Last summer, J.J. Abrams suffered a barrage of criticism for a single scene in his blockbuster Star Trek: Into Darkness. The (admittedly unnecessary) scene in question showed a brilliant, young scientist stripping down to her undies. For those, unfamiliar, I’m sure it’s on YouTube (NSFW).
Now, keeping in mind that the J.J. Trek films could rightfully be considered an homage to the original series from the ‘sixties, this scene didn’t strike me as particularly egregious. After all, the original Star Trek TV series offered up plenty of gratuitously skimpy female costumes, often in defiance of logic.
While I don’t personally object to the scene, I can understand how some people would be upset by it. On the other hand, I think the critics have missed a much larger and more important problem: The uniforms.
Since the new Trek films are a reboot of and homage to the original TV series, I was not surprised to see the female crew in short hemlines and tall boots. In the original series, the women’s uniforms reflected the fashion of the times. It was the groovy ‘sixties. Why wouldn’t you expect to see miniskirts and go-go boots in our future? But if you go back to the original original pilot for Star Trek, the female crew members are all wearing trousers. And that has been the case for every subsequent iteration of Star Trek.
(The one exception being the unisex skant rarely seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation.)
Okay, okay. I know I’m spoiling the fun. Let’s just accept that the duty uniform for women on starships in the 23rd century is a minidress. Fine. But now we come to the real problem. Where is the rank insignia? On the matching thong? Seriously, could someone point it out to me?
In the original series (and The Motion Picture), female Starfleet officers displayed their rank on their sleeves, just like the men. In The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, on their collar, just like the men. The other five films with the original cast and Enterprise gave both male and female officers uniforms with rank insignia on their chest/shoulder. Considering that women are given very little to do in these new films that actually advances the plot (and that’s a topic for another day), this omission is just too insulting–as if to say that no one really cares what their role is as long as they look pretty.
All images are the property of CBS Television Studios and/or Viacom and are used without permission (but I hope they don't mind).