Star Trek Into Gratuitous Nudity: Cumberbatch’s Shirtless Scene Cut, Eve’s Panty Shot Stays

shirtlesscumberbatch2In a recent interview on Conan O’Brien, JJ Abrams revealed that Benedict Cumberbatch originally had a shirtless shower scene in Star Trek Into Darkness that got left on the cutting room floor. I find this news incredibly frustrating for two reasons. First, yes, I’m a Cumberbitch and seeing him shirtless would have been an obvious bonus. Secondly, and most importantly, scenes typically get cut for being unimportant and if a shirtless Benedict Cumberbatch is considered unimportant, why was Alice Eve’s gratuitous panty shot left in? Talk about unimportant. That scene had no real purpose except to show an attractive woman wearing hardly anything. And hey, as I mentioned earlier in the paragraph, I understand that desire. I would have been pleased to see Cumberbatch taking his angry shower, but the gratuitous man shot got cut and the gratuitous woman shot got to stay? This is hardly fair.

In the interview, Abrams said that Eve’s shot was to make things ‘even’ for having Chris Pine shirtless earlier in the film. This argument doesn’t hold much water, though, as Pine’s shot also included a bunch of scantily clad women and actually did have a narrative purpose. It showed Captain Kirk as a ladies man who enjoys his time away from the bridge indulging in pleasures of the flesh. Now Abrams classified him as a ‘womanizer’, but his shirtless scene isn’t really degrading towards women at all. It’s just Kirk having sex with some ladies. There is nothing wrong with that. His peeking at Carol as she changes clothes, however, was very degrading and unnecessary. Carol was obviously not pleased by having her Captain peek at her in her underwear.  This is perfectly understandable. Unless you get off on voyeurism, getting peeked at while changing clothes is incredibly uncomfortable, especially if it’s by someone who is your superior officer while in the middle of a mission. In fact, that’s called sexual harassment.

If Abrams goal was to make things ‘even,’ he failed pretty spectacularly. Eve’s scene not only made the cut, but was used in the trailer as a major selling point. Cumberbatch’s got left behind and ignored. Pine’s scene also included scantily clad women. How is any of this remotely ‘even?’ I’m not saying that all films need to have a perfect balance between male and female nudity (it’d be nice, but I’m not going to hold my breath), but if you are going to use balance as an excuse to include female nudity (or near nudity), you should at least have the facts to back up that claim. JJ Abrams, unfortunately, does not have the facts to back it up.   We just need to call this what it is.  It’s sexist.  And no amount of backpedaling by Abrams is going to change that.

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