Wonder Woman correctly predicts the novel existence of female protagonist is beyond enough to satisfy female audiences.
Let me first say, I came out of this film laughing and rolling my eyes a little, having went in with little expectations and seen basically exactly what I would expect to see from Hollywood. I was much too unsurprised to be disappointed or mad. So I would not be writing this review if not for my dawning, incredulous realization of the outpouring of starry-eyed wonder at this flick.
People. Slow. Your. Roll.
If you enjoy the film, great. I’m not trying to take that away from you. If you appreciate the historic milestone of a female director in a blockbuster superhero movie breaking all financial success expectations–you’re right, great.
But to wildly herald Wonder Woman as some sort of catch all “answer to feminism” does such incredible violence to the filmmakers–women and men–who have actually striven to put powerful, authentic characterizations of femaleness on the screen and to build stories around them in unafraid ways. Wonder Woman is a textbook example of how far Hollywood will go to preserve male identification on screen. Everything “feminist” about this film is apparent in the most basic elements of the plot itself–a powerful woman exists and tries to save the world. Go any deeper, and the cinematic execution of the piece clearly & immediately reveals the familiar, deep maleness of the system that made it and how terrified they are to touch this kind of story.
Last week, I tried to start a new Netflix show. It opened with the murder of an American woman. The scene flashed back to a slim blonde sliding her feet into a pair of heels, then jumped ahead to her being chased in the woods by her captor. Her long hair snarled in branches and wrapped traumatically around her jaw.
I wanted to be drawn in, but was stopped by a random thought. I wondered why we never see black women as the “American woman” on TV. Or any woman of color, really. There are black women in America. They’re in Target, the grocery store, at work, mowing the lawn, at movie theaters. We had one as the first lady of the United States. By definition, they are American women. But rarely do we see (and I was close to saying “never,” but you know how it is with that word…) them represented as the quintessential American woman. There’s an obvious deference to a light-haired caucasian female as our image of a woman in the U.S. Would you agree that if in this Netflix show, or any show that isn’t a predominant cast of one particular race (Empire, Insecure), if a black woman slipped her feet into heels and ran through the woods with her natural afro not waving romantically tortured in the wind, your brain would hiccup?
Taraji P. Henson
Yesterday, a timely article went up on Jezebel.com about a project started by photographer Sarah Huny Young. The American Woman project. She explains on her website, “All of the participants in the AMERICAN WOMAN project will be Black American women, but that the project is not called BLACK AMERICAN WOMAN is intentional. This is a recasting of the mold that’s been lazily accepted. We’re not to be invisible, silent, or othered any longer. We’re not an insignificant monolith, we’re a resilient, powerful myriad.”
Loving this interview with Issa Rae on the podcast Sooo Many White Guys! She’s insightful and fantastically down to earth, with a lot of honest thoughts about feminism and relationships, stemming from her show Insecure. She also speaks to growing up as an “awkward black girl,” between different cultural worlds, never quite fitting in, and how that influenced her career in television production. Listen to the conversation below (mp3 from www.wnyc.org) and watch the trailer for her show.
Phoebe and Issa Rae Super Black It Up
Apparently Barack Obama complimented her on Insecure, and said he loves the soundtrack, but can’t repeat it. HA!