OPEN THREAD: Star Trek Writer Apologizes for "Gratuitous" and "Misogynistic" Underwear Scene -- Is This Necessary/Enough?

Publish date:
May 23, 2013
sexism, movies, open thread, Star Trek

YEAH SO last Friday I went with all the other nerds to see the new entry to the endless Star Trek franchise, this being JJ Abrams' second effort, subtitled "INTO DARKNESS" for no actual apparent reason that is revealed in the film aside from the fact that "INTO DARKNESS" sounds kind of ominous and exciting without promising anything specific -- kind of like "Nemesis"? Or "Insurrection." You get the idea.

It was okay. Like fanfiction. Except you have to pay for it. Something to do while you eat your nachos. ANYWAY there is a really weird part in the movie where --

Actually I'm going to pause here just in case what I'm about to tell you counts as a spoiler? So don't keep reading if you don't want to be spoiled about a pretty pointless and inconsequential moment.

-- where Chris Pine's Captain Kirk and Alice Eve's Carol Marcus (which will mean something to those of you who know "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" really well? Only it doesn't because JJ Abrams semi-randomly cherrypicked aspects of that movie to use in this one, but in different ways, which also begs the question WHY DID YOU EVEN REBOOT STAR TREK INTO A WHOLE DIFFERENT TIMELINE IF YOU WERE JUST GOING TO GO BACK AND STEAL SHIT FROM THE TIMELINE YOU AREN'T USING, JJ ABRAMS? but I digress) are having a conversation.

And then in the middle of a businesslike conversation about the inscrutable and unlikely plot, expert weapons specialist Carol Marcus tells Kirk, "Turn around," because she's going to change into different space garb, like, right now. And he turns around, but then OOPS HE TURNS BACK AROUND TO SEE HER IN HER UNDERWEAR AND WE ALL GET TO SEE TOO! Alice Eve is very pretty, by the way!

The way the scene is shot is so blatantly appealing to prurient interest that it actually startled me. Like I half-expected Carol Marcus to do something crazy, like rip out Kirk's eyeballs with a heretofore unrevealed psychokinetic ability, to balance it out (and for the record? I would have loved that). But no. She stands there all "UM HELLO" in her underpants while Kirk leers. The laughter the moment draws is uncomfortable and weak. You feel embarrassed for the filmmakers.

At any rate, lots of people have been thoughtfully critical of this weird, utterly pointless moment in the film, and why it's creepy and weird, and how it really just serves to undercut Marcus' role as a scientist, because she is also a lady in a space bra and spacepanties now and it's pretty impossible to forget that when the movie takes time out especially to make it important.

JJ Abrams responded to the criticism by going on Conan O'Brien last night and saying FUCK THA HATERS in a really dismissive segment that doesn't actually respond at all, but which instead shows a scene from the cutting-room floor in which Benedict Cumberbatch takes a shower with some scary intense forboding music in the background. And then Conan O'Brien suggests it should have a different soundtrack, and they replay it with porny music, and everyone laughs.

Except this is kind of the point. A dude can have a shower scene that is not just about him being a sex thing, but about him being evil and intense and dangerous. Can you imagine a woman in the same shower scene with the original music? Like it would be so confusing.

FINALLY -- and sorry this got so long -- today Into Darkness writer Damon Lindelhof finally apologized. On Twitter. And says he's gonna try to do better in the future. Which, I mean, I can't get past the part that somebody actually WROTE "Carol Marcus stands in her underpants for a moment looking annoyed" in the script in the first place, but okay.

But what do you guys think? Was the apology warranted? Does it matter that it's been offered now that the damage -- if damage has occurred -- is already done? Am I the only one who just now realized that Benedict Cumberbatch actually IS kinda hot, in this movie, whereas I'd never really seen it before? I see it now. I see it from miles away. SPOILER.