Star Trek Into Darkness: Where Did All The Strong Starfleet Women Go?

uhura-originalStar Trek has always been about achieving your fullest potential no matter your race, gender, creed, or pointiness of ears. Which is why the utter lack of strong women in Star Trek Into Darkness is a slap in the face to all the outstanding female Star Trek characters we’ve met over the years.

Spoiler alert, Captain!

We like Star Trek because it has strong women. Gene Roddenberry’s original pilot had one of the series’ strongest women in Number One, its first officer. Although this was too much in the 1960s for chauvinistic network execs, the series slipped one over with Uhura, whose short skirt belied her intelligence, wit, and talent.

That’s why I’m saddened to see Nu-Uhura reduced to lip quivering and teary eyes as her primary means of communication. In STID she exists solely to express Spock’s emotions for him, so we can see he is a Deeply Troubled Vulcan.

STID-uhuraHer one big chance to shine is when she says, “You brought me here to speak Klingon, so let me speak Klingon.” I’m waiting for her to grab a phaser, because isn’t that how you speak Klingon? No, she’s going to talk to them and offer help. From what I understand, in most Klingon provinces that gets you quickly dead. This scene could have been full of an awesome Uhura kicking some serious ass while still using her brains and her linguistic skills. Instead she acts like it’s her first day on the job.

Even worse, however, is Carol Marcus. In one stroke of a misguided scriptwriter’s pen, this woman has gone from scientific powerhouse to Daddy’s little girl whose only role is to scream as if she’s in a 1950s B-movie.

twok-carol-marcusThe original Carol Marcus battled the Federation and Starfleet for control of her research project. Her team was so dedicated that they willingly underwent Khan’s torture so she could escape with the Genesis Device. (The original suave creepy Khan, not the “I’m too sexy for my coat” Nu-Khan.) She was not a woman to take crap from anybody, least of all Jim Kirk.

STID-carolThis Carol Marcus is supposedly an advanced weapons scientist, but for an advanced weapons scientist she sure doesn’t seem to know much about fighting, or tactics, or… well, much of anything other than how to keep her blonde hair looking perfect in the lens flare. She spends the pivotal moments of the movie either screaming or whining at her Daddy about what a meanypants he is. Or displaying her underwear. Can you picture Bibi Besch doing this?

Didn’t Dr. Marcus go to Starfleet? Don’t they have training on things like torture and not letting a little ol’ shattered kneecap get you down? And why is she helping McCoy at the end? I thought she was an advanced weapons scientist, not a medical doctor. Or is her only function at this point to pass test tubes to McCoy and tell him how brilliant he is, as Jo Grant once described her role as the Third Doctor’s assistant?

(Although… it would have been hilarious to have Uhura and Carol kidnapped by transporter while Quinto’s Spock yells: “THE WOMEN!!!!”)

To me, Uhura and Carol Marcus were the biggest disappointments in this movie. They could have been so much better and instead they were relegated to stereotypical, subordinate roles. What happened to the Starfleet of the future, where women like Janeway and Kira kick as much ass as the men?

This is not a Starfleet that will develop a Borg Queen-defeating Janeway. She’ll be designated some desk job at Starfleet HQ where her talents are wasted while lesser officers are promoted simply for being male. That is the universe we saw in Star Trek Into Darkness: a projection of today’s rampant misogyny codified by girls who sob or scream for help instead of relying on their own talents.

The amusing one-liners, the original series shout-outs, and the special effects weren’t enough for me to like this movie, and I have been to every Trek premiere since Trek IV. I went into STID wanting to like it. I enjoyed the first one, even though I wasn’t happy with some of the directions it took, because at least it was different and didn’t simply copy the original. And, for the first three-fourths of Star Trek Into Darkness, I thought, optimistically, that we would get more of that. Instead it degenerated into a wild-eyed mess that wasn’t even worthy of a second-season TNG montage episode.

Do better, Star Trek. As T’Pol told Hoshi, you’re capable of it.

 

Fake Geek Girls? You Think Women WANT This Job?

Apparently the science fiction community is being flooded – FLOODED, I TELL YOU – by fake geek girls: women with insufficient geek cred who are only pretending to be geeks for the attention.

Say what? Being a female geek is a tough job thanks to the cretins who are put out that female geeks won’t, well, put out. Do you really think it’s likely that women are going to volunteer for this?

Do you think women are lining up waiting for their big chance to struggle with an uphill career? Face sexual harassment at cons? Get stalked online? Be treated like a maidservant or a cuddlebunny or an NPC instead of a peer of equal knowledge and experience?

Women aren’t supposed to be able to fix computers or name all 79 original episodes of Star Trek. It goes against the natural order of geekdom. The genre that prides itself in being “strange and unusual” thinks it’s too strange and unusual to include women.

What’s interesting is how certain levels of female geekdom, over time, have become reluctantly tolerated. I can remember when being a female Doctor Who fan was considered weird. Today, girls are allowed to be Whovians because it’s assumed they’re only doing so to watch David Tennant’s rear. (Clearly ridiculous. We’re ALL in it to watch David Tennant’s rear. Matt Smith’s, too.)

Similarly, girls are permitted to like comic books, but only if they emit the pre-requisite cooing over Loki and dress in provocative superhero cosplay for the benefit of the men around them.

As a geek woman, I like what I like and it just so happens that most of it is geeky. I didn’t start reading Hitchhiker’s Guide so I could impress my boyfriend. I haven’t spent 20+ years in technology because Windows is soooo cute when it crashes.

The idea that women would willingly subject themselves to the misogynistic crap that comes standard with female geekdom seems unlikely at best. Somehow I can’t picture a woman secretly fine-tuning her knowledge of python or Cerebus just so she can bask in the attention. Because the attention she’s likely to get is going to be negative – “You can’t like that, it’s for GUYS!”

Most female geeks I’ve met don’t want male geeks to know the extent of their geekdom. They hide it, because once people find out you’re a female geek, you’re never good enough.

Like when a male geek finds out that you, a female geek, like something he likes. Then you get subjected to the big interrogation – Which episode did this happen in? Who guest starred in season 2? How many spaceships are in the background in such-and-such scene? You have to prove that you REALLY know your geek in order to be accepted as a geek, and even then you’re never truly accepted.

It’s the same in IT. Women in technology are constantly having to prove we know our stuff even better than the men do. Yet we still have to put up with the doubt expressed by those around us: Why are you here? What makes you think you belong?

Geekdom is the love of something you’ve found, the adoration that makes you cry out to everyone around you, “YES! This is an AWESOME THING and you must experience it!” Why is that okay for men and not for women? And why are female geeks so threatening that some feel the need to invent the idea of “fake geek girls” so that any women who claim geekdom can be readily dismissed as Not Geek Enough?

Here are some blogs from people who are talking about fake geek girl syndrome and what it represents. Food for thought.

What do you think of the fake geek girl phenomenon?

image via I Can Haz Cheezburger

Fangirl Review: Doctor Who/Star Trek Assimilation2 #3: Blast From The Past

When we last left our heroes, Jean-Luc Picard and the Eleventh Doctor were up against a creepy combination of Borg and Cybermen. And it looks like things are getting a little timey-wimey…

Spoilers!

This issue segues from “current” events in the 24th Century to “past” events of the 23rd involving the original Enterprise team: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, plus some curly-haired guy in a long scarf. Who? Right!

I’m pleased that the cover of Assimilation2 issue 3 wasn’t a marketing ploy, putting Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on a cover with Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor just to sell more comics. It’s actually relevant to the plot. Good. Covers that show scenes that aren’t even in the comic tick me off – it’s like false advertising. (What do you MEAN Rogue doesn’t actually kiss Gambit in this issue?!)

The art continues to appeal to me. I like the segue from modern artwork to old-school as we move from Picard’s era to Kirk’s. I can’t help hearing Matt Smith’s voice in my head as I read Eleven’s dialogue, or Tom Baker’s as I read Four. Speaking as a fan of both Old Who and New, it’s not easy to pull off something that will appeal to both.

I still want to know exactly when this takes place in Four’s timeline. Circa The Deadly Assassin, perhaps? That might explain the lack of companion. Or maybe he just nipped out for a moment while Leela was swimming in the TARDIS pool (which at that time was not in the library).

In this issue, the timelines are changing and the Eleventh Doctor’s memories have been altered by Four’s Kirk-era encounter with the Cybermen. Yay for the timey-wimey! Still waiting to hear whether the Doctor has traveled to the Star Trek universe or if the Doctor Who and Star Trek universes are actually the same (temporarily? permanently?).

Set warp factor to “annoy”: Must we always hide in nebulae when the senior officers need to talk? For pity’s sake, Starfleet might as well install nebula generators in every starship for those emergency tactical debriefings during tense enemy encounters. “Fire up the nebula generator, Number One. Mr. LaForge and Mr. Data have some technobabble for us.”

LOL moment: “Don’t be ridiculous, Commander. I’m nowhere near 100.”

And the last panel… oooh, the last panel. I won’t spoil it, for those who haven’t read it yet. But of all the people in the Trek universe to meet the Doctor…! This is one you won’t want to miss.

Fangirl Review: Doctor Who/Star Trek Assimilation2 #2: We’re Getting The Band Back Together!

This series is outstanding. My fangirl giggles are echoing back in time, which must be confusing for my classic Trek-quoting, Fifth Doctor-obsessed tweenage self.

(Don’t miss Fangirl Review of Assimilation2 #1: The Doctor Who/Star Trek Crossover Begins!)

The art is great. The writing is great. The characters are in character, and I can’t emphasize enough how important that is when you’re combining two iconic series. It’s a little predictable — but it’s predictable in a “TNG on Saturday night” kind of way.

Because by the second page it really felt like it was Saturday night and time to gather ’round the TV for a new episode of TNG. We start off with a typical friendship-building conversation between Geordi and Data that made me want to beg for another season of the show. The rest of the TNG crew were in character but perhaps a little wooden. Crusher and Troi got short shrift, although I enjoyed Troi’s empathic description of the Doctor. Worf is as Klingon as ever, Picard and Riker are doing the Captain/First Officer routine. (No Wesley? I guess it’s too much of a risk that he’d tell the Enterprise crew to kiss off so he can cavort around the universe with the Doctor. After all, wouldn’t you rather be told “don’t wander off” instead of “shut up”?)

The whole issue felt like watching TNG, except when it felt like watching Doctor Who. I’m not sure I can envision any Doctor other than Matt Smith’s aboard the Enterprise D at this point. (Well, David Tennant. I can picture David Tennant anywhere.) In Assimilation2, Eleven is his clever and curious self. When he meets the TNG crew, naturally the first thing he’s going to do is examine Data’s head with scientific glee. And, as usual, his mouth is running faster than his brain.

Amy and Rory – “You see THAT, Doctor? They have WINDOWS in their ship and everything.” As Rose said, finally, a professional!  Also, I like Amy’s outfit. I’m half-expecting Riker to hit on Amy so Rory can go all Roman on him like Data did in The Offspring. Leadworth 1, Alaska 0.

Personally, if I saw a mixed fleet of Cyber and Borg ships coming my way, I’d pee my pants before grabbing some gold and a modulating phaser. Yikes.

But the best part of the whole issue wasn’t even part of the issue. It’s the cover for issue #3. I can’t describe the awesomeness, you have to see. As George Takei would say: Ohhhh My!

Fangirl Review of Assimilation2 #1: The Doctor Who/Star Trek Crossover Begins!

Say these words with me and savor them like a fine wine: Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover. This, boys and girls, is what fandom is all about. The new series is Assimilation2 (that’s “squared”) and should tide us over until Series 7 comes out.

Spoiler alert, Captain!

I think we were all a little nervous going into this. It’s not the first time Who and Trek have been united, but it is one of the more significant. New Who is wildly popular and TNG Trek has become as revered as TOS. For old-school fans like me, the expectations are high. Two great tastes that go great together… as long as nobody screws it up.

So far, FTW! The artwork is excellent. I hate it when a comic ends up with crappy art – it’s one of the reasons I stopped reading comics back in the 1990s. In Assimilation2, people look like people we know and not Wolverine doing an imitation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This is good.

More importantly, people sound like people we know. The problem with adapting popular characters to comics is that sometimes the characterization is way off. Although we haven’t heard from our TNG friends yet, the banter between the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory is refreshingly accurate. This is also good.

There are some Easter eggs for classic fans to enjoy, including “Tom’s Bakery” on 4th Street (giggle). And when a Borg and a Cyberman are standing there arm in arm in robot bromance, you’d better run.

I’m trying to figure out if the Doctor has jumped into the Trek universe or if both universes are the same. I’m not sure they can manage the latter, canonically, although it might be amusing to watch them try. I don’t remember seeing Ice Warriors in Utopia Planitia, but I could picture Boothby as a future incarnation of the Doctor (shades of One, I should think). But poor Rory better watch out because he’s died so many times he’s practically begging to be redshirt material.

Looking forward to issue #2. Judging from the last panel, our first meeting between Time Lord and Starfleet should be interesting indeed…