sasha_feather: a fox curled up around a rabbitt (fox and rabbit)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
Last night a friend and I re-watched "Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home", also known as "The One with the Whales".

Why this is a feminist film:


It's about collective action. In order to save Earth, the crew all work together. They must also convince other people to help them. They rely upon a functioning society: mass transit, for example. Kirk and Spock must especially work to earn Dr. Gillian Taylor's trust and get her to help them. This task involves a lot of communication, honesty, and spending time together. This is not an action film about individual heroism.

Dr. Taylor is such a great character. Her priority is the whales, and her passion for their well being is her main priority. She is able to look out for herself and she takes risks. It's a risk to trust Kirk and Spock, to give them a ride home, to seek them out in a park when they are clearly so unusual. She is a person totally in charge of herself, and so compassionate for others. She stands up to her colleague at the cetacean center not once but twice. First, when he argues that whales aren't people and aren't proven to be intelligent, rather than argue about whales' intelligence, she says something totally amazing: "I don't know about you, but my compassion for someone doesn't depend on my estimate of their intelligence!" Which is a way better, anti-ableist, respectful argument. She's not just bright, she sees the most important argument. She stands up to this colleague again when he tells her that they shipped the whales out early to spare her feelings. She slaps him-- They didn't let her say goodbye! She's been condescended to.

Dr. Taylor has a photographic memory, and cuts through Kirk's attempts at bullshit. She wants him to tell the truth and won't give up until he does. This is the way to get her help.

It's wonderful that although Dr. Talyor seems to be a love interest for Kirk, and they do flirt, she doesn't follow through on it. At the end of the film, Gillian has been assigned to a science vessel (a boat? a space ship? who knows). Kirk protests that he doesn't know how to reach her. She says, essentially, "Oh, buddy, don't call me, I'll call you," maintaining her own power in the relationship. She cares about him, but she cares about her own career and life (and the whales) a lot more. And this is fine.

The main plot of the film hinges on whales being equally or more important than human beings. The mysterious probe that visits Earth is there to check up on the Humpback whales. Spock calmly explains that there are other forms on intelligence on Earth besides humans, and that whales are far older. This environmental message may seem a bit heavy-handed, but it's still so relevant, and it's tempered by the comedy and joy of the movie. The characters, and presumably the actors, are really having fun.

I was thinking about this scene, where Dr. McCoy and Scotty are at a plastics factory, getting the plant manager to help them. The plant manager is wearing a large red button that says "I stopped smoking!", telling you what kind of person he is, and what kind of film this is: Affable. Scotty, used to voice-recognition computers, tries to speak into the mouse. The plant manager tells him to just use the keyboard.




One plot hole: how are 2 whales (one pregnant) going to repopulate the Earth's oceans? This isn't explained.

What else do you notice about this film?

Date: 2015-03-03 11:55 pm (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
What a delightful analysis! Reminds me of everything I adore about this movie.

Date: 2015-03-04 01:10 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Bitmapped "dogcow" was subject of Apple's Knowledge Base 13, and appeared in many OS9 print dialogs (dogcow)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Unicorn main course, unicorn chaser! Thanks for laying the foundation for a fun rewatch

Date: 2015-03-04 01:36 am (UTC)
were_duck: Ellen Ripley from Alien looking pensively to the right in her space helmet (Default)
From: [personal profile] were_duck
Re: Plot hole, I was making fun of that too! I figured it'd be something handwavey about future science being able to diversify the gene pool or whatever.

Date: 2015-03-04 01:43 am (UTC)
starlady: animated uhura: set phasers to fabulous (set phasers to fabulously awesome)
From: [personal profile] starlady
One of my earliest memories is trying to sneak downstairs to watch this movie on TV at about four years old. It remains one of the films that has structured how I think about everything.

On the "All I Need to Know About Life I Learned from Star Trek" poster I had, one of the items was "even in our own world, sometimes we are aliens," and that's one of the things that always stuck out to me--the Enterprise crew, collectively, have spent a hell of a lot of time in San Francisco, but this San Francisco isn't their San Francisco. I thought about this movie a lot when I lived abroad for the first time; in its own way, the movie is very accurate at portraying that kind of dislocation.

And of course in the end they go home and save the whales, Earth, and the day, so what more could you ask for, really. Sometimes you can go home again.

Date: 2015-03-04 04:00 pm (UTC)
raanve: Kirk & Spock & Bones & Some guy in a red shirt (Fandom: Trek)
From: [personal profile] raanve
We just rewatched this a few weeks ago (I'd been gently prodding for it, and with the right friends & some beers my suggestion was approved), and I hadn't seen it in YEARS. I was a little surprised at how continuously delighted I was Your post hits most of the high points, but I am still not over "Double dumbass on you!" I keep saying it & then laughing about it.

You're right about the joy in this movie -- everyone is having such fun and enjoying each other, and I think that that is actually one of the most important, winsome things about Original flavor Trek, & one of the things that makes it work, still.

Date: 2015-03-04 04:48 pm (UTC)
umadoshi: (Yotsuba&! at play 1 (ohsnap_icons))
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
I love that movie so much. *^^*

Date: 2015-03-07 04:25 am (UTC)
izzy: headstock of a fender precision bass guitar (Default)
From: [personal profile] izzy
another thing i love about this movie: when the crew is strolling around SF, and they walk past the Asian couple arguing in what i assume is Japanese but i can't actually tell, and Sulu just kind of stares at them and grins.

also, Chapel is a Commander! which is great.

something i love about this movie that isn't really about the actual movie: if you search wikipedia for "the one with the whales", it redirects you to the entry for The Voyage Home.

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