Skip to main content

Gender Inequality and 'Star Trek Into Darkness'


J.J Abrams has gotten himself in a bit of hot water as of late, the director received criticism for a scene of Alice Eve in her underwear for, what most argued, absolutely no reason. Appearing on Conan last night to defend himself, Abrams argues that there was such reason for Eve to be stripping during the scene: her stripping during her defusal of a weapon was meant to "provide a break in the middle of all this action and adventure,”* he said, and to "reinforce the idea of Captain Kirk as a ladies’ man"* (if anyone ever needed reminding that Kirk is a ladies' man, than they weren't watching the movie).

Abrams later contended that Chris Pine appears in a state of undress as well, but given that this appearance is post-love scene, that makes sense. If that line of reasoning didn't appeal to critics, then he played a deleted scene of Benedict Cumberbatch showering. While placing that scene in the film may have eased some qualms that Eve was objectified, Cumberbatch's deleted scene was just that, deleted.

Still, the point remains that thematically, Cumberbatch being naked would make sense given he is showering. What is the point of Eve undressing during her conversation?

Gratuitous displays of skin appear frequently in another big franchises like James Bond and comic book films, but the difference is, if Abrams is going to play the gratuitous skin card, he should do so with both sexes. Daniel Craig is on the screen shirtless maybe more than anyone (007's famous scene emerging from the water will attest to that).

More importantly, those films had female characters that were better written. Skyfall had Judi Dench's character defining performance as M and The Avengers managed to avoid demeaning any of the female characters at all during its runtime. Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) managed her own in combat and didn't have to strip to her undies when she interrogated Loki (Tom Hiddleston). That is the difference between what Sam Mendes and Joss Whedon did, and what Abrams did not.

All clothing issues aside, the real problem with this debate is that the prominent female characters of Into Darkness are reduced to their feelings about the male characters, or their anatomy. Uhura's (Zoe Saldana) sole motivation throughout the film is to pine for Spock and that is it. For one of the strongest female characters in pop culture to be defined solely through her affections for a man is misrepresenting Uhura in her entirety.

In a series that has long promoted equality for all races and genders, this point is hardest to stomach. It has been almost fifty years since the Enterprise lifted off, where is the progress in movies now? Will the next mission on the Enterprise feature some female roles with depth?

Having Ms. Eve strip down for essentially no reason is only a symptom of the larger problem that populates films: women are under-written. Benedict Cumberbatch showering can't make up for that.

* Meredith Blake May. "J.J. Abrams to Critics: Here's Benedict Cumberbatch in the Shower!" Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 23 May 2013. Web. 23 May 2013.

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…