Crew Profile: Tasha Yar
Reflections on Tasha Yar and the career of Denise Crosby in and out of Trek
The acting role of Lieutenant Tasha Yar ought to have been an opportunity for a powerful female character to be included in the Trek mythos. After all, Roddenberry had tried and failed in the sixties to establish his future wife as 'Number One', and had to retreat to accepting Nichelle Nicole's rather meagre role as subspace telephone operator in order to keep a woman on the bridge. Women were not treated well in classic Trek, I think we can agree, and while TNG tries to address this deficit, it struggles. Partly the problem rests on the perception that science fiction is seen - perhaps absurdly - as a masculine interest. Mary Shelley created the form, yet Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are given all the credit. This 'boys club' attitude to sci-fi seems to have hurt Denise Crosby's Lieutenant Yar more than anyone else on TNG.
As I have repeatedly stressed in the WAMs, the uselessness of Yar as Chief of Security is in no way Denise Crosby's fault - the writers seem to refuse to want to give her anything substantive to do. Partly, I suspect, this flows from the issue that Chief of Security is a position that it is all too obvious when you have failed, but nothing interesting happens if you succeed. Dramatically, the deck is already stacked against you. Partly, however, it comes from the inability of the writing team to get over treating Yar as a sexual object. But in this regard, Crosby hardly helped her career when one of the more high profile roles she took on after TNG entailed a nude scene...
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