to become background pieces. It’s a great article and I think you would like it.

    http://aidanmoher.com/blog/featured-article/2013/05/we-have-always-fought-challenging-the-women-cattle-and-slaves-narrative-by-kameron-hurley/

    Oh, and thank you for Geek & Sundry! It makes me happy :)

  • Peter

    I agree that woman and minorities are under represented in Hollywood but this movie is a bad example. The creators did a very good job considering what they had to work with.

    The TV series very heavily centered on Kirk and Spock and nearly every important task will be done by one of those two. Its how the TV show was written and is how this movie was always going to be written. The other important TV characters HAVE to be included or else there would be outrage from Trekies…and all other characters are male with the exception of Uhura. Each one of these characters already has only about 5 minutes of screen time so if you want to add more female characters each character is basically going to be reduced to cameos.

    But lets look at the two main female characters in this film Uhura and Carol. You said Uhura had a “FEW” nice scenes but I would argue that she is the most strong willed character in the series so far (which was certainly not true in the tv show). In the first movie she tells Spock to assign her to the Enterprise and in this movie she tells Kirk to let her speak to the Klingons when he plans to just fight them. She is the only character that tells Spock and Kirk what to do. Other characters will make suggestions to Kirk/Spock but Uhura is given a much stronger personality.

    I also don’t see Carol as a damsel in distress at all. She was a very influential science officer who got shut out of a project and did everything in her power to uncover the truth. It takes a lot of courage to defy the leader of starfleet and to illegally sneak onto a ship in order to uncover the truth. She is a scientist not some superhero. I don’t know what you expected her to be like but when she had the opportunity to make a difference she tried to help. When asked to open the bomb she said yes and instead of beaming back up when it went bad she courageously stayed to try and save Bones. When her identity was of use she tried to use it to save the ship and its crew. If those are “you go girl moments” I don’t know what is. She certainly did more than I would of done given her circumstances. Yeah, she ultimately failed to make a drastic difference in the movie but like I said earlier it was always going to be Spock and Kirk who saved the day.

  • http://madfishmarket.etsy.com Madfishmonger

    I wish more directors would listen to you. I hate hearing stuff like “But that’s what the target audience wants”. 1)your sole important audience is straight white men? That’s pretty small. 2)it is not at all what the audience wants, everyone’s tired of the same old story 3) it’s the fucking future, come and join us up here in the 21st century kthnxbye,

  • http://tallerthanaveragetales.blogspot.com/ claire

    I held off reading your post until I’d seen it, and now that I have, I can honestly say I was thinking the exact same thing! The Star Trek reboot needs more women!

    A movie set hundreds of years in the future should at least be able to meet The Bechdel Test! Sure, there were two (named) female characters but they never speak to each other.

    I get that Kirk is a horndog to be faithful to the original, but seriously, there are no female captains or admirals in Starfleet? (Well, maybe one but she doesn’t speak, have a name or get any significant screen time.)

    Even Nurse Chapel only gets a passing mention which is presented as though she’s one of Kirk’s past conquests he’s forgotten. That’s another female character from the original series that could have been in the movie, no imagination required!

    I want to see more integral, strong female characters on screen. Shows and movies without them, well, I watch very few anymore.

  • KB

    I agree completely.

    That is all.

  • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

    Obviously and thankfully, Felicia is not alone. Mainly, the sexism infuriates me because its presence in a 23rd-century exploratory fleet is unrealistic. Sure, sci-fi is by nature unrealistic, but that doesn’t excuse overlooking basic ethics. They got Carol’s career right, but that’s about it. Is it a modern misconception that if you give a female character a (name only) job you can just mess around with her elsewhere in the storyline? “Hey, Carol! We validated you with this torpedo you get to play with! La-de-da.” I’m enraged when characters aren’t treated like people or don’t act like people, and it happened SO many times in that movie.

    I think it’s important to vocalize these complaints because it’s like filmmakers are living in a different world that’s moving at a slower pace and it’s important to say, “This is why we are not going out to movies as much.” (Recession aside.)

    If anyone is interested in discussing this further, I wrote my own little opinion piece titled “It’s Not Just About Carol in Underpants: Star Trek’s Sexuality Needs a Makeover.” I’d love to read responses to it because I don’t think we’re overreacting and am excited to see other viewers demanding better media ethics.

  • Glen Seaman

    First. Yes that is my real name. I watched this film after reading this post. paid close attention to the scene with the `old white men around a table`. I took notes with my IPhone during the movie. There are 20 seats around the table and there are 4 actual characters in the scene. So 16 extras. One is captain of the USS Bradberry who is African American. Sitting to Spock`s right is a women officer, one three seats to Kirks right and another, two seats to Captain pike`s Left another. Granted 3 out of 16 is about 16%, not the greatest. But say, what is the percentage of women in the military today. I really don`t know, but my guess is that it is lower, especially in the Captain, first officer and Admiral ranking. For the posts about Carol Marcus character. Does anyone remember that she saved Bones life by deactivating a torpedo at risk of her own life. Because to me that is a weak damsel in distress character (insert sarcasm). She was taken off the bridge of the enterprise against her will and taken captive. If you are blaming her for being weak against these odds then it seems you are blaming the victim of a crime. The shields were down, she was talking over the view screen. there was nothing that character could do. But still people hate her. Look to yourself first before complaining. Star Trek has always gone above and beyond in having a racial and gender diverse cast, from the sixties through today. If anyone can say with any accuracy want I said is wrong feel free to sa

    • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

      Note: Bones may not have needed to be saved had he not been so distracted by flirting with Carol while messing with a torpedo. If poorly timed flirtation is the only way the writers can put humor in Star Trek, they need better writers.

      A lot of female fans are angry because we do NOT hate Carol Marcus and are therefore upset with how this film introduced her character and relationship with Kirk. I was looking forward to them developing a history and exchanging actual dialogue. They did not. Instead, the script bounced between Kirk peeping at her and Bones hitting on her and, you know, otherwise pointing out that she’s hot. Like in her intro. All that focus is sexist and distracts from her character. Naturally, attention is drawn to her underwear scene. I know you wrote you disliked it too, but I just want to clarify why it overwhelmed her character for me, at least:

      Her decision to change and behavior in that scene threw a bucket of cold water on her intellect that no minor scene could remove. It was unprofessional and her surprise/coy when Kirk looked made her appear like a dumb blonde. This is not a scene for even the 21st century, let alone the 23rd.

      Carol had, what, six scenes? A couple real scenes but maybe eight total moments on screen, tops. Which other scenes made as strong of an impression as her choosing to undress by her captain? I mean, even knowing she chose to stay at the torpedo, please clarify: why is that special? She’s a member of Star Fleet. Of course she chose to stay at the torpedo! Which member of Star Fleet would say, “You know what, Bones? Screw you, I’m outta here.” Or do people just lower their bravery standards for female characters?

      They objectified the actress and missed a huge opportunity with Carol’s character.

      • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

        Bah! Woops: *Starfleet

    • pixy

      Starfleet is not a military organization, as they point out repeatedly. Their primary goal is exploration. It’s members therefore are scientists, diplomates and other such. No reason for it not to have women among them.

  • Glen Seaman

    The only thing in the whole movie that was remotely sexist was the scene with Carol Marcus in her underwear. I really can not defend at. It was done in a way that did not needed for the film.

  • Eric

    I don’t see a single thing wrong with the movie. Not one. The underwear scene with Carol Marcus? oh, you don’t see anything wrong with that… but you were perfectly all right with Kirk much earlier in the film. Leading ladies? not every damn film needs to have leading ladies… same with leading men. If they have one or the other great, if not, honestly – who cares. I don’t cry in the film ‘Cars’ that a semi-truck will never be the star of the film. Yeah, that was an oversimplification, but you get the idea.

    You’re super bummed by the wrong things, really. There are plenty of films that you can also support where the leads are women, where they can be physically nonconformist to media standards, where they are not white american, etc. If the only films you consume are at the movie theater and strictly native english, that’s on you.

    • http://episodicexcitation.blogspot.com/ Broagan

      Oh, yeah, we saw Kirk shirtless. Also, the profiles of two tailed and naked women in bed with him. It’s not an eye for an eye thing, and just because you “balance” out superfluous semi-clad shots between genders doesn’t make them okay. Both scenes were poorly done and unnecessary. We know he’s a womanizer. We know she’s hot. Fans know they have a (SPOILER) relationship in the future. Given that future between Carol and Kirk, the filmmakers could have made a relevant scene between Kirk and Carol. Her underwear scene is one of the more (if not the most) direct/one-on-one scenes between the two of them, but they’re characters that are supposed to have a story to tell together. Whether it’s sexist or not, that’s poor storytelling. They wasted valuable screen time just to reiterate stuff we already knew and show a shot of her body that looked like it came from a shoe cam.

  • Will

    Plan on seeing STID this weekend, but I have read the reviews and have been spoiled somewhat (I know way too many diehard Trek fans). You have brought up some good points here, but I think, in light of the history of Trek, you are being a little too harsh.

    There has always been IMO a wee bit of inconsistency with female roles in the Trek universe. It was rare to see a female captain or admiral throughout the various series and the movies, but it was clear that they did exist. So did strong female characters as scientists and diplomats. Yet, as with other aspects of the entertainment business of which you are a part, visual attraction drives sales. If you have a female Starfleet Captain in a Trek episode/film, nine times out of ten she is going to be an attractive Starfleet Captain.

    STID’s portrayal of Carol Marcus is indeed problematic, particularly in light of the stronger version in ST:WOK. Abrams clearly went for the eye candy choice here (which seems to be a common theme in many of the roles Alice Eve gets). Still, it is not that inconsistent with how the Trek universe has been portrayed before. There has always been a mix of damsel and heroine here.

    STID is probably a pretty darn good summer movie, but we should not expect social commentary as seen in the various TV series in a summer movie. A Christopher Nolan who can balance message with fun is rare and Abrams does not appear to have that ability in his skill set.

    BTW, when you bring up the word “princess” to me, I think of Princess Leia. Sure, she got into trouble a lot in those three movies, but she was not one who needed to be taken care of. I think the Walt Disney idea of a princess as exemplified by the great triumvirate of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty has gone the way of all things, especially with the more modern Disney films. So stop hating on Disney, all right?

  • Dante

    I read enough of this blog to look for the lack of strong women before I first went to see the movie, but I didn’t see it.
    Mrs. Day says she wasn’t looking for it, but maybe she should watch it again to confirm her thoughts before voicing them. I was looking because of this post and didn’t think that women were shorted in any way.

  • johnny red

    because feminism is stupid and ruins movies, the “strong-woman character” is already a boring cliche made for fat lesbians

  • Z3R0B4NG

    VOYAGER – Captain Janeway / later Admiral Janeway (even ordering Picard around!!! [Nemesis]).

    how much more girl-power does Trek need?

    i agree that the shuttle scene was mostly obsolete (even as a male i hated it, can you do it any more cheesy please? *sigh*) / could have been done differently / better, but ignoring that, she played the “damsel in distress”-part very well and believable in all the other scenes.

  • robert

    Very good read. Good points too. I hate to say it but its.a love/hate topic. Sex sells and small sex scenes and showing off sex appeal does add more ticket sales. I remember seeing monsters ball with friends before people knew about it. Through word of mouth that movie sells out on DVD and blu ray because most.people want to watch the sex scenes with Halle berry. Its a very good drama but let’s face it. It sells to a lot of people because of the hot scenes not the movie as a whole. Just a fact of life. Even though ?the scene might be pointless it catches people’s attention. Such as you don’t want to see a preview for a actionblockbuster with a skinny or overweight man taking down ?the bad guys. It would lose your interest just as a ugly woman would do ?the same. Its just ?the genre. Comic book like. A drama movie could get away with it.

    I so see your points and views. People just have to know fact from friction. Unfortunately movies in this genre such as elektra and cat woman have been disappointing at ticket sales. Males and female moviegoers in general prefer movies with strong male lead roles. This isnt necessarily my opinion. Just ?the general audience welcomes traditional movies. There can be strong female roles to connect with the male role

  • Bob

    I haven’t read the other responses, but you touched a nerve there.

    If you want to see a certain type of character in a movie, write scripts that include them. Then make sure your scripts appeal to the demographic that buys movie tickets, disks, and so on. Then make sure your script appeals to the demographic that *funds* movies.

    I’m disappointed. You are smarter than that.

  • John Green

    Yes Felicia I agree. It seems that equality in the film industry has still got a long way to go.

  • http://teamgloria.com teamgloria

    that’s why we’re sticking with Battlestar Galactica ;-)

    fighter pilots, president and some awesome aliens.

    all glorious females.

    *wavinginlosangeles* with a #BritishAccent

    _teamgloria x

  • Rusty0918

    Well, the unnecessary underwear scene is just part of it. I mean, both Carol Marcus and Uhura wear uniforms on the Enterprise that are not practical or functional – mostly meant to sexualize them. Worse is that Uhura is a lieutenant, and she has no indication of rank on her uniform (I will not buy the sick and disgusting idea that the rank is indicated on her underwear, her thong, etc. – I hear that talk on Trek BBS, and I think some people here are outright disgusting).

    Trek really doesn’t belong on the big screen. Many times, the best “art” doesn’t follow the Hollywood System or what-not. Let me give you an example – “Babylon 5,” one of the, if not THE Holy Grail of Sci-Fi TV, goes against MANY clichés, which makes it so great – J. Michael Stracynzski himself said he was no fan of the Hollywood System. Gene Roddenberry wasn’t so fond of “the system” earlier.

    Carol Marcus really wasn’t that much of a bright addition. While it may not have been the initial intention, she did come off as some cheap blonde damsel in distress in a skimpy outfit. I suggested that they add a real badass female chief of security to the Enterprise crew, one who doesn’t wear one of those goofy mini dresses.

    Now Felicia, and for the rest of you – a friend of mine and I had in mind a “Star Trek” fan-film series set in the JJVerse, 18 years after the reboot on a ship called USS Discovery. The first officer, chief engineer, chief medical officer, and chief of security are all female, and whiel they can be, as some say, “hot,” they’re not blatantly sexualized. Not to mention a vertically challenged chief science officer – someone who is abnormally short a la Verne Troyer (known as “Mini Me” from the “Austin Powers” movies), not to mention the captain having a nasty burn disfiguration on one of his cheeks from a rescue mission he went on.

  • Alicia

    I don’t know if we were watching the same movie. Uhura faced up to a Klingon patrol party in order to try to save her landing party, and helped Spock to save Kirk from getting fired on. then later in the movie, Uhura transmatted on top of a fast moving transport to interrupt a fist fight and stun gun a man for whom a stun gun has little affect, and who will kill you by crushing your skull if you let him anywhere near you. Plus Uhura asserted herself by expressing her feelings about him going into the centre of a vulcano without so much as consulting with her or saying goodbye. In addition Dr Maxwell, who is a scientist, not a combat expert attempted to disable an indestructible man, and stood up to her father, the bad guy. Those were some pretty kick ass main characters, who happened to be female.

  • http://None Melissa Graff

    Good morning! I actually disagree after seeing the movie. Well, I agree that they don’t show any female leaders in the upper ranks but I think the two females in this movie were indeed strong. They just didn’t get a lot of screen time which is kind of disappointing but also understandable in the confines of a 2 hour movie. Specifically, Carol. Carol Marcus was a strong woman without being a butt kicking Buffy type and I think that made sense. She was a science officer not a soldier. She was not combat trained but she disarmed a missile which would pretty much wreck my year if I ever had to do that. Then she stood up to her Dad in a very tense situation, THEN got teleported onto her Dad’s ship unwillingly. Thanks Dad. She was having an extremely crap week if you ask me. She tried to help when Khan went apecrap and I think he kicked her in the knee as well as punched her? I’m going to bet she was in pain and possibly bleeding internally (yes I thought a lot about this) and then the thing with her Dad. Overall, I think she behaved about as strongly as she could given the circumstances. She may never be a Buffy butt kicker but she is no damsel either. And she stripped to her skivvies. She may have just been making a strong suggestion. (just watched Vaginal Fantasy. Maybe that’s her “move.” “And here’s my underwear and awesome bod just for your future reference Kirk.”) Thanks! I just felt the need to defend Carol’s character and here’s to more gratuitous underwears scenes in the future. If I had her body, it would be bad because I’d probably run around in my undies all day and get arrested and it would be bad. Just bad. Thanks again!

  • Jun Bug

    Things get created by people’s experiences and dreams. My experiences women especially in first world countries have strong opinions but when it comes to lifting things, killing things, or taking care of something that requires LABOR me and my brothers are always stuck doing the hard work while the girls are relaxing barking orders in the shade. Yeah complain about that but not about all the crap jobs guys get stuck with. And what a guy can’t look at a hot chick while girls always get to oogle abs. The freedom of the internet has corrupted you.

  • Stefanie

    I just saw the movie today. It was fun: I think I liked it better than the last one; I could watch Benedict Cumberbatch read the Ikea catalogue; and Zachary Quinto even outspocks Nimoy sometimes. But I’ve got to jump on the bandwagon here and say that the sexism bugged me, and, in particular, for a reason I haven’t yet seen anyone mention (even you, Felicia, and I went to you first because YOU’RE AWESOME): That the infamous underwear scene takes place between a subordinate and her captain. It’s a boss taking an unabashed look at his half-naked employee. In what is essentially a military operation. That’s why it’s not OK: Because sexual assault and harrassment is a real epidemic for women in the military, and if you need any evidence that mainstream American culture creates an environment wherein that is OK, look no further than JJ Abrams and your neighborhood multiplex.

  • Becky

    I agree….read the Star trek books; a woman is president, they are admirals and we had Janeway, 7 of 9 and B’Lanna plus Troi….Crusher…..in the books…now translate that to the screen!!!!

  • Will

    “A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy. Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!”

    Hey, dont you play a “spunky lesbian” character on Supernatural? Multiple times?

    And for the record, when you asked me to describe a Disney prince in 3 words i drew a complete blank, since the princes in Disney movies have literally no personality whatsoever and exist solely as a foil for the princesses which the stories revolve around. Totally undercuts your point.

  • Will

    “Public exposure of a woman’s body is harmful to society” –a view shared exclusively by Conservative Christians, Fundamentalist Muslims, and Liberal Feminists

  • http://fortressgeekcom Tao – Fortress Geek

    Yeah, I was completely disappointed with Star Trek too in how it seems to be moving towards the ‘big blockbuster’ scenario, and less with it’s roots as a Utopian TV show.

  • Julia

    You nailed it. Disappointing to see, especially after they did such a good job on the first one. Also vaguely alarming, considering that Kirk was supposed to be her captain, and there is a rash of sexual violence against women in the us Air Force. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that the entire awkward scene was inappropriate.

  • andre

    I think you’re being overly sensitive on the subject. Your complaint that a bunch of extras sitting at a table with less than thirty seconds of dialogue followed by an action sequence where they are all shot up by a gunship sort of implies this. I could easily argue that there were actually female commanders but they were smart enough to see the obvious trap Khan had set and opted to call in sick instead of attending the meeting.

    As an above poster accurately points out, having Carol Marcus (a character with a scientific background) or Uhura (a translator) suddenly develop ass- kicking abilities would have run the risk of being over cliché and taking the movie in a bad direction.

    To draw an easy comparison, your Charlie character in supernatural was equally helpless against the forces of evil in comparison to the Winchesters and the writers of that series wisely knew that if they suddenly imbued her with amazing combat abilities in anything other than a dream sequence it would have run the risk of losing the audience.

    That’s not to say that Uhura, Marcus and even Charlie can’t develop into stronger characters, but it would require story development.

    — As an aside, if you haven’t pitched the idea of a spin off supernatural series featuring Charlie to those folks by now, you should. The Winchesters are running out of stream and Charlie is too good a character to let go to waste.—

    Additionally, I don’t think sexism was at play in the movie due to the fact that Scotty and Chekov both clearly looked like they could get their assess handed to them by the dead tribble. =)

  • Tina

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/06/14/191568762/at-the-movies-the-women-are-gone?utm_source=NPR&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130614

    Someone else noticed the dearth of strong women’s roles in film. Carole Marcus and Kirk do have a son together and he appears in Wrath of Khan, so she is significant, although the manner of introducing her was a bit contrived. The Marcus’s work appears later in The Search for Spock, as does David Marcus. Interesting that he doesn’t have Kirk’s last name.

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  • Star*Strider

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I understand it’s a prequel to the original series, that began airing in 1967. Women were all but invisible in roles other than housewives and ‘Bond Girls’ and such in the mid ’60s in the movies and TV. (The women’s movement began a couple years later.) The new movie may not have had a lot of latitude with respect to women’s roles in the context of the original series. As ‘Z3R0B4NG’ mentioned, subsequent series in the franchise had a number of strong female characters.

    Disney apparently took a number of liberties with the folk tales that a lot of the Disney cartoons and other movies are based on. (Disney then perpetuated the stereotype of women who always needed rescuing.) I wonder how the original folk tales portrayed girls and women?

    On a completely different note, _please_ keep the bangs!

  • SirHoneyBadger

    I haven’t seen either of the J. J. Abrams Star Trek films–and until now I wanted to–but I have to say that I’m also very surprised and disappointed at these kinds of blithely mysogenistic choices being made, apparently for the sake of little more than passing time between explosions.
    The sense I get from this review is the bizarre and ridiculous idea of J. J. Abrams, un-ironically, trying to live up to Michael Bay.
    We’ve gone very far Into Darkness, indeed!
    Special effects idiocy and obtuse characterization aside, the original Star Trek was nothing if not an innovative show, and it’s really sad to see such an otherwise forward-thinking director letting go of such an opportunity to make important statements, to “go boldly”; or whomever holds the rights to the Star Trek franchise allowing such an opportunity to be missed.
    This is a clear reminder of how much I continue to mourn the loss of Whedon’s Firefly series, and all it might have been. For the first time on television, we might have witnessed a future with real men and women actually living in it.
    The original Star Trek gained whatever prestige it held by looking forward to a time of equality among nations and races and genders. It posited a time when we had solved the endless problems of the human animal, and achieved that most singularly elusive and desperate opium-dream of humanity–that we might, species-wide, secretly be worthy. That–needs of survival aside–we perhaps are capable of sustained worth of character–our forbidden, most taboo fantasy of having an existence so entirely free of every last dire or petty concern, that every one of us might indulge in a life, noble and honorable, spent advancing the prosperity of our species and others: to live as we choose to, and rightly, and without consideration of compensation.
    If the continuation of the series is to have any value, whatsoever–if the idea of a ‘utopian future’ is to have any merit at all, then it should be guiding us to the idea that the future is the time when we will grow to achieve maturity, as a society and as individuals. When the exploration of space will give us the insight and objectivity to view the universe we live in with greater open-mindedness, and the knowledge that we are all members of a single species, capable of living in peace and harmony with ourselves, as well as with other, even more alien species. That, however vastly different all us humans are from one another, we all belong, we all deserve a future. That a future in which all of us can fit into, together, in peace and happiness, can even actually exist.
    It should show us that to accept anything less than such a future, can never mean living in a real Utopia.
    We now live, in many ways, fairly far into that future which the original Star Trek series showed us. It shaped our present. We need to be shown how good such a future can truly be, and we could really use some kind of direction on how to get there.
    We’ve had more than enough explosions, more than enough empty-headed bimbos, of either sex.
    As a man, and as an American citizen (one who’s proud to be both, but who also has very open eyes about the realities of both), I’m deeply troubled by the insecurities being expressed by the media, and by our society, in general.
    Why is it so threatening for a woman to be strong? To be smart, assertive, successful, and yes, sexy?
    Why is it frightening for a woman to be in charge of important decisions? To hold power?And why does it, apparently, pose a threat to so many men, and even to many women, as it surely must, and still continue to exist?
    As a married man, I’m very happy, and feel quite secure, in the fact that my wife is my highly competent partner, whom I can always count on. If my wife weren’t someone I respect, admire, and trust, then my life would be filled with problems and stress. I would think less of myself as a person. I would consider myself less of a man, for settling for someone who doesn’t offer me any support or any challenges.
    I feel confident in the woman I love, and that confidence makes me a stronger, better, and altogether happier person–and I like to think that I do the same for her. Anyone who chooses to live in a lesser relationship is missing out on many of the best things life has to offer, and either deserves what little they end up with, or at least has a great deal of growing up to do.
    Any relationship that doesn’t involve time, effort, difficulties, mistakes, and at least a little wisdom to learn from those mistakes, in more or less equal parts for everyone involved in it, is an illusion.
    The need to “save” someone (or to be saved by someone) who is incapable of acting to help themselves, and who’s existence largely revolves around their looks, and the idea that, having saved the purely ornamental princess, or having been saved by the purely ornamental prince, somehow magically life will be happy ever after, is an ignorant adolescent’s fantasy from out of the middle ages. A short-sighted, thoughtless fantasy that has no place in a utopian future, and one that we would all be well rid of.

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  • Sarah

    I really enjoyed the movie as well, possibly more than the first, or at least equally.

    I completely agree about Alice Eve’s character, Carol; she drove me up a wall. I’m sick of the gorgeous female characters with the “smarter-than-you” attitude, only to end up being the damsel in distress at the end. The stereotyping is sickening and plain boring now. I’m not saying that every gorgeous actress out there in such roles suck, but you can’t help but go into a movie with hesitancy, wondering if it’s going to be another lame role. These writers and directors are amazing, shouldn’t they be able to put a twist on this re-occuring act and give us a real, relatable character? I agree – someone perhaps more unconventionally beautiful or a tomboy could’ve made the character a bit more unique. As you said, you can have a strong female character without her being a lesbian or sexually desirable. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think all female characters should be written now as unattractive! However, if damsel-in-distress and sexual is all they are, that’s weak. As a writer, I hope to steer clear of these cliche roles for my characters and add a bit of DEPTH to them. Carol was uninteresting and predictable.

    I hoped to see more from Uhura than what was there, but it seemed the whole time she was just arguing and complaining about Spock. I enjoyed the part where she went out to speak Klingon by herself, but that was about it; I walked away wondering “where she was.”

  • Jorge

    I feel the portrayal of women in that movie was symptomatic the larger problem with the new Trek films – they demonstrate no respect for Star Trek’s vision of humanity’s progress in the future. And that’s a big problem. Star Trek is supposed to entertain AND inspire people to build a better future – cool technology and social equality are both required. I just don’t see how randomly stripping women, lens flair, and Budweiser product placement fit in Roddenberry’s inspirational vision of the future.

    The one thing that really, really bugged me though was you keep putting two spaces after your periods! We’ve had proportionally spaced fonts for decades now. Please stop using your computer like it was a typewriter! It’s indefensible. More info here – https://www.google.com/search?q=two

    • Raven

      a little persnickety, are we?

  • Jorge

    My link got cut off. Google “two spaces after period”

  • Peter

    Star Trek was loud? Score one for hearing impairment – I didn’t notice (one of the few times my disability has been a blessing)!

    When Uhura attempted to bluff the Klingons, I thought: “Finally, she gets to be more than a switchboard operator in space!” (Cue: Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine). Use her language and cultural skills! That’s what a communications officer should be good at! That lasted a couple of seconds before (1) the bluff failed, for no particularly good reason (2) they all got rescued by the super-villain. What a disappointment. A great opportunity for narrative complexity and girl power dumped – just like that!

    I understand that, with all the plot twists, they couldn’t focus on too many characters (I liked that almost all of the main ones got some time in the limelight), but I wish they’d given a little more attention to the two significant female characters.

    Considering the subtlety of some of JJ’s other work, such as Fringe, I was surprised and disappointed by the simplistic treatment of women in STID.

    By contrast, something like Red Dwarf, where the core cast has usually been all-male, uses this to comedy effect, because they have little clue about attitudes and skills of the other half of the human race, much less non-humans.

    I know that JJ can do better. I hope that he can find a way to incorporate better depictions of women in the confines of blockbusters such as Star Trek. It was my main beef with what was otherwise an excellent movie.

    Love your work, Felicia! I’ll have to read more of your blogs, since I can read at my own pace and not worry about missing any of your incisive comments due to my hearing loss. (However, I still enjoy your delightful voice!)

  • Jesse

    Totally spot on, Felicia! What you’re describing with Star Trek has been a major problem with many blockbuster movies. It’s pretty crappy that a franchise that gave us characters like Major Kira and Captain Janeway almost completely fails to have decent female characters in the latest iteration. Zachary Quinto is awesome, though!

  • keyzer23

    man rules and womens cooks sou please stop acting and start to cooking like martha stewart …….is your destiny

  • David

    Wait, the reason this issue is a problem is because movies are more interesting and entertaining when great female and male characters enact a dramatic story. Full stop. I hope don’t ask movies to also transform society.

    “…this stuff is what prevents women from being as interested in math, or business people or tech etc. Where are the examples of women in media to strive for, to make that stuff seem possible?”

    In Russia, Hungary, India women are able to overcome the supposed brainwashing by Big Media. Those countries are producing stellar female chess champions, software designers even though they consume a LOT of American TV and movies. (Kids with good taste also watch our best products, like The Guild & Dr. Horrible.)

    As brilliant and talented as she is, it sounds like Felicia’s conclusion is that if we change the stories and characters in mainstream media, we will change women’s career choices. Isn’t that a tragic idea? I hope girls today aren’t so weak-minded that they are avoiding math and science because of their favorite shows and movies.

  • http://rorke.deviantart.com/ Rorry

    Mainstream Hollywood movies these days are pretty pointless to go to anymore. They wonder why ticket sales are drastically dropping. Its because they are creating the same overly sexualized- cluster f*ck type scripts with the same damn characters and diluted dialogue over and over again. Then expect us to pay up to 15$ a ticket to see basically the same fracking movie over and over again.

    Me- as a 27 year old female have a hard time justifying parting with the equivalent of almost 1 and 1/2 hours of my pay to go see a movie that doesn’t connect with me in any way shape or form. I grew up with strong female star trek characters like Guinan – Doctor Beverly Crusher – Counselor Deanna Troi – Captain Kathryn Janeway – B’Elanna Torres – 6 of 9- and Kes. I fell in love with StarTrek as a young girl because these strong female roles gave me a visual future that I could positively respond to. I thought that-that was where females were headed in the media and instead they drop us back into the 1950s where our role should be left in the kitchen with short skirts and teary eyes as our male counter parts go battle the bad guys. I say screw you Hollywood!! Star Trek had evolved into something that stood for equality – peace – the love of science and exploration and the general wellbeing of all living creatures in this universe. Just because you’re making a remake does not mean that you should alienate a huge portion of the overall StarTrek fan base that came after the original series.
    Anyways, Me and mine have been boycotting big theaters because it simply has not been worth it for the last 5 years. The minute that they start catering to an intelligent population with characters that are “real” is the day they’ll start making some money again. …But in this economy and the total lack of skilled job options out there for men and women alike who can afford to go anyways?

  • Anne

    Personally, I think it is about men walk around shirtless for the amusement of women. But I kind of think its odd that she just noticed these things. Well, better late than never. If you want strong women, then write for them. But don’t bitch that you don’t see them if you won’t write for them.

    You don’t need to look to TV for sexism, just look to real life, it is all around you. I grew up in a household of men and it is just the way they see things. They don’t see treating women differently as a problem.

  • Raven

    Felicia, I agree – and you are not imagining that there is an incredible imbalance in the mainstream film industry’s ‘main characters’ genders…I personally find, for the most part, films with only male main characters pretty boring pretty quickly. (Though I loved ‘The Hobbit’…) Hollywood is, I think, getting lazy again. For awhile there a number of good movies were being made, many of them starring strong female leads. It seems to have suddenly tapered off. What could they be thinking?

    Sorry, I don’t have any comments about the Star Trek movie…due to its mostly male cast I stopped ‘watching’. I know that is genderist. But, like I said, for me it gets boring without some smart, strong women.

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  • Pam

    Someone may have said this previously as I did not read all of the comments but: Star Trek: Voyager. Female captain. Loved it. It was my “obsession” when I was a kid and lived in Hawaii. But that was also from back in the ’90s.

    And you are right, Felicia, about there not being many movies around a strong female leading character. Perhaps you could change that? Write a story, a movie, even another web series? I know I would definitely go and see it. Heck, maybe you could even write something Trekie?

    Although there is Hunger Games but as I remember you weren’t too big a fan of those books.

  • Eric

    I can totally see your point. The sad fact is that people on average supposedly don’t want to see average or ugly looking people in media.

    We have media moguls making all these decisions as to what we see in movies, television, concerts, magazines, newspapers.

    Make your own movies that show the images you want to see. If its merely a strong role, then you’d probably be fine, but if you want the challenge of portraying unattractive, you’d have to work at that or get someone else to play the role!

  • Clark

    Absolutely true! Mitigated only by the fact that the original star trek was somewhat sexist itself. Mainly because it was made in the 60′s. If we can sacrifice Vulcan though, we can and should make way for meaningful, complex, female characters.

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