Old Star Trek Vs. Movie Star Trek: A Matter of Sex

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Watching the old Star Trek with my youngest daughter, Amy starts complaining: “This old Kirk sleeps around, but he really cares about the women he’s with!  And the new Trek – forty years later – has Kirk as this womanizing jerk!”
And it’s interesting.
TV Kirk was, at the time, a real left-winger.  He believed in equality way beyond what a “normal” dude thought, and was presented as such.  His womanizing was just what a single guy was expected to do, and the women all died or left because, well, as an episodic show, everyone but the “main” cast had to go.  (As witness, you know, the endless parade of dying redshirts.)
The womanizing wasn’t a part of his character as far as the writers were concerned – he was a dude in power, and dudes in power got lots of strange.  He slept around yes, but there was a sense that he actually cared about each woman in his own way.
Yet by the time we got to the reboot, Captain Kirk’s main power was being a womanizer.  And “womanizer” was no longer on the bog-standard list of Things Men In The 2010s Do.  The entire frame had shifted, so that progressive Kirk now looked horrifically regressive.  And so they wrote him like a womanizer – someone who slept around, forgot people’s names, a sort of Barney Stinson with a phaser.
And I wonder how much more interesting Star Trek the new movie would have been if Kirk had been a womanizer in a compassionate sense – again, progressive, in the sense that men can have one-night stands with women who don’t necessarily want a commitment, that men can sleep with friends without this apocalyptic When Harry Met Sally fiasco of crushed emotions, that casual sex is not the antithesis of connection.
That would have been a very different Star Trek.  And one, I suspect, that would have resonated a lot more with fans than the movie – which did well in the box office, but doesn’t have one-tenth the Tumblr love that “Sherlock” does – has done.

1 Comment

  1. Gayle
    Sep 17, 2015

    But we can’t have a character enjoying guilt free casual sex! With women who also enjoy guilt free casual sex! Oh, the shame, the horror! It has to be a flaw – he’s a womanizer, and that’s bad. There are a million reasons for that, and none of them (in my opinion) good reasons.

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