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. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

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    Well, that's not what you said when you were making your sarcastic little comment about surgery, but okay.

    The chief engineer left the ship. Keenser, presumably the second most senior engineer, left the ship. Their previous chief engineer, Olsen, was killed during the first movie. Half the cadet corps got blown to smithereens above Vulcan. A bunch of other qualified officers are engaged in conflicts in the Laurentian System and against the Klingons. Cadet McCoy became the CMO after their normal doctor was killed above Vulcan. Kirk got promoted to XO under Spock when Pike left the ship. What part of them being really shorthanded and in dire straights did you not catch on to?

    It was a spur of the moment emergency mission where they didn't have time to deal with red tape and recruiting someone new and unfamiliar with the ship, so in a pinch the genius who had already demonstrated an aptitude for multiple specialties around the ship and who trained under the chief engineer temporarily got the job.

    Given what we've seen with Wesley Crusher boy engineering and navigation genius, Geordi moving from Conn to Chief Engineer, B'Lanna bypassing the more experienced Carey, and Nog's apprenticeship under Chief O'Brien helping him rapidly rise through the ranks and positions once he joined Starfleet, it doesn't seem all that unusual in Trekdom.
     
  2. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    If Chekov was a female character, would you or Pauln6 still be complaining? Based on other posts in this thread, I'd bet a week's pay that the complaint would at least be far more muted, if there at all.

    On a separate note, Chekov is one of the main (secondary) characters. It is a standard filmmaking storytelling device to plug in a main character to do a task that, in the real world, would go to someone else. This is not unique to Trek and, as a criticism of entertainment (not real life) it is rather absurd. All forms of entertainment skew the roles that would be assigned in real life. People pay to watch the main characters, not no-name walk-ons. Hence Uhura going down to Spock and not some no-name redshirt. Hence Spock, Kirk and Uhura to the planet instead of a highly trained tactical team, led by Cupcake. And hence Chekov temporarily taking over the engineering department. NONE of this is inconsistent with basic movie storytelling and Trek is not some sacred, magical exception to the rule.
     
  3. Hembie

    Hembie Commander Red Shirt

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    I’ve been thinking a lot about the Bechdel test and specifically how it applies to Star Trek.

    As a long-time lover of all things Trek it was hard for me to admit that for a show that claims to be on the cutting edge of equality it really doesn’t measure up.

    I thought they did a decent job in the first film and although I have a lot of objective love for the Into Darkness. However they did fall back onto a lot of stereotypes that made me question how comfortable I was in introducing my boy/girl twins to Trek before I’m able to discuss the roles that women play in this fandom and slightly off topic but also the frightful lack of any gay character.

    I am fully on board with the notion that the writers and producers made their choices in this film. They chose to have McCoy flirt (arguably harass) with Marcus while she was trying to diffuse a bomb and it was played for laughs. They chose to have Uhura ultimately fail at talking down the Klingons and bringing down the villain. Not to mention they chose to have few women of power in any backround scene.

    Casting puts a lot of thought into backround. It wasn’t a mistake that there were no women at the table when Spock and Kirk came to ask the Admirable to go on the mission.

    Every show has its flaws and I’m going to keep watching and loving but it certainly hampered my enjoyment of the movie and frankly the series. And I really hope they put more thought into the next installment.

    In any case this has all been said. Just weighing in
     
  4. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    All these years and I've never seen anyone complain about this. I wonder what those who complain about Chekov think about a woman being given a job over the more-qualified man?
     
  5. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    For those who think I always side with JJ-bashers, I think complaining about Checkov getting sent to engineering is a non-issue. Checkov's role changed several times in Trek. He got moved to the (newly invented) tactical console to make way for Ilia. Then he got transferred to the Reliant as first-officer. Later on he was assigned "acting science officer" in Spock's absence, as demonstrated in the destruct sequence in Trek III. Even though we never saw him serve in engineering until now, he was the most versatile crewmember. The film has far far worse flaws to focus on than this one.
     
  6. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'd love to hear you elaborate on how Gene didn't really care about diversity. That would be some very convoluted revisionist history for sure.

    I find it hard to believe that the advertisers in the 60s liked the idea of a rainbow cast, interracial kisses, etc... It may make sense today, but not back in the bigoted 60s.

    With each launch of a new spinoff, there was a concerted effort to put an actor OTHER than just another white male in the command-seat. The only show that deviated from this after TNG was Enterprise. But certainly they mixed it up with the other crewmembers throughout.

    It's also not that controversial to claim that Trek's appeal has always revolved around that diversity. It attracted fans from all backgrounds who were comforted by a utopian vision of the future that had a level playing field.
     
  7. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So you accept the Geordi promotion as OK because Geordi was older. Your only problem with it was that Geordi wasn't the correct rank. Thats easily fixed with a promotion.

    My problem was that they had lots of problems in engineering in Season One and Geordi never offered to have a look at it for Picard. Never indicated that he knew anything about engineering when in fact he was a genius. I saw Crusher and Data offer suggestions all the time. And Geordi was sort of a go-to guy in terms of landing party duty so why wouldn't he take over in Engineering once in a while.

    But the Chekov thing in Engineering worries you. At least he had some experience in Engineering. And also what makes you think Kirk and Chekov were mates before the transfer to the plum engineering job?
    Its more likely that Picard assigned the plum engineering job to his friend Geordi. And Thats OK - Picard probably trusted that Geordi had the temperament to do a good job.
     
  8. Spock/Uhura Fan

    Spock/Uhura Fan Captain Captain

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    Within the context of the discussion, that’s exactly what I said. That’s why I pointed out the context of the discussion.

    But, I’m not going to get sidetracked, so moving on…

    Then you’d lose your pay, at least if you were betting that way on me (and I’m going to guess that’s true for Paul as well). The principle issue here is not about gender; it’s about logic. I also complained about the logic of Uhura beaming down into the middle of a fight when she could just have easily beamed both Khan and Spock up to the ship. I don't see you asking me if I would still complain if that had been a male crewmember, say Sulu, that did that instead. And if it had been, I’d still have the same complaint, but I also wonder would the scene have played out the same way, or would taking out Khan have looked like more of a collaborative effort between Spock and the male crewmember than it did with Uhura.

    The only reason why I mentioned a female next-in-line engineer was because the story naturally calls for someone with more experience and education and skill than Chekov, and I would guess that protocol would have that person in charge instead of an ensign navigator who’s regular station is on the bridge. You’ll also note that I didn’t exclude the need for Chekov’s help in engineering, just the fact that he would be made the acting Chief Engineer and head of the entire department. That doesn’t make any sense to me, but if it does to you, then it does.


    In Chekov’s case, I think he should have helped with a task, a huge responsibility actually, that went to the right person (and this person could have been female to help balance things more). You say that audiences want to see the main people, great. I agree with that, and this scenario would have actually allowed for some character development for Chekov as we saw a minute here and there where he interacted with the female acting Chief. That would have been better than just seeing him running around looking confused and apologizing. I’m just saying that that time could have been better used. You are of course free to disagree.

    And again, I have no issue with Uhura having screen time; Lord knows she could use it. My issue was how the time was used. She could have taken charge in some way and been the one to beam Khan and Spock up (again, one to the brig and one to sickbay just in case). Or, if she just had to beam down, then she could have led a security team that beamed down with her and gotten Khan herself, but then that would have robbed Spock of his moment, so I’m guessing that’s why that wasn’t done.

    Once again, I’d like to reiterate that the rest of the screw outside of Kirk, Spock, and maybe Scotty weren’t used well at all. I’ve read all over where people think this is the case. The Playlist Staff at indiwire said it very well:

    http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplayl...-darkness-20130520?page=2#blogPostHeaderPanel

    This is what I’m getting at. Chekov in engineering, with someone to play off of instead of bumbling around could have been great AND a female character could have been used to help achieve that being something “memorable.” And Uhura could have had more to do with the time she was given, or even dare I say it, she could have gotten a minute or two more. The same goes for the rest of the cast. Who knows, maybe in the next film she’ll be allowed to talk to a woman—even do something with another woman or by herself that is key to the plot—and it not be all about a man. I highly doubt it, but you never know…

    The Playlist Staff also talk about how the women are treated in the film, and I think this is worth posting:

    They might do better in the next film, but the preview to the latest comic I was linked to doesn’t have me holding my breath. I’m starting to wonder if they know what they are doing.

    @Hembie Thank you for weighing in with your thoughts.
     
  9. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    Precisely correct and exactly why it works that way--Spock is a much more important character to the story and to Trek in general.

    And this is my main objection. Star Trek CAN be an ensemble. It does not NEED to be (and I prefer it when it is not--clearly not everyone does, but with its strong WOM rating and critical review ratings, I'd argue quite a few people are fine with it that way).

    Only if you accept the premise that an ensemble approach is superior. That is not inherently the case. I wouldn't even miss any member of the secondary characters if one or two (doesn't matter which) was not in the movie. The idea that they all need equal time is rubbish. They are there in service of the story and in service to the actual main characters. If there is a coherent reason for them to be there for more than their "moment", fine. But if any of the secondary characters gets less "face time" in one movie versus another at the expense of another secondary character or to give more time to the main major characters (Sulu and Chekov get less time this time around, for example, which gives more time and importance to Scotty and more focus on Kirk and Spock away from the ship--at the academy, at the meeting where Khan shows up, and elsewhere), I have zero problem with that. Secondary characters are just that--secondary.

    They know exactly what they're doing. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean they're incompetent. As for "the real reason Eve is there"--errant nonsense. A few second's flash of her in her undies is hardly the only contribution her character makes to the story. If the camera had lingered on her for a lengthy amount of time, perhaps this would be a serious complaint. As it was, that scene acted as a further blow AGAINST Kirk's womanizing attitude. He's made to feel uncomfortable and that discomfort demonstrates A) his attitude is not all that acceptable and B) Marcus is confident enough to order him to "Turn around" rather than meekly stand there to be ogled at length. The scene does NOT suggest Kirk's behaviour deserves a frat boy "high five" or "fist bump". If it did, then I'd be the first to complain.

    Moreover, Marcus does a lot more that is deserving of admiration. Despite the inelegance of it, she still saves McCoy from the torpedo (would she even known where to begin to look if all she was was an undies model?), she has the courage to risk her career to look into something her father is doing that she suspects is illegal and immoral, she stands with her shipmates against her father.

    Ultimately, as I posted in another thread, the basic issue that seems to fuel many of the disputes is centred on the ensemble vs. Kirk/Spock focus. There are more things involved, of course, but many complaints seem to stem from the idea that the secondary characters didn't have enough to do. The other complaints are often a lack of more thorough examinations of ideas and the absence of other characters (female for some, alien for others)--something a TV series would be far more well-equipped to cover. But we don't have a TV series and this creative team has not embraced the kind of ensemble approach that some viewers would have liked. That's not an error or mistake, it's an artistic choice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  10. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Frankly if JJ just cut out the Marcus underwear scene I don't think anyone would have any 'real' complaints about the gender equality of the movie. Really JJ has done a lot better than most other movies around. Its a lot less 'sexist' than any of the other Star Trek movies (except for TVH), any of the Star Wars movies, the Iron men movies, the X-Men movies, the Fast and Furious movies, probably Man of Steel .

    Apparently Star Trek has an arbitrary 'higher' standard to follow in regard to gender equality because TOS was an innovator in the 60s.

    And apparently according to the 'Playlist Review' a duty to become an ensemble movie because of the quality of its support actors. Even though the other Star Trek movies mostly never were - even the TNG ones.

    I'm surprise the Playlist review didn't mention a lack of homosexual characters.
     
  11. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

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    Sidetracked by the rest of the post that further discredits your argument? Yeah, I can see why you'd want to avoid that.
     
  12. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I think the issue is that, implementation aside, it was considered progressive to have female officers at all in the sixties. I don't have any issue with the Butterfly Effect hand waving gender divide away. In fact, by the time of TMP, they were trying to equalise the numbers to 50/50.

    I might be complaining less about the number of women in the movie but I would still complain about the story logic. So I guess, on balance my complaint would be more muted overall, just not on this particular issue... :p

    I think part of my problem is as that as an RPG gamer you get used to characters being defined by their skills. Trek's tendency to bounce characters from discipline to discipline gets on my nerves a bit. I don't think O'Brien was ever a science officer or a bartender but he'd done just about everything else in his career.
     
  13. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Still waiting for someone to condemn Voyager for promoting a female over a more qualified male.
     
  14. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    Janeway over Tuvok?
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Torres over Joe Carey.
     
  16. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was affirmative action because Janeway had no women among her senior staff!

    However, Belanna was younger than Carey so she had less practical experience but experience alone is not what one needs to be a chief engineer. Remember Tapestry where risk-averse Picard never got above Ensign? I don't recall how many years' experience Belanna had as an engineer but I think it was more than the year Chekov has. Plus Janeway had a limited pool of talent to draw on and in a practical test Carey just perform as well as an engineer. On that basis, it's questionable if he was better qualified at all.

    It's arguable that Chekov as an ensign was a better engineer than all the Lt-commanders, Lieutenants, and ensigns from all three engineering shifts on a ship with thre times as many crew as Voyager but it just isn't very realistic.
     
  17. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So you just wrote a long-post stating that its okay for a lesser qualified woman to be promoted over a man. Janeway, like Kirk, picked the candidate that she was most comfortable with, with experience being secondary.

    I didn't have a problem when Janeway picked the person she was comfortable with to do the job. Just like I don't have a problem with Kirk picking the person he was comfortable with to do the job.

    Fun watching you tap dance though. :techman:
     
  18. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    Which established character from those two movies would you have used as the replacement for Scott?
     
  19. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    And therein lies the problem with this complaint. In the real world, of course, this would be quite valid. In Trek, it is an amazingly consistent example of assigning a main character (albeit secondary) to do a task that, in the real world, would be given to someone else. And this is not particular to Trek.

    Do you routinely protest the "lack of realism" in all the entertainment you watch? If you do, it's a wonder you can appreciate any entertainment at all. "Realism" and Star Trek have never been, nor are they likely to ever be, on intimate terms. They're barely in the same galaxy.
     
  20. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Au contrere, I said that Belanna had less experience BUT she was better qualified because she possessed desirable skills and innovation that Carey lacked - I can't believe that you didn't get that from the way the episode was framed. Janeway initially picked Carey because HE was the person she was comfortable with but largely because he was an officer with whom she'd worked and Belanna wasn't Starfleet. It was after a performance test that she decided Belanna would be the better candidate because she had a more varied skills set.

    All I'm saying is that if an ensign with a years' experience in a different department is the best candidate they have for chief engineer then it doesn't say much about their engineers.

    I don't tap dance, I jive. :cool:
     
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