I'm an Old-Skool Trek fan, one of the ones for whom shirtless, sweaty Sulu with a fencing foil was a pivotal moment in my sexual development.

I mostly adored the new movie, and would see it again with great pleasure. Spock was awesome: interestingly different from Nimoy's character, but still convincingly Spock. The movie's main pairing was Spock/Uhura, which I would have never thought of in a million years but which was sweet and hot and mature and awesome. Actually, for me the movie was all about Spock, Spock/Uhura, and Uhura, and all else was gravy.

But I was sad at its demonstration of exactly how far movies haven't come in terms of equality since the original Trek. The original series was progressive for its time in many ways: it had American primetime TV's first interracial kiss (though aliens made them do it), it had Sulu and Uhura on the bridge, and it had a sympathetic Russian character when Russia was America's top enemy.

And, of course, in many ways it wasn't progressive at all: women were love interests, moms, or telephone operators, didn't get to kick ass unless they were evil, and were all stuck in miniskirts. The attempts to deal directly with racism and other social issues were well-meant but also awful and anvillicious.

The new movie preserved virtually all the ways in which the original was sexist and blinkered, and additionally failed to be progressive for our time.

Much as I loved Uhura and her relationship with Spock, every single significant female character in the entire movie was either a mom or a love interest. Women still don't get to command or kick ass. And they're all still stuck in the ridiculous miniskirt uniforms, and mostly looked vastly uncomfortable in them. Every woman on the bridge seemed to be telepathically projecting, "Please God don't let the camera see up my skirt."

The point of Chekhov in the original was not that he had a funny accent. It was that he was a proud citizen of a country that, at time of airing, was America's # 1 enemy. The modern USA equivalent of Chekhov would not be Chekhov, but a crew member from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Gay, bi, lesbian, and/or transsexual crew members would also be progressive for our time. Of course there were none.

I'm sure the writers and director justified all this as being faithful to the original. In fact, it's selectively faithful. Without getting too spoilery, there are textually justified departures from the original, plus more that are there without being explained.

The original series had more female crew members. The movie chose not to include Yeoman Rand or Christine Chapel, let alone Number One. (Since Rand's actual job duties were unclear, at least to me, on the original series, they could have put her in security. Her shirt would still be red!)

The characters aren't identical to the originals. Chekhov looks nothing like Original!Chekhov. Kirk has a very different background. Spock is a different take on Spock. Spock and Uhura weren't romantically involved in the original. Romulans in this movie don't look at all like Original!Romulans. Basically, the filmmakers decided to change the things that they thought would be fun and cool to change, and decided to keep the (mostly sexist) elements that they thought would be fun and cool to keep.

Anyway, like I said, I did enjoy the movie very much. I critique because I love: because I want to imagine myself part of that world. What always bothered me as a kid watching reruns of the original was that a girl like me would have no place on the Enterprise. Forty years later, I still wouldn't.

From: [identity profile] catdancerz.livejournal.com

sadly enough

one old school trekkie to another, you're right...its a boys movie, basically, fun to watch even if you aren't one but the boys are the heros here and get to have all the fun, and the girls get to be the rewards or the moms...

From: [identity profile] snarkyscorp.livejournal.com

You know, I hadn't thought about any of this until you brought it up, and I've seen the movie twice already. I mean, I loved the movie for what it was (and admittedly, I'm not a Trekkie and hadn't seen more than 5 episodes of the original series before I saw the movie), and adored the story and characters, the acting, technology, everything.

But I really do agree with you in a lot of ways about how they could have improved upon certain aspects of the original and how they had the chance to push the series forward in a really progressive way but chose not to. I'm sure they chose not to because they wanted to sell more tickets and please the original fans, etc (lots of excuses), but fans like you and my gf would both appreciate progressive ideals towards women, homosexuality, foreign politics, and whatever else they could've fit in.

I am sort of hoping they will push the envelope with the next movie(s) they make, because they have a huge opportunity to grow the fandom in a really meaningful way. I just hope they don't go the "Hollywood" way for the next ones. :)

From: [identity profile] faithhopetricks.livejournal.com

It really pisses me off they didn't update it with Number One since she was in THE FIRST PILOT and one of my first favourite sf characters ever (yeah, even if she was only there for like two hours. Had I known about fanfic at the time I am sure I would have written lots about her). We saw the Trek and new Terminator promos before a midnight showing of the original Terminator movie, and what struck me was how few women appeared to be in both films -- which is par for the course for a summer action flick, I guess, except there usd to be heroines like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley and so on. Not so much anymore.

From: [identity profile] branna.livejournal.com

I agree with you. Two of my main comments when I was chewing over the film later were

1) They should have had Pike's first officer be Number One or some variation thereof. It would have been a great tribute to Majel Barrett R., too, in the circs.

2) Chekov should have been replaced by a woman from Iraq, Afghanistan, or one of the various Arab countries.

Also, in this day and age, it's bizarre that that only manifestly "interracial" character we met was also interspecies.

From: [identity profile] readsalot.livejournal.com

Yes! There were random female crewmembers and cadets everywhere, but they didn't get to *do* anything. I think it would have been awesome to have had Scotty or Bones be a woman. Or both!

From: [identity profile] wintersweet.livejournal.com

Yes, thank you. (Uhura didn't have enough to DO, either.)
I think it would have been fine to have the minidresses as an option for the female students (some wearing them and some wearing pants), as a nod to the original series--and it's not like I wouldn't have appreciated seeing Uhura in one for a little bit. But she just looked ludicrous in it ON THE BRIDGE.
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves ([tutu] DO NOT WANT)

From: [personal profile] genarti

Yeah -- as I said to me roommate when we were coming home from the movie, I would have liked them to have the minidresses as a formal/dress outfit, or something. A nod to the original for situations when they weren't expected to be doing anything but standing there and looking formal.

But on the bridge? On active duty? Pants, please. At the very least, leggings under a minidress-esque tunic, or something. It makes no sense for those to be their everyday wear, any more than it did in the original series.

(And, while I am totally not opposed to Spock/Uhura, I agree that I really really wish Uhura had gotten more to do once her role as Love Interest was established. Then she would have been a character who happened to be in a relationship, and not the Love Interest who happened to also be sassy and competent.)

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com

Women still don't get to command or kick ass

At least, not on screen. I forget if they said what kind of position Kirk's mother had. In any event, this is agreement: On screen, women got to do very little.

I did enjoy the movie very much

Me, too. I saw one critic say that he thought one problem was that it showed Kirk being impulsive and violent, and that that always turned out to work, whereas the original series was more thoughtful. Since I never really followed the original, I cannot say if that is true or not, but it does seem like it could be a valid criticism.

I liked Urban's McCoy a lot, probably even more than the other characters. The actor for Pike looked familiar, but for the life of me I could not place him until I saw his name in the credits (Bruce Greenwood). I kept thinking, he looks like Sam Neill, but I don't think it's him.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

I don't think the original series was more thoughtful particularly. The Kobayashi Maru is a very resonant thing from the original, in which Kirk's attitude ("I don't believe in death, so I can escape it") is questioned more at at least one point than it is here... though maybe we were supposed to think Kirk was pretty dumb for winning a test via cheating. Though since it's basically a psych test, O guess he did reveal his psyche.
ext_108: Jules from Psych saying "You guys are thinking about cupcakes, aren't you?" (fandom st: our hero everybody)

From: [identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com

Romulans in this movie don't look at all like Original!Romulans.

I think they explained this by saying they didn't want people unfamiliar with the franchise to get confused and think that (in the first scene) the Kelvin was being attacked by a bunch of evil Vulcans, so that was a necessary change, not just a "hey let's make this look cool" change.

*shrugs* I can't really argue with you about the rest of it, though.
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)

From: [personal profile] genarti

I actually kind of wondered if it was evil Vulcans, watching it. I'd been spoiled for the destruction of Vulcan, but not for when and how it happened exactly, so when I saw that the bad guys were Vulcanoid, I was wondering if they were a splinter group who'd rejected the way of peace and logic after Vulcan was destroyed. And if the random tattoos were supposed to be some kind of marker of that? Or something?

I think that could be more interesting than random Romulans, really. (I like Romulans! But I want more cultural fleshing out, not just snarling bad guys. Alas.)

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com

That's a marvelous point about Chekov! It would have been awesome to have had someone from Afghanistan or Iraq on the bridge--and by train of thought, it would have been cool/interesting to have someone signaled to have a demonstrable faith (e.g., w/headscarf) on the bridge--though that's kind of anti-Roddenberry I suppose (but not anti-Star Trek universe, as it developed, if you consider Bajorans).

The thing I was wondering about was whether everyone seemed extra young, or whether it was just that I've gotten old. When I was a kid watching reruns of TOS, they all looked like grown-ups to me. These guys all seemed reeeally young--and Chekhov is even said to be only 17. Bones and Mr. Scott were somewhat older, but not, it seemed to me, as much older as the original characters had been.
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)

From: [personal profile] cofax7

In the universe of the movie, these characters are all about ten years younger than they were when the series started. Except for Spock and Scotty, they're all either still at the Academy (Chekov) or fresh out (Uhura, Kirk, Sulu, McCoy), whereas in the original timeline Kirk didn't get command of the Enterprise until he was, say, 30 -- and he graduated from the Academy earlier in the original timeline than he did in this movie. In the original timeline, he was still the youngest man to make Captain, but he did it the normal way, working his way up the ranks, rather than through directorial fiat, as here.

From: [identity profile] marzipan-pig.livejournal.com

I never really started watching the franchise until Tasha Yar and Kes and B'lanna Torres and Janeway started appearing - it's not just that I needed women but more that I needed women who did stuff AND had relationship-driven plots.

I'm sure I'd think this Star Trek was fun but I never saw the original til I was an adult so it was already sort of a relic. I do like the idea of a Middle Eastern Chekov though, nice.

From: [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com

This queer-themed review may convince you to see it. Perhaps when I go again!

You're totally right, Rachel, it's not any more progressive. Not a thing I would notice when watching with my mom in a weird childhood retrospective daze, but true on reflection. I wonder if it would be worth writing politely to people now, before they probably have the next script, or if they would just rationalize (it's the same time period we know about, so it can't possibly be better than the original series! yay miniskirts all round!).

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com

You're right, and yet the movie was so much better than most stuff on TV I was still terribly happy with it. Which is depressing. But anyway!

Points in no particular order:

1. Captain #1 was a PoC. Yes, he got killed, but it was still nice to see. And he and Kirk saved 800 people, not so bad. There were also a ton more characters of color just around than original flavor Star Trek-- one of the female medics at the beginning appeared to be non-white and alien.

2. There were only three het relationships, two of which resulted in two of the lead characters, which made the lack of LBGT characters still depressing but a bit more forgiveable. If we had spent more time just hanging out with the crew it would be a bit more of an Obvious Omission. However, JJ's track record on GLBT characters is weak, so.


4. I think there would have been a riot if they changed Chekov's ethnicity/country. I know what you mean and understand your point, but riot.

5. Uhura's eventual not-doing-much galled all the more because at the beginning she was doing more. She heard the Klingon signal! (Although Original Flavor Uhura would've stopped that bar fight in its tracks.)

I hope this doesn't sound like I'm arguing with you! You're right, that's what's depressing if I think about it too hard. The cast is, what, ten times more diverse than...any of the other summer blockbusters? AND WE WILL NOT SPEAK OF THE AVATAR MOVIE.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com

Agreed about Chekov.

Not that there couldn't ALSO have been a Middle Eastern character, of course. (Maybe a kickass Palestinian woman captain. Who will exist if I ever write a space opera.)

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com

Yeah. Captain Pike, for example, could've been part-Middle Eastern or his name changed (I cannot remember if Pike is old school canon or not).

ETA: The IMDb tells me the first Captain-- Robau-- is indeed Pakistani-American.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com

Pike is old school canon, indeed he was in the very first episode ever filmed which didn't make it to the screen except in clips from the episode "Menagerie." Which has haunted me from the first day I saw it, all of eight or so.

I think Spock was as close as TV could get then to a serious, heroic Jewish character. Nimoy is, after all, very Jewish. And some people have said that his experience in Starfleet is quite similar to that of the "GI Jews" in WWII (to take the title of a book about them), including the people like McCoy who could not quite accept them. (Now there was an interesting examination of race/religious prejudice. I wonder if that's why McCoy was portrayed as a bit of a good ol' boy with a southern accent, not that this isn't a stereotype in its own right. And McCoy is never out-and-out hateful to Spock, but always lets him know he's not quite accepted.)

Another interesting aside: when Nichelle Nichols first auditioned for the role of Uhura, she was asked to read the role of Spock as being "closest to Uhura in personality."

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

And the "live long and prosper" hand gesture is actually the Cohen sign, as suggested by Nimoy.

That's an interesting point about McCoy's accent.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com

And McCoy's whole "I'm a doctor, not a [---]" attitude="Don't ask me to deal with this freaky alien stuff!" Yet, his heart is in the right place; he's one of the kindest and nicest people in Starfleet--unless you happen to be Spock.

I was hoping someone would pick up on the "live long and prosper" gesture! The rabbi does it to bless the congregation, who are supposed to cover their eyes, but Leonard used to peek.

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com

I thought he was! And sadly, there was a female first officer in that episode. But if they'd done that they would've had to kill her or something so ... it's a problem!

Oooh, that is interesting.

Nichelle Nichols has said she always thought of Spock as something of a mentor to Uhura. Which I actually liked that they put that in.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com

Spock was also quite close to Chekov, which was also interesting.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Not at all! Like I said, I complain because I love.

I really liked Captain # 1. He had a lot of presence and personality in a very brief (though crucial) role.) I did think the film was reasonably diverse in terms of race, especially by Hollywood standards - though again, less so by current standards than original Trek by its current standards.

Sulu was great.

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com

It's really part of the fun.

I did think the film was reasonably diverse in terms of race, especially by Hollywood standards - though again, less so by current standards than original Trek by its current standards.

That's the question though, isn't it? TV is more diverse, but watching the trailers was a depressing experience-- lots and lots of white leads with white supporting casts, even Land of the Lost, which looks kind of awesome but did they all have to be white? (My toxic rage over the Avatar movie may be coloring my perception here, to be fair.) I don't think they could've gotten a movie this diverse onscreen if it didn't have "Star Trek" written all over it.

I am so happy to see John Cho in more roles. He's so awesome. And it's kind of satisfying to have a multi-generational crush on a character, heh.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com

It's funny how much better DS9 was about all these things, and yet that doesn't seem to have affected the franchise.

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com

And in fact, it seemed like the last two TV shows were running away from DS9 with their metaphorical hair aflame.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com

True that. Very very true, alack and alas. I loved DS9, irrespectively even of liking Trek.

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com

Yeah, it was one of the least-Trek series but one of the best-done, I think.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com

It was closest in flavor to some of the backstory Vonda McIntyre has put into her Trek novelizations, or even some later feminist space opera. And Kira Nerys was one of the most believable female politician/fighter characters I've ever seen, with the strengths, ghosts and weaknesses, not only of a real life human being, but a real life human being who's seen the worst, has a strong appetite for power, but has managed to stay decent all the same. One could imagine her aging into a figure like Golda Meir or Indira Gandhi, with all the moral complexity and ambiguity thereof. I loved her.
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)

From: [personal profile] cofax7

What always bothered me as a kid watching reruns of the original was that a girl like me would have no place on the Enterprise. Forty years later, I still wouldn't.

Gene Roddenberry was way progressive for his time, in having female bridge crew at all; what's appalling is that Abrams seems to think nothing has changed in reality since 1965. And that we wouldn't notice.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

The gender roles seemed very J J Abrams: well-characterized and interesting as people, but extremely traditional.

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com

This is why I haven't seen the movie - it sounds as if they changed everything I want to see, and didn't change the things that I want to be different. I'd rather just go watch the original series again.
ext_2414: Brunette in glasses looking at viewer with books behind her (life needs change)

From: [identity profile] re-weird.livejournal.com

As much as I love Spock/Uhura and how much the movie left me in a haze of fannish glee, you are right that it's less progressive than the original; the original made bold moves for their time but that time was over forty years ago. There should be more reflection of the original philosophy in the new series.

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