Star Trek Into Darkness & The Bechdel Test

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies: Kelvin Universe' started by Shaka Zulu, Jun 6, 2013.

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  1. The Naughty List

    The Naughty List Working the Pole Moderator

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    That you think nuUhura and Hoshi were doing nothing more than "basically acting as receptionists" indicates to me that you're not willing to discuss this from any kind of rational perspective and are just looking to cast aspersions.

    Hoshi was a professor teaching xenolinguistics and the preeminent expert in the field on the entire planet, which is why Archer recruited her. She refined and developed the algorithms which allowed for the universal translator to work so smoothly later. She acted as a de facto diplomatic and cultural affairs officer (along with "T'Boob," who you equally dismissed so casually) to advise Archer on how to deal with alien ambassadors and species during first contact situations. She overcame her debilitating fears and remained a key member of the crew throughout the mission and countless dangerous situations, even after returning to Earth and having a chance to change her mind before going on what appeared to be essentially a suicide mission. But no, just a receptionist.

    Uhura was fluent in three(?) important enemy alien languages as a cadet, was shown to be able to gather key intelligence on foreign powers like the Klingons by listening to their long range communications (which is how she learned about the Narada showing up), was able to step into the job when the dedicated officer couldn't speak Romulan, went on dangerous away missions to exploding volcanoes and the Klingon homeworld where she tried to resolve the situation through diplomacy at great risk to herself, risked her life to save Captain Kirk's by beaming down to a high-flying, fast-moving garbage scow to try and stun Khan and take him alive. But again, just a receptionist.

    I have to ask. What kind of badass receptionists do you work with?

    Kirk's whole motivation in the film, and what made him different from his PrimeVerse counterpart, was that he had no strong parental figures in his daily life until Pike came along and pointed him on the right path, which is why he risked his life, fought authority, wandered about aimlessly in his home town without a clear goal, and always felt that he was living in his father's shadow. Mom was probably distraught from the death of her husband and buried herself in her work and was always off on deep space assignments for Starfleet. The uncle Kirk stayed with while she was gone was an abusive asshole. His father was dead. This made nuKirk even more rebellious, carefree, and risk-taking than PrimeKirk.

    What you're asking for here is for them to dramatically alter the entire motivation and narrative structure of nuKirk's early life in order to better serve a less than secondary character who we knew little about even in the original universe. You're so concerned about respecting c-level fictional character's equal time that you're willing to sacrifice the entire driving force of the chief protagonist's early life and dramatically alter events in order to do it. That's not putting the writing first. That's filling out a spreadsheet to make sure everyone gets a fairer distribution of time onscreen; how it affects the story be damned.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  2. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "Numbers" means jack in this context. Between the two of Spock's parents, Amanda is the more prominent character; her influence guides Spock's career, her death is a galvanizing moment in Spock's character development, and the desire to avenge her death is the catalyst for Spock's friendship with Kirk.

    Sarek is almost ancillary to this development; you could have replaced him with Sybok and nobody would have noticed.

    So have Rand be the one who walks past Kirk and mutters "We have a bulkhead breach" without looking at him. Make that her only line in the movie, blink-and-you'll-miss-it, instantly forgettable.

    But if that's what you're going to do with Crewman Rand, what is the point of making it Crewman Rand? If you're going to invent an actual named character with depth and background, you need to USE that character in a meaningful way. Otherwise it's just a supernumerary with a funny back story.

    Considering we're talking about extras, the parts are there. Casting directors generally do not care who fills in the background spaces and do not specifically aim for a set ratio of men to women.

    I was not, considering the conventions had considerably less than a 50/50 ratio.

    When women stop complaining to me about how acting is a male-dominated profession, I'll stop repeating it.
     
  3. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I notice you didn't address the overall issue. Trading quality for quantity is a net loss, not a net gain. Your reference to BSG is particularly poignant:

    If Cupcake was a woman than it wouldn't have mattered at all because he had only two lines in the entire movie. That's not a prominent or meaningful role; more quantity vs. quality.

    Your complaint is essentially that this movie lacks an appropriate quantity of female characters. Quantity, however, is irrelevant, as it could just as easily be achieved by adding a lesbian threesome as both of the prominent female characters are well-developed and dynamic personalities. It makes no sense to start randomly replacing extras with female parts just for the sake of having female parts; the same balance of quantity could be easily achieved by setting Kirk and Pike's conversation in a nudie bar.

    Cupcake is NOT a fascinating character, male OR female. Ergo, switching the gender makes no difference whatsoever.

    OTOH, NuStarbuck is variously portrayed as a misanthropic malcontent and high-functioning alcoholic with a severely overclocked libido. It isn't actually the gender reversal of the original character so much as the FUSION of two original characters; basically, the prostitute in the flight suit. A similar thing happens with Commander Cain, where just for the lulz they trot out a steamy lesbian affair with Cylon #6 who then goes on to get raped by just about everybody (remember I mentioned that earlier? It's not accidental).

    Funny thing: science fiction is very comfortable with lesbian relationships (which are played mostly for titillation) or sexual assault (also played partly for titillation). OTOH, how many openly gay male characters exist in sci-fi? Related question: how many sci-fi novels, films or movies have ever depicted male-on-male sexual assault? Last question: who, other than a complete baddass like John Barrowman, could EVER get away with playing an openly gay character?

    It's almost as if science fiction enjoys a predominantly male-dominated AUDIENCE.:borg:

    Filming in the U.K..

    Why do you suppose the ended up casting Alice Eve as Carol Marcus?;)
     
  4. Clancy_s

    Clancy_s Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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. YMMV

    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.
     
  5. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  6. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm advocating BOTH quality and quantity. We should have both. 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... It's also worth pointing out that a significant number of women that are shown in these moves are already shown in sexualised roles.

    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.

    LOL. Ok, now you are really giving away your true colours. Starbuck really didn't have that much sex throughout the series actually and some of that was down to her being self-destructive - deliberately hurting Lee becase she was pushing him away and most of it was with her husband. In many ways she's a more extreme version of NuKirk, who in just two movies has had sex with as many partners. The fact that you've lumped in a sexualy active woman with a prostitute while Kirk gets the thumbs up as a ladeez man speaks volumes.

    And actually, Cassiopeia only had sex with one man in the original series and she didn't even charge. I was rather disappointed she was missing from NuBSG (although elements of her found their way into Six such as Gina's relationship with Cain).

    Further, the close reationship with Cain with Gina was added in as a way to justify one of the reasons why Cain went so batsh*t crazy and sanctioned the abuse. I don't recall anything steamy though - one dinner party? Either I was't paying attention or you might have dreamed that part. Again, the use of language is telling.

    The rape scenes were intended to be troubling. In the same way that the suicide bombings were meant to be troubling. The writers were deliberately subverting our expectations. The Cylons were the western world moving in, destroying or subverting pre-existing culture wth their new-fangled mono-theistic religion. The victims began losing their humanity, killing innocents indiscriminately, and dehumanising them (a lot of women get raped by soldiers al over the world). It was disturbing but the wider message was compelling.

    Lol - very good point. That concisely illustrates the double standard that applies equally to NuKirk, although Kirk's problems pale compared to NuStarbuck.

    They had a gay relationship in the Nubsg webisodes although I don't thnk it was all that relevant to the plot.

    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. But compared to the USA as a whole, I'm sure we have a lot fewer actresses. I think somehow Hollywood can manage with the increased numbers. :)

    I wish more people would approach the opposing argument with as much blunt vigour. We'd win it a lot sooner! :p
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  7. The Naughty List

    The Naughty List Working the Pole Moderator

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    Well, that's a convenient out for your completely discredited position, but it's about what I expected given past discussions.
     
  8. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I aim to please.
     
  9. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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?
     
  10. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TOS had a habit of bigging up the women as highly qualified and then using them as sex objects e.g. Ann Mulhall, Carolyn Palamis, 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.
     
  11. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    An excerpt from interesting review I came across:

    http://www.btchflcks.com/2013/05/do...negate-sexism-in-star-trek-into-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:

    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:

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2013/05/22/star-trek-into-darkness-its-a-white-mans-universe-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.
     
  12. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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 ;)
     
  13. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  14. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Why can't the women BE the heroes?

    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.
     
  15. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    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.
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    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.:eek:
     
  18. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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).

    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.

    There's no genuine reason TO do it. It simply makes no difference one way or the other.

    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.

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

    Which makes it totally okay.:rommie:

    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. :vulcan:

    Well that, but I'm also suggesting the possibility that the U.K. has better quality actresses overall.
     
  20. KittyDuran

    KittyDuran Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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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