Saturday, June 8, 2013


Okay, now that some other dust has settled, it's past time for me to comment on some contentious issues, regarding Star Trek: Into Darkness -- some of which have been widely talked about, some of which haven't. In no particular order...

Space Babes In Underwear

Okay, I'll admit it, when I first saw the completely random trailer image of Alice Eve's Dr. Carol Marcus standing inside a shuttlecraft, wearing only a bra and panties for no apparent reason, I had to suppress a cynical chuckle. Yes, it's cheap. It's gratuitous (especially out of context). Frankly, I thought that even an amped-up version of Trek could do better, to sell the movie to mass audiences. But the words "sexist" and "misogynistic" never crossed my mind.

For one thing, the only way this even REMOTELY qualifies as "nudity", is if you're so ashamed of your own body that you don't have a bathroom mirror because you're disgusted to glimpse yourself coming out of the shower. Seeing a woman's cleavage, stomach, and thighs, is not on the same level as seeing her nipples, buttocks, or vagina. There's a reason why nude and non-nude beaches are considered separate things.

For another... have the complainers even SEEN the original Star Trek? Here's some of the more... notable... female guest costumes.

As you can see, the original series -- made in a time so conservative that an INTERRACIAL CREW was considered to be edgy -- was no stranger to copious female flesh, including coming very close to side boob and side butt. Furthermore, at least the new movie provides SOME explanation, for Marcus being seen in her skivvies -- she's changing uniforms, right before a mission -- which is more than we usually got for these outfits on the show. Furthermore, the show really WAS misogynistic, in terms of how it actually REFERRED to women, at times. Several episodes claimed that women were weaker and more easily scared, you can certainly argue that Uhura was little more than eye candy and a glorified phone operator, and there was even an occasion where Spock explained that the reason why a probe detected "chaotic thoughts and impulses" from her WAS BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN.

Besides, I don't recall seeing a WORD of outrage, over this...

Same sub-series of the franchise, essentially the same "outfit"... no complaints of woman hating. Maybe some people are just racist against green women.

Copying The End of WRATH OF KHAN

This one, I can kinda agree with. The Enterprise gets badly damaged, and is going to be destroyed unless the engines can be repaired/restarted RIGHT NOW. Being the only one available and willing to do it, Spock/Kirk knock out McCoy/Scotty, and do the job, even though there is a massive radiation leak that will certainly kill them. And it does. However, it does so only after Kirk/Spock rushes down from the bridge for a tearful farewell, assuring the hero that his sacrifice was worth it, and that the surviving bromancer doesn't need to grieve. Our hero passes on, moments after these friends "touch" each others' hand through a pane of glass, forming the Vulcan hand greeting for "Live Long and Prosper".

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, this was a VERY moving scene -- easily the saddest moment in all of Trek, and possibly all of sci-fi cinema. So sure enough, Trek itself has tried to ape this on several occasions since then. Generations did it with Shatner's Kirk. Nemesis did it for Data. There was even a Voyager episode, where an alternate timeline had Tuvok dying, completely out of nowhere, in a scene THAT USED THE SAME FREAKING LINES. And this movie DID THE SAME THING!

For me, this scene crossed the line from paying homage, to just blatant copying-and-pasting. When my dad and I saw this, I literally muttered "Oh for crying out loud..." and got a chuckle out of him. I don't mind that they replayed the overall premise and reversed the roles -- in fact, I completely agree with Chuck from SFDebris, that this could have worked masterfully, if done right. The problem is that they basically just read from the 1982 Nicholas Meyer script, minus the 15 years of time spent with these characters, and plus the obvious fact that we weren't going to leave Kirk dead for very long... meaning I was more bored by it, than anything else.

Though to give credit where it's due, this is by no means the fault of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. This is a problem with the writing, not the acting.


Yep, I'm going there. 

As had been speculated, from the moment this movie was announced, it turns out that the annoyingly mysterious villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch... is Khan. Khan is THE top villain, in Star Trek. A former warlord, consigned to cryogenic exile, he is a genetically engineered superman -- extremely intelligent, much stronger and faster than a normal human, and with a ruthless ambition to match. Simply put, THIS IS NOT A MAN TO BE FUCKED WITH. He's the reason why Spock died, in the movie I just mentioned. The problem is that his full name, is Khan Noonien Singh. While it was never verified (in canon), it was speculated that he is a Sikh -- certainly it sounds like he should be from the Far East.  Yet in this new movie... he's played by a rather pale Londoner.

Okay, granted, Ricardo Montalban was a Mexican... though at least his complexion was SOMEWHAT right (and to be fair, as I'd already inferred, the show wasn't made in a time known for being racially sensitive).

Bob Orci, one of this movie's writers and producers, did bring up a great reason for doing this (in general):

"Basically, as we went through the casting process and we began honing in on the themes of the movie, it became uncomfortable for me to support demonizing anyone of color, particularly any one of Middle Eastern descent or anyone evoking that. One of the points of the movie is that we must be careful about the villain within US, not some other race."

I absolutely agree... though it begs the question, why bother making Khan the villain, in the first place? And this question extends way beyond having a white -- though VERY skilled actor -- playing the part. We know Khan's story... and frankly, there's not much to be told. Aside from his charisma, intelligence, and brutality, there is NOTHING to the guy. His motivation, quite simply, is to take over the galaxy.

In contrast, while Cumberbatch's character was billed as "John Harrison" -- an irritatingly obvious alias, if ever there was one -- the speeches he'd made in the trailers were genuinely unnerving AND INTERESTING. He was described as a top Starfleet officer, who had gone rogue after some kind of ideological break. Between that and his Hannibal Lecter-like knack for reading our heroes like books, I was hoping this was going to be a much more psychological villain.

Then it turns out to be just another comic book villain, though thankfully played to curdle blood, rather than chew scenery. I would have much rather seen an ORIGINAL villain, in this supposedly revitalized version of the series, than just go down the beaten path again.

Comments? Observations? Complaints? Leave them below.