You are officially spoiled if you read below, NO COMPLAINTS!
Up front I will say I enjoyed this latest Star Trek movie a lot. It was super noisy, but enjoyable, beautifully executed, and I particularly like some of the secondary characters, Spock was excellent, etc etc. I just want to share an observation that stuck with me:
Where are the women? The strong women? The women we’d like to see in 200 years? Where are they in this world? They certainly aren’t around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.) In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with “important” people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER. Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?! How can that happen?
For main characters, Uhura had a FEW nice scenes (as a vehicle to humanize Spock mostly), but that other woman character was the WORST damsel in distress ever. I kept waiting for her turn, waiting for her to not be the victim, to be a bit cleverer, to add to the equation in a “yeah you go girl” way but no, she was there to be sufficiently sexy that Kirk would acknowledge her existence, to be pretty, to serve the plot. I loved her bob. That’s it. What if she had been a less attractive woman, older, overweight? A tomboy? Wouldn’t have that been a tad more interesting choice? Or at least give her a moment where she’s not a princess waiting to be saved. From a director who is so amazing, who created wonderful female characters in Alias and Felicity, I was super bummed by this. A woman character CAN exist without having to be sexually desired by the guy. Oh, and she doesn’t have to be a lesbian either, OMG WHAT A SURPRISING IDEA!
I don’t know if I’m extra sensitive about this issue or what, but I don’t think so, it’s a trend in media today. When I walk into the theater, I see men on posters. Mostly white men, the same men we see over and over in movies. Seth Rogen, Owen Wilson, Brad Pitt etc. Where did the women go? We are telling people that only men are worth centering storytelling around, and that’s just bullshit. And the problem is we unconsciously define the world and our culture through media. These things are subliminal, we absorb them, they formulate the “given” that influences people’s life choices. It might be a little thing on the surface, but this stuff is what prevents women from being as interested in math, or business people or tech etc. Where are the examples of women in media to strive for, to make that stuff seem possible? I don’t see many. And that makes me sad.
People ask me why I don’t like Disney cartoons (edit: Except for Brave :P), I say, “Think of a princess. Tell me three adjectives that come to mind. Now do that with a prince. Now do that with the phrase, “leading character”. We will all probably align around a lot of common ideas, Princess: taken care of, rescued, pretty dresses. Prince: adventurer, proving himself, manhood, Leading Character: chiseled white guy in his thirties, rockin’ body, girlfriend in peril.
I dunno about you, but it’s kind of boring to see the same thing over and over again. So I guess, rambling away from the Star Trek thing, if you’re creating something, think of the first three adjectives that come to mind, then: Do something different. It’s time to invent new cliches. For all of us, please.