Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why I'm Uncomfortable With the Idea of "Fans"

I'm not famous, but if I were it'd be weird, especially if it were for my Youtube work. See the idea of being a fan creates this sense of separation between the individual and their audience. You see it every now and then, the avid fan meets their celebrity idol and freaks out, complete fangirling ensues, and it is a messy awkward thing to watch. Sometimes it can get really messy. See, the problem of celebrity is the idolisation of an individual. We put them up on a pedestal and venerate them as greater beings. The idea of celebrity creates a whole new class divide that isn't dependent on wealth or behaviour, but simply being known.

Well celebrities aren't just famous for being famous (though this is actually a thing) and some are astonishingly talented individuals. We're right to adore them but that adoration can only go so far before it turns into idolisation and that is the problem. Idolisation creates an "us" and "them". This distinction is of course backed up by the natural asymmetry between the amount of us vs the very limited them. Their time is taken up being busy doing things we adore them for and so there's never this personal connection and it seems like it is impossible to have any personal connection with a celebrity because of that.

See, I have people who refer to themselves as "fans" of me. I know, they're quite limited, but they exist. They adore my work, they think I'm great, and I've had people get overly excited when I messaged them out of the blue. I've heard of people who want to talk to me because they think I'm cool but don't. It's weird... because, for me, I don't feel like I've really done anything. It's just a few dozen vlogs. But this also unsettles me because this creates this expectation that one day if I reach a level of popularity where I can actually make money off youtubing I am innately different to them. I will become increasingly unapproachable...

"Oh my gosh I can't believe he would message me. This is amazing!" No. I'm... just typing on a keyboard. I do it all the time. Here I am, being me, always me, constantly just existing and part of that entertains you so you find me appealing... Well, thank you. I'm still just a person. And that's what celebrities are too... It's bizarre being the very-very-very-small scale experiment into how "fame" alters the perception of strangers on an individual. As someone who is trying to start working in film it's going to start getting stranger as I put out work that I actually feel is something.

It's weird how magazines and paparazzi simultaneously enjoy building up and then knocking down celebs. Look! They're without make up! They aren't perfect, look at us creepily take images of their thighs while they're at the beach and call them fat so we can simultaneously lower them onto our level so we can feel good about ourselves, but also insult the very nature of being just like us by showing it in an unflattering light that celebrities are encouraged to avoid. They're not treated like people, and when they are it's this strange public sadism that seems like we're trying to enforce some kind of humility on them when we're the only ones who think they're not ordinary people. The mark is missed, the point is warped, the entire thing is strange and confusing. They're just people!

So that's why I am uncomfortable with the term "fan". Because if I have fans then it creates this sense that people are expected to idolise me... I become less approachable. This is a thing that actually happens with Youtubers. The internet has given rise to the micro-celebrity. Youtube becomes people's primary media intake instead of the TV and suddenly the celebrities of popculture are replaced by the internet giants of vlogging. Never has it stressed the fact that the aura of celebrity is an imposed idea, worth collectively given to other people. Ordinary people are suddenly raised up to be on par with Kardashian's in the minds of adoring teens all over the world and then we're given a new celebrity image: the kind of person we adore but every now and then denies their celebrityhood and goes "I have no idea how I got here..." because they really don't. They realise that their initiation into celebritydom was an accident and their medium isn't as glamorous as TV so it seems weird, it's unfitting, it's uncomfortable to be thought of as a "celebrity". It should be. Because then they're no longer ordinary people so you can't be friends with them. I think that's why Tumblr loves Jennifer Lawrence so much, because she isn't just talented (and gorgeous) but says such blatantly relatable things that willingly fight against the dehumanising idolisation of the media. We see one of us in her, when really she isn't the exception, she's just not living up to the expectations that celebrity imposes on a person. It shouldn't be a surprise that deep down they're really like us. She eats food and does goofy things on camera and gets star struck herself at those around her - even though she is part of the "them." Even celebrities elevate celebrities. Fame does not inherently uproot a person from being subject to this whole trap of "OMG THEY'RE FAMOUS!" and thus demonstrates just how strange of a system it is.

It's an illusion we create for ourselves because we want to be able to look up at someone. Their work is worth more if they are worth more to us. Celebrity as a label is meaningless without a personal attachment to that which makes someone a celebrity. Of course there's no way to do away with the term fan because this asymmetrical relationship between creators and consumers will forever remain, it is impossible to entirely break down the boundaries created by celebrity culture... but it doesn't mean you have to give in to the idea that being a fan creates a divide between you and your focus of adoration.

So I try not to get star struck. Whenever I run into celebrities I'm pretty chill. They're just really cool people in the end and so I talk to them like they were any one else. I looked up to someone once, then ended up adding them on Facebook and realised... it was like talking to a random 20-something. I've gone from "I really enjoy your work" to adding someone on Facebook before. They still remain cool, and worthy of attention, but they remain a person to me. The thing that stops you from being friends with a celebrity isn't the fact that they are celebrities, but the nature of the distance between you and the limited ways you interact with them. Unfortunately talking to someone behind a panel for a few minutes at a convention doesn't really help foster a friendship, but outside of that environment you never know... Treat them like people and you might have a really nice conversation with them.

And for crying out loud don't hyperventilate when you meet someone you admire because it is just super awkward for them...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Issues With Self-Examining Identity

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of how we define ourselves as a person. I've started the idea of making an "About Me" video once every year to chart the progress of me as a person. I refer to vlogging as a form of "visual autobiography" which is in itself problematic in terms of representation and its inherent constructed nature. The basic issue is that because I choose what to present myself as, I thus create a subjective representation as a front to the world as a whole. It isn't an inherent fiction, but is not an accurate reality either.

So how does one define the self accurately? I'm not sure there is a system that is all encompassing that enables an individual to properly define and convey identity and individuality through anything but prolonged exposure to a person. Think about who you are as a person (an abstract and intangible idea) and then try to describe it in words. For example: I am a nice person. But what is nice? Nice as a word is solid, without spectrum, and thus suddenly creates both a strict and confined category, but also an inherently subjective one as you are now trying to convey to someone else your meaning through a sign system that is flawed because you have your own personal idea of what "nice" is based on your context and personal history, that is not the same as their idea of what "nice" is. I'm nice because I don't actively insult people. Someone else's idea of nice is that they go out of their way to be considerate of helpful to others. To some this then is very nice. This "very" thus creates a sense of spectrum. There's nothing to compare it to and if you did, you cannot convey the comparison point to another person without assuming they innately understand that too from their reference point in the hopes that they align.

Creating a list of qualities that describe a person begins categorising yourself based off unclear criteria. There is no objective scale to the validity and intensity of these criteria. You can be a bit nice, just nice, very, not very, extremely, a lot, pretty, normally, often nice, etc... These then create approximations as guidelines. Well isn't that enough? We are surrounded by the subjectivity and issues of connotation vs denotation of language in our everyday life. This issue here is a universal issue and thus as it is normalised isn't it irrelevant? A person does not need to be definable by words (seeing as this is in itself difficult and vague).

Well we then must examine how someone constructs their own identity. There are so many different factors outside of personality traits that a person can find as an integral part of their identity. For example their sexuality, nationality, or their commitment to a specific community such as Nerdfighteria. They then divide these into either facets of defining features. Now I'm a nerdfighter, but I don't view this as an integral part of who I am. It is an addition to me, not what defines me as a person because, as I see it, it has not altered my personality, merely aligned perfectly with the qualities I already held as part of the core of who I am. Other people choose very much so that being a Nerdfighter is what they are. Similarly a person can have a strong patriotic association with their country, but others may simply think of themselves as "Australian" simply because that is where they happened to be born. Another way of looking at it is this: Lindsey Stirling plays the violin and she is a violinist. Einsten played the violin, but he is a physicist. The things we do and are play smaller or larger parts in how we construct our own identities given how much weight we attribute to them.

I personally have no patriotic sense of Australia in a nationalistic sense, but I do love the idea that due to geography I am Australian. When summer comes, it is an Australian summer. When the air wraps around you like a warm blanket and the eucalyptus leaves have dried out and saturated the air with their scent. Native birds fly overhead and there is this very sense that is Australia. There's no politics involved, this is simply a shared experience of atmosphere and iconic flora/fauna that others around can identify with on a personal level. It is my childhood, it is my day to day life, it is not merely a tourist experience but a strong sense of seasonal nostalgia.

We now find that simply listing "I am Australian" is an over simplification of a person because we both require a definition of the category, but also the motivation for that category. Identity is inherently complex not just as a concept, but to explain it.

I also recently thought about my self-conception of my identity as a fixed point vs the reality of its fluidity. When driving along I realised that I often describe myself as an introvert who hates making phone calls because they stress me out. But I am increasingly more capable of picking up phones and just making phone calls. Suddenly reflecting upon my identity in terms of personal qualities had proved problematic because it had solidified it when in actuality it was in flux. I'm 21, I have not finished going through big changes in my life to reach a point of safety and calm in my development as a person. In fact, that might never come. After University is moving out, dating, marriage, children, as children grow up and change so does my role as a parent, middle age, children moving out, retirement, etc... death of loved ones destroys the idea of me as a part of a bond between two or more people.

How can I understand my identity if I never examine it? But if I examine it I create a constructed image that can become outdated. Schroedinger's Self-Conception. Self reflection becomes important to self understanding. Alternatively identity can remain as an abstract concept not consciously understood but demonstrated through actions and thoughts without having to filter through the subjective personal bias of your own insecurities and self esteem. One of my favourite faux-philosophical questions to ask in a satirically-pretentious fashion when asked "who are you?" is "who are any of us? Can we really know the self?" Only now have I started to really think about it in depth.

Of course we know who we are... we are who we are who we know we are. You are as you are. But you don't need to put it into concrete words because they will always be inadequate for appropriately encompassing the complexity that is you. A person can be defined by their interaction with their surroundings and that is good enough I think. After all, words are but ideas, but actions are demonstrations of those ideas. I'm not a musician because I can play an instrument but because I play it with the purpose of engaging with it in a sense that demonstrates that I am. I am Australian because in my mind I react to the stimuli in a way that I find suits my abstract idea of what it means for me to be Australian. I have only managed to put it into words through practice of expression and over 2 decades of experiencing that stimuli so that I have adequate knowledge to construct those sentences.

So yeah... define yourself through actions not words I think is the eventual conclusion to this.

My Dick Is a Commentary on Stereotypical Masculinity

A while ago I made a video entitled "My Dick":

You should watch it. You'll love watching my dick. When you look at My Dick it'll make you laugh.

Far from being just 3 minutes of non-stop dick jokes it is something deeper and more intelligent than that. It is a commentary on typical expressions of masculinity. The conventional method of affirming one's superior masculinity is to exaggerate and brag about the issue of size of the manhood. I took this concept and parodied it by taking the saying "it's not the size that matters, but what you do with it" and expanding upon the idea of things that you can do with it to the point of absurdism. With impossible statements like "my dick knows kung fu" and "my dick creates liquid nitrogen..." the idea of traditional forms of masculinity are shown as sub-par. The criticism is indirect, but effective. By positing the idea that the competitiveness between dicks to assert dominance is inherently absurd through a constructed example we can link this back to the basic form that it exaggerates and see that comparing dick sizes is stupid. Paradoxically we manage to affirm our masculinity through a mixture of immaturity and intellectual criticism of the very system that we are utilising to affirm our own masculinity. Through insincerity we escape the obvious insecurity that bragging about dick size tries to cover up. This comfortableness with our own masculinity and sexuality is further demonstrated by the fact that we have decided to sit in bed together to discuss our dicks, with no sense of discomfort or fears that the image of two men in bed together is seen as the exact opposite of masculine in contemporary society. It is a challenge to the heteronormative ideas of society by showing off something that is seen as masculine and heterosexual in juxtaposition to a homosexual setting. Ultimately the idea of phallocentricism is seen as a self-serving egotism that is shallow and empty as it requires competition with others through fictional statements.. As comparison with another male is unimportant as our dicks are not for service of the other it is the realisation that such a competition is pointless. In the end neither of us really wins.

This commentary on contemporary expressions of masculinity is perhaps my most underrated and intelligent dick joke I've ever made.

Also, John Green had a competition called "Nerdfactor" recently where to enter we had to send in our best videos as a video response and he'd watch them all then pick a winner to do a guest vlog in his absence. I sent in "How to Love Yourself"  It didn't win but I realise now I have passed up a golden opportunity to have submitted "My Dick" because then I could say with all honesty "John Green has seen My Dick" and the joke would've been almost worth erasing all possibility that I would even remotely have a chance of winning that competition. Oh well.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Why Star Trek Into Darkness Was Terrible.

My friend was shocked that Star Trek Into Darkness had been out for however long and I hadn't seen it. She had expected me, in my infinite nerdiness, to have been there on the day it was out dressed up as my favourite character and ready to go. Her obvious misguided ideas of just how nerdy I am aside, I was actually expecting myself to have seen it sooner too. Star Trek, although not my favourite sci-fi franchise is still enjoyable. I was eager to see it as I remember having enjoyed the first of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies.

Alas, I was very disappointed.

It starts off pretty well, with action, intrigue, and some wonderful foreshadowy tones with a near deadly scenario involving Spock in a volcano which leads to some interesting exposition on Spock's character as a half-human later on. This scene though turns Uhura into an emotional love-sick wreck and makes her not only a useless fop, but her whingy feminine bickering and completely stereotypical womanly inability to control her emotions leads to endangering Spock and Kirk later on while she's distracting them from their surroundings. This is where the issues with Star Trek begin. I was hoping, wishing, throughout the film that Uhura would overcome her uselessness and become a character in her own right with depth and emotions outside of "whingey" and "irritated". She is a translator, that is her special gift that allows her to stand proud against all the men whose basic skills guarantee them importance, and does she get to show this off? You bet she does!

Yaaaay! Not really. Her moment to shine by saying a few random things in Klingon is basically a chance to stall before the white male (meant to be a not-white male but whatever. For once whitewashing a character makes the vaguest sense - after all, the alternative would be to make the only dark skinned main character besides Uhura a villain. The brave whites vs the evil dark skinned guy is too common an unfortunate trope these days so what is clearly not an intentional attempt to avoid racism inadvertently is mildly redeeming enough to simply conflicting, instead of outright offensive to me) comes in to save the day. Uhura's only worth is as a distraction, not as an individual with agency over the situation.

Let's take a pause from this feminist reading of Star Trek to point out that yes, it has other flaws outside of race and gender. For starters, a lot of the shots were ever so slightly out of focus. It annoyed me so much because it went from crisp and sharp... to slightly blurry. I'd punch that focus puller in the face if only I had hands and also was a violent individual.

As a film based off a series that was meant to be progressive, especially for it's time (but still can be seen as progressive now considering it is always seen as special when non-whites are cast as main characters), it is sad to see something so utterly terribly misogynistic and devoid of substance. It had been glossed over into a very straightforward Hollywood action romp set in space which is not what it is meant to be. Even worse is J.J. Abrams is stuck in this delusional bubble where nerdy things are inherently masculine and therefore cannot imagine a woman being part of his audience. You know who is a big fan of Star Trek? My mother. I went to see it with a female friend, who had already seen it, first person to talk to me about it when I arrived home was a woman, former girlfriends have loved Star Trek so much, I know a woman with a Spock tattoo. I actually honestly think I know more nerdy women into Star Trek than I do guys. Whenever I've been in a comic book store it has been with women. First time I walked in there was a female staff member. Whenever I go to comic conventions the people I bump into are my female friends and only very rarely a guy I know. Being a nerd is not an idea reserved for socially inept men whose interaction with women is predominantly fantasies that get played out on screens.

That kind of thinking is stereotypical and insulting. To the writers and director of Star Trek: Women don't exist for the sake of the male gaze. Women do not exist for the sake of the male gaze. 

There is of course more women than Uhura. In order I believe there are some sexy cat ladies who have slept with the dashing young Captain Kirk and have no depth outside of being sexual, then there's the woman in the bar that Kirk desires to hit on but is interrupted, then there's the blonde Carol Marcus who is an intelligent doctor, science officer, and weapons specialist. Sounds like the recipe for a strong female character who is a role model and inspiration to the large amount of women watching this film right? Wrong. Granted, she has more depth than the cardboard cut out resembling Uhura that somehow manages to speak out of its paper lips, she isn't just regarded as barely useful to the plot but her usefulness is overshadow by her overt sexualisation for the sake of encouraging the audience to objectify and fantasise about her. She isn't using her sexuality to manipulate those around her and utilise this misogyny for her own gains like a proper empowered woman would, she is simply trying to do her job and cannot escape her degradation let alone object to it. Her singular moment of worth in the plot is when she tells Kirk that she thinks the missiles - which Scotty has already stated - are dodgy and she wants to open one. Huzzah! She is smart! She is actively progressing the plot! But what? For some reason this entire conversation involves her leading Kirk into a shuttle where she proceeds to strip off her clothes, presumably to change into something more appropriate for going to a planet. She tells Kirk to look away, of course, but when he disregards her wishes and privacy she poses sexily and dismissively tells him to turn around again. This gratuitous stripping is simply forced in making that particular plot point bizarre, but also provides the trailer with sufficient sexual allure to yep, you guessed it, appeal to all the horny nerdy fan boys. See what I mean about assuming the audience is strictly male? We would've fantasised about her anyway, being the sexy blonde, but now our male gaze gets catered to directly. Her worth in that scene is belittled by the unnecessary transformation of her into a sex object.

Moments later, on the planet with Bones, she is doing SCIENCE (something that Bones doesn't really know about, which I will explain later). Very important of course to the plot, but Bones cannot help but treat this chance to be near a woman as a reason to flirt incessantly. The audience is encouraged to continuously think of her as a sex object instead of noticing how influential and intelligent she is currently being. Her lack of interest in Bones's advances are irrelevant because her interest is not the point, the tantalising dangling of her in front of us is. She is never seen as useful without being directly juxtaposed with being a sexual being whose presence is directly or indirectly for the aesthetic enjoyment for the audience of the male cast. Once she has led a man towards discovering the horrifying secret of the photon torpedoes she goes back to being of little importance to the plot. Meanwhile Uhura is off being emotional? I dunno. Does anyone really care at this point? What exactly encourages us to engage with Uhura or care about her as a character besides a sentimental attachment to her original construction in previous Star Trek media? Her utter lack of characterisation or motivation outside of "I'm an emotional woman and I'm incapable of being heroic outside of being lovesick, whereas men are heroic because it is masculine" is boring.

Apparently the writer apologised via and will be mindful in the future. I hope he is, but he is a grown man and should've had the forethought and critical thinking skills to begin with to realise that it wasn't just terribly objectifying, but also really didn't make sense plotwise for her to lead Kirk to a private area where she could have told him to easily leave before stripping. It wasn't some accidental mishap it was obnoxiously intentional. Abrams addressed this on Conan (video can be found here) by debuting a deleted scene of Benedict Cumberbatch having a shower. Abrams justified it by saying it demonstrates how Kirk is a womaniser and this is just giving an opportunity to show off this as well as bring "balance" because he wasn't dressed earlier. Well earlier on in the film, as I've already stated, we see that Kirk has had a one-night stand with not just one, but two sexy women and then later wishes to pick up a woman at a bar. It has already been established that he is the kind of person who does this. Abrams' comment of "editing the scene poorly" to explain why it was so negatively received is irrelevant as the scene, regardless of how it was edited, is unnecessary. Another note on balance: Kirk's sexual prowess is seen as an addition to his character, whereas hers is a defining feature. Kirk is exercising his sexual desires because he wants to and when he isn't intending to be sexual no one treats him or his body as sexual, whereas she has an aura of sexuality imposed upon her constantly, she is never ever seen as a worthy individual or instrumental to the plot without this constant sexual overtone. Even when she is trying to work. She is not defined outside of that whereas Kirk is therefore there is no balance, there is a constant blaring inequality in how characters are being approached and addressed due to their gender. Furthermore, the deleted scene with Benedict Cumberbatch having a shower does nothing to negate this as, for starters, it is deleted, and the top half of a man is not nearly as sexualised as a woman's body. Sure, many women would enjoy it, but it still is merely a few seconds of a man simply standing there, not overtly trying to be sexual. The issue is not that a woman hasn't got clothes on, it is that her clotheslessness is for the sake of arousing the male audience, not adding to the depth of her character. The movie screams "I am constructed around the male gaze and have no recognition of anything I, the director, do not find inherently appealing to my masculinity!"

Fast forward and it is revealed that SPOILERS: Admiral Marcus is evil and plans on killing everyone on board the Enterprise. Carol the rescue! She is his daughter and thus if he knows she's here he won't fire. Well that's why the beaming technology exists... She's captured by her father and her brief attempt to be important simply places her in the position of damsel in distress for Kirk to save. Just like Uhura, when she actually needs to take an active part in the story she serves as a temporary distraction for a man to do something infinitely more useful. In this instance the firing on the Enterprise stops so momentarily for Scotty to mess around in engineering.

Explosions ensue. At this point in the story if you have been watching you should be able to predict everything that happens next, or if not, be able to predict 5 minutes before it happens as the plot progresses. See, the first 2 acts where reasonably solid as far as story goes (though seriously, why put people in a torpedo? You're trying to save them so you put them in something designed to blow up) but now it starts falling apart. By now Bones has randomly injected all of his sample of Khan's blood into a random dead Tribble because... why the hell not? Damn it Jim! Bones is a doctor not a scientist! As seen in the very start, and later explicitly said, Khan's blood has remarkable regenerative properties. It's a wonder drug! So lets put every last drop of it in a dead ball of fur. What Bones hopes to achieve is never explained but it is pretty clear thanks to the opening scene and the conversation between Spock and Spock that there is such intense foreshadowing that someone is going to die and that Khan's blood is the golden elixir that saves the day. It was so utterly predictable that all emotion from the scene was erased. I sat there, as the obvious homage to Wrath of Khan with the hands against the glass (look closely you'll see a continuity error between close ups and mid shots) played out, and quietly laughed to myself. I didn't think "oh, that's sad" I thought "well duh... come on then Spock, how long until you figure out what the solution is? Because we all know it." The most important death scene was funny to me. Let that sink in as a reflection of the quality of that plot device.

So blatantly obvious is this plot progression from here that all suspense is gone, tension is merely boiled down to how long it takes for the next thing to happen, and I could start ticking off narrative elements as listed in any of my screenwriting textbooks. See, I know the basic structure that hollywood plots follow, we all do, me especially considering I've studied them, but normally when watching things they don't blatantly consciously remind me that they're ticking off a checklist of archetypes and plot points laid out by Christopher Vogler in The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.

Well, this predictable shambles of a third act is actually enjoyable despite the obvious resolutions to every conflict. Not all of it is bad. The issue that arises is that Uhura, in her only time to actively do anything of worth, is not an instrument of resolution in any heroic sense as she could be. Using the somewhat nonsensical plot device that you can't beam a person up from a moving surface but you beam them on to one (didn't they beam up Kirk and Spock while they were in freefall in the other Star Trek film? A far faster movement than the non-descript flying metal bricks that Spock and Khan have their final showdown on. Though my father points out that he thought it was interference causing the issue there which a) I don't remember anything about and neither do the people I ask b) even if it were true it still poses a similar issue of being nonsensical that something that affects the beaming technology one way doesn't the other) Uhura interrupts the fight between Spock and Khan, a fight that could potentially have gone Spock's way eventually as all fights between evil and good go, with some last minute bit of ingenuity on Spock's part, and distracts Khan long enough for Spock to get the upper hand. Once again, her use is basically serving as an emotional distraction for men to swoop in and save her after she has deliberately and recklessly endangered herself.

Now some might defend this by pointing out that this is the normal thing in sci-fi because it is inherently seen as a masculine genre, thus this is just a staple of that genre. Well telling me it is ubiquitous doesn't disregard my problems with the misogyny, it merely demonstrates just widespread of a problem it is. See, in recent comic book movies (comic books are a genre considered as pulp fictiony and lower class corny sci-fi as you can get) they have still managed to combine over the top sci-fi action with strong female characters who go outside of their roles as the emotional love interests. The Black Widow and Pepper Pots being two examples of different female characters who play active roles in their plots. Pepper, despite her tendency to be emotional, her shock and alarm at her dangerous surroundings, and inevitable role as the damsel in distress as her position as the superheroes girlfriend, manages to still influence the plot and be instrumental to the resolution of the conflict by overcoming her own damsel status. She is only ever partially reliant on men around her and only at her weakest. Her personality is capable of coming up against Tony Stark's demanding and troublesome ego and walking away smug and superior. Comic books themselves are currently being heavily criticised for their sexism and blatant overtly objectified poses of female characters and yet their film counterparts manage to ascend past this into the realms of respectability and worthwhile well constructed entertainment. There is no restriction of genre that prevents women from being properly, let alone adequately, represented as people. Why then has a franchise, which in its original form, that was so progressive managed to go backwards with age?

It's the kind of movie where all the men involved rush to defend it with "we don't hate women! They're our favourite thing to have sex with!" and it is disappointing. Really, in the end my favourite female character was the overweight black woman with a shaved head who never spoke. Why? Because she is the only female in the entire movie (besides extras in the street) who breaks free of the conventional (read: outdated) idea of what a woman should act and look like. She's not emotional, she's not a love interest, she isn't unnecessarily sexualised, and she sits and does her job, whatever it is (I assume it is important because she is on the bridge). She is a non-skinny black woman with no hair. She is the most progressive representation of a woman in a mainstream movie I've seen in a very long time...

And she is so unimportant she might as well not have been there and there wouldn't have been a difference... because only conventionally attractive people matter to plots in Hollywood. Oh, actually I just remembered there was another girl present who had white hair who also didn't say anything... Women exist. They just don't really matter very much.

Outside of the technical issues, the predictable plot, the lack of resemblance to the original Star Trek, and the incredibly poor representation of women to the point where I got angry enough to write a blog post this long... it is actually a decent movie. Though really, those things annoyed me enough that I don't feel like watching it any time again soon. I would be fine not watching it again ever.

The franchise will survive J.J. Abrams. It will be remade. It will be fixed. One day it will return to its progressive roots. Once again women will be properly represented in sci-fi... have hope Trekkies, this franchise will not end here. Not like this. The uncountable hordes of female fans won't disown this franchise just because of this because they will wish so long and hard for it to return to a state where it does not offend them that they will continue to poor money into it, because that's what a lot nerd culture is made out of... women. Hopefully the Executives and J.J. Abrams will realise this and alter their approach so that the series can improve because right now it is awful.