Posted by: Mark | May 2, 2015

Rape in Star Trek?

Rape is almost always a tough subject in science fiction.  Male (and oftentimes female) SF writers of yesteryear were about as astute about rape as most Republican politicians are today. Just as in cases of racism, sexism, and homophobia, a lot of this has to do with values of the time. I know plenty of people who disagree, but I don’t think it’s fair to judge a writer,  or anyone, for moral standards of a different time period. It shouldn’t completely let them off the hook but it’s nuts to expect Virgil to have the same social outlook as Mr Rogers.

Rape is harder to overlook.  I can remember back in the 70s when rape jokes were barely considered offensive (comedy based on drunk driving was considered family friendly).

The original Alien movie was a metaphor for rape and holds up pretty well. Star Trek’s “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” not so much.

Kirk and crew got captured fairly often so that wasn’t a surprise.  What shocked me was that one of the captors attempted to rape Uhura as Kirk could only watch helplessly.

Oddly by today’s standards, nothing is made of rape attempt. It’s no more important than the aliens denying Kirk and the others their choice of food. Rape gets forgotten quickly in some shows today but Trek’s treatment is jarring.

What also surprises me is that I saw the episode years ago but I forgot all about the rape scene.  Maybe as a kid I thought the guy was trying to steal Uhura’s communicator.

Otherwise the episode wasn’t bad. I’ll say it again: whatever you think about J.J. Abrams, he’s made the only version of Trek that’s not visually bland. “Gamesters” wouldn’t have scored a High Pass in film school but it was better than most episodes.

Kirk’s situation planetside wasn’t anything new but up on the ship, Spock, Bones, and Scotty were in prime form. Fantastic character development for the three of them (strong directing of them, too).

All in all, “Gamesters” is much better than “Spock’s Brain” but I don’t think anyone would put it in the better half of Trek episodes,  much less on a top 20 list.

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