June 10, 2017


Wonder Woman Is Propaganda : Why debating the "feminist" stakes of a movie about American military ideology is a laughable prospect. (JOSEPHINE LIVINGSTONE, June 6, 2017, New Republic)

Looking around at the kids stuffed densely into the theater, I realized that this movie paints with the big, bold strokes of childhood. It's a movie for kids, a movie intended to teach them what it means to be an American hero. That's the political sensibility of the DC Comics world, no matter how different or exceptional its superhero protagonists, or how often the word "feminist" is used to promote its movies.

Wonder Woman is very strong and beautiful. She fights against an evil woman with a tremulous voice who covers a facial injury with a mask. An American man leads this strong woman into conflict with Germans. Germans are evil and Americans are good. Disability is evil and beauty is good. Weakness is evil and strength is good. Friendship and idealism will win the war, and some immortal demigoddess protects our freedom.

The engine of American ideology drives Wonder Woman, which is in the end a movie about violence. It is also a surreal movie, because of the way it draws upon the world's past to make a distinctly American fiction. Wonder Woman has no use for global history except as grist for American exceptionalism, which animates the storylines of so many heroes in the comic book universe, from Captain America to Superman. And so the surreality at the heart of American identity gets recycled, producing comic book movies to feed our least noble hungers.

By painting the meaning of military victory in World War I in these colors, Wonder Woman explained to those children huddled with me that political morality has an aesthetic and a sexuality. Beauty, strength, goodness, bravery: These are your values, and here is how your values must look. 

What is the point of feminism if it does not teach that women are capable of fulfilling our values?

Posted by at June 10, 2017 4:35 PM