"I can't get used to having a woman on the bridge"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by alpha_leonis, May 6, 2020.

  1. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    Obviously, when they produced "The Cage" and gave that line to Captain Pike, they were writing to an audience in 1964, when women in the military were "only" nurses, and not front-line officers. They were obviously self-conscious of the implications of that line, based on Pike's immediate interaction with Number One in that moment. Not to mention the fact that the rest of the run of TOS had women on the bridge all over the place (not just Uhura, but many other examples.) And in post-TOS prequel series like Enterprise and Discovery, there were women on bridges all over the place. Of course, nobody in 1964 had any idea that particular episode would still be culturally significant in 2020.

    Frankly I can't see Bruce Greenwood or Anson Mount (or any modern Trek writer) interpreting the Pike character anywhere close to the face-value of that particular line. So I'm wondering, how do other people interpret that particular line in that particular episode? Especially in the context of what Star Trek has become in the 56 years since "The Cage", as opposed to how it was intended for its primary audience of television executives in 1964?
     
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  2. Angry Fanboy

    Angry Fanboy Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't see that there's much to interpret.

    It is what it is. The line was 'of it's time' and is outdated/sexist when looked at from a 'modern' perspective.

    In fifty years many aspects of our current media output will no doubt be viewed as outdated as well.

    Just an inevitable part of cultural/societal change.
     
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  3. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In a lot of ways, that line is like the miniskirt/skort uniforms the women wore. In the moment, in the '60s, miniskirts were empowering and gave women a sense of control over their lives and how they were perceived. By the time of the late '70s, there was a groundswell of contempt for the idea that showing that much skin could make women be seen as more powerful and in control than a more covered up look. There is no consideration for the miniskirt replacing the long pleated skirts of Donna Reed or Princess's poodle skirts and their perceived limitations, just the idea that an exposed woman is an exploited one.

    Pike was meant to be saying that women could be officers, he's just not used to the idea. Our later out of context interpretation can no longer recognize that concept.
     
  4. uniderth

    uniderth Commodore Commodore

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    It doesn't even make sense at face value in the context of the episode. There are currently three women on the bridge at the time the line is given. That's about 25% of the personnel on the bridge.

    The only way this line makes sense is that Pike isn't used to having a woman yeoman on the bridge. Then he realized how dumb that sounded gave that awkward apology to Number 1.
     
  5. Coronacopia

    Coronacopia Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed.

    By the way, this line was, for whatever reason, cut for "The Menagerie." So, it didn't even air on TV until 1988.
     
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  6. trekshark

    trekshark Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't give it a second thought. I'm not big on judging the past by the standards of the present.
     
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  7. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There have been discussions of this in a few recent threads:

    As I remember, that happens soon after the fight on Rigel VII, mentioned in the scene in Pike's cabin:

    When a second message from Talos IV is received, Pike decides to go to Talos IV to search for survivors:

    Pike clearly blames himself for the injuries and deaths on Rigel VII, including his former yeoman, who, for all we know, might have died heroically defending his captain. And since the age of that former yeoman is not stated, it is possible that to Pike he seemed more like a yeo-boy than a yeo-man. And now Pike's new yeoman, constantly reminding Pike of Pike's mistake by being different from the former one, is Yeoman Colt, a yeo-woman, or even in Pke's eyes a yeo-girl, whose safety Pike is responsible for.

    That may explain why Pike acts somewhat jumpy around Colt.

    Just a minute or two earlier, Pike had been standing on the bridge beside a seated person who has always looked a lot like a woman to viewers, and who presumably is also different like Number one.

    https://www.inverse.com/article/204...tumes-starfleet-uniforms-bryan-fuller-cosplay

    Anyway, I expect that this thread may get a number of Opinions.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
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  8. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Commodore Commodore

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    It could've been a way to appease those who opposed a female bridge officer by saying she's the only one and it's a new thing.
     
  9. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It is worth noting also that the line appears only in the untransmitted "The Cage" pilot version, and that the offending line is one of the ones that was ommited from the two-part "Menagerie" footage that actually was broadcast as part of TOS. So, one can easily ignore it. Pike doesn't say it in "The Menagerie" version. :)

    Also, the line makes no sense, as alongside Colt and Number One, there is a third female officer prominent on the bridge:

    http://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x00hd/thecagehd0277.jpg
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I don't see how there could even be a question here.

    What we call "sexism" today is a very simple dramatic point: Pike is the common type of man (real and especially fictional) who is afraid of women, even if (and this is more common in fiction, alas!) also cursed with being a woman magnet of some sort. This sets up the tension when he gets confronted by the woman of his secret dreams - all of those - and has to cope. And not only with those dreams, but also with the flesh-and-blood coworker women who crowd his cell later on. How will our hero survive?

    Now, this is a character trait that serves a specific story purpose in the pilot. But is it something that would have followed Pike through his serialized adventures? The writers wrote themselves in a bit of a corner there: Pike's lines suggest that his fears have not manifested before, and his awkward excusing and explaining is happening for basically the first time. So in-universe, Pike probably has been shaken by the recent losses and is letting show something that he will never ever allow to slip through... Or then the damage done here is permanent and he now has a reputation. Out-universe, though, I could see the writers sticking with what they have, the shy guy surrounded by the pushy babes trope, and skipping any introspection. But, OTOH, dropping the aspect as soon as the drama of the moment called for that. Character consistency never was a big deal in television writing back then, and wouldn't have been for Desilu either if TOS itself is anything to judge by.

    It's not supposed to be subtle, mysterious, or offending. It's all there up front: the character looks at the camera and says "I'm afraid of women. Uh, I mean, excuse me, ladies, what I meant was, umm, ah, see that moonbat up there, gotta go, just remembered something...". And then sitcom hilarity follows as the director ushers in all the women one by one.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  11. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Which some higher up somewhere thought was a trap they couldn't write themselves out of, and rejected the pilot as a whole because of it. One of the few things that no one doubts GR about was that the higher ups didn't want a show that had an ongoing undercurrent of "Which one would he have chosen?", and he decided to agree with that interpretation.
     
  12. Coronacopia

    Coronacopia Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This is the first time I've heard that the "which one would Pike have chosen" question was a reason why "The Cage" was rejected. Do you or does anybody have a citation for that?
     
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  13. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Rear Admiral Moderator

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    My take on it
    In universe Pike was having a bad day, waiting for his Orion traders licence
    In real life it was 1964, it was an American tv show about white people in space. The real life military had been desegregated in 1948 but someone forgot to remind Mr Roddenberry
     
  14. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Roddenberry said for years that NBC rejected "The Cage" for being "too cerebral" -- meaning "my work was too smart," kind of a humble-brag. But I think the real reason was that it was too sexual, and incidentally the cast wasn't especially appealing.
     
  15. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Commodore Commodore

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    I read they also didn't like him putting his partner in a prominent role
     
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  16. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You mean his mistress. He was also still married at the time. :vulcan:
     
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  17. Geoff Peterson

    Geoff Peterson Robot Skeleton Sidekick Premium Member

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    Mistress.
     
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  18. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah I wasn't sure what their status was at the time XD
     
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  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The thing is, no producer would reject a show based on details in a pilot - he'd lean on his elbows, look at the writer-hopeful, and say "These things have to change - and of course you knew that already - so now get writing the actual season and we'll see if it sells well enough for another". Or, if the pilot warranted, "This is crap. Outta here, and don't come back. Unless, of course, you pack pure gold. Like the last time I told you this."

    Asking for second pilots was supposedly relatively rare back then, and the reasons for Trek being among those that got two pilots are probably known well enough. But fine-tuning things like dramatic points or premises doesn't call for that. Being disgusted with the cast is the one good reason to ask for a different pilot with a different ensemble - although naturally with all the other fixes thrown in, too.

    If Hunter's Pike was too shy or too overbearing, too sexist or too Communist, that could be rewritten by the time of the first regular episode. If he needed to be named Winter, or established as ethnic Egyptian, that could be altered. If they wanted Lloyd Bridges instead, they might simply swap the lead. But if only Nimoy's supporting character was deemed worth keeping or, conversely, fault was found in all the others, and/or availability problems developed, then jumping straight into production would not work too well.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I just see it as an anachronism and ignore it. It's like Spock having a paper printout on his console except more offensive.
     
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