In a media saturated world, there is an abundance of stereotypes perpetuated for women. Since the late 1960’s, however, Star Trek has been one example of how television and film can challenge stereotypes and what is considered normal. This study sought to understand the extent of change in how women’s physical and role representations are presented through the artifact of Lt. Uhura in the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the 2016 film Star Trek: Beyond. Using feminist theory as a lens to conduct a content analysis of these films, this study used frequently identified “feminine” characteristics in media studies to collect and thematize data. Findings showed there has been progress in how Uhura’s character is presented physically in that she is given greater visibility by being more prominently placed and is presented much more active, implying women are being given more visibility and preference in film. Costuming choices of the 2016 film are similar to those of the original series (1969), and 2016 Uhura’s physique is very thin when compared to her 1979 representation. This implies there is more value being placed on thinness, while also leaving the question of whether viewers will acknowledge the historical component of her costume without sexualizing her form. Intersectionality of gender and race played a more substantial component in role representation findings. Although total word count was down in the 2016 film, the content of Uhura’s dialogue was more impactful and important to the plot of the film. Additionally 2016 Uhura is frequently taking an active role, or one in which she is placed in a position of power or knowledge. This implies not only are women acknowledged for having power and knowledge, but importantly, stereotypes commonly attributed to Black women, and also women in general are being renegotiated in modern film.
Date of Degree
Master of Arts (MA)
Arts and Humanities
Otto-Griffiths, C. (2020). Expectation versus reality: Star Trek, Nyota Uhura, and the female role [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1016/
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