The Trek BBS

The Trek BBS (http://www.trekbbs.com/index.php)
-   Star Trek - Original Series (http://www.trekbbs.com/forumdisplay.php?f=38)
-   -   A thought about Turnabout Intruder (http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=176284)

Mr_Homn May 17 2012 05:07 AM

A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Turnabout Intruder is known today as one of the more embarrassing episodes due to what many would call its very sexist subject matter.

I'm not making this thread to argue whether Turnabout Intruder was sexist or not, or even if it was a good or bad episode.

I just want to take a second to try and look at Turnabout Intruder, and it's context in the series as a whole, in a different mindset.

Disclaimer: It is obvious that the following was not the thought process behind the episode in question, but it's a somewhat creative way of retconning it to be a little less offensive to women. THIS THREAD IS FOR SHITS AND GIGGLES. IF YOU HATE RETCONNING FOR LAUGHS, STOP READING NOW.

I do not view Kirk as a sexist, given the time period the show was created. If the same show was created today, with the exact same writing, I would call kirk a sexist, much like Don Draper from MadMen (sometimes I like to think of Star Trek TOS as "Madmen in space") However, Knowing that this was a 60s television show, I would not label Kirk as a sexist, because honestly, men didn't know any better back then.

Ok. Disclaimer out of the way.



Let's try to look upon the series from the mindset of a modern person, perhaps a young woman, seeing it for the first time.

So, we have Captain James T Kirk. Hero of the Galaxy, Champion of Humanity, Bravest Soul to ever soar through the stars. His main flaw: He's a sexist pig! There's more than enough evidence to at least HINT that Kirk has some slightly demeaning thoughts toward women, in the eyes of a first time viewer. Fair enough, Right? If we were to compile a list of Captain Kirk's flaws, that would be near the top. (from a soley 21st century perspective)

What if we look at Turnabout Intruder as Kirk's comeuppance? He's going to learn his final lesson: What it's like to be treated when you are a women.... How much harder it is to be treated equally as a woman. Maybe now that he's been a woman, he can understand the error of his way in treating them the way he *sometimes* has in the past. Is this the final lesson he has to learn to complete his arc?

I dunno, it's just a fun idea. I know it's silly but i'm bored. If anyone wants to run with it and elaborate, or tear down my stupid little idea, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Christopher May 17 2012 05:22 AM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
I don't think it works to read the episode that way, because it goes out of its way to treat Janice as incompetent at being a starship captain, prone to irrational, "hysterical" behavior and losing the loyalty of the crew, while Kirk in Janice's body remains strong and capable and wins the respect of the crew. True, it's nominally because Janice is insane, but there's a strong undercurrent that Janice is insane because she wants to fill a traditionally male role rather than being happy with a traditionally female one.

I don't think TI overtly portrays Kirk as sexist. Janice is the one who claims that the "world of starship captains doesn't admit women," and Kirk agrees that's unfair. The problem is that the mentality behind the overall writing is sexist. Kirk in this episode is as fair and respectful toward women as he could possibly be in a script written with sexist assumptions underlying it. Nor do I think he was sexist in the series as a whole, given the same qualifier.

And he doesn't learn any lessons in TI, except that his hopes of redeeming Janice were futile. At the end, he laments that she never learned her lesson: "Her life could have been as rich as any woman's, if only..." (I.e. if only she had accepted her place as a woman.)

Mr. Laser Beam May 17 2012 05:25 AM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 6353995)
Janice is the one who claims that the "world of starship captains doesn't admit women," and Kirk agrees that's unfair.

Actually she says to Kirk "YOUR world of starship captains doesn't admit women." Not "THE world."

Given how coocoo she is, I took that as a direct insult against Kirk himself, i.e. how he is so obsessed with his ship that he can't have a normal romantic life.

Mr_Homn May 17 2012 05:31 AM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
]
Quote:

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: (Post 6354007)
Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 6353995)
Janice is the one who claims that the "world of starship captains doesn't admit women," and Kirk agrees that's unfair.

Actually she says to Kirk "YOUR world of starship captains doesn't admit women." Not "THE world."

Given how coocoo she is, I took that as a direct insult against Kirk himself, i.e. how he is so obsessed with his ship that he can't have a normal romantic life.

great catch, replacing "THE" with"YOUR" changes the meaning of the line entirely.

Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 6353995)
And he doesn't learn any lessons in TI, except that his hopes of redeeming Janice were futile. At the end, he laments that she never learned her lesson: "Her life could have been as rich as any woman's, if only..." (I.e. if only she had accepted her place as a woman.)


I think it's more like

"Her life could have been as rich as any woman's, if only... (If only she wasn't batshit insane)


For what it's worth, Christopher, other than that, I think you are right, but I'm just trying to generate some discussion to view this episode in a slightly different light, so maybe some people can find it slightly more enjoyable. If I inspire one person to rewatch the episode and try and look at it in a different light, then this thread is a success!

For the record, I think it's a shit episode and not one I frequently revisit, but that's not really the point of this thread.

Knight Templar May 17 2012 01:51 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 6353995)
I don't think it works to read the episode that way, because it goes out of its way to treat Janice as incompetent at being a starship captain, prone to irrational, "hysterical" behavior and losing the loyalty of the crew, while Kirk in Janice's body remains strong and capable and wins the respect of the crew. True, it's nominally because Janice is insane, but there's a strong undercurrent that Janice is insane because she wants to fill a traditionally male role rather than being happy with a traditionally female one.

.)

I've seen that episode dozens of times and I never got that idea at all though I've heard vast numbers of people talk about how "sexist" it is.

Come on. Lester is a person (not just a woman) who we learn in the dialogue apparently sent an entire research team (we're not told how many people) to slow lingering death by radiation poisoning just to cover her body switch with Kirk.

And she was fully prepared to execute a big part of the Enterprise command staff to advance her agenda as well.

Why are we supposed to take the ravings of a mass murderer about Starfleet sexual discrimination seriously.? As for Kirk agreeing with "her". Probably just humoring a bat crazy person.

Christopher May 17 2012 02:18 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
^Yes, that's the text, but as I said, there's a subtextual implication that Lester is crazy because she aspires to rise beyond traditional gender roles. Her behavior while she possesses Kirk is textbook "hysteria," a longstanding stereotype of female behavior. It's fortunate for modern viewers that it is possible to read the text in a way that dismisses Lester's behavior and beliefs as simple insanity, but evaluating the story critically and with an eye toward its cultural context suggests that the author's intent was not so gender-neutral, that there's an underlying message of "women should know their place."

Knight Templar May 17 2012 02:20 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 6355045)
^Yes, that's the text, but as I said, there's a subtextual implication that Lester is crazy because she aspires to rise beyond traditional gender roles. Her behavior while she possesses Kirk is textbook "hysteria," a longstanding stereotype of female behavior. It's fortunate for modern viewers that it is possible to read the text in a way that dismisses Lester's behavior and beliefs as simple insanity, but evaluating the story critically and with an eye toward its cultural context suggests that the author's intent was not so gender-neutral, that there's an underlying message of "women should know their place."

I never got that idea. Though I personally do not like women serving in the military that would be a TNZ thread no doubt.

Mr. Laser Beam May 17 2012 04:56 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
The simple fact is, Lester is obviously insane. Not just because of 'hysteria', but flat out insanity. A kind of insanity that a man OR a woman could have. Thus, we cannot take anything she says seriously. She's not insane because she wants to rise above gender roles, she's insane...simply because she's NUTS! Not everything has to have a reason.

I mean, come on. In this utopia that Gene was trying to create, does anyone really think he'd let something like this slide?

Side note: Trivia...
"You know I love you, baby, but you've got to lose about six inches off that ass." :guffaw:

Redfern May 17 2012 05:10 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Quote:

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: (Post 6355789)
I mean, come on. In this utopia that Gene was trying to create, does anyone really think he'd let something like this slide?

Actually, yes, for a couple of reasons. Roddenberry (by today's standards) was a serious womanizer, using the "casting couch" to full effect, so I doubt he would have seen anything wrong with the subtext. Also, the lecture circuits wouldn't start for another few years, so he had not yet begun to believe his own "hype" about Trek being a "philosophy of the future". Finally, Roddenberry had turned over the day to day production duties to Fred Friedberger and had little involvement with the production during the third season.

Sincerely,

Bill

Christopher May 17 2012 06:09 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Quote:

Redfern wrote: (Post 6355885)
Actually, yes, for a couple of reasons. Roddenberry (by today's standards) was a serious womanizer, using the "casting couch" to full effect, so I doubt he would have seen anything wrong with the subtext.

Well, being a womanizer isn't necessarily being sexist. I have the impression that Roddenberry was a charismatic man that women were eagerly attracted to, so it's not like he was victimizing anyone. Kirk was often portrayed as a character that got a lot of aggressive attention from women and just tended to go along with what they wanted. So I tend to figure that was something of a self-portrait on Roddenberry's part.

Although, granted, what would constitute being respectful toward women in the 1960s would look rather more chauvinistic to modern eyes.


Quote:

Finally, Roddenberry had turned over the day to day production duties to Fred Friedberger and had little involvement with the production during the third season.
But he did write the story outline to "Turnabout Intruder," which was mostly the same as what was scripted, and had a tag that was even worse:

http://www.fastcopyinc.com/orionpres...t_intruder.htm
Quote:

The outline calls for an epilogue on the bridge. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy have beamed up from the starbase, and Kirk is in a huffy mood.

From the outline:

Enterprise in orbit around our Starfleet Base planet. Kirk, Spock and McCoy arrive on the bridge, having delivered Janice and Coleman to the authorities below. Kirk is definitely irritated...some comment the Starfleet Base Commodore made when Kirk was complimenting the Commodore's wife on the style of her dress. What did the Commodore's joke mean about Kirk's interest in female fashion? As Kirk takes his position in the command chair, he starts to give an order and some small attitude comes out slightly feminine. McCoy moves in with Spock to assure Kirk that such "lapses" have nothing to do with masculinity. During the period Janice controlled his body, certain habit patterns were formed in the brain synapse nerve connections and these must be relearned. While McCoy is sympathetic, Spock's Vulcan nature has him starting to say that it is highly illogical that Kirk be troubled by such small things. McCoy takes Kirk's side... Spock retorts... McCoy counters... and the argument shifts between those two. Meanwhile, a very pretty young female YEOMAN enters for duty, reporting to Kirk that the Starfleet base below has just assigned her to fill a Yeoman vacancy. Kirk looks her over for a long moment...very approvingly. Then he cuts into the argument between Spock and McCoy with the statement that he really isn't too concerned. He looks at the lovely young female Yeoman again... yes, for some reason, his concern about himself has entirely disappeared. Take her out of orbit, Sulu and Chekov. Ahead warp factor one.

MacLeod May 17 2012 06:19 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Quote:

Knight Templar wrote: (Post 6355051)
Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 6355045)
^Yes, that's the text, but as I said, there's a subtextual implication that Lester is crazy because she aspires to rise beyond traditional gender roles. Her behavior while she possesses Kirk is textbook "hysteria," a longstanding stereotype of female behavior. It's fortunate for modern viewers that it is possible to read the text in a way that dismisses Lester's behavior and beliefs as simple insanity, but evaluating the story critically and with an eye toward its cultural context suggests that the author's intent was not so gender-neutral, that there's an underlying message of "women should know their place."

I never got that idea. Though I personally do not like women serving in the military that would be a TNZ thread no doubt.

See I'm the opposite, I don't see any reason why women shouldn't serve on the front line if they wish too. To say they can not or should not does them a diservice, equality means equal treatment.

But back the episode at hand, Krik's line could mean any number of things. Is it not best to try and look for a positive slant on it, If only she wasn't mentally ill. Aside from a few scenes in "The Menagerie" we did see a women with the position of First Officer, it's fair to think that if they can get to First Officer they can get to Captain.

T'Bonz May 17 2012 06:27 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
I have to agree with Christopher. When I first watched this, around 1972-73, there was very much a "girls/women can't/shouldn't do this/that."

It was very discouraging, because often there was no good reason for the "rules." In my case, I wanted to play Little League. "Oh you can play SOFTBALL, but girls can't play baseball!" Me: "Why the hell NOT?" (To this day, I hate softball. Wouldn't play it.)

So watching that episode and Lester's frustration at being held back due to her sex was very familiar, and sad.

And this:

Quote:

And he doesn't learn any lessons in TI, except that his hopes of redeeming Janice were futile. At the end, he laments that she never learned her lesson: "Her life could have been as rich as any woman's, if only..." (I.e. if only she had accepted her place as a woman.)
says it all. Even the progressive Captain Kirk thought women should keep their place.

Unlike most, I like the TI episode. It's a shame that they made Lester murderous and seemingly crazy, but as a woman raised in the 1960s/1970s, I certainly personally understand her frustration with the "boys only" system. It sucked.

Quote:

Knight Templar wrote: (Post 6355051)
Quote:

Christopher wrote: (Post 6355045)
^Yes, that's the text, but as I said, there's a subtextual implication that Lester is crazy because she aspires to rise beyond traditional gender roles. Her behavior while she possesses Kirk is textbook "hysteria," a longstanding stereotype of female behavior. It's fortunate for modern viewers that it is possible to read the text in a way that dismisses Lester's behavior and beliefs as simple insanity, but evaluating the story critically and with an eye toward its cultural context suggests that the author's intent was not so gender-neutral, that there's an underlying message of "women should know their place."

I never got that idea. Though I personally do not like women serving in the military that would be a TNZ thread no doubt.


T'Girl May 17 2012 06:44 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Quote:

MacLeod wrote: (Post 6356284)
I don't see any reason why women shouldn't serve on the front line if they wish too.

But that would give women an ability that male troops do not enjoy, simply because they are female. So women would be treated differently, because we are fluffy little weak things.

:)

JimZipCode May 17 2012 06:53 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
I wrote an extended, well, defense of this episode in the comments on the OnionAV Club, when they reviewed it. Maybe "analysis" is a better word than "defense". I'll see if I can find it.

Bottom line: I think this episode is awesome, possibly among my top-ten best TOS episodes. Criticizing it for "sexism" has always seemed short-sighted to me.

If I find that old comment, I'll post it in the thread.

22 Stars May 17 2012 06:55 PM

Re: A thought about Turnabout Intruder
 
Did someone just say... fluffy....


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 04:23 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.