As the millions of Americans who gave it a record-breaking $100 million weekend now know, Wonder Woman spends most of its opening hour on Themyscira, the fictional island of the Amazons. Or, as it used to be called in the comics, Paradise Island.
There’s a reason why William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator, gave his heroine the Paradise Island background when he delivered her to the world in 1941. This wasn’t just another Krypton, a way to introduce a superhero with a cool otherworldly origin.
No, Marston’s reasoning can be summed up by two words that are often mocked in modern political discourse: safe space.
His Amazons were women who’d fled slavery in Ancient Greece and found eternal life beyond the terrors of “man’s world.” Their island was an allegory for what real-world women needed Virginia Woolf’s all-important room of one’s own, writ large.
Marston, a man ahead of his time in his feminist beliefs, was also a fan of feminist utopias. As Jill Lepore has noted in her excellent history of the Wonder Woman franchise, he was inspired by early 20th century feminist fiction. Books like Angel Island (1914), by suffragette Inez Haynes Irwin, showed men discovering an island of winged women who successfully resist the clipping of their wings, and the classic Herland (1913), a country literally beyond the realm of men.
So there is a tremendous irony in the fact that at the moment Marston’s creation finally hits the big screen, there are men less civilized than him who would kick up a stink about a movie theater effectively turning a handful of screenings into temporary Paradise Islands.
Two legal complaints were reportedly filed this week by men against Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse for its two women-only screenings. The spurious logic of these lawsuits is the same one that animates thousands of trolls on Twitter: if we’re to have an equal society, the women of the world can’t have anything resembling a public celebration for this cultural milestone of a movie.
To which a modern William Moulton Marston would say: guys, seriously?
Listen up, men who get sniffy about what the Drafthouse did. Not only are women-only screenings entirely appropriate for the character and its fictional origins, they are entirely in line with the mores of its creator.
Marston would be happy if every other damn screening was women-only, if they continued and expanded to fill the planet. So should anyone who cares about the planet, for a very good reason I’ll get to in a moment.
definitely don’t tell dudes mad about the women-only screening of Wonder Woman that the Amazons are women only
priscilla page (@BBW_BFF) May 26, 2017
Firstly, theres a more basic principle of good cultural etiquette at work here too: just dont piss on anyones parade at a moment like this.
Once you see the film in the 4,164 theaters in the U.S. alone that keep all their screenings open to men, I hope you will feel it: an electric tingling in the atmosphere, a sense of joy, the need to scream when Gal Godot’s bracelets repel their first few hundred German bullets.
This is what a watershed moment in representation feels like. This is something new in the world. Director Patty Jenkins’ achievement may end up being what we most remember about popular culture in 2017, because the pent-up need for her kind of film was so great.
This is ‘Wonder Woman’ without the male gaze
Since Superman: The Movie premiered in 1978, weve had an endless string of big-budget superhero epics, all of them either dominated by male characters or male directors. The less said about those turkeys Catwoman and Elektra, both written and directed by men, the better.
Jenkins’ camera shows us a way to see Wonder Woman who, let us not forget, is supposed to be a demigod, potentially more powerful than Superman without the male gaze getting in the way. It’s a revelation. What shines through is Gal Godot’s strength and compassion, not her sexuality.
The strength part wasn’t a surprise; we knew from the trailers that Wonder Woman would kick ass in this film. But the compassion in her performance, and in Jenkins’ focus, was what blew me away. The first time an Amazon dies, you feel it. When our protagonist encounters the walking wounded of the Great War for the first time, you damn well feel it.
Jenkins is in no mood to mess around when it comes to the feels, and makes that abundantly clear in this interview with the New York Times:
As she says in the quote above, this is an important time to tell a story like this.
Here’s something worth knowing as the Trump administration pulls out of the Paris Climate Accord: giving more women around the world the power to make their own decisions and own their own businesses is literally the most important thing we can do to save Earth.
That’s according to Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, a book published to wide acclaim this April. It lists the top 100 things we can do to reduce our carbon footprint this century and hopefully stave off the worst of climate change.
At or near the top of the list? Educating girls, letting women have family planning, letting women own more farmland. This isn’t just basic human rights: it correlates to reduced family sizes, which means we’re less likely to strain the planet to breaking point with 10 billion human beings by 2100.
When it comes to inspiring women and educating them about their power, you have to say hats off to this film. So yes, once again, let us have women-only screenings of Wonder Woman everywhere there are movie theaters. Let the women of the world wake up to their power by spending a few precious hours on Paradise Island.
Wonder Womancould quite literally save the planet for real this time.
Read more: http://mashable.com/