So, Wonder Woman was a good movie. In my opinion, a very good one, and definitely one of my favorite superhero movies of all time, largely because it maintained a good balance, in my view, between being s serious story but also remaining optimistic and fun (unlike previous DC movies.) Also, having a main character who wanted to be a hero, to help people, was a nice departure from the bevy of Marvel origin story movies, in which we have reluctant hero after reluctant hero. In fact, most people seem to like the movie.
As one might expect, especially in this day and age, people are looking at it through their own ideological lens, with some feminists ecstatic, others still somehow finding fault with it, while yet other people are mad because Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, isn’t a “POC,” while yet others are mad that she’s Israeli and served in the IDF. Even some people on the right, with whom I usually agree, attacking the film as left-wing propaganda, though I personally found nothing objectionable. There are too many angles of approach, stupid ones, that are worth discussing and criticizing, I’m going to talk about one specific one that I happened upon on Twitter, that of people (primarily women) who have decided to declare that they cried specifically during the fight scenes in the film.
Now, first off, I should say that while I’m not a very emotionally expressive person, and I have never cried while watching a movie, I understand that there are moments in film that pack enough of an emotional punch to get that reaction out of people. In Wonder Woman, there are one or two scenes that have enough of an impact and are awesome enough that I couldn’t help but smile, and could maybe see someone inclined to cry during movies doing so. But that’s not we’re here to look into.
This article, from the Los Angeles Times, is how I first learned of this phenomenon, and a quick Twitter search netted hundreds, if not thousands, of shares of the article, along with many, many people (almost all women) stating that they cried during the movie, often stating that they did so specifically during the fight scenes.
In the article, the writer states early on that she did not expect to cry during the fight scenes, she did, starting with the very first one.
“It started on the beach, when Gen. Antiope (Robin Wright) rode into battle with a smile and Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) leaped off her horse, spinning into the air to wipe out two armed men with her sword. As the battle raged on, it became clear that the scene was not window-dressing, 10 seconds of Amazon showtime before the real movie started. This was the movie — female warriors kicking ass.
They were fierce and powerful, highly trained soldiers who knew what they were doing, and the film took that, and them, seriously. It was overwhelming.”
This, in a nutshell, is the problem. This person did not cry while watching this scene because there was something emotional or impactful to the story going on. She specifically had this reaction simply because she was seeing women “kicking ass.”
She later states:
“I felt like I was discovering something I didn’t even know I had always wanted. A need that I had boxed up and buried deep after three movies of Iron Man punching bad guys in the face, three more movies of Captain America punching bad guys in the face, a movie about Superman and Batman punching each other in the face and then “Suicide Squad.”
Witnessing a woman hold the field, and the camera, for that long blew open an arguably monotonous genre. We didn’t need a computer-generated tree or a sassy raccoon to change the superhero game; what we needed was a woman.”
She states it plainly here, that what matters to her, and the many people echoing her statements, is that they think that seeing a woman do things that men more often do is what is important and what makes this movie good. Not the fact that we finally have a hero who didn’t need to be convinced to do the right thing, not the fact that a DC movie finally had a heart, but the fact that a woman was the main character. (Also, it’s interesting to note that when she mentions Suicide Squad, she doesn’t mention any characters, because that might force her to acknowledge that one of the film’s primary characters, who did beat down a number of men, was a woman–as was the film’s extremely powerful villain.)
We’ve seen similar sentiments fro mother people when they harp on about “representation” in fiction. There’s an unhealthy obsession with having specific types of people being in movies and other media, specifically being primary characters, as though a person can only identify with a character if it’s just like them. Personally, I never felt marginalized because the characters in the film I love weren’t Jewish. I just wanted good, interesting characters. And guess what? No matter what “historic” feat of representation you try and include in your story to appease these people, it’s never enough, as evidenced by this cancerous article, in which someone complains that Wonder Woman isn’t fat, queer, or a “person of color.”
And in another article, the writer describes seeing a female army (of highly unusual women who had the chance to train for hundreds of years and who have the element of surprise) wipe out an army of men (who were average conscripts suddenly thrust into a strange situation and attacked–though I cannot say I remember who fired first) as “the best. and following this describes this fight as a “real battle of the sexes, and the men don’t stand a chance.” This is what is being celebrated. The goal is not some sort of equality in representation, it’s about dominance. No amount of pandering will ever be enough.
To avoid this post/rant going on longer than it should, and to avoid going off my main topic any more, I’m going to sum up my feelings on this. To the people who cried during these fight scenes (possibly excepting the no man’s land scene, if it was the only one, as it did have a good emotional impact) need to grow up. They genuinely see this as a watershed moment in some great struggle. Frankly, if this is the “struggle” that defines one’s existence to the point where they cry during random fight scenes in a superhero movie, or make posts seriously claiming that the fact that Robin Wright (who famously played Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride) in this film played an Amazonian general–or the Princess Leia is now General Leia–need to seriously re-examine their priorities. Modern priorities, in so many cases, is centered around oneself. We see this with people who obsessively post photos of themselves on social media, and we see this in the people who truly believe that there is some evil, racist, sexist conspiracy trying to marginalize people who aren’t White, or men (and of course, they also claim it’s impossible for White people of men to themselves be targeted or marginalized by anything–see the feminist reaction to men calling out the women only screenings of Wonder Woman, and imagine what they’d say if there were equivalent men only screenings of some other film. It comes up with every movie, every television show, every book, and all it does is make creators the targets of attacks–and scares others, leading to lower and lower quality work.
There are plenty of things worth crying about in this world, both happy and sad. Wonder Woman, as excellent a film as it was, is not one of them, and people who do so should really take some time to self-reflect. But they won’t; it’s 2017, after all.