Star Trek reboot fails the Bechdel test and is generally a genderfail


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My only problem with that as a test is that all Uhura, Marcus, and Gaila could have been on screen at the same time, in their underwear, discussing how the three of them were going to have a threesome, and that would pass the test. The only stipulation is that two women have to have a conversation that doesn’t involve men. I daresay most Star Trek outside of Voyager fails this test.

EDIT: It would drive me nuts if I failed to point out there were four named female characters in the reboot. Nobody cares about Amanda Grayson, apparently. And despite my critique of the Bedschel test, I was extremely disappointed in the changes in Dr. Marcus. She’s sort of badass in her own way in Wrath of Khan, and even though she sort of is in this one, they did that whole gratuitous underwear scene. Why?


Yes. And I’m sorry to say, “now that your mention it”. Gah!

But Voyager had 7of9 which pretty much made up for all that in spades.
And then Enterprise had T’Pol with her skin tight outfit as well.

Yeah, 7 of 9 and T’pol were pointlessly exploitative. At least with Jeri Ryan, though, they obviously had no idea what a fantastic actress they’d brought on board. She and Robert Picardo carried that show in the last 3 seasons.


“…makes me think that the reboot is a very retrograde move in the history of the Trek franchise and how it deals with women.”

Dude, you could say the same for the 21st century thus far.


I was hard pressed to find any of Roddenberry’s original intent in the reboot, honestly. I made it about 30 minutes into the first one and just wasn’t interested…


What, women don’t like explosions and running?

The point of the Bechdel test isn’t that a movie which passes it has proved itself to be woman friendly in any way. It’s more meant as a tool to let us recognize how many movies don’t have female characters realized enough to do this simple thing. A movie could easily pass the test and be horribly sexist, or fail and be thoughtful and intelligent on gender issues.

But the fact that when looked at in aggregate, two named women talking about something other than a man is a rarity should make us wonder.


T’Pol got a sponge bath from Tucker in Enterprise…

But then again Tucker was in his underwear at the time.

Well, we’ve seen Kirk in his skivvies twice now at least. Take out the underwear criterion and there’s still a point to be made though.

There’s none of Roddenberry’s idealism in the reboot. The movies are . . . movies. Big loud action and Hollywood-formula drama. I enjoyed both of them, but I can’t help but thinking that these movies are a kind of placeholder, keeping the Trek franchise alive while the spirit of the show lies dormant.

The ideals of equality, tolerance, optimism and maturity that Gene Roddenberry championed seem . . . not lost, but dormant too.

Well, after the ugly reactionary snarling revealed on comment threads this last week . . . dormant and buried deep, deep underground.


I liked Wil Wheaton’s review of Star Trek Into Darkness, and honestly, if I hadn’t re-read it just now, I would have forgotten that the first Enterprise crew member to face down the Klingons was Uhura. Don’t worry, he calls Damon Lindelof to task over making Carol Marcus into eye candy.

It’s a shame that the real point of STID has been missed, which is that it’s an allegory for what’s happened in post-9/11 America, and when it comes to using the 23rd Century to talk about current taboo issues, you can’t get much more Trek than that.


I think this is giving TOS a little too much credit. Calling Yeoman Rand and Nurse Chapel major characters is an overstatement, and frankly Uhura was severely underutilized as well. At least the 2009 film didn’t have that particular problem.

(Disclaimer: I haven’t actually seen Into Darkness.)


Can it be dug up, though?

I haven’t seen Into Darkness yet either, but I have to agree, there are very few episodes of TOS in which Rand or Chapel played anything but normal female 60’s roles. In Roddenberry’s defense he couldn’t have sold it to NBC otherwise, Thankfully, Martin Luther King, Jr., recognized the opportunity that Nichelle Nichols had in the role of Uhura, a senior officer.


TOS underutilized its female characters to the point where Nichelle Nichols almost quit the show over it. However, Rodenberry had little control over what he could sell to the network. After all, Rodenberry originally had a woman first mate in the original pilot, but the network said he could have either a female first officer or an alien on the bridge, but not both.


You are correct but in Roddenberry’s defense his original vision for the show was a bit more progressive than what finally aired. The pilot had a female first officer and nary a miniskirt to be seen.


(Relevant part is at 1:30)


Everybody praise TOS for it’s gender depiction and the pilot with Chapel as first officer is always cited. I’m in the process of finally watching all of TOS (around S02e05), and it does not seems that much progressive to me.

The first season Yeoman is a poor little creature and Spock almost say that she must have enjoyed the rape attempt of evil Kirk. Every face close up of female character use some kind of glossy shot “look how she is gorgeous”. Kirk is annoyed that if Scotty manage to seduce a female officer he will lose her to marital life. In the same episode, the dynamic between Scotty Apollo and her depict her as submissive to whoever claims her.

Female are officers of the enterprise but they are second class officers that always turn to men for help.

Let’s compare that to the UK TV show the avengers, where Emma Peel is a strong female character that is a way more liberated female character than Uhura.

I really enjoy Star Trek, but we do not need to make it look like the ultimate humanist beacon of the 60’s.

And let’s not talk about Kirk and the teenage girl in the Miri episode…