I saw Star Trek Into Darkness last weekend, and I liked it. I did, however, have a discussion with my boyfriend about whether or not the movie had honored the proud Star Trek tradition of portraying empowered female characters who work side-by-side and on equal footing with their male counterparts. Here’s the thing: one strength of Star Trek has historically been that it portrays a future in which men and women are equals and it’s not a big deal. And I’m worried that Star Trek Into Darkness represents a (potentially big) step backwards in terms of staying faithful to the gender roles that were represented in the original series.
The movie definitely failed the Bechdel Test*, and it also featured the young James Kirk interrupted by a phone call while in bed with extra-terrestrial twins. And the young Dr. Marcus also stripped down to her bra and underwear in front of Kirk in a sequence that was, so far as I can tell, completely unnecessary. And even Uhura – whom I think of as a really badass and empowered female character – needed rescuing at least once, if not a couple of times. Uh”¦ so, yeah. There were issues.
I don’t mean to belabor an already-made point (I did write about similar topics here and here, though, if you are interested!), but there is a serious dearth of empowered and positive female lead characters in movies these days. Have you noticed that female characters are often villains if they are powerful, or else they are weak, rag doll-esque sex objects teetering around in too-tall heels and constantly in need of rescuing and/or guidance? This is most likely not news to you. I realize that. But bear with me.
Star Trek Into Darkness is definitely not as bad as some other action movies I’ve seen. After all, it is an enjoyable, entertaining and action-packed movie. But it failed the Bechdel Test, and it also definitely focused on the power and strength of the friendship between Kirk and Spock more than anything else. If I could quickly sum up the movie, one way would be the following:
Kirk: Dude, we’re so different, but I just care about you so much, bro! *Chest bump*
Spock: Yes. I understand your reasoning. Very logical. *wipes away a stray, half-human tear*
Where are the mainstream movies that give equal attention to female friendships? I would like to see them. Honestly. I’m not (only) trying to be snarky. Here’s an open invitation to filmmakers anywhere and everywhere to start making new kinds of movies with stories that feature female characters and female relationships. And as for Star Trek: I’m a little disappointed. I was looking forward to the movie, and I felt a little let down. Because, frankly, I don’t want to just be a side-kick or a sex-object. I mean: would you?
*For those of you who are not familiar: in order for a movie to pass the Bechdel Test, it must
(1) have at least two women in it
(2) who talk to each other
(3) about something besides a man.