Women at Warp welcomes our very first guest, Kayla Iacovino of TrekMovie.com, to discuss the original intergalactic ladies’ man, Captain Kirk, and his one-shot love interests. Edith Keeler, Rayna, Miramanee, Marlena Moreau, Janice Lester and JJ-verse Carol Marcus all get the Women at Warp treatment in this episode.
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Hosts: Andi, Grace, Jarrah
Guest: Kayla Iacovino – @kaylai
Download Transcript: PDF or Word
Notes and References:
- “Indian” Stereotypes in TV Science Fiction: First Nations Voices Speak Out by Sierra S. Adare, University of Texas Press (2005).
- Kayla shouted out the fan series Star Trek Continues, Episode 3, “Fairest of Them All,” which features Marlena Moreau in continuing adventures in the Mirror Universe.
- Correction: When citing a source that only 1/3 of the original Enterprise crew was meant to be women, Jarrah refers to the 1968 book The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, except she incorrectly said it was by Simon Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. Stephen Whitfield was the Star Trek toy manufacturer who co-wrote the reference book with Roddenberry. Simon Whitfield is a Canadian Olympic triathlete whom Jarrah had a mild crush on in high school.
- Theme music used: Original Series theme (disco version) by Nichelle Nichols
And enjoy this clip of the kiss we discuss from “Plato’s Stepchildren” between Kirk and Uhura:
What a terrific episode! You four do such a fantastic job. I’d like to expand on some of the thoughts raised about “Plato’s Stepchildren”.
I found it interesting that one of you mentioned your overall understanding is that this is a generally disliked episode. Before seeing it years ago, I knew that “the kiss” was coming and was actually expecting this momentous progressive moment of TV history based on what I’d heard from so many people. I absolutely hate this kiss. I am fine with it in the context of the episode, but as a cultural phenomenon it makes my skin crawl and sets my teeth on edge. I have always thought, but never heard/read any commentary or analysis to this effect: as a part of the story, this kiss is an act of rape. Not just of Uhura, but of all four characters forced into a physically intimate situation that none of them want to be in. In a way, it is even more horrible for Christine and Spock, for whom there exists an unrequited love (which you discussed). This fact would make this moment unbelievably painful for her, as well as for him (anyone who has been on either side of unrequited love may relate, though it is overshadowed by what is happening next to them).
All of this, of course, is being played out as a part of general torture and humiliation. The characters are physically and emotionally tortured throughout. It is just as horrible to me when Spock is forced to injure Kirk, as the unfulfilled bit of terror at the end with the men and women (I think the audience is meant to see violence against women as worse, as they are perceived as “weaker”). To make it even more morbid it is portrayed as sort of a snuff film! Plato’s Stepchildren are getting-off to it. Philana even at one point tells Parmen to “get on with it”, indicating that she wanted her big climax of them all being killed. All so impressively dark for the sixties and even though it is horrifying, it is rather powerful.
So… for this, an act of rape, humiliation and torture to be heralded and applauded as the “first” interracial “kiss” on television is incredibly problematic when you consider the sexual aspect of race relations in this country. Black women were and have been disproportionately the targets of sexual violence for much of American history, and black men had only recently been lynched by mobs for consensual sexual relationships with white women. Of course, Kirk is not himself violating Uhura and the storyline does not follow the topic of lynch mobs, but still, that context cannot be ignored for such an important moment. Yikes.
I am sure you ladies would have seen this, but it is an interesting insight into the behind-the-scenes of that kiss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hKKkGhEDoU