Monday, 23 August 2010

Sci Fi Totty - A Genre's Shame

There can be little more schizophrenic than the science fiction genre's depiction of women. On the one hand the genre was amongst the first to show women as being intelligent and capable whilst on the other it saddled them with ridiculous outfits that made the most of their outstanding assets.

Just think of the original outfits that the crew of the Starship Enterprise wore in the original STAR TREK. Could those skirts have been any shorter? Is that what Starfleet considers to be practical spacewear? And yet the show had a string of capable women from Nurse Chapel and Lt Uhura through to the subject specialists that appeared.

In THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, Patricia Neal was a single mother completely in command of her situation, but Anne Francis in FORBIDDEN PLANET had another of those ridiculously short skirts to deal with. Faith Domergue was one of the world's leading scientists in THIS ISLAND EARTH Julia Adams was a top scientist in THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, but her main contribution was to swim about in a one-piece swimsuit.

That reference is apt because the reason for this speculation is the release in the UK of PIRANHA 3D, which again goes all schizophrenic. It features a female sheriff heroine who is as good as any man, but has so many scantily and unclad females as to completely spoil the effect. Hell, even Ripley, the ultimate science fiction heroine got down to her skivvies in ALIEN.

Alice, the genetic killing machine in RESIDENT EVIL, is as competent a woman as it gets, surviving when all the men around her are killed off, but even she had to be seen being 'born' naked.

The there's Stella Starr, who saves the universe no less in STARCRASH, but she does it in the skimpiest of outfits. Princess Leia led the rebellion against the empire, but she had to sport a gold bikini when necessary.

It seems that no matter how much the genre tries to show women in a positive light, there's always someone who wants to put them in their underwear instead.

Piranha 3-D
Forbidden Planet [Blu-ray]
Resident Evil - The High-Definition Trilogy (Resident Evil/ Resident Evil: Apocalypse/ Resident Evil: Extinction) [Blu-ray]
Creature From the Black Lagoon (Universal Studios Classic Monster Collection)
Starcrash (Roger Corman Cult Classics) [Blu-ray]
The Day the Earth Stood Still
This Island Earth

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