Mako Mori Testing the Star Trek Movies

When I was writing about Bechdel-Wallace testing Star Trek, a couple folks brought up the Mako Mori test. It’s a similar idea to the Bechdel test, but gets at a bit of a different angle. For a movie to pass the Mako Mori test, it must have:

a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story.

It’s named after the character of Mako Mori in Pacific Rim. It tries to address some key limitations with the Bechdel Test:

  • A movie that has two women who talk to each other isn’t always feminist (keep in mind the Star Trek 2009 reboot passed that, in the scene where Uhura and her roommate are talking about lab notes while Kirk watches Uhura undress)
  • A movie with one amazing, complex, strong woman role model (like Pacific Rim) won’t pass if she doesn’t talk to another woman

I’m going to say I think both are interesting tools, neither one should be totally discounted, and the Mako Mori test comes with issues of its own. I think the biggest one is just the practical barrier. It’s relatively easy to figure out whether something has passed the Bechdel test, but less so for the Mako Mori test. I tried running all the Star Trek movies through it and here’s what I came up with:

  • Star Trek: Into Darkness – Fail (I would argue Uhura’s arc ultimately is about supporting Spock’s story)
  • Star Trek (2009) – Fail
  • Star Trek: Nemesis – Debatable (Do you consider Troi’s psychic rape by Shinzon & response “supporting a man’s story”?)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection – Debatable (Anij’s story certainly supports Picard’s but Troi’s is interconnected with Riker’s, not necessarily supportive of it).
  • Star Trek: First Contact – Fail (Lily’s arc is very much about supporting Picard’s, the Borg Queen supports Data’s story, Troi and Crusher don’t get a real arc).
  • Star Trek: Generations – Fail (I don’t think Guinan’s involvement counts as an arc and Troi’s supports Picard until the very end).
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – Pass – (Valeris’ espionage)
  • Not sure about Star Trek V,  since I haven’t seen it recently enough. Thoughts? Is there anything involving women other than the Uhura fan dance in there?
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – Debatable (Does Gillian Taylor’s narrative support Kirk’s or stand on its own?)
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock –Fail (I think Saavik in this movie more or less supports David and Spock).
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – Pass (I think Saavik’s arc is ultimately about her, even though Spock and Kirk help guide it).
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Fail (Ilia/V’Ger are very much tied into Decker’s arc).

What do you think about my verdicts on the movies re: the Mako Mori test? Would you pass or fail Star Trek V?

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