Brainless Bits of Misogynist Flotsam in Star Trek: Into Darkness

ImageSaw Star Trek: Into Darkness this weekend. Great movie except two little bitty scenes, which I will discuss here.

Scene 1: The first came early in the movie. Chris Pine (Captain Kirk) is in bed with a ridiculously beautiful woman. His phone rings, and he sits up. So does the beautiful woman. There’s a lump in the bed. When he reaches for the phone, the other lump turns out to be—surprise surprise!—another beautiful woman in bed with him.

Scene 2: Later, Alice Eve (Carol Marcus) is explaining something to Captain Kirk in weapons jargon. She says, “Turn around,” and he does, while she goes on explaining.  He’s listening (barely) but turns around to peek anyway, giving us a look of what we knew we’d see: Carol in her sexy lingerie in a sort of bizarrely posed position.

My beef? You know what it is.

How did either of these scenes add anything—anything at all—to the film?

Both scenes occupied mere seconds of the film. Kirk sitting up in bed alone would have changed nothing. Alice Eve being fully clothed during the second scene would have changed nothing. The film gained nothing by adding these things, and thus would have lost nothing by removing them.

The predictable argument that Star Trek is a “guy’s movie” and that guys expect to see some T&A when they go to the theater is an outdated one, I’d say. Most of the self-proclaimed “geeks” that I’ve spoken to regard this kind of random sexual insertion as distracting and taking away from the film. Also, the idea that a male protagonist has to be a womanizing rebel is played out. Yawn. Snoozeville. “Oh, the second lump is…another chick! Threesome?! Score! I’ve never seen that in a movie before!” …..said no one ever in their life.

To me it seems that directors like J.J. Abrams—and Hollywood itself—are a little behind in the times. Apparently no one told them that “chicks dig” nerd stuff too and that they are alienating a huge audience when they choose to include brainless bits of misogynist flotsam in their otherwise decent movies.

Hollywood, you need to do three things.

1) Stop alienating your female audience. We exist, we like space and aliens…and we have money.

2) Give your male audience a little credit. They don’t need boobs! boobs! boobs! boobs! to enjoy your film.

3) Be good filmmakers. If a scene contributes nothing, cut it. Period. Stop pandering to imaginary penises.

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3 thoughts on “Brainless Bits of Misogynist Flotsam in Star Trek: Into Darkness

  1. Robert Cole says:

    Your remarks are so phenomenally sensible that they don’t need to be said. Except that…well, apparently (and not surprisingly, as you point out) they DO need saying, and saying again and again. Those two scene-lets are so outdated that it’s as if they were conceived in another time altogether. They WERE, yet the outlook that spawned them lives on, zombie-like.
    One last comment: I happen to think that Alice Eve is terribly attractive. So why did they pose her in a manner that resembles a blow-up sex doll? Hmm…

    • oliviaacole says:

      Thank you for commenting! I completely agree that it’s as if the scenes were conceived in another era. It’s kind of sad and blatantly “pandery.” I saw the movie with a male and he said of the scene with Alice Eve, “It was jarring. Completely took me out of the flow of the movie.”

      And that, ladies in gentleman, is bad directing.

  2. I finally just saw this movie, and was startled by how much sexism exists in this (and this particular franchise as a whole)! Kirk in bed with alien women is a wink at the old ’60s series. It was funny in 2009, this time, like you said, my initial reaction was eye-roll. Oh look, Asian-looking girl! with a tail! times 2! Whee! (Abrams boner count 1). But seeing the aliens in their underwear is the least of the crimes, primarily because these women apparently had consensual sex with Kirk. Women are sexual, showing those moments appropriately isn’t sexist. But in Star Trek’s case, the women in both movies are captured on screen for the viewer’s maximum sex appeal. (Side note: Uhura undresses in ’09. An innocent moment for her, mainly shown for comedic effect, but also perpetuates this adolescent ’80s movie-style notion that women are totally comfortable undressing in front of each other. Maybe they are, I don’t know, but in my experience that’s about as likely as spontaneous pillow fight).
    There’s also the fact that female officers in Starfleet dress in tight mini-dresses, despite the fact that female astronauts and military members today do not. The Star Trek future is supposed to utopian, but apparently for mainly those who like lithe, pretty legs. I know they’re trying to capture that ’60s look. Scotty looks like he’s dressed like a pimp at one point. But I don’t care here in 2013. It’s a stupid uniform design that Into Darkness even proves is inefficient when…
    Carol Marcus strips to her underwear for a mission. The year is 225-freakin’-9. Space exploration has advanced far beyond our current limitations, so much so that women essentially get to serve as Mad Men-esque secretaries in space on board the Enterprise in their cool tight mini-dresses. I hope, if in our reality, we get to a future like that, that we are much more efficient in our uniform designs. I say this because Marcus only strips to change out of her cute blue dress into a jumpsuit to do torpedo work. Had they required efficient uniforms for space exploration, there would be no need to strip & change. But let’s say the situation calls for it. Ok, fine, Kirk glances at her admirably in her underwear. He’s a womanizer, we see what he sees, joke got. But here’s the crux of the problem, and it’s not just that she’s in her underwear. It’s the shot itself. This is not a woman hurrying to prepare for a life-saving mission. This is a woman Posing, like a model, at an inappropriate time in the movie, for maximum sex appeal. It’s basically soft-core porn. Abrams puts up another score on the boner board.
    People, including Damon Lindelof above, argue Chris Pine was also shown in his underwear in this, and those alien girls were also underwear-clad. But that’s where the big difference is. People expressing romance and/or sexuality isn’t shocking when it’s appropriate for the story or setting. That shot of Carol Marcus is pure exploitation. There’s no other way to view it. The film took that moment to take advantage of her body to sell it to “Star Trek nerds” with this cynical belief that they’re a bunch of sex-starved losers. Also, the Chris Pine underwear shot is after he nailed two chicks. Seeing him half-naked, we’re supposed to give him a wink and a thumbs up for yet another conquest. Have a whiskey and a cigarette, pal. You earned it. Oh yeah!
    The funny thing is, Marcus’ underwear shot got all the controversy. There are a couple others that are almost pure exploitation that went under the radar. It’s right after Uhura causes the shuttle to crash on Kronos. Yes, we have to blame Uhura for inconveniently being a female stereotype and picking a critical life-threatening mission to discuss her relationship with Spock, thus distracting the crew from a Klingon onslaught. When she leaves the crashed shuttle to put her linguistic skills to the test and confront the Klingons we get a couple of interestingly-framed shots. The background of the gathering Klingons is in focus, while the foreground shows Uhurua walking to them unfocused. The camera is angled up, tightly framed on her ass and legs down to her knees and arms. That’s all we see of her as she strides (saunters) to the Klingons. Eight seconds of a tight, little ass in tight pants or leggings (she’s the only one in that crew wearing tight legwear, btw), that draw every sexy curve of her lower body. The shot puts the Klingons in focus since we’re “supposed” to concentrate on the new arrivals to the story. But that unfocused, lithe slice of sexiness draws the eye hypnotically. It can’t be helped. Uhurua’s walking is the only real motion in that shot. All the Klingons, but one, are standing still, uniformly in bulky armor and helmets. Her butt is prominently in view and on display. I admit, I only took note of it because my first reaction was a Homer Simpson-like “mmmmm….Zoe…”
    That’s when it hit me. Holy crap! I’m subconsciously sexualizing Zoe Saldana’s body during a key moment in a Star Trek movie. They put her butt and legs in that shot like that for almost 10 seconds, and I can only think the main purpose was to give everyone a good long look at that piece of ass. The shot could’ve been framed differently, The camera still angling up to make the Klingons look larger, stranger and thus more fearsome, with and MCU of Saldana’s back and head, giving a dual effect that she’s smaller than the Klingons, but also larger in her spirit. No, they went with the ass shot.
    I’m not surprised when I see exploitation portrayed in standard male-oriented action films. It’s not right, but I see how it sells tickets. But this is Star Trek, a franchise with the express aim of promoting better equality across the board. The early shows, yes, there’s probably an argument for how women were exploited then, and it’s sad. Yet, the franchise grew out of that, but Star Trek Into Darkness took a big step back into the darkness of exploiting women to pander to a certain demographic of the overall audience. This new Star Trek should take a long look at whether they’re staying true to the franchise’s philosophy.

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