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BLOG Fanservice Faux Pas

Oh, JJ Abrams, you master manipulator, you.

What’s that? Star Trek Into Darkness has been out a few weeks now and isn’t getting as much attention online as it was? Well, there’s a simple solution to that problem. Just release footage of a presumably naked Benedict Cumberbatch in the shower! Then sit back and watch as the internet goes crazy.

Well played, sir. Well played indeed.

As a straight woman, I have to thank you, despite the likely ulterior motive you have in sharing that footage with me. That scene is quite lovely, and it’s already popping up as a GIF all over in my online life. And of course, a lot of folks are lamenting that it wasn’t in the film.

Know what, though?

I’m not.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m glad the footage exists. Frankly, it’s hot. (Somehow not nearly as hot as Benedict with nearly every inch of his skin covered in Sherlock , but I digress.) But it deserved to be cut.


Because I can’t think of a single place in Into Darkness where that scene could have been inserted into the movie and advanced the plot or served any purpose other than bad fanservice.

And the key word there is “bad.” Fanservice, in and of itself, while not exactly high-brow cinema, has its place in movies, and I’m certainly glad to see a few male characters getting in on the traditionally girls-only act. But it should at least make sense.

Take Captain America boxing in the gym in Avengers . That scene drew some seriously appreciative noises from the audience at my screening of that film. It was very pretty. But it also served to show Steve’s story in flashback form.

Or consider Tony Stark in the cave in Afghanistan. Yeah, I love that scene. It’s gorgeous. It also gets the Mark One suit built, though, so it has a purpose beyond being pretty.

These scenes advance the plot of their films and still manage to throw some pretty to the ladies, and that’s okay. As Joss Whedon says on the Firefly commentary for “Objects In Space”, “I’m not above a little beefcake.” (Granted, Simon is shirtless then because he’d been sleeping, which also makes sense.)

But the already infamous underwear scene with Alice Eve in Star Trek Into Darkness does not do this. It serves no purpose at all except to get her nearly naked for Kirk, and more importantly, for the audience. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually notice scantily-clad women in movies, because they’re so common. Sad, yes, but nonetheless true. Hollywood pandering to predominantly heterosexual male audiences is nothing new to me, and for the most part, I don’t even register it. But I did notice this scene long before the internet went crazy about it, simply because it was just so out of place. I couldn’t figure out why she was even changing clothes. That took me right out of the scene. It wasn’t funny or illuminating Kirk’s character in some way. That had already been done with his bedroom scene earlier (which was in no way equal to Alice’s scene, for the record). It was just poorly-executed fanservice, plain and simple. It was an eyeroll moment for me.

And that should have no place in any film.

So, though it pains me to say this, Benedict’s shower scene falls into the same category. It was rightfully cut. Granted, Alice’s scene should have been cut, too, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon, so I’ll take what I can get.

And as much as I’d like to be all equal opportunity about this and demand equal skin time for male and female characters, two wrongs don’t make a right. Parading man flesh about for no reason is just as lazy a way to attract an audience as unnecessary nudity for women. If it makes sense, fine. But if not, cut it.

So, sorry, ladies, but I don’t think that scene should be in the movie.

Unless, of course, they can make it serve a purpose. In which case, I’ll gladly reverse my opinion.

Until then, where did that GIF go?

Laura McConnell