Why I Wanted To Love Wonder Woman

I didn’t know it, but I’ve waited all of my adult life to see Wonder Woman on the big screen. I’ve spent the greater part of 30 years missing out on an experience that my seven-year-old sons have already had.  

At the age of 40, I was finally going to witness the unveiling of bravery and heroism of My superhero on the big screen. My Wonder Woman. My Diana. The woman I dressed like and emulated every Saturday afternoon in my parents living room while donning Wonder Woman Underoos, my mother’s go-go boots, and handmade cuffs, a tiara, and a lasso.

I didn’t realize what I was missing until it was nipping at my heels. But when I saw the first trailer for Wonder Woman last fall, something happened. The little girl who wanted to be brave, and strong, and the ultimate enforcer of justice, came alive as I watched amazing women kick butt right there on the big screen.

And since I spent much of my youth as a fellow Amazon, kicking bad guy butt along with Diana, her on the television and myself side-kicking it from the sofa, I felt pretty qualified to review the movie.

I liked the movie. But I wanted to love it. I wanted to love Diana and Wonder Woman, and all of the Amazons. I started out hopeful and reminded myself that the movie was just beginning when the first few lines came out stiff and lacking. I tried to be amazed by the fact that Gal Gadot was five months pregnant during filming, but found myself wondering if she was healthy, eating enough, and what it must have been like to have that kind of pressure. (Only to find out today that she hid it for as long as she could.)

The overall storyline was good. But the relationship with Steve was predictable. I understand that Diana had never seen a man, but the penis scene? The cheesy one-liners referring to his “above average-ness?” I found it unnecessary and out of line for a character from that era with his level of courage and decency. Is it impossible to draw and please a broad audience without sophomoric jokes and gender stereotypes?

But let’s move on to the more irksome moment of the movie and talk about the inferred romantic encounter. I mean I’m sure that I’d like nothing more than to get naked with a guy I barely knew after I had to wage war and kill countless people to save some helpless village that was going to get gassed by some crazed madman. I’m also sure that I’d have absolutely no sweat, soil, or scent after running through fields in a half metal armored leotard, and that if I did, there would be working plumbing and water for a proper bath available. So I related. Really, I did.

But let’s go with this here and say for a moment that I resented the stupidity of such an encounter. And since we are at it, let’s say I also resented the fact that this quick and shallow love affair became the pinnacle of character breakthrough for Wonder Woman. I might have to ask if these writers learned nothing at all from the wild success of Disney’s Frozen. Hello? Love was the answer. But love comes in a lot of forms. Some a little more robust than a quick fling with the first man you meet. She could defeat the God of War but could not withstand the wingaling of the first man she saw naked? I mean come on!

But I digress. Overall, Gal was fantastic. I liked the story, the action, and most of the content. I could have used less of the doe-eyed emotional moments, a little more complexity in character development, and greater exploration of the relationship with her mother, but I do realize this is a DC superhero flick, and the last Ironman was painfully lacking, so I’ll adjust.

When it comes down to it, I’m just happy that Wonder Woman made it onto the big screen. I’ve waited thirty years, so I suppose I can patiently await better character development, less gender stereotyping, and more complexity. I look forward to more female superhero leads and most importantly, more stories for Wonder Woman. And you can bet I will be there to watch them, Wonder Woman Underoos and all.

Shattered Silence

Profound impact is delivered in many ways. Mine came in the form of a movie. How beautiful it is to have film today; to have the ability to join in and bear witness to such emotion, such beauty, and such horror. What a privilege it is to sit comfortably in a theatre or home and take these images and stories in. There is a power in seeing and hearing. I found myself thinking this as I sat and watched the story of Selma unfold on the screen before me.

I was born into a media age, and as such, have little appreciation for the relative newness, power, and role that film has played in our history. I had almost zero understanding of the role that journalists and film played in the civil rights movement, especially when it came to Dr. King. He and those close to him understood the power of the visual story. Where they went, the media followed. A once small and insignificant town would be thrust beneath the glaring eye of media scrutiny when they showed up. The corrupt and abusive authorities who once tormented, terrorized and brutalized African-American’s in virtual anonymity, would then have to carry on in the light.

For those under 40, the civil rights movement is little more than a historical time marked in textbooks. It was a time so horrible and strange that many of us find it difficult to grasp and identify with. We have learned about it through school and media. And while some have been privileged enough to hear stories from family or friends who marched and protested; for many, it is a space in history that has only been further muted by distance and indifference.

Watching this movie was a tremendous sensory experience, and there were times when I felt like the weight of the film would crush me. But I sat, and I watched, and I took it all in- every sight, sound, word, facial expression, and interaction. The emotion was raw and palpable. The story was wretched and beautiful, and both the wretched and beautiful fought to overcome the other. In less than two hours I bore witness to the humanity of a man, the grace and elegance of a woman, and the bravery and determination of countless men, women, and children in the face of unparalleled evil.

At times I found myself nodding my head like a parishioner in the church of justice. Other times I was overtaken by emotion. I sat and sobbed. My body literally shook in grief for all that was done and all that is still done; for all that was fought for and for all that is yet to be fought for. I allowed it in. It was the very least I could do to honor Dr. King, his legacy, and those who have fought and suffered so much.

I watched the screen as a mother held her sons broken and bullet-riddled body after he was shot by an officer of the law for walking in the street. Instead of choking back the tears and reminding myself this was just a movie- I thought about my two sons. My two beautiful sons- children with whom I’ve had the privilege of walking beside during their journey into adolescence; gifts I get to unwrap and experience on a daily basis. If I’m indeed blessed, I will have the privilege of watching them grow into men. What a joy it will be for me as a mother to watch them blossom and grow, to encourage their interests and passions, and to marvel at the men they become. I sat with this weight and contemplated what it must have been like for this particular mother and countless others who couldn’t merely bask in pride but had to fear for their babies lives. And I wept for those mothers who held their babies bodies- bloodied and broken and without breath- lives stopped short because of hate and power and silence.

And it’s that silence that I want to shatter. That silence that rolls its eyes at yet another topic involving racism. That silence that tells us that racism no longer impacts a large number of people, that these are stories without relevance in today’s United States, and that people should just move on. And let’s not be fooled by the idea that silence is passive. It is as active and hardworking as non-violence has and continues to be. It bullies and shames. It feeds, strengthens and emboldens racism. It is the enemy of reconciliation, justice, and peace. And it must come to an end.

It is time to shatter the silence.