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Tomorrowland has two awesome female characters, so why isn’t anyone seeing it? June 6, 2015

ZZ01BC52E1-700x319It’s no secret that I am someone who drinks the Disney Kool-Aid. My Disneyland premium annual pass almost never leaves my wallet and I check in there so often that people have asked me if that’s where I work. Fans like Walt Disney products and parks for a multitude of reasons and the studio’s diverse movies for even a gazillion other reasons. Like many of you, I could not wait for the movie “Tomorrowland” to come out. The trailers gave me chills, the Disneyland preview had me singing, “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow…” But, like many of you, I did not rush out to the theater when it opened. Believe me, it wasn’t because of the lukewarm reviews. My schedule has been insane lately and I really just couldn’t get there. I would be lying if I said that the mediocre reviews didn’t affect my speed in seeing it though. I finally got around to watching it at the El Capitan a month after it came out and all I have to say is Tomorrowland is a pivotal movie to see if you’re a feminist or have a young daughter or two.Athena_Tomorrowland

“There are two wolves who are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. The question is… which wolf wins?” Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) asks her father quoting his own analogy. Casey is a teenage character who is not obsessed with boys or selfies, but rather with science and space. I was surprised to hear Casey was originally written to be a boy. The good news is Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof had the foresight to see that a good character is a good character and that gender doesn’t have to define them. So, these two visionaries changed Casey to a young woman. Bravo!

“There is a completely false perception of, ‘Well, our main character is interested in space travel, so it’s gotta be a boy,’ but the first time I said, ‘Well, what if it was a young girl,’ it just felt like it was exactly right for us,” said Lindelof. Wow, I might actually start liking Lindelof (I still haven’t forgiven him for Prometheus though! Never forget.). That being said, the bankability of women at the box office is growing. The Hunger Games franchise certainly proves women can be capable action stars, but unfortunately suffers from cliché emotional hang-ups centered around romance with a guy.

Lindelof continues, “What if she doesn’t get distracted by romantic entanglements? What if her “romance” is with the future?” That sounds great to me! Could this be the summer of blockbusters with strong women leading at the box office?

Terminator Genesys brings Sarah Connor back to the frontline this summer. I was happy to see this as I’ve always looked up to characters like Sarah Connor and Ripley from Aliens. Not to mention, this has been the year of female-driven comedies (Spy, Trainwreck and Pitch Perfect 2 anyone?!).

Disney has led the race in making their films slightly more progressive. Ratatouille had a strong female chef. Brave finally gave Pixar a dynamic female lead. Frozen, well, you don’t need me to tell you about the girl power that is in Frozen. Malificient proved that you don’t need the love of a prince anymore. And now, Inside Out’s Riley is complex and dynamic as female animated characters get. Let’s see if The Force Awakens continues this trend with Daisy Ridley playing the lead.

Now, as I mentioned, Tomorrowland has two awesome female characters and both are under the age of 18! Well, sort of. Athena (SPOILER ALERT) is a robot recruiter in the form of a prim and proper English school girl, but don’t let her ladylike façade fool you. She’s as tough as they come, tackling comedy and action in one particularly entertaining scene in a collectibles shop.

Athena (Raffey Cassidy) is looking for a new recruit and finds the daring, risk-taker, Casey. She has courage, determination and hope: exactly what Tomorrowland needs. Donning her father’s NASA hat and jeans, Casey is exactly the kind of female protagonist I’ve wanted to see on the big screen for a long time. She climbs fences, gets into trouble, but most of all believes that the future can be brighter. Her connection to her father and her risk-taking remind me of a young Katherine Janeway in the book “Mosaic” written by Jeri Taylor. Glad to see this trend of father/daughter relationships continuing from “Interstellar.” I loved that film for many reasons, but the father/daughter bond really cemented my love for it.

There is a spirit of optimism about Tomorrowland and both of its female characters embody it. And guess what? This film passes the Bechdel Test. Yes, you could argue that Athena is a robot and therefore, not female. That is semantics though. The spirit of the character is definitely female, so I say she counts!

Lindelof felt the script was missing a certain sweetness from Athena, who he describes as “an eleven-year-old that has to express emotional maturity, depth, intelligence and a world-weary attitude.” He could see that Raffey was capable of bringing that to the role based on her audition. It’s nice to see meaty roles for children that don’t belittle them or make them a cliché. If anything, Athena illustrates that gender and age have very little to do with getting a mission accomplished.

With Tomorrowland” behind her, Raffey hopes the things she learned will help her land a role like Saoirse Ronan’s in “Hanna” — the 2011 movie she says is her second favorite movie. (No. 1 is “Tomorrowland,” of course.) I loved Hanna when it came out, but it was another movie that seemed to come and go from theaters in the blink of an eye. It definitely left a strong impression in my mind. Young female assassin? Oh, hell yes!

For Athena’s fight scenes, Raffey had to do two months of gymnastics, swimming, and martial arts training. “She just couldn’t get enough of all of it,” said Bird, adding that Cassidy did most of the stunts herself. “She wanted large orders of everything.”

While all of this is awesome, why was all the marketing of this film centered around Frank Walker (George Clooney and young George Clooney)? Yes, I know he’s a movie star, but if you ask me, the days of basing your film’s success on star power are long gone. Look how many movies with big names tank at the box office. I’m looking at you, “Aloha.” Perhaps, Tomorrowland would have had a fighting chance at being more popular if the marketing was more action-driven and centered around the two leading ladies.

I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about from the trailers except that young George Clooney ends up going to “Tomorrowland” after following a girl into “It’s a Small World” at the ’64 World’s Fair. Oh yeah, and by touching a Tomorrowland pin you can somehow get there, but you’ll end up in a cornfield first. Not exactly marketing gold. Granted, Tomorrowland is not exactly easy material to wrap your mind around and sum up in a short trailer.

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For me, the bigger picture ideas behind Tomorrowland appealed, but I’m a Star Trek fan. I already subscribe to the better future philosophy. What I didn’t expect, was seeing Clooney get a run for his money by two ladies less than half of his age. Not only did Raffey and Robertson keep up, they actually stole many scenes from him.

I don’t get it. Movies like the Avengers make a buttload of money, but the marketing is all Captain America, Thor and Ironman. Black Widow doesn’t get merchandising (for Christ’s sake the motorcycle she rode in the Age of Ultron was given to Captain America in the toy version)! Bravo to the women who protested her lack of merchandising and got that trending on Twitter.

71Z+sCpFtNL._SL1280_Sadly, Tomorrowland’s Athena and Casey weren’t given much merchandise either. Sure, they got a couple of tiny action figures, but those were hardly anything to write home about. Funko put out not one, but two versions of George Clooney’s character, Frank Walker!  Yet, they couldn’t bother to make a Pop! figure for either of the two young women. They even made one of the male villain. This speaks to a larger problem. Why won’t companies believe in the buying power of female audiences? Most of the women I know spend lots of money on their fandom through their cosplay outfits, collectibles, Blu-ray and convention tickets. It would be nice to have corporate America take notice and actually start making merchandise that appeals, but doesn’t pander to us. What I mean is that I would love Black Widow merchandise, but it doesn’t have to draw attention to the fact that it’s for girls. Let it be for everyone, but let’s just get some representation at least. I know many guys who would love some Black Widow swag. grid-cell-12438-1429561290-3

The action figures below, in all their retro-like glory, are hardly anything I would want to display on my bookshelf.  I’ve seen way more women collect Pop! figures than men, but yet, all we get are these lame “fully posable” action figures with horrible likeness from Funko. Talk about a missed opportunity.

With all this being said, I still can’t figure out why the movie did so poorly. I raved about it, but it seems like the “uncool” thing to do. Twitter can be a pool of cynical sharks on most days. At times, Twitter seems to be the realm of clever negativity. People are praised for how snarkily they can tear someone or something down. So, it’s hard to see such an uplifting film like Tomorrowland trending over there even though the message of the movie targets the very cynics that won’t give it the time of day.

417ST33eDDL._SY450_71ucrSbGVyL._SL1000_Do yourself a favor and pick it up when it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. Disney is doing right by women lately, but this trend can only continue to thrive if viewers support such films by putting their money where their mouth is. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine, but I at least hope you see the value in having such inspiring female characters be the norm in our society.

 

Those little moments July 26, 2014

Filed under: Life,Television & Film — Televixen @ 4:25 pm

Sometimes there are moments throughout the day that stop us in our tracks, that make us smile and help us realize things always fall into place. Connor Bright, my young co-host of Glue Guns and Phasers, was obviously meant to become a Star Trek fan. Although, a generation apart and half the country away, two girls were destined to become the dynamic duo of cosmic crafting. Yesterday, while at work she sent me this photo. Normally, I ignore my phone while on the job, but this made me smile ear to ear. To the “next generation” of fans, welcome aboard. There’s always room on the USS Enterprise for young bright minds.

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Connor in the arms of her father on the transporter pad next to her mom.

 

Dirty as we want to be November 25, 2013

Filed under: Life,Television & Film,Uncategorized — Televixen @ 6:43 am

ss_1-1Is raw and sexually explicit comedy still a boys’ club? Brian Lowry from Variety magazine seems to think so. In fact, he recently said of Sarah Silverman, “Despite all manner of career-friendly gifts – from her looks to solid acting chops – she’s limited herself by appearing determined to prove she can be as dirty and distasteful as the boys…” Now, I’ve never heard of Brian Lowry and I suspect he’s just looking to get his name out there in the press by stirring up some controversy. Lowry’s going to have to try harder because A. as the article below states, he used this same quote on comic Amy Schumer a few months back and B. people are going to remember this shit and call him out on it. See the link below:

http://happyplace.someecards.com/27693/variety-critic-really-freaked-out-by-girls-who-dare-to-be-dirty

I am tired of male “journalists” and bloggers putting women down to get their name thrown around social media to enhance their careers. I am still not over Joe Peacock’s sexist remarks about women in geek culture. However, I refuse to keep talking about him because clearly that’s what he wants. Putting someone down in order to elevate your own status is just plain bullying. I’m tired of geek elitists who feel they can be the arbiters of who is a “true fan.”

Similarly, I’m sick of the old adage that women aren’t funny or that when they are crass somehow they are “acting like one of the boys.” I’ve watched Sarah Silverman’s career for a long time and she’s been pretty darn successful and consistent. I don’t think dirty jokes are purely a man’s domain. I’m writing a pilot now and the things I say in it might make you blush. And guess what? It’s about women’s issues, our experiences and the way the world reacts to us. If you don’t like this brand of humor than all I can say is don’t read it, don’t watch it and just ignore it.

As for you, Brian Lowry—Sarah Silverman affects you how? You’ve stated you find her attractive judging by the references to her looks. So, let me get this straight, she can’t be dirty on stage, but would you be OK with her being dirty in the bedroom? Good enough to sleep with, but god forbid she’s… funny. Talking filthy is part of her brand of humor. How exactly does that limit her? It’s what her audience accepts and most likely wants. By the way, performers in The Vagina Monologues use the P word a lot too. I seriously doubt anyone would dare say those women were “talking filthy as the boys.” Male or female, gender has nothing to do with how explicit someone’s sense of humor is. End of story.

 

Guinan was always just… November 23, 2013

images…Guinan for me. She wasn’t a favorite character. She didn’t even stand out as anything other than Whoopi Goldberg. Uhura was the first black woman in outer space, so Guinan didn’t have that to set her apart. One thing I have always liked about the character is that she was the last character Gene Roddenberry created and developed before he passed away.

I grew up on Whoopi being the psychic in Ghost and the lead in Sister Act, so to me she was always a superstar. By the time I saw her in Star Trek, I found it distracting, like that one time Madonna showed up in a James Bond film. I didn’t watch TNG in its original run. (I know, I know!) But, I have been exploring the female characters of all of the Star Trek shows and movies lately. My friend and fellow convention panelist, Jamala Henderson has a deep affection for the character. She sent me this video and I was deeply moved by it.

Some people saw her as a calculated move to put a famous person in that role. Plus, why do we need another counselor type when we have Deanna? Much less one that is the cliche bartender? Well, I say just as  Seven of Nine evolved from a ratings-booster into a complex character, Guinan proved she was there to listen not because she had to, but because she wanted to. Her unsurpassed closeness to Picard and untold backstory (which I now appreciate as a writer), always added emotional depth and charm to the show. Whoopi could hold her own with Patrick Stewart in any scene, which is no easy task. She wasn’t in as many episodes as you would think and there’s an air of mystery about her that I really like. Thanks Jamala, for helping me see her as more than just a barkeep with a famous face!

 

Happy Halloween!!! October 31, 2013

Filed under: Life,Television & Film — Televixen @ 6:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

1394399_10151752710167568_1031031790_nIt’s no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. So, I wanted to take a moment to wish you a happy one. To me, Halloween is an entire month spanning from late September, when I put up my decorations, until early November. While the amateurs spend one day getting their scare on, I hit the haunts all month long, some years even sporting more than one costume. As a kid, I always felt like an outcast. I never felt like I fully belonged at my Catholic school. Halloween was the one day out of the year to go a little crazy (or mad as Norman Bates puts it). It was the one day out of the year where you were encouraged to be someone else and go wild. You could escape your boring little reality. You could eat sweets, be evil and decadence was accepted. As a teenager, I got into The Cure and Nine Inch Nails and soon became obsessed with horror variety shows, anthology series and the TV hosts. I was a bit of a goth kid. The Crypt Keeper and Svengoolie (UPN fixture in Chicago) were the ones that dominated my parents’ TV screen. But, before they could do their thing, there was one woman who revolutionized local TV. Her name was Vampira.

Vampira (real name Maila Nurmi) is one of my favorite gothic icons. Hell, I even played her in a theatrical production. She had a dark sensibility long before there was an Elvira. (She even sued her for stealing the idea/look). While Elvira was cheeky, Vampira was seductively evil. She was a fixture in California for being a horror TV host in the 1950s, but didn’t really grab the nation’s attention until much later when Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 From Outer Space” became a cult hit. Even though she has no lines, she’s the one thing I always remembered.

This Russian site has some pretty awesome and rare Vampira photos. Check it out!

http://www.liveinternet.ru/users/irena_69/post244683517/

Happy Haunting!

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Trek panel at Geek Girl Con coverage October 30, 2013

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Tanya Feldman, Jamala Henderson, Me and Jarrah Hodge.

Our panel, “Is Star Trek a Feminist Utopia?” at Geek Girl Con in Seattle is getting a lot of mentions on websites and blogs all around the net. I thought I would post some of the coolest mentions here. Feel free to link me to others as you find them. The overwhelming feeling I’m getting is that people wished they could have discussed Star Trek with us for hours, but they think that we didn’t give enough attention to Enterprise. Very true. There were only 3 of us, plus one moderator. We each thought we would cover a series. I had TOS, Jamala took on TNG, Tanya and Jarrah tag-teamed Voyager and Deep Space Nine. I know we didn’t give enough coverage to the movies, but there was mention of them. I spoke about First Contact and I think there were other mentions too. The main thing we learned from this experience is that we could have a panel on any one of these areas and it would take up nearly an hour or more. We did our best, but the time ran out so quickly. We mostly wanted to make sure we had enough time to hear your thoughts. Sorry we rushed through our discussion of Into Darkness, but I’m not sorry we disliked it! Can’t wait until Star Trek Las Vegas where I will, hopefully, be moderating a similar discussion in August.

Some of our fabulous mentions: 

http://mythcreants.com/blog/the-best-quotes-from-geekgirlcon/

http://gothmaureen.tumblr.com/post/64743272814/geekgirlcon-2013

http://blogs.uoregon.edu/4dbio/2013/10/20/geek-girl-con-2013-day-1/

http://www.shybi.com/forums/index.php?app=blog&module=display&section=blog&blogid=1086&showentry=9315

http://majorspoilers.com/2013/10/24/conventions-day-geek-girl-con/

 

Your moment of TrekZen*. October 28, 2013

Filed under: Television & Film — Televixen @ 6:40 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Your moment of TrekZen (from Dayton Ward who got this from The Daily Show)

Take your time.

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…And you better not say Uhura in the Captain’s Chair if you know what’s good for you! -MC ; )

 

Does shock value muddle a message?

I was watching a recent episode of American Horror Story Coven with my boyfriend when suddenly a scene got very uncomfortable. Had he been paying closer attention to a certain character’s dialogue he would have seen it coming. Alas, we multi-task and so occasionally certain bits get lost while we flip around on our iPhones. Now, you probably want to stop here if you’re not at least 3 episodes into the new season because it’s about to get spoilery. SPOILERS! DON’T READ BEYOND HERE. I WARNED YOU! If you’re caught up on the show, go ahead.

evan-peters-kyle-spencer-american-horror-story-coven-s03e03-the-replacements-tarThe “WTF scene” that made my boyfriend squirm was when the show’s Frankenstein’s monster, Kyle, gets touched inappropriately by his depressed and drug-addled mother (played by Mare Winningham). We had two very separate, but bold reactions to the scene. I stayed quiet and took in his shock and dismay. I’m probably paraphasing a bit, but it was something like, “oh, no…why?” He didn’t understand why they had to go there and lobbed it in with the second season’s incorrigible kitchen sink. I totally understand that AHS tends to throw reactionary scenes at the wall and sometimes they don’t stick. But, when they do, they really do. In this case, I felt an immediate sense of “yes!” Believe me, I am not excited to see a young man get molested by his mother on primetime TV. I was just proud that the show went there because for years Hollywood has all-but ignored female-on-male rape. Yet, it is a horrifying reality for many men, especially in the familial setting as shown on the series. With all this said, I don’t want you to think that my boyfriend lacks empathy for these characters and real-life situations. He absolutely does and this was really just a jumping off point for me to write a blog about this topic.

article-2476233-18F6899900000578-313_634x354The one thing AHS is good at is showcasing all sides of deviant behavior. Sometimes we don’t understand why they throw a certain twist in and others make perfect sense. What other shows do you know that are addressing mommy issues through oral fixation with breast milk, BDSM and women who will go to any length to get pregnant? While Kyle getting diddled by his mom may make us uncomfortable, I am so glad AHS took a stand and showed this. Like I’ve said before, through the guise of horror, they can get away with things television has shied away from for years. Incest being one of them. Not to sound like a broken record, but Gene Roddenberry did it with Star Trek through aliens and distant planets. AHS is doing it through broken people and messed up situations.

It’s easy for us to say, “ew” or “that’s gross,” but keep in mind whatever awful deviant behavior you see on-screen as horror could be someone’s reality. So, before you get up in arms over this moment, let’s look at the facts. According to RAINN.org, 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape. In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male. That’s just the ones reporting it. There’s a stigma in society about masculinity. Because men aren’t encouraged as much as women to talk about their feelings, I’m sure there are a lot of men who suffer silently. These men never get their stories of childhood sexual abuse heard. Film and television perpetuates these misconceptions. But, it also has the power to make us feel less alone. Some of my male friends have told me about their abuse stories and I’m always compassionate. Not everyone feels comfortable enough to talk about it to their friends and family. Television has a lot of power because it comes into our homes and invades our lives. It has the power to show situations that we envy, cars we want to drive and people we want to be. On the flip side, it can make people feel they are not alone. Let’s look at the movie, Bully and campaigns like “It Gets Better.” If those images and stories helped  just one person survive and overcome, then they were a success in my mind. Television doesn’t necessarily have to take on important issues, but good writing should. I knew when I saw the incest scene, it wasn’t just thrown in there for shock value. I knew the writers would make it pay off. On a side note, this is the second time in one week FX has shown motherly molestation on their network. Sons of Anarchy also featured a woman who came to a violent end for her actions in this area.

RAINN.org lists 80% of rape and sexual assault victims as being under 30 years of age. Under 30 is a huge section of AHS’ audience. I hope they are getting the messages across beyond the violent imagery. I know many of you were probably cheering zombie-Kyle on as he took a trophy to his mom’s face, but that’s the surface horror. Gore is not what makes something scary. The everyday-realities of our lives reflected back at us is the real horror. The real horror is that this happens all the time and no one is talking about it. I just have to wonder if the messages are getting across or do people just see this show as shock for shock’s sake? I really hope not because there is real potential here. a_560x0

While some of you are just grossed out, I am proud of the show’s writers for creating fully-realized characters with flaws. Even the mother is a role most women do not get to play often. They didn’t just show her as some trope of villany. She was complex, coping with the loss of men in her life, suicidal, down-trodden and probably suffered some form of sexual abuse in her past as well. She thought she was doing something to please her son. While we didn’t see what her relationship with Kyle was like when he was coherent, I get the feeling he went along with it for a while. His reaction to Madison getting gang-raped at the party takes on a whole new meaning once you consider that. Maybe I am reading too far into this, but I’ve heard rape survivors feel disconnected from their bodies. Many victims of childhood sexual abuse can become withdrawn. Perhaps the mute-monster version of Kyle is a metaphor for this. The silent, dissociative “Franken-Kyle” made up of other boys’ parts is a perfect parallel to how some victims of sexual abuse feel. If you were going for this, Tim Minear, then I applaud you! When Kyle screams, “NO!” right before he attacks his mother we know this was a breaking point. Who is the real monster in this scenario? Good writing should make you ask those questions.

As I’ve said before, TV is where writers are taking risks these days. There’s too much riding on movies and how do you market a downer? Television can show facets of life, no matter how ugly, and get away with it. Movies are so expensive to make and theater-going audiences are dwindling. I feel filmmakers (with some exceptions) are afraid to take risks because it’s so hard to get movies made and distributed these days. Shows like AHS, which feature ensemble casts, can focus on a few people per episode and highlight their dysfunction without the whole show being about that one issue.

AHS has not always done the best job treating these issues with respect and class, but I will argue for its place on my TV. So, next time the show makes you squirm, think about why the writers chose to go there. I guarantee there’s more to it than shock value.

***Male survivors and others affected by sexual violence can receive free, confidential, live help through RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline, 24/7. Call 1.800.656.HOPE to be connected to a local rape crisis center in your area, or visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline to get live help in an instant-messaging format.

 

Recovering from Geek Girl Con 2013 October 22, 2013

I had an absolute blast talking women in Trek at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. My lovely, “Is Star Trek a Feminist Utopia?” panel buddies did an awesome job keeping the conversation going. The audience was very engaged and I left with a sense of accomplishment. We’re already planning for next year! Thanks to Jarrah Hodge for the awesome pictures of my fellow panelists after our talk. It was great to share the stage with her again. I’m also so proud of Jamala Henderson and Tanya Feldman. Thank you to everyone who stayed afterwards to keep the conversation going in the halls. As one audience member said, “How cool is it to be in a room with this many other female Star Trek fans?”

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from left to right: Tanya Feldman, our moderator: Jamala Henderson, me and Jarrah Hodge.

 

The Borg Queen: super villainess or just another femme fatale? October 19, 2013

Filed under: Television & Film,Uncategorized — Televixen @ 8:22 pm
Tags:

BorgqueenI have always been a fan of horror. My love for scary movies pre-dates my interest in Star Trek by far. Perhaps this is why I love the Borg Queen and consider First Contact one of my favorite Trek films of all time. On our Trek panel at Geek Girl Con we are each taking a female villain from the franchise and discussing their characteristics and why we like them. I have such mixed feelings about the Borg Queen as a super villainess. At first glance, she is powerful, cunning and a strong mouthpiece for the collective. She is in many ways no different than the monsters of gothic movies such as Frankenstein or one of the evil queens from Disney films. She is the ultimate femme fatale. Perhaps this is why I don’t know how to feel about her from a feminist perspective. On one hand, I love the idea of a formidable female baddie. On the other, I take issue with how she uses her power. Why do all the female villains have all the fun in Trek? I wish other female characters had as much nuance and badassery as our evil counterparts.

320x240The one thing that made The Borg so frightening was their faceless, nameless, hive mentality to conquer and assimilate all who get in their way. They have no emotional response. Emotions are irrelevant. Yet, the Borg Queen is one who uses very human tactics to manipulate, seduce and control her male subjects in First Contact. I am torn because I love her as a character, but I don’t buy her as a Borg. The Borg do not flirt. The Borg do no use their feminine wiles. Yet, the queen is seductive and sly in a very femme fatale way. I am not ignoring the fact that Picard is mighty sexy as Locutus. I just think if the Borg baddie was a male character, the dynamic would have been way different.

Let’s look at the role of a queen in the insect world. The queen at first glance, might seem like the epicenter of the hive world of bees. Yet, what is really her role? Her job is to endlessly reproduce. She’s a baby machine. All the drones serve her and she doesn’t have to do anything for herself. The Borg Queen in Star Trek is more of a mouthpiece. She doesn’t control them as she says she is just one of them. She is the beginning and the end.  she is one who is many. She is The Borg. When she dies, the collective does not. As long as there is a piece of the collective still in tact, The Borg will continue to grow and assimilate. There’s also lots of evidence to suggest that multiple queens exist in Borg space. Yet, her role isn’t that different from an insect queen in that her main agenda is to multiply The Borg and colonize other parts of space. Their form of communication is a hive sound, similar to bees, an indistinct buzzing to which the Queen can intercept, translate and bring order to.

rn5233698eThe writer in me understands that the Queen serves as a mouthpiece for storytelling purposes. Otherwise, what do we have? We have people running from and killing zombies. We have The Walking Dead. Star Trek is not a show that engages in violence as a way to solve problems, so what you need is a character that helps reflect our humanity back at us. You need a threat that you can communicate with. Drones are not that.

The Queen is dynamic. She is intelligent. She is a real threat that you base storylines on. I would argue that TOS and TNG are about fraternal love and chemistry. There is a certain bro-mance at the core and The Borg Queen threatens the order of this fraternity. In First Contact, she is a establishes a bit of a love triangle between herself, Data and Picard (Locutus). She uses fear and sensuality to control her male subjects. Her feeling of intellectual superiority drives her need to conquer in search of perfection. A monster without a conscience or morality is perhaps of the most terrifying order. One of the most memorable scenes in First Contact is when she has Data strapped down and grafts some human skin and then blows on the inside of his wiring. To truly assimilate Data she must throw his desire for humanity back at him. He is after all a machine too. She hits him where it hurts and yet his reaction is one of fear and desire. This is the femme fatale trope working its way in. I want to love her, but because the writers make her so different than the rest of the Borg, it’s tought to. I dislike that she relies on her sexual prowess and manipulation tactics. Therefore, it’s hard for me to say she’s a feminist villain.

On the other hand, I like that for once technology and mechanism is associate with a female. Her yearning for perfection is one where the human body is not something to be desired. In fact, many times we see her disconnected from her feminine structure. We see her as a cybernetic serpentine head. The idea that the human body is imperfect and can fall apart, but the Borg structure can adapt and add on is an interesting notion. Moreover, the mechanical world renders emotion useless. It eradicates the need for a sense of morality, emotion and concern, which are usually linked with women. Not to mention, the drones are largely male in appearance and often appear genderless. The Queen is slimy and sensual, a matriarchal monster of epic proportions.

She falls into many traps though, she is in many ways like a Disney evil queen transforming all she touches. Had she been any other species she might be the perfect villain, but because she is Borg I can’t fully get behind her. The Borg are genderless, nameless and literally numbers. She is too individual for my taste. She is too much of a trope derived by male storytellers to pose a sexy threat to the male hierarchy of the crew (and later female as seen in Star Trek Voyager). What do you think? The jury is still out for me. Is she a good character for women or just another gothic stereotype? It’s interesting because when I originally watched her, I never thought of any of this.  As an older and now wiser viewer, I can see she’s just like The Borg. Her characteristics are not original or distinct.