Watch: J.J. Abrams Equalizes Sexist Criticisms of "Star Trek" With Shirtless, Showering Cumberbatch Scene
film / tv / lists / guides / news / love / celeb / video / think pieces / staff / podcasts / web culture / politics / dc / snl / netflix / marvel / cbr

Watch: J.J. Abrams Equalizes Sexist Criticisms of "Star Trek" With Shirtless, Showering Cumberbatch Scene

By Dustin Rowles | Videos | May 23, 2013 | Comments ()

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 7.58.30 AM.png

When I woke up this morning, one of the first things I saw was a link to Felicia Day's blog, where she was complaining about the lack of women in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek: Into Darkness. She writes:

Where are the women? The strong women? The women we'd like to see in 200 years? Where are they in this world? They certainly aren't around the roundtable when the Starfleet are learning about Khan (there might have been one in that scene, if so that extra was not cut to in any significant manner to be notable.) In the scene where Kirk gets his ship back and the admiral is having a meeting with "important" people around a table later, I failed to see ONE WOMAN AROUND THAT TABLE, ALL MOSTLY WHITE MEN IMPLIED TO BE MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS TOGETHER. Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?! How can that happen?

It's not an unfair complaint, although I am a little baffled with the nascent criticism of Alice Eve in her underwear, although much of that seems to be coming from Damon Lindelof, the writer of the sequence, who admitted that its a little misogynistic. From the LA Times:

"Why is Alice Eve in her underwear, gratuitously and unnecessarily, without any real effort made as to why in God's name she would undress in that circumstance? Well, there's a very good answer for that. But I'm not telling you what it is. Because... uh... MYSTERY?," Lindelof wrote.

He said there was a scene written for (Benedict Cumberbatch) to remove his shirt, but "I don't think it ever got shot. You know why? Because getting actors to take their clothes off is DEMEANING AND HORRIBLE AND..."

Lindelof touted the MTV admission on Twitter, first saying, "I copped to the fact that we should have done a better job of not being gratuitous in our representation of a barely clothed actress," and then joking, "We also had Kirk shirtless in underpants in both movies. Do not want to make light of something that some construe as misogynistic."

Well, how do you even the score, so to speak? Benedict Cumberbatch shirtless, of course. Last night on Conan, J.J. Abrams addressed the criticism and then unveiled the deleted scene from the movie, which features a shirtless Benedict Cumberbatch showering.

That's all good and all, but maybe Abrams' has pushed the pin the other way, too far. After all, Joanna is still upset with that other upsetting new trend.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes | Stripper Jennifer Aniston Is Going to Make a Lot of "Friends" Fan-Fic Writers Happy in the "We're the Millers" Trailer

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Justin Kuhn

    The scene got cut because of his extra Cumberchin in that shot.

  • Noo

    Considering JJ is also so proud that he had to cgi an extra bit of Bridge railing to hide Chris Pine's butt in the wetsuit (thank you he left Karl's alone), and then also cgi'd his bulge a bit smaller too so as not to horrify the audience at the start, he needs to learn this lesson quickly. The other point he makes about how we still got to see Chris Pine in his underwear, yes, we did but it was also with another two females in their underwear. And that view of Kirk was in motion, partially hidden by the sheets while Carol just stands there for the gaze to linger long on her body.

    There is absolutely no reason for Carol Marcus to be stripping down at that point and as the conversation they are having is also relating to Kirk's dating her friend and not remembering him, it makes it worse within that context.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Too bad about his face.

  • lowercase_see

    One shirtless dude in a cast of almost entirely men != half the female speaking roles in their underthings

  • Mythra Sun

    Is it still in bad taste to lick your screen?

  • Artemis

    It drives me nuts when the answer to criticism like that which the Alice Eve scene has received is "well, I guess we just need a shirtless dude! Now everyone had some eye candy, so stop whining about how media represents women!"

    No. The random stripping for no reason (which Uhura had to do in the first movie, and which the costume designer said in an interview was a product of JJ requiring one "lady in underwear" scene in each movie because he doesn't think guys will go see explosions and spaceships without it) is emblematic of a bigger problem: this reboot does a terrible job with its female characters. No one minds when Starbuck occasionally strips down in BSG, because she's an actual character. People mind when movies and tv shows throw in one or two token women solely so that they can have a little eye candy or damsel in distress action, and forget to make them actual people outside of the men they orbit.

    Over the course of the two Abrams' Star Trek movies, do you know how many times two named female characters have spoken to each other about something that wasn't a man? Zero. Not once. That's appalling. How is that even a thing that can happen in a big movie with more than a dozen major characters? How is it something that happens twice? Why does "fun action-packed romp" automatically equal "homoerotic bromance No Girlz Allowed"?

    The first movie had only two female characters (I don't count Uhura's roommate, whose name might have been said at some point but whose entire role consisted of sleeping with Kirk that one time): Uhura, whose only real character beats were not liking Kirk's arrogance and being in love with Spock, and Spock's mother, who was only there to be fridged so that Spock could feel things. This movie had two again, but one spends the entire time complaining about her boyfriend and their relationship (even in the middle of dangerous missions), and the other one is totally defined by her father except when she inexplicably strips down for her commanding officer.

    And please, don't tell me that this is about fidelity to the original, because JJ and co. have been very selective about the ways that they've stayed true to the original timeline. Can someone explain to me why they've updated their uniforms to cool high-tech looking fabric but the female officers still wear mini-dresses 250 years in the future? Or why Carol Marcus was a biologist who created new life in TOS, but now she's a weapons specialist? Or how the very specifically not-white Khan has suddenly morphed into the pastiest British man in the universe?

    I liked the 2009 movie, I really did. It was fun and slick and a great shot of energy for the franchise. But watching it kind of felt like I had snuck into something that wasn't meant for me and was enjoying it despite that. The fact that zero was done to address the issue this time around means I won't bother with #3.

  • Michelle Belden

    Marry me.

  • Classic

    You kind of turned me on right now with that whole diatribe...

  • Mrs. Julien

    You are my new best friend. Post on my FB page every five minutes!

  • Haystacks

    I have to admit, I found the ladies of the Enterprise pretty depressing. The only female bridge crew member spent the whole time whining about her boyfriend. The blonde chick was there as a plot device/lingerie device. The background crew was 90% male, and everyone in charge was both male and white. I remember thinking at one point, "Is this the future, or the past?"

    Pour one out for the lady trekkers my friend.

  • Strand

    I don't think J.J. Abrams can help it if the original crew of the USS Enterprise and the fanbase are well, not to point too fine a point on it, massive sausage parties. It's genre fiction and they're pandering to the overwhelmingly white, male and nerdy target audience with Alice Eve the way Josh Duhamel is in rom-coms.

  • Tinkerville

    I respectfully disagree. A massive percentage of the fanbase is female. Go to any Star Trek convention and it's much more balanced than you would expect. A lot of the fellow nerds that I know also find women kicking ass in sci-fi incredibly sexy, so it's not as though they'd have anything to lose by upping the ratio.

    It's true that the original crew was a bit of a sausage fest, but by rebooting it, Abrams had the ability to alter or introduce new characters as he sees fit. He can therefore make the female characters more badass than they originally were and bring in additional female characters that serve more of a purpose than eye candy or damsel in distress. Alice Eve's character was a wasted opportunity in that way.

  • Strand

    I disagree about massive percentage. I do agree that there is a not insignificant female Star Trek fanbase, and that's great but let's not kid ourselves, besides the over-exposed 'sexy/dorky scifi girl with a youtube vlog,' the boys still grossly outnumber the girls. It's nowhere close to 50% and I'd love to be proven wrong as the community balances itself out.

    As for Alice Eve in the movie, it's tragic that they had to shoe-horn a scene of her stripping to justify her character but that's just a symptom of a bigger problem. As long as studios think they're catering mostly to mouth-breathing nerds, they'll hedge their bets and keep doing it. Think slave Leia, Six from BSG, T'Pol from ST: Enterprise. It's just fanservice.

  • Artemis

    The audience for the first movie was 60% male -- skewed, yes, but 40% is a very significant number of audience members to not give a crap about. As the audience for this movie is already skewing more male than the first one, I'm guessing they're leaving a lot of potential viewers on the table by putting so little effort into appealing to women.

  • Michelle Belden

    You might see the fan percentage even out a lot faster if you feature more women kicking ass and more men looking hot/naked.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I think he can and should help it. There should be a conscious decision to populate the world fairly. You can't change the main characters but you can change the look of the culture they live in. When I was watching The Avengers I exclaimed, "Oh my God, there are women!" when I saw the people working at Shield. We are half the population. We should be seen.

    Little J was watching a superhero show and other than the two female heroes there were NO women for the first hour. The aliens all looked like men. The other aliens attacking the first aliens looked like men. The army, the bystanders, the reports ALL men. The first woman who appeared was in a crowd scene. It makes me insane. And don't even get me started on Clone Wars...

  • I'm pretty sure Pajiba females and gay males are going to be busy for the rest of the day.

    My take is that it's ridiculous and entirely predictable. I'm a big fan of the 'pretty' that is Alice Eve, but it was extremely gratuitous in the context of the film. And that's disappointing, because it could have been rewarding to the story as well as the eyes.

  • BendinIntheWind

    So for those of us who have yet to see the film... I guess the Khan thing is supposed to be common knowledge now? I know there was a lot of denial and misdirect prior to the release regarding the identity of Cumberbatch's character, so unless its revealed pretty early in the film, I'm kind of bummed to miss out on that surprise now.

  • Candee

    You know...I had no idea this was supposed to be some sort of mysterious secret. I'm not even a Star Trek fan (although my parents are huge fans and have been forcing me to watch it since I was a baby), but I pretty much assumed that's who it was...

  • L.O.V.E.

    There really is only one reason why that scene exist: to be featured in various commercials to make 13 year old boys buy tickets. Star Trek has to compete with Fast and Furious, Iron Man, etc. The last Star Trek series ended when these kids were babies.

    At the end of the day, its an action movie with big explosions and a huge budget. Lindelof can stop being a disingenuous asswipe and just own the fact if you want that 200 mil budget then the marketing dept gets to tell you to put a half naked Alice Eve in your movie (or Rachel Nicols in the last one). Whether this movie is in 2013 or 2313, teen boys like boobs. And neither them nor the studio cares about our oh so civilized and academic discussion about whether the scene was the "M" word.

    Because boobs. And boobs are awesome.
    Signed, 13 and 39 year old L.O.V.E.

  • Michelle Belden

    Uh-huh. And what about the 13 year old girls?

  • L.O.V.E.

    shirtless werewolves and goth vampires.

  • Three_nineteen

    Sure, but if you're getting paid a shitload of money to write a film, aren't you supposed to be good enough to come up with a somewhat plausible reason that she's half-naked IN FRONT OF HER BOSS?

    And was Abrams being serious with the "we needed nakedness balance" bullshit?

  • Captain D

    They show more skin on Dancing with the Stars. I imagine the Star Trek folks are enjoying the free advertising from this 'scandal.'

  • John G.

    The scene was also extremely tame. If we're gonna complain, she should have at least been naked and covering herself with her hands or something. Plus it was staged weirdly. If they had cut to her and she was at least in the middle of putting something on or taking something off it would have felt more natural, but who tells someone to turn around so they can change real quick and then stands in superman pose in their underwear for ten minutes?

  • Leelee

    On a slightly different note, I must admit I was a little disappointed in the way Uhura was portrayed in Into Darkness. It seemed like she cried in nearly every scene she had. Admittedly she didn't well up nearly as much as Kirk did, but since she is the main female character (out of only two) it bothered me a little. I don't remember her being nearly so emotionally fragile in the first film, or am I mis-remembering? It seemed like she got a bigger part but with less ass-kicking and much more crying.

    I thought it was brilliant film, but that was just one of those (very small) things that niggled.

  • chanohack

    I respectfully disagree... I thought she was a badass for taking care of business and being emotional at the same time. She did all the things she was supposed to do, plus more (beaming down to stop Spock from killing Khan in order to save Kirk was super dangerous and totally not in her job description), and I liked the idea that they didn't need a male-- or a male-like character who MIGHT be female as long as she acts EXACTLY like a man would act-- to get shit done. "Strong female characters" who lose all of their feminine characteristics and are basically really pretty men with boobs are fun sometimes, but kind of boring. I prefer a character who kicks asses and then maybe gets pissed at her boyfriend later for being so emotionless. :)

    Alice Eve's character, however, befuddles me.

  • I just thought the whole scene was really funny, in a good way. Kirk's uncomfortable face and Spock's blankness were pretty hilarious. So I really didn't mind it at all.

  • Artemis

    I hate the idea that "being emotional" = "feminine characteristic." It's not. Lots of men are emotional, and lots of women aren't particularly so.

    The fact that Uhura not talking about their relationship would strip her of all personality is a problem with the way the rebooted series has developed (or not) her character, not something inherent to women.

  • chanohack

    I get you. I kind of hate that idea also.

    However, I think that for Americans, emotions are a stereotypically feminine characteristic, and I think Americans assume that to make a female character "strong," they must also make her emotionless (LIKE A MAN), and that's BS. I like an emotional lady just like I like an emotional dude. I don't think that Uhura being emotional is a reason to dislike her character or to label her as unfeminist.

  • I respectfully disagree with your disagreement. I was horrified by her passive aggressive tactics in bringing up their personal relationship issues during a wholly inappropriate time. A male character would be openly mocked for similar behavior. You would never see Reilly from Aliens barking, "But you didn't care about my feelings!" While on a rescue mission. Uhura has two superpowers - hotnesses and talking ( languages). Which is pretty much the same roll she had in 1972. Personally I feel it was a real missed opportunity.

  • chanohack

    Maybe I'm remembering it wrong (because I enjoyed the movie SO MUCH despite all this), but I felt like the lover's quarrel on the mission wasn't entirely Uhura's doing, since Spock certainly didn't shut it down (and in fact Kirk implies that SPOCK is the one who is difficult, not Uhura, and if you think about it, Kirk and Spock are really having the same sort of spat as Uhura and Spock because Kirk is a little pissed that Spock doesn't appreciate him and feel the same way about him, so it's really implied that the problem is Spock and Uhura has a good reason to be mad), and it also felt like it was mostly there so we could laugh at Kirk feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing. The point of the scene wasn't "look how unreasonable this lady is!" The point felt more like "It's funny that the captain can't keep his friends from fighting!" And then, "They are more like a family than a crew," and ultimately that Spock really does care and we like him.

    But like I said, I might be all rosy about this shit.

    If we're honest, this is exactly why relationships are discouraged in the military and not allowed between different ranks: so that people don't have little (or big) fights while they're doing something important, and so they don't freak out when their others are in danger. The scene would be totally inappropriate in real life, but since these are characters that we love, and we enjoy seeing them interact, it's fun to see them talk about something at a totally absurd time. It feels like the only reason that we're mad about this (because I see your point, I really do) is because one of the people talking about it at an absurd time is a woman, and because she's one of the only women in the entire fleet, it seems like a commentary on our sex (and it might be, and if that's true, that sucks). And I disagree about a male character being openly mocked for the same thing-- Kirk is totally inappropriate and unprofessional (and as good as had the same "feelings" fight with Spock), but we don't care so much because that's how Kirk is-- and he's not the only male character, so it doesn't feel like he's a stand-in for all men.

    You're right about the passive-aggressivness. That's shitty. :(

  • I agree. I also was really exasperated by the whole "I know we are on a super dangerous and important mission right now, but we really need to talk about our relationship." I mean, really? Talk about that later. Can't we have a strong female character who can kick some ass and not have to talk about her feelings all the time? I'm not saying they should make her a robot, but come on.

  • Michelle Belden

    This is one of the reasons I love Katniss Everdeen so much.

  • koko temur

    I think she was weird with spock in the first movie, so you know, one annoying quality per film.

  • Before we saw the film, my husband and I would crack up every single time we saw a trailer, because they made absolutely sure to show the underwear scene in every single one of them. It's like it wasn't enough to show that this was an action-packed space movie--we also have BOOBS. They couldn't have been more obvious about it.

    I'm not outraged about it, but it did bug me. I think it wouldn't bother me so much if there had been at least a reason why she was standing around in her underwear. A love scene, a scene showing what a dog Kirk is, whatever. But nope, she just decides to change her clothes IN FRONT OF HER CAPTAIN for no goddamn reason, and then the scene ends. And I'm not sure what it said about her character--is she trying to seduce Kirk? I didn't think so. Were they supposed to have some sexual tension? It wasn't even there. Just for the hell of it? That's kind of unprofessional of her character. So, yeah. It was a little ridiculous.

  • the dude

    but she does such a cool pose!!

  • Mariazinha

    And I think it doesn't compare... A full body shot of her in underwear and Kirk wrapped in bed sheets and Cumberbatch's torso are not equivalents.
    They better be a lot more naked in the film is what I'm saying!!

  • Candee

    That's exactly how I felt. It's not even Cumberbatch's full torso. Just his chest.

    I always find this so weird. It kind of bugs me when people are like, "But the dudes are shirtless too! That makes them sexual too! Blah blah blah." I find it completely different from when I woman is topless.

    Men can take off their shirts pretty much all the time no matter what. It's hot. Takes off shirt. I'm playing basketball. Takes off shirt. I just want my shirt off. Takes of shirt. It's totally okay.

    We see it all the time. It hasn't really been promoted as sexual like a woman's. Women have been covered up for so long, and people have made it to where any hint of skin is sexualized. Taking off a woman's clothes is supposed to cause a sexual reaction. Sure, there are those shows like True Blood that are definitely catering to women, but even then, I don't feel it has the same impact. A fully topless man and a fully topless woman is just not the same thing.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    He has a great frowny face...

  • Eve

    Abrahams is already promoting STiD's DVD: extra features will certainly include this scene. And it's working because I'm totally going to buy it.

  • "Yes, these are just scenes with extras, but seriously, in the future not
    one woman over 40 is in charge in this world?! How can that happen?"
    Maybe they're all too busy complaining about movies on the Internet.

    It may ease her pain to note that when Sulu is given the captain's chair, his front and center replacement trusted to drive the Federation's newest, shiniest spaceship is a black woman.

  • It was nice to see a non-Uhura black woman on the Enterprise, I agree, but I think Felicia Day's point was that there were zero women in the gathering(s) of the big bosses of Starfleet. She's not saying there were no women period, she's saying that there weren't any in the scenes depicting the senior leadership. And to my memory, she's right.

  • luthien26

    There's a somewhat weak explanation, I suppose, that can be made that those are the bigwigs who weren't injured in the attack (there was a Vulcan woman injured in the attack)? I'm not sure who those guys were supposed to be, actually, and I don't know if the movie ever explained.

  • Artemis

    So the attack randomly managed to take out all of the women in leadership positions because penises are some kind of shielding device?

    The problem isn't that we can't retroactively invent some reason for why there might be some more women off screen somewhere, the problem is that there aren't more women on screen.

  • minxy

    I think that scene with Alice Eve felt like exploitation because of the way it was shot. It was supposed to be funny, but by showing her full body was just peculiar. She was telling him to look away and hurriedly dressing, yet there was a full three seconds of her just standing there like an underwear ad. Then they put it in the promos for the movie, which just made it worse.
    Also the Cumbershower scene would have made him less intimidating. It was a good choice to leave it out.

  • manting

    I was confused by him being chosen to play Khan. Khan is a genetically engineered super being right? So why would you engineer a super being as pasty as Edgar Winter? Cumberbatch's Khan is a genetically engineered super being who cant go out on a sunny day without an umbrella. Ridiculous. Kirk should have just lured him to the beach and the battle would be won.

  • Some Guy

    The Star Trek universe that JJ Abrams presents is one that, much like the future world of Bill and Ted, has been created around a particular musical genius of the past.

    The musical genius in Star Trek's case being Edgar Winter of course.

  • manting

    I always thought this song was called frankenstiener not Frankenstein. I like my title better but by any name this song rocks my balls

  • koko temur

    Maybe there are no beaches in the future. Just like smart, strong women. Damn it, this movie *is* deep.

  • manting

    I thought Edgar Wright was funny in it but that was about it. Oh and I liked Quintos Spock. Here's the real question - why didn't they just transport to the planet like Khan did? Its Scottie's equation - so why not just transport there like Khan instead of flying there? Better yet why not just transport him to you? Not as good as the first one

  • chanohack

    Yeah, because the shit that went down in the engine room in the first one TOTALLY MADE SENSE. Also that they can apparently eject all the cores (sure) and then remotely detonate them somehow (WHAT?).

    My point is, disbelief must always be suspended. I personally thought the first one had a few more glaring offenses.

  • koko temur

    they should give you the draft for the next movie for a quick logic run-through. And to Brian Cox too, for good measure.

  • koko temur

    Cumberbatch is the crown prince of the internet and if you disagree you are clearly wrong and probably dont like puppies sneezing either, you monster.

  • hickoryduck

    Eh, he's too ugly for me.

  • Jen

    Calm down Cumberbitch no one here said he wasn't. That's not what this is argument is about. Take a deep breath, put your ovaries that just fell out back in and re read the post

  • I find no good reason to pick on someone for being a rabid fan - even if I am not fond of their choices (though in this case, I can see the appeal). We all have our fannish moments and celebrity weak spots.

  • PerpetualIntern

    Hmm. There should be a comma after "Calm down," one after "Cumberbitch," you have an extra "is" before argument, the phrasing of "put your ovaries that just fell out back in" is all wrong, and reread is one word. Besides a missing oxford comma (which is technically optional), there's very little wrong with koko's response to you. Welcome to Pajiba!

  • Oxford commas are NOT optional. Okay, perhaps to some people they are. I am steadfast in my belief that time will prove correct we defenders of Oxford commas.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I wonder if it depends on where you are? American vs. British English?

  • For me, it simply makes for clearer sentences. We muddy up the language all the time (and yes, I know language is fluid and evolves), but there are good reasons for some of our grammar and punctuation rules. Lists need separation, unless there is a good, artistic reason for leaving out the commas.

    Or perhaps it's just that I am getting old and prefer things the way I learned them.

  • PerpetualIntern

    I'm totally on board with the oxford comma, but I remember it always being taught as optional. I think the original reason people started leaving it out was when journalists at newspapers had character limits, but I might be wrong.

  • koko temur

    Well, of course, viral videos created for TBS are a serious statement on the issue of womyn representation, femenism in general and possibly human rights. Do share your insights, you delightful internet newbie.

  • Jen

    Won't share insights on any of that but I will share insights on your grammar ( its horrible )

  • chanohack

    You really need to know your shit before you start correcting or insulting people's grammar. (You don't know your shit.)

  • If y○ս tһiոκ Stерһеո`s st○ry  is ոiсе, , f○սr wеaκs-ag○ my br○tһеrs fatһеr iո  law br○սgһt  һ○mе $7566 w○rκiոg f○սrty  һ○սrs a  m○ոtһ aո tһеir һ○սsе aոd tһеrе сlassmatе's sistеr`s ոеigһb○սr d○ոе tһis f○r 9-m○ոtһs aոd br○սgһt һ○mе m○rе tһaո  $7566 рart timе at tһеir рс. f○ll○w tһе adνiсе һеrе,

  • Bedewcrock

    I'm glad Megan's here to CALM YA'LL DOWN.

  • Shouldn't that be (it's horrible)? Plus, I think English is koko's second or third language, so maybe cut her a little slack.

  • PerpetualIntern

    Grammar BURN!

  • koko temur

    Dude, didn't your mother teach you not to engage militant feminists? you may catch something.
    But thanks ♥

blog comments powered by Disqus