Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wonder Woman hits back

I have managed to see Wonder Woman twice already-and it is fantastic! No movie is perfect, but it has a lot going for it.

Entertainment-wise, it is pretty excellent. The action scenes are great, especially those with the Amazons. Their training montage was inspiring! All the actors did a good job, though I have to say that Chris Pine had impeccable timing. Gal Gadot destroyed the rumors prior to release that she didn't "look strong enough" to pull off Wonder Woman-I thought she did very well with balancing Diana's naïveté with her mental and physical strength. It was also pretty cool to be a part of a record-setting box office weekend-the highest for a movie directed by a woman, which also happens to be the first superhero blockbuster directed by a woman. Go Patty Jenkins!

There have been a lot of think pieces already about the various social justice, feminist, etc. aspects of the movie, but of course I have to express my views as well!

On the topic of "strong women": first, that term is outdated, implying that women being strong requires specification. As I mentioned above, there were a number of people who said before the movie was released that Gal Gadot did not look strong enough to play Wonder Woman. I have to shoot this down in a few ways. 1. What do strong women look like? It is not necessary to look like a bodybuilder to be strong. 2. Wonder Woman is strong and trains hard, but also has magic on her side-that can go a long way! 3. Gal Gadot served in the Israeli army, so I'm pretty sure she's got some muscles on her.
There are also many kinds of strength (as we discussed with the teen girls after viewing the movie on a field trip). Musculature, ability to endure hardship/pain, mental, emotional...

Seeing this movie with several teen girls of varying backgrounds and witnessing their excitement and empowerment was fantastic. They loved it and were so pumped to talk about the movie and the new ideas it gave them about femininity capped off one of my favorite field trips.

There are a couple silly issues I have heard about-that Wonder Woman isn't patriotic enough, that this a man-hating film...I'm not going to spend a lot of time thinking or writing about them.

Some of the more nuanced criticisms or reflections are far more interesting and deserve more thought. While discussing the movie with my mom, she brought up that a couple of her friends are boycotting it due to Gal Gadot supposedly being a Zionist. I did a quick search online to see what evidence was available, and it's pretty minimal. The term Zionist is extremely loaded, and discussion of this topic definitely does not fall within my professional field, so please (gently) correct me if I have any facts in error. My understanding is that is officially defined as "a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel" and she would probably meet those requirements as she is from Israel and served in the IDF. The article that my mom's friends cited is here. Before I criticize it, I want to say that I am excited to come across this website-I can't wait to read more articles by youth reflecting on the world around them, and that I think it is so empowering that youth have created this space and voices for themselves. However, the article is making some big assumptions-that having served and posting a message of support for people serving in the military equals supporting everything done against Palestine. This article is far more nuanced, and better than what I could write.

I won't argue criticisms of the movie itself-for me it was a couple hours of pure enjoyment both times I saw it. However, I will dismiss sexism and anti-Semitism cloaked in artistic feedback. There's even more that I haven't gone into here, but I will link to a couple other pieces: Brave Rock reflecting on his role as Chief and a powerful reaction to it.

My recommendation: see it, at least once, and remain thoughtful. Engage in discussion and educate yourself.

Also, read these tweets and smile. And these.


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