Monday, May 13, 2013

In the looking glass, clearly

So, I have mentioned already that Wonder Wife and I are working our way through Star Trek: Enterprise on Netflix streaming. We are in the fourth (and last) season and tonight watched both parts of "In a Mirror, Darkly," the prequel series' take on elements of the original series' episodes "The Tholian Web" and "Mirror, Mirror"; the episodes revisit the alternate universe populated by Evil® versions of all the Star Trek characters.

It was pure, unalloyed fanservice. The story opens with a reworking of a scene from First Contact (which I have not seen but recognized from James Cromwell's Zephram Cochran). Then we get the Enterprise credit sequence, but modified with more Evil combat and less noble exploring. When the episode proper begins, we have Evil Archer and Evil Phlox and Evil Reed and even Evil Admiral Forrest (demoted to captain), all acting just as cheesy and glorious as the Evil Original Crew. It's all dark and Evil and a grand hommage to the original  and I explain some bits to Wonder Wife, who has a vague awareness of what it's all about and is happy to play along.

Until we meet Evil T'Pol:

When the action shifts to the bridge and we see Jolene Blalock lounging on the command chair in her belly-shirt, hip-hugger Starfleet uniform, Wonder Wife loses it and cracks up laughing hysterically, as mean and nasty and Evil as the story has all been up until then.

"What is she wearing?" she blurts between gasps.

I try to explain something about the Evil Universe and its revealing clothes that, y'now, show that they're Evil and all.

She actually laughs harder. "She's barely wearing pants!"

I'm about to explain more when I realize: she's absolutely right. It's ridiculous.

I think that many men among us in the geek world can develop a calibration problem. There are so many egregious examples of the objectification and sexualization of women in comic book, science fiction, and other genre imagery, that our perception may get skewed. After being subjected to so many Escher-girls and boobs-bigger-than-heads, so many Leifeld waists and Miller's butt-shots, so many Star Sapphire costumes and Catwoman covers, when we see a presentation of a woman that is just merely sexy, our thoughts are "Well, that's not so bad."

But, actually it is. As Evil as it was, the Empire's Starfleet in the alternate universe had the same uniforms as the Federation's Starfleet in the "real" universe, just with jewelry and patches that were a little more badass. Except for Evil T'Pol and later Evil Hoshi, whose uniforms were the only ones to feature bare midriffs. I might be able to get behind the use of revealing costumes to signify cultural attitudes, but as arbitrary as this was, it was clearly just fanservice of a different kind. It was unnecessary and pointless, and if my responsometer wasn't out of alignment from the flood of similar images (and worse) that come with the territory today, I would have noticed.

Luckily, I had an external sensor to help me out, since every time one of these uniforms was shown, I heard more guffaws and an occasional "I'm sorry, but it's just so silly!" between laughs.

In the original, Evil Kirk covers less than Real Kirk, too.

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