moving on…

Dad got de-tubed today. Mum says he’s completely off his face and will take a few days to get back in the reality zone. Now that he’s over the worst of all this, I thought I’d do a more frivolous post about something else very dear to my heart…

For the fortnight following my Dad’s attack, all I’ve felt like watching in the evenings is classic Star Trek, not a show I ever chose to watch this past decade at least. I understand why I’ve been so drawn to it. Back when I was a nineteen year old art student living in a filthy share house with a bunch of friends, I somehow managed to contract a serious illness that laid me out flat (and contagious) for a couple of weeks. I was so sick I had to return to my parent’s house to wait out the worst of it. My liver was inflamed, my piss dark brown, my skin a mess of unsightly rash. All I could so was lie on the sofa and watch TV. And the only thing even remotely worth watching was Star Trek reruns, only they weren’t reruns to me because I’d somehow managed to never have seen the show before, despite being a long time space cadet. 3pm every afternoon became the high point of my existence. I threw in my lot with the Enterprise crew and by the end of the week I was well and truly hooked, despite the dated sexist rubber headed alien bullshit of it all. The Enterprise crew became my friends and so here I found myself again, twenty-something years later reaching out to Kirk, Spock and Bones when reality started poking me uncomfortably in the ribs.

Classic Trek is now available in utterly beautiful remixed, remastered, rescored, digitally enhanced, colour boosted, special effects enhanced boxed sets. Bright primary colors, stunning space shots, sweeping vistas of the Enterprise as she orbits various planets. I figure my current Trek obsession is the visual equivalent of eating a tub of double choc chip icecream every night or hitting the vino. Whatever the reason, I’m loving every minute and, strangely enough, Rob is too.

One thing, though, has been totally shitting me. The stupid dresses the Enterprise women wear. They look as if, called to the bridge in a hurry, the women haven’t had time to get properly dressed. Every time I see Uhura I think put on some pants, woman! It’s me, isn’t it? I’m getting old and crabby. Sure, those mini dresses are iconic, but they are so demeaning and serve to date the show far more than rubber headed aliens ever could. In early episodes where they were still experimenting with uniform design, women crew members did wear pants. That simple alternate clothing item transforms women crew members from glorified space secretaries and waitresses into seamlessly integrated crew members, whether they get much in the way of speaking parts or not.

Star Trek was revolutionary for its time in its inclusion of crew members from various racial backgrounds. Imagine if they’d gone that one step further and dealt sexism a hefty smack across the face too with the mere inclusion of PANTS!

(note: yeah, I have read somewhere about how it was test audiences that rejected the idea of a ‘number one’ character being played by a woman rather than studio executives.)

50 Comments

  1. One of the best sneaky little touches in early TNG is that in the background, you sometimes see *guys* wearing the skirt uniforms too…

  2. Sometime in the last couple of years we watched a bunch of episodes of the original Trek, and were very pleasantly surprised by them. Mind you, we didn’t make it all the way to the more obviously lysergic installments of the last season, some of which I’ve still never seen (although I read all the Blish adaptations religiously as a kid).

  3. I caught an episode of Enterprise on Sat night – way ahead of where I actually am on my DVDs at home – and obviously things have gone awry but the women’s uniforms, in this parallel universe, now have very sexy low cleavage and no bottom half to the top – like full stomach showing. Odd.

  4. We’ve been working our way through TOS episodes for the last few weeks and I’m still amazed how short those “skirts” are. At least they’re wearing colour-matched sturdy bloomers underneath.

    I’m not particularly bothered by the sexism so much as distracted by the impracticality when sitting down.

    I’m also occasionally distracted by how tight Kirk’s pants are. In this digital age you can really see, er, everything.

  5. “Imagine if they’d gone one step further and dealt sexism a hefty smack across the face too with the mere inclusion of PANTS!”

    Instead they pinched the arse of gender equality while it was bending over the desk…

  6. Formless jumpsuits mmm…

    Virgin 1 in the UK have been re-running all the series from Next Gen onwards.

    Do those outfits on Riker and Picard actually fit, they seem to forever be adjusting there tops! Is it the curse of the one piece jumpsuit?

    None of the uniforms are gonna win any awards. The NG jumpsuits are the worst, they are just designed for talking head and mid shots aren’t they!!

    I don’t know that Uhuru’s uniform is any less degrading than Seven of Nines’ and I’m not really convinced they are degrading as such. I like to see outfits that suit the genre and story rather than formless jumpsuits a la Next Gen.

    It’s all academic now but I’d have loved to see something a bit more interesting and adventurous done with the outfits!

    • Re: Formless jumpsuits mmm…

      Sorry that’s from me.

      Glad your dad’s going to make a full recovery – excellent news!

      • Cat Reply

        Re: Formless jumpsuits mmm…

        I still have my Next Gen jumpsuit — the one the Powerhouse Museum let me keep after I was a volunteer guide at their Star Trek exhibition. I’m a bit too chunky to fit in it now — which is a blessing, I’m sure.

        • Re: Formless jumpsuits mmm…

          When that Star Trek exhibition came through Dallas in 1995, I did such a good job of explaining the science exhibits that I was offered a position as a volunteer guide. I accepted, seeing as how I had the perfect alien outfit on hand. How was I supposed to know they’d have a blatant and obvious bias against Vorlons?

  7. I was surprised and disappointed to see the short skirts in the new movie. I mean, I’m sure it’s to do with “continuity”, but still, didn’t think it was necessary. Skirts that short simply aren’t practical!

  8. I think it deserves to be noted that at the time of original Trek the dressing of women in short dresses was to be regarded as an act of liberation. Sure, the sexism is very apparant from out vantage point but in the sixties it was a program pushing feminist boundaries. Having one female officer (and a black woman at that) was considered quite radical. In fact, they had to fight hard for it. In the original pilot the first officer was a woman but the studio wouldn’t tolerate that. In fact, there was so much criticism from conservatives over Michelle Nichols role that she wanted to quit but Martin Luther King asked her to stay on the show.

    Still, that doesn’t explain keeping the skirts for the new film. Except to say, as a guy, I think there’s not enough short skirts and boots in almost every film I watch.

    • Cat Reply

      Sure, it was a different age and things regarded as the norm now were seeded with changes made back then. But I dunno… women delivering trays of coffee with their underpants showing… hard to view that as an act of liberation.

      • Hey, the guys wear three-quarter pants with tight buttocks and boots. Isn’t that every woman’s fetish? I’m sure I read that somewhere.

        Oh, and one guy was painted green and given pointy ears. Don’t tell that wasn’t mean to excite da Laydees. (My Mum filled a scrap book with pictures of that guy.)

        Robin

  9. thinking a bit more about this: Star Trek probably would have been laughed off teevee if it had put the dames in anything other than miniskirts… check out the other programs the same year… it is painful to watch the episode with the hippies from outer space… we didn’t really dress the way hollywood showed us dressing. really. honest…

  10. You’re going to laugh about this, but I recommend that you rent out the animated series. The Powers That Be at Paramount tried to deny that this series existed, or that it ran for 22 episodes between 1973 and 1974, but I used to watch it with my uncle David when I was seven.

    Anyway, Paramount finally mined every last pfennig it could out of every last franchise series and movie, so it belatedly put the animated series on DVD three years ago. On a lark, because of those fond memories, the Czarina and I ordered them through NetFlix. A lot of animation doesn’t hold up (American Saturday morning cartoons were already sliding straight into hell at that time, and the animation only got worse by the Eighties), but somehow the crew at Filmation managed to get almost all of the original cast back to do voices. In addition, James Doohan demonstrated his voice actor chops by doing a lot of additional voices of main and supporting characters. (For instance, for reasons never really explained, Walter Koenig was never called back to reprise Chekov, so we get an alien navigator by the name of Lieutenant Arex, who was my favorite character at the time because he was a tripedalian. Doohan did his voice, as well as a lot of the most interesting supporting characters.) And if you know where to listen, you’ll hear David Gerrold doing the voice of the alien Em-Three-Green.

    The best part about the animated series, other than the fact that the show didn’t have to worry about a special effects budget? Not only did the Saturday morning format preclude all of the usual Kirk and Spock romantic antics, but Uhura finally became the character she should have been. Not only does she get a lot more in the way of action, but she even takes command at one point. Yeah, a lot of it still comes off as sexist by 2009 standards, but seeing the jump between 1968 sensibilities on feminism and 1973 sensibilities is a bit of a pleasant shock.

    But never mind me. If you think I’m crazy, that’s fine. I will say that for a run of four DVDs, I was seven years old all over again.

    • Cat Reply

      way ahead of you there, buddy. We already bought the animated series on DVD. Have only watched a few eps so far though.

      • Wow. I’ll warn you that some bend your mind in ways you won’t like (The Counter-Clock Incident and Bem will probably have you throwing things), but I’m still ridiculously fond of The Ambergris Element and Jihad. C’mon: aquashuttles for exploring water planets?

  11. Yikes. Been out of touch, so just learned about the past few weeks with you. Hope your dad gets better fast from this terrible attack, and that all the good thoughts sent your family’s way make a stronger impression than a person’s madness. – Anna Tambour

  12. Back home after patchy internet access in Adelaide and Newcastle. Terribly pleased that your dad is well enough that you can post about Star Trek. That’s wonderful.

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