I wasn’t expecting to become so choked-up while watching Wonder Woman, but I couldn’t help it. It occurred to me that I wasn’t just watching any superhero film. I was watching history unfold. For the first time, a female director — Patty Jenkins — was hired to helm a superhero movie that focused primarily on a female protagonist (Gal Gadot) and told the story through the female lens. And lest we forget, the film had an unbelievable global opening of $223 million dollars at the box office.
I have been waiting for this moment for an awful long time. To see it finally arrive, made me emotional. And yet, on the ride home from the movie, my skepticism kicked in. We all know this movie should be a huge game-changer — proving once and for all that women-helmed, women-centric stories deserve to be told and are profitable.
Most likely, though, based on experience, this will be another one-off. Instead of seeing it as a sign of things to come, those in power will find some way to change the game again. I want to believe this time will be different. But the tender part of me knows they will create different hoops for women to jump through, keeping it just as hard as ever to attain equal opportunity and representation.
It is a broken, antiquated, sexist system. Half the country is made up of women — complex, diverse, interesting women. Half of film school grads are women, and yet women only direct 1.9 percent of big-budget films. But to hear Hollywood tell it, our stories have no relevance to men, and thus aren’t relevant at all. Hollywood also has a diversity problem, with only 7 percent of films possessing a cast whose race and ethnicity reflect our country’s diversity. Yet they keep telling the same old stories from the same white male perspective. And then they wonder why it all seems so tired and stale.
Wonder Woman did not seem stale. Through the character of Diana Prince, we are offered a fresh, feminine, emotional, heart-centered perspective like we’ve never seen before in an epic action-adventure flick. Unlike most male protagonists, Diana isn’t an unlikely hero who snarks and grins her way out of trouble or refuses to accept her destiny. Even as a girl, she is ready to fight. After all, she’s been surrounded by Amazonian warriors her entire life. To her, ‘fighting for what you believe in’ is just what you do.
Diana’s journey, therefore, isn’t the usual hero’s journey. Her internal struggle isn’t about learning to be a better person or overcoming her flaws (she already is a kind, compassionate, goal-driven, powerful woman). Her journey is about knowing and accepting the truth. She needs to see for herself the darkness that resides in the world so she can understand the type of atrocities men commit. And she needs to see if her mother is correct by warning her — the world of men does not deserve Diana.
While growing up in her sheltered all-female paradise bubble, Diana came to believe that man is primarily virtuous and kind. She also thinks she must stop Ares, the God of War, who uses his power to corrupt men into fighting. She believes if she kills Ares, she will stop all wars instantaneously.
Through the course of the film, Diana learns things are much more complicated than that. A)Men are good for something other than procreation, and B) Mankind possesses an inherent darkness. Man chooses to fight and kill and maim each other. Killing the super-villain won’t magically stop the carnage. We are all potential villains, and we decide whether we LOVE or HATE each other.
It’s here where I point out the script was written by men, Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns. In the future, I hope more women will write tentpole movies, but I have no complaints about the script. I give these writers a lot of credit for writing a superhero script that exceeds expectations, instead of being lazy and derivative, especially when it came to creating female characters. And I give them credit for creating a ‘popcorn’ movie that resonates deeply with those of who feel broken and battered from recent political events.
We (women) needed a movie like Wonder Woman right now. We’ve earned the right to go to the movies and see a story that includes us and considers our perspective and point of view. We needed to see a strong female hero who doesn’t use her sex appeal to get ahead, a woman who leads, rather than follows the men in her life.
The truth is, it’s been a hell of a shitty year for women. We’ve been continuously disrespected, triggered, and re-traumatized by a toxic-macho, anti-female administration. All we hear from Trump’s camp is fear, hate, and lies. It is the most destructive, disorganized, and corrupt White House we’ve seen in our lifetimes (for those of us who barely remember Nixon). The man plants seeds of paranoia and distrust so often and so insanely, that if he were a comic book super-villain, he’d be laughable. The fact that this idiotic thug is our leader, only makes it depressing, and scary as hell.
Right now, we need a hero who tells us LOVE IS THE ANSWER. It’s so simple, I know. But we need to hear this message now more than ever. And if we can’t hear it from our government leaders (who are busy lining their pockets), then perhaps we need to hear it from our imaginary heroes.
Watching Diana fight for peace and sanity, I realized:
We are all Wonder Woman.
We are warriors who fight for our families and our communities.
We fight despite closed doors and glass ceilings.
We get knocked down, and we get right back up.
And through it all, we never lose our hearts.
2017 was supposed to be the year women crashed through the glass ceiling and into the White House. When that didn’t happen (and instead our fellow countrymen decided to elect a conman spouting hate-speech), we realized, that like Diana, Amazonian princess, we too had been living in a protective and insulated bubble of sorts. The world wasn’t the progressive paradise we imagined. Instead, we learned that misogyny, bigotry, and racism are still alive and well in the year 2017.
This discovery just about knocked the wind out of those of us who thought we were making progress towards a better, more inclusive, and kinder world. We had no idea how threatening a strong woman would be to the extremists, the alt-right, the good old boys, the religious fanatics, and (most-shockingly) to other white women. And we had no idea how many people are threatened and afraid of change, and would rather cling to the close-minded past.
Like Diana, us do-gooders in the world like to cling to the idea that if we destroy the toxic leader who incites violence and hatred, we will free humanity from oppression and bring harmony and peace. We want to believe men are innately good at their core. Yet sadly, just as Diana learns, we learned too that we couldn’t blame this toxic and violent environment entirely on one man. There are millions of people willingly enabling our president, choosing hate over love, and exploiting fears to push dark agendas.
What to do in dark times? Turn to fantasy, of course. Wonder Woman was the remedy our souls deserved and needed.
WE DESERVE WONDER WOMAN —
- We deserve her because we deserve better than what we are currently getting.
- We deserve better than a country that treats us like second-class citizens.
- We deserve better than a POTUS who insults and belittles women and grabs them.
- We deserve better than a VP who wants to take away or reproductive rights and won’t sit down to a meal with us because he thinks we are all wicked temptresses.
- We deserve better than a Congress that accepts millions in ‘donations’ from corporations and other entities and doesn’t care about healthcare for our families or the future of our planet.
- We deserve better than ongoing harassment, assault, rape, pornography, trafficking, and other violence perpetrated against women.
We deserve better treatment from Hollywood.
- We deserve better stories.
- Better roles.
- Better pay.
- Better representation.
- Better consideration.
- Better awareness.
- Better access.
- Better everything.
We are all Wonder Woman.
And watch out, because this might be our year.
*Note: Ironically, Wonder Woman was executive produced by Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s Sec. of Treasury. It’s too bad because other than that it was perfect. I hate putting more money into the pocket of Trump’s team.