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Star Trek Movies XI+ Discuss J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek here.

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Old June 17 2013, 02:16 PM   #271
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

An excerpt from interesting review I came across:

M Kearns wrote:
Yes, I am a Trekkie. I’ve been a huge fan of Star Trek ever since I was a kid. The camaraderie of Star Trek: The Original Series, the intellectual and moral conundrums on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the political intrigue and exploration of social issues on Deep Space 9 -- I love them all.

I really enjoyed JJ Abrams’ Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Both are fun, gripping movies paying homage to the original series. While I enjoy the nostalgia and revisiting these characters, I can’t ignore Star Trek Into Darkness’ vacillating depiction of empowerment and sexism.

In the 60s original TV series, Lieutenant Uhura was a ground-breaking role. It was one of the first time audiences saw a black woman on TV who wasn’t a maid or a servant. She was also part of the first interracial kiss on TV, although that always bothers me as it was against her wishes due to mind control. Uhura’s occupation as the Enterprise’s Communications Officer inspired women (Dr. Mae Jamison, Sally Ride) and African-Americans (Dr. Mae Jamison, Guion Bluford) to become astronauts. We can’t be what we can’t see, one of the reasons media impacts our lives so deeply.

Yet the original Star Trek didn’t exactly delve deeply into Lt. Uhura’s personality. However, we can glean a few things about the Communications Officer. Adept at languages, she was ambitious, climbing through ranks to eventually become a Commander. She enjoyed music and loved to play instruments and sing. She doesn’t really have a tangible persona, not compared to roguish and rebellious Kirk, rational and logical Spock or emotional, metaphor-spewing Bones. So it’s great to see the extremely talented Zoe Saldana -- who I will seriously watch in anything -- imbue the iconic character with more complexity and depth as an opinionated and assertive woman.

In the original series, Kirk, Spock and McCoy form the central trio. But in Star Trek Into Darkness, Uhura replaces McCoy so now there’s a woman of color in the triad. A lady broke through the boys’ club barrier!! But won’t her ladyparts contaminate the brotastic bond??

Is Uhura in Star Trek Into Darkness a strong-willed, intelligent, assertive badass? Or merely relegated to the role of a dude’s girlfriend? She’s both.

Uhura and Spock share an effortless chemistry. As we saw in the first Star Trek film, despite their difference in rank, they appear to be equals in their romantic relationship. Uhura possesses agency, despite her romantic involvement. She’s the one who demands Kirk let her negotiate with the Klingons rather than shooting first. She’s the one who insists on being beamed down to help Spock in the film's climax. No one is making decisions for her. She’s making them. She’s not afraid to voice her opinion. When she’s pissed at Spock, thinking he held little regard for his life, she’s unafraid to confront him even though Kirk, her boss, is present.

Part of me loves that Uhura, a black woman, is the one in the romance. Too often we see white women play out that plot. Black women often remain on the sidelines as the feisty sidekicks, giving their white friends advice on love. Lucy Liu recently lamented about racist stereotypes in Hollywood, how people don’t think of her in a romantic comedy. While not a rom-com, it’s great to see a woman of color get the guy.

But it pisses off another part of me that Uhura’s role in Star Trek Into Darkness is ultimately defined by her relationship to a man, even though that relationship often takes “a back seat to the bromance between Spock and Kirk.” Uhura’s role as girlfriend exists to convey Spock’s humanity. Uhura is upset at Spock that he seems so cavalier in a life-threatening situation, not giving their relationship a second thought. He assures her that he cares deeply but doesn't want to endure the anguish of fear. They have a genuine conflict that I wish had been explored more. In the emotional climax, Spock loses control of his emotions due to his feelings for Kirk, not Uhura. Again it feels like it's all about a dude. […]
http://www.btchflcks.com/2013/05/doe...-darkness.html

Well, obviously I think Ms. Kearns makes some great points here because some of these things I’ve noticed myself and said myself. Unfortunately, I have to agree that it is all about a dude, or 2 dudes rather, and that’s sad.

A team movie would be nice where Spock and Uhura both have their moments to shine individually and as a couple (as well as the rest of the team), but that’s not what TOS is about, and I think that’s the problem. I've read where someone said that they didn't think this was possible, but it was done in the 2009 film, so I think it is.

Even though this is supposed to be an updated version of Star Trek based on TOS, some people aren’t going to be happy with that, and I think they are the ones that are winning out if STID is anything to go by.

Here's an excerpt from a blog I came across while I've been doing more reading up on opinions about STID and its treatment of women:

amptoons blog wrote:
I’m seeing a lot about the sexism in Star Trek, Into Darkness. Mostly about the gratuitous scene of Carol Marcus stripping. And I agree, that was annoying and sexist and just plain cheesy and really badly written, to boot.

But what really bothered me was the utter failure of this movie to pass the Bechdel test, either literally or in spirit. This is a vision of the future in which men are in charge and women are present only in token numbers. In the sequence featuring a room full of command Star Fleet staff, I don’t recall seeing one woman; certainly, women weren’t half the people in the room, as they should have been.
Someone in the comments section points out that there was a woman or two there, but I can understand why she didn’t see them. This film goes by pretty fast, and it’s like the S/U bits I’ve been told are there if you look hard enough. It’s like either you need a heads up to bring binoculars for some of this stuff, or just see the movie multiple times and squint. Whatever floats your boat.

One of the commentators on the blog said something that really resonates, at least to me:

But could it be that the people making the movie were not trying to depict the future, but rather trying to depict the future AS IMAGINED IN 1966? Much as Disney’s Space Mountain is no longer a depiction of the future, but a depiction of the future as imagined by the past.
http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2013/05...niverse-spock/

I think the answer to this question is, quite possibly, yes. There’s some debate about this question in the comments there, but I think the point is that what was done in the 60s was progressive for the 1960’s, but not so much so today. By today’s standards, some of that “forward thinking” is actually a few steps back. I think that’s where a lot of the complaints I’ve read are coming from. I mean, DS9 came out 20 years ago, and it did a better job with women and diversity “in the future” than STID, which came out a month ago. Far better! But, that’s just my humble opinion.
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Old June 17 2013, 03:41 PM   #272
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

In reality I probably don't want to see a Star Trek movie pass the Bechdel test.

I don't want to see two random named women talking on the screen unless its important to the plot and doesn't take significant screen time from my heroes.

I also don't want to see Spock and Uhura or Kirk and Marcus or Marcus and McCoy or whoever talk about their love for each other. That's not what Star Trek is about to me.

Romance should be in the background. I'm starting to get twitchy about Spock and Uhura already. All I can say is I was glad they were on missions when talking about their 'relationship'.
Enough already
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Old June 17 2013, 03:59 PM   #273
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
JarodRussell wrote: View Post
What you listed above is basically the technobabble version of character development. When you show that quote to someone who doesn't know Star Trek, you'll get a "what the hell do I care" reaction. That she teached xenolinguistics or developed universal translator algorithms or that she is fluent in three languages is just background information noise, you could replace it with something else and it wouldn't add or take away anything. What matters is what they do, and what they do isn't much.
When they are not acting as damsel in distress, they are the love interest, and when they are supposed to be strong women, they run around in skintight catsuits or miniskirts.
What relevance does it have that we've chosen to use Star Trek terminology on a Star Trek forum? Where is the technobabble in being an expert in foreign languages, speaking a great deal of them, having the knowledge and expertise to train or tune a complicated translation computer program, being a critical translator in diplomatic missions under extreme stress and overcoming one's own fears in face of great danger? A non-Trek fan can understand that just fine me thinks. People have the remarkable ability to catch what's happening on screen outside of explicit dialogue and images of legs, boobs, muscles and bloodshed. That's a dishonest way to dismiss the accomplishments of the characters. Why do you wish to ignore everything they've actually done?
TOS had a habit of bigging up the women as highly qualified and then using them as sex objects e.g. Ann Mulhall, Carolyn Palamas, Christine Chapel, Marlena Moreau etc. Uhura really stands out, Charlene Masterson was pretty cool, Helen Noel walks the line, and most of the yeomen don't even pretend to be highly qualified. I do have a soft spot for Miranda Jones though - far more interesting than a Betazoid and she managed to resist Kirk's charm.
Alone among the shows DS9 resisted this-Kira was tough as nails and knew what end of a phaser to use, Dax was sexy but competent, Keiko was a wife and mommy, but made herself useful by being a teacher, Kai Opaka was as wise as can get, Winn Adami was strong willed even though she was an evil B-type witch, Ezri was amazing when she needed to be, etc. I'd say that what went on in DS9 and Voyager more than made up for what defecncies the previous two series had vis-a-vis the ladies, although I don't know if they would pass the Bechdel test all of the time.
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Old June 17 2013, 04:18 PM   #274
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
I don't want to see two random named women talking on the screen unless its important to the plot and doesn't take significant screen time from my heroes.
Why can't the women BE the heroes?

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
I also don't want to see Spock and Uhura or Kirk and Marcus or Marcus and McCoy or whoever talk about their love for each other. That's not what Star Trek is about to me.
To me, that overt touchy-feely stuff is wildly unprofessional. If they're gonna have a workplace romance, keep it on the down-low and only have personal scenes in their quarters. You don't have goo-goo eyes, kissing helmets, and lover's spats right in the open like that.
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Old June 17 2013, 04:24 PM   #275
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

mos6507 wrote: View Post
Why can't the women BE the heroes?
Because Kirk and Spock are. Duh.

Not that I have a problem with them recasting one of those guys as a woman in the next reboot. Worked for nuBSG.
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Old June 17 2013, 06:01 PM   #276
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

The movie is exactly what the makers intended--AS IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE. Vote with your wallet and make your complaints, but do not argue that any artistic endeavour has an obligation to satisfy The Committee for the Way Things Ought to Be.

I don't actually mind the criticisms of the film for some of the less enlightened elements in it (I share some of those views, I don't share others but I understand why the criticisms are there). But I absolutely abhor the idea that we, as the audience for any artistic endeavour, are in any way whatsoever entitled to be satisfied regarding our wishes. That flies in the face of making art. The artist makes it, puts it out for public consumption, and then faces the praise or criticism it generates. The artist is not entitled to an exemption from criticism and the audience is not entitled to satisfaction of its expectations. Don't like it? Don't watch it again. Don't buy the merchandise. Don't suggest it to your friends. Tell people you think it sucks. But don't act as if you are entitled to be satisfied by an artistic production. That's the height of self-centred arrogance and a serious overreach.
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Old June 17 2013, 06:36 PM   #277
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Clancy_s wrote: View Post
Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
Cupcake is NOT a fascinating character, male OR female. Ergo, switching the gender makes no difference whatsoever.
Not to his lines, but IMO it does to his actions and thus to his role in the story - he needs to be very physically formidable. You could come up with a female character that was but she'd be much further from the norm, for that I'd want some backstory, in a film that had little room for character development. I'd rather they gave Carol more to do.
That's exactly my point. Simply switching the gender of a particular character just for the sake of having a female character doesn't add anything to the movie at all. Cupcake could be an android and still have the same role in the story.

I'm one of the few who preferred the original BGA - as I saw him malcontent and high-functioning alcoholic with a severely overclocked libidoalso applied to the male version of Starbuck.
True as that is, the male version never flew a viper drunk, never made a pass at his wingman and -- more importantly -- never slept with Baltar.
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Old June 17 2013, 07:06 PM   #278
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

mos6507 wrote: View Post
CommishSleer wrote: View Post
I don't want to see two random named women talking on the screen unless its important to the plot and doesn't take significant screen time from my heroes.
Why can't the women BE the heroes?

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
I also don't want to see Spock and Uhura or Kirk and Marcus or Marcus and McCoy or whoever talk about their love for each other. That's not what Star Trek is about to me.
To me, that overt touchy-feely stuff is wildly unprofessional. If they're gonna have a workplace romance, keep it on the down-low and only have personal scenes in their quarters. You don't have goo-goo eyes, kissing helmets, and lover's spats right in the open like that.
This pretty much covers it. I think it's fine for women to be the the heroes as long as it fits in the plot. And two women can save the day if that's what the plot dictates and it's best if the plot naturally leads to that conclusion.

The touchy feely stuff should indeed never take place while they're on duty, although the scene in the turbolift was important and well done in the first movie. Even Rodenberry, who wasn't exactly a raging feminist, thought they went too far when Kirk hugged Rand on the bridge at a time of crisis and that is waaaay more subtle than the snogging and histrionics we see in NuTrek.

One of the scenes I'm writing in the final part of my Star Trek comic features a female security chief talking tactics with Ann Mulhall and Janice Rand. I didn't do it deliberately - those are just the three characters whose skill sets were required for that scene. That's the way it should be IMO, albeit subject to the fact that in an action movie the principal heroes, whether male or female will be artificially forced into as many scenes as possible.

Too may Hollywood movies take this to stupid extremes though, like the movie 2012 where our civilian hero runs through the whole ship to help fix a problem instead of, maybe, one or more of the qualified military personnel who are on duty right where the problem has occurred. If you want you hero to save the day, put them where they need to be to do that, don't stretch credibility to breaking point.

Chekov becoming chief engineer and Uhura beaming down to save Spock during the finale were two such stupid scenes. Uhura is an officer, a linguist, and a technician. I want her to do technical stuff and if, in her capacity as an officer she gets in on the action then that's really good. With a ship full of 50+ security guards, you put Uhura in charge of a team, you don't send her down instead of one.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
That's exactly my point. Simply switching the gender of a particular character just for the sake of having a female character doesn't add anything to the movie at all. Cupcake could be an android and still have the same role in the story.
But that's exactly MY point. Why is having a male character 'just for the sake' of having a male character any better or worse than having a female character in this scenario? It's the blinkered, one=way approach to which I object.

I'm one of the few who preferred the original BGA - as I saw him malcontent and high-functioning alcoholic with a severely overclocked libidoalso applied to the male version of Starbuck.
True as that is, the male version never flew a viper drunk, never made a pass at his wingman and -- more importantly -- never slept with Baltar.
Those are all plot-specific issues unrelated to gender. The original Colonel Tigh wasn't a racist alcoholic either. Just don't single out NuStarbuck because she's now a woman.
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Old June 17 2013, 07:10 PM   #279
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
I'm advocating BOTH quality and quantity. We should have both.
And if JJ Abrams had 79 episodes and three two-hour specials to develop his version of Star Trek, that would be attainable.

But he doesn't. He has just under two hours in which to develop a coherent storyline that must progress at least as much as the characters within it. In this context it really IS a choice between quantity or quality: you can't have both, EXCEPT at the expense of one of the male characters (which has already sort of been happening with McCoy).

And the fact that you've jumped into sexualising the female characters so readily is symptomatic of the problem. It is possible to have two women on screen even if they aren't in bed together...
Of course it is. Just not NECESSARY if raising quantity is acceptable. And again, in a two hour movie, you really can't do both.

The better option is to lean on the already fantastic performances by Zoe Saldana and Alice Eve and their already excellent familiarity with their own characters and backgrounds. That gives you two very high quality female leads opposite two very high quality male ones (Kirk and Spock), and then Chekov, McCoy, Scotty and Sulu as ancillary characters.

IOW, instead of whining about how few female characters are present in the room, your lack of recognition for Uhura's having finally been promoted to a LEADING character and the introduction of Carol Marcus means you are entirely missing the point.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
Cupcake is NOT a fascinating character, male OR female. Ergo, switching the gender makes no difference whatsoever.
That's part of my point. If it makes no difference then half of cupcake type characters might as well be female. There's no genuine reason not to do it.
There's no genuine reason TO do it. It simply makes no difference one way or the other.

LOL. Ok, now you are really giving away your true colours. Starbuck really didn't have that much sex throughout the series
Please. She got more action than almost anyone on the ship, with the possible exception of Baltar, who only counts if you include his imaginary friends.

I note your comment above: "There's no genuine reason not to." Did it never occur to you that somebody in RDM's staff probably said the same thing about the idea of Starbuck bed-hopping with Leobon on the Demetrius? By that time, the running "I solve all my problems by fucking them" trope had been more than played out and it just wasn't that interesting anymore; as was the case with Carol Marcus AND Uhura, there's a STRONG tradition among sci-fi writers that says female characters get more interesting when they take their clothes off.

Don't believe me? Read "The Mote in God's Eye" and pay close attention to the female characters. For the most part, fully developed and self-actualized, there just aren't that many of them. Then go read "The Gripping Hand" and immediately notice the difference: the number of female characters actually doubles specifically to create situations where naked teenaged girls can be groped by aliens.

This from Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell.

To put it bluntly, Pauln, if you think that male science fiction writers are mature enough to handle gender issues responsibly, you're simply lying to yourself. The main reason Carol Marcus and Nyota Uhura are as interesting as they are is because Zoe Saldana and Alice Eve as STUPENDOUS actresses and it's easier to give them more screen time in a way that looks credible. Therefore, the most we can and should hope for is some more brainy and heroic Uhura/Marcus action in the pattern already set; gratuitous partial nudity notwithstanding, so far Star Trek has done everything right in that regard.

The fact that you've lumped in a sexualy active woman with a prostitute while Kirk gets the thumbs up
Did I give Kirk a thumbs up as a "ladeez man" or are you projecting?

And actually, Cassiopeia only had sex with one man in the original series and she didn't even charge.
Which makes it totally okay.

The rape scenes were intended to be troubling.
Actually, they were meant to really grab the attention of a predominantly male audience. If they were intended to be TROUBLING, Tyrol and Helo would have gotten raped in the Pegasus' brig instead of just beaten with bars of soap.

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
I wonder how they managed to source so many actresses?
Filming in the U.K.. Why do you suppose the ended up casting Alice Eve as Carol Marcus?
Well now if you are suggesting that UK dramas have a better record at casting more women, and older women, in more prominent roles, then I agree but only slightly.
Well that, but I'm also suggesting the possibility that the U.K. has better quality actresses overall.
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Old June 17 2013, 08:09 PM   #280
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Uhura beaming down to save Spock during the finale were two such stupid scenes. Uhura is an officer, a linguist, and a technician. I want her to do technical stuff and if, in her capacity as an officer she gets in on the action then that's really good. With a ship full of 50+ security guards, you put Uhura in charge of a team, you don't send her down instead of one.
IMHO she was sent down to get through Spock's raged mind not to have him kill Khan. Any red shirt could stun Khan but how many could stop Spock w/o stunning him as well? Note: the way Spock was leveling the blows to Khan at the end mirrored the way he beat up one of his tormentors at school on Vulcan (ST09).
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Old June 17 2013, 09:04 PM   #281
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
To put it bluntly, Pauln, if you think that male science fiction writers are mature enough to handle gender issues responsibly, you're simply lying to yourself. The main reason Carol Marcus and Nyota Uhura are as interesting as they are is because Zoe Saldana and Alice Eve as STUPENDOUS actresses and it's easier to give them more screen time in a way that looks credible. Therefore, the most we can and should hope for is some more brainy and heroic Uhura/Marcus action in the pattern already set; gratuitous partial nudity notwithstanding, so far Star Trek has done everything right in that regard.

Did I give Kirk a thumbs up as a "ladeez man" or are you projecting?

Actually, they were meant to really grab the attention of a predominantly male audience. If they were intended to be TROUBLING, Tyrol and Helo would have gotten raped in the Pegasus' brig instead of just beaten with bars of soap.
Lol - just because sci fi writers can't be trusted doesn't mean I should shrug and accept it. When did any of society's ills get solved by doing that?

Carol's appearance in ongoing comic already feels good. Having an extra woman should work although as a physicist, I do wonder how much she can contribute when that is already Spock's territory. So far so good though.

Projecting of course! Although I find NuKirk's shenanigans to be as hollow, desperate, and emotionally unsatisfying as NuStarbuck's but this franchise isn't as bleak so they are skating over his emotional state and making it cooool.

I'm amazed that NuBSG didn't go there at some point but maybe they wanted to make a point about the way soldiers brutalise women in the real world. Most men are just killed horribly.
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Old June 17 2013, 09:06 PM   #282
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

KittyDuran wrote: View Post
Uhura beaming down to save Spock during the finale were two such stupid scenes. Uhura is an officer, a linguist, and a technician. I want her to do technical stuff and if, in her capacity as an officer she gets in on the action then that's really good. With a ship full of 50+ security guards, you put Uhura in charge of a team, you don't send her down instead of one.
IMHO she was sent down to get through Spock's raged mind not to have him kill Khan. Any red shirt could stun Khan but how many could stop Spock w/o stunning him as well? Note: the way Spock was leveling the blows to Khan at the end mirrored the way he beat up one of his tormentors at school on Vulcan (ST09).
That does work actually. Nicely done.
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Old June 17 2013, 09:31 PM   #283
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
KittyDuran wrote: View Post
Uhura beaming down to save Spock during the finale were two such stupid scenes. Uhura is an officer, a linguist, and a technician. I want her to do technical stuff and if, in her capacity as an officer she gets in on the action then that's really good. With a ship full of 50+ security guards, you put Uhura in charge of a team, you don't send her down instead of one.
IMHO she was sent down to get through Spock's raged mind not to have him kill Khan. Any red shirt could stun Khan but how many could stop Spock w/o stunning him as well? Note: the way Spock was leveling the blows to Khan at the end mirrored the way he beat up one of his tormentors at school on Vulcan (ST09).
That does work actually. Nicely done.
Another thought is that Uhura might have felt obligated to stop Spock because she's the one that suggested "Go get him."
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Old June 17 2013, 09:34 PM   #284
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Chekov becoming chief engineer
Just think if Scotty didn't resign and finished priming the warp core he would have found out that it was damaged/sabotaged and we'd have a totally different story...
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Old June 17 2013, 09:47 PM   #285
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Re: Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Pauln6 wrote: View Post
KittyDuran wrote: View Post
Uhura beaming down to save Spock during the finale were two such stupid scenes. Uhura is an officer, a linguist, and a technician. I want her to do technical stuff and if, in her capacity as an officer she gets in on the action then that's really good. With a ship full of 50+ security guards, you put Uhura in charge of a team, you don't send her down instead of one.
IMHO she was sent down to get through Spock's raged mind not to have him kill Khan. Any red shirt could stun Khan but how many could stop Spock w/o stunning him as well? Note: the way Spock was leveling the blows to Khan at the end mirrored the way he beat up one of his tormentors at school on Vulcan (ST09).
That does work actually. Nicely done.
This doesn't explain why she had to go down alone, though.
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