13 July 2013

Strong female roles

Just so you know, I don't consider myself to be a feminist. As a matter of fact I find the term 'feminist' to be slightly offensive as it seems to come with the impression that women are better than men. 'Equalist' is a better term as we are all people and therefore all equal.

I had been looking forward to the movie Star Trek: Into the Darkness pretty much since the first J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek came out. Not wanting to fight the crowds on opening weekend, S and I saw it a little later. I came out of the theater feeling like I wanted to meet J.J. Abrams just to sit him down and give him the What For. How incredibly disappointing that he portrayed Star Fleet upper echelon as all older white men. Not a woman to be seen as a captain of a starship. And ok, when Gene Roddenberry first conceived the idea of Star Trek the general population had a better time imagining an alien as First Officer instead of a woman. But if J.J. could change the cannon of Star Trek by blowing up the Vulcan world and thereby creating an entirely different timeline, he could have had some women (and maybe aliens) as captains or upper mucky-mucks in Star Fleet. I mean, the Enterprise had a very diverse crew...but why only the Enterprise?

There is something for movies called the Bechdel Test which has three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. Let's keep that in mind for a minute. 

Darkness had two named women in the movie: Uhura and Carol (who, in the original series was Dr. Carol Marcus, a brilliant woman. Here she has to sneak on board the Enterprise and is referred to often as a daddy's girl). So the movie meets the first criteria. The women don't ever talk to each other though. And Uhura has a monologue discussing her relationship with Spock in front of their boss, Kirk.

In addition I was amazed to see Carol in her underwear. I wasn't offended at the undies or yardage of skin showing, I was offended because there was no reason why she would have to change her clothes...and in front of her captain. Ugh.

On the flip side of that are two TV shows that portray smart, educated, well-rounded, women. What are they? Castle and Elementary.

In Castle, Beckett is a detective and Castle is a playboy author that follows her around for inspiration. While Beckett does talk about her relationship with Castle, she also talks about her job, her family, ethics, politics, and even money. Castle, oddly enough, spends a fair bit of screen time discussing his relationship with Beckett. Kind of a reversal of roles from what I'm accustomed to seeing.

Next is Elementary, this is a fantastic show about Sherlock Holmes and Watson...who is a woman. She talks to other women as equals (as does Beckett) about a myriad of topics instead of just men and her value as a girlfriend/wife/daughter. What surprised me in the last season was Moriarty - Sherlock's nemesis - is also a woman. And a woman equal to or more clever than the famous Sherlock Holmes. 

So there is hope out there that women can be portrayed as intelligent people. J.J. did a fine job on Fringe, so maybe Darkness was just a lapse in judgement. Hopefully.


Anonymous said...

Love, love, love those TV shows!!! You are right about the Star Trek movie but I didn't expect anything else from them.

Thanks for your thoughts
Aunt Margaret

Charmain said...

This is awesome!