{dear j.j. abrams, this is why we can’t have nice things}

Dear Mr. Abrams:

Okay, granted – so I’m a year late, or whatever, with viewing your last film. You’ll accept my apology for not seeking it out; I’ve not even seen the first Star Trek reboot, and only sat through the second because it was Netflixed while I was visiting here in Portland. It was not rented by me under the umbrella of “Bad SciFi Night material, so I’ll tell you straight – STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS gave me an unexpected and jarring headache. There were any number of reasons, including the continuation of the role of James T. Kirk, Professional Lothario (a female weapons specialist in the plot and in her bra for him to skewer with his rapacious male gaze? Really? that’s all she was? Leg broken, shot, bashed around – notice she was so very, very, very, very pretty, the whole movie long. Also: when SPOCK had radiation burns, he died. In an unattractive and burnt-looking way. How did we avoid that this time? Oh, it was Kirk. Forget it, my bad.); the whole Khan-as-Sikh-Latino-Englishman thing… (how hard would it have been, really to find a South Asian actor??), the pivotal members of crew reacting instead of acting, Spock so DEEPLY out of character, shouting “Khan” (WAS. THAT. NECESSARY.), the manipulative faux “tender” moments, the TRIBBLE — all these things were completely migraine-triggering.

But the biggest and most annoying difficulty with this movie for me is WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LITTLE GIRL???

What little girl, you ask?

Oh, THAT ONE. The one which we see all in white, with her crinkly hair combed down, the one we see looking perfect and quiet and still and … apparently forgettable to everyone, in a weirdly oblique way.

Here she was apparently important enough for the entire film to start with her parents silently agonizing over her no-tubes-in-her-she-still-lookslike-she’s-just-sleping illness, the catalyst for her father to destroy a major portion of Star Fleet intelligence in exchange for her life (and pray, what proof did he have that she got well, or would continue to do well? What father would put in some strange liquid in an IV and just go off with a “Welp, that’s done it, I’m gonna go hold up my end now” ? How could he sell his daughter – and expend the lives of his countrymen – without assurance?), the reason to believe some random Caucasian savior who says he can cure her – one man, when an entire hospital has tried? – here’s this apparent medical miracle that occurs, AND HER STORYLINE JUST VANISHES?

Seriously, Mr. Abrams, did I miss something? I looked for that girl FOR THE REST OF THE MOVIE. Wasn’t she saved for a reason? Isn’t she going to, you know, do something? She was a convenient prop, and just… abandoned with a two-dimensional role, as were the other brown people in the movie? (Klingon: there to be killed. Uhura: there to be capricious, female, and hot. Oh, and brown. Sulu: Actual Role. Phew. Brown guy in away team/lady on the bridge: there to show up in two scenes and have maybe a word, and maybe a name. /End ethnically diverse character list.)

So, this little girl’s father judged her important enough to kill 42 people, and you decide she’s so unimportant that she doesn’t even matter? We don’t even get her name?

You might argue that this is a small point upon which to founder my respect for your storytelling, but it’s the point where I could go no further. I think the absence of anything but the broadest strokes of action and jingoism, grandstanding and self-aggrandizing behavior left a film full of holes. It kind of makes me sad, because …well, because I loved Star Trek once.

Once, it was important enough for Martin Luther King, Jr. to tell an actress to keep playing a part she thought was small and unimportant. Once, it was important enough to make Whoopi Goldberg think, “Wow, there’s a black lady on that show. I could maybe be an actress, too.”

Once, it was important. And, you have all the roots of the concepts with which Gene Roddenberry infused the show, and somehow, important is the one thing it’s not.

And, all we can do is ask ourselves why.

2 Replies to “{dear j.j. abrams, this is why we can’t have nice things}”

    1. I think the worst thing was me pointing out things as I went along and having the people with me say, “You’re not supposed to get all hung up on it!”

      I have lost the ability to be just a passive consumer, which is a lot of what you need to watch some movies, I guess. And – emotional resonance is deeply important to me. If I don’t care, I can’t watch it.

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