Girls on Film does Star Trek

by Jess McCabe // 2 February 2011, 12:38

Tags: Alien, film, gender roles, movies, Salt

Girls on Film takes scenes between men in mainstream movies, and redoes them with female actors playing the parts.

Here they take on a scene from the recent Star Trek movie:

Swapping the sex of the actors playing these roles is interesting because it highlights quite clearly the codes of masculinity and expected gender roles which go under the radar in the original.

saltposter.gifA few mainstream films have successfully used this tactic to create decent action roles for women: most recently, Angelina Jolie took over the lead in Salt, a character originally intended to be played by a man. Even in this case, though, changes were made. From the production notes:

“When we changed the gender of the main character, we began to question the dynamic of every scene,” explains producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “We didn‟t simply question whether a woman would make all the same choices, but also how the other characters would act or react differently, given that it‟s a woman. It was a huge change that rippled through the entire script.”

Ripley in feminist favourite Alien was also originally conceived of as male, with Sigourney Weaver taking on the role after the film-makers decided a female lead would stand out more in marketing the film.

But the power of Girls on Film's recreations is that they make none of these adaptations - casting a clear light on our gendered expectations of what a female or male character would act like in a particular situation.

Via Sarah Cook at Bad Reputation, part of the excellent blog's Found Feminism series.

Comments From You

Kelly // Posted 02 February 2011 at 15:14

There's a rule for whether a film is feminist:


I think the thing that stood out about this clip is that they're women with extended speech, and they're not flipping talking about men. So it's natutally v. odd. Sometimes you have to literally flip genders to see how hilariously far we are from equal.

Jess McCabe // Posted 02 February 2011 at 15:17

@Kelly Yep, that's the Bechdel Test.

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 02 February 2011 at 16:22

I think the thing that stood out about this clip is that they're women with extended speech, and they're not flipping talking about men.

Actually, they are talking about men. Specifically, "your father", and "if you're half the man he was..." But they're also talking about aspirations that don't involve being with a man or competing for men's recognition, only competing with the memory/figure of "father" (which is typically presented as a male pursuit or archetype in fiction).

In other words, it's not that they don't talk about men; instead, they talk about men in the way that men (or male characters) talk about men, instead of the way that female characters talk about men, and that's the big difference.

Sarah // Posted 02 February 2011 at 22:11

I'm a lifelong Star Trek fan. I've been feeling kinda cold towards the new movie, and now I realise why. The later series DS9 and Voyager had women in positions of authority, rebels, fighters. The new film didn't.

I would love to see the whole film from this POV, with the genders flipped. That would totally rock my world.

sianushka // Posted 03 February 2011 at 09:25

The Bechdel test is great but it doesn't act as a rule for whether a film is feminist.
SATC 2 passes, and that certainly wasn't a feminist movie by all accounts!

dotty_sparkletoes // Posted 14 February 2011 at 12:54

What i found most interesting about this project were the comments on the guardian website written clearly with an air of hostility about the Fight Club scene in particular.

Many comments involved a stalwart defense of the 'fact' that Fight Club was a movie specifically about "masculinity":

"Fightclub is specifically about men, masculinity and defining traditional masculine values in the modern world. What the hell does that have to do with women???"

What the comments fail to consider is that masculinity and femininity are in themselves social constructs which the refilming of this scene aptly shows. The point is that 'masculinity' has everything to do with women - it is a myth that perpetuates patriarchal dominance and creates a false dichotomy between 'male' and 'female' instinct and visceral behaviour.

By highlighting male and female roles as interchangeable in the Fight Club scene - it underlines our common humanity: that sometimes we ALL need a good punch up!

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