IN DEFENSE OF PATTY JENKINS
The self-proclaimed “king of the world”, director James Cameron caused a storm of controversy over his objectified icon comments about the Wonder Woman film that starred Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins.
Cameron feels that the portrayal of the character in the film is a step back on the idea of a strong woman. I’ll be fair to Cameron because I do like his work by stating that he has directed two of the more iconic cinematic female characters of all time in Ellen Ripley from Aliens and Sarah Connor from Terminator. Where he goes off the rails and what I’ve always found both confusing and unnerving is how people and let’s be honest, mostly men in particular can’t seem to separate what symbolizes a strong woman and the exploitation of women. There is no one size fits all description of what a strong and empowering woman should look like. She can be strong without sacrificing her femininity. To think otherwise means you’re lost.
As a single father of two teenage girls it’s refreshing if not long overdue to see such a female figure who symbolizes truth, love, empathy and of course justice to name a few, all driven by an inner strength that only seems to be qualities found in our male superheroes. Make no mistake, our true role models and heroes should be from the people closest to us, our parents, grandparents, etcetera. My girls have their mother to look up to. But fictional role models can also be important because they stimulate our imagination. They speak to the very essence of what it means to be human. Many such characters were born during a time of war or depression. Looking at today’s world, the more things change, the more they stay the same. If you only see Wonder Woman through her breastplate, sadly you miss everything she represents.
I strongly believe Ms. Jenkins did a fantastic job giving us a Wonder Woman that transcends sexuality. Yes, sex sells. I’m not blind to that. However, to me there is nothing more beautiful than a strong and capable woman who doesn’t need a man to feel whole or to protect her. Instead she seeks a companion (male or female) to grow with and to go on a journey to discover all the riches life has to offer. It’s what I wish for my girls. Strong women come in all walks of life. They’re teachers, musicians, poets, artists, waitresses, bus drivers, nuns, doctors, lawyers, soldiers and so much more. They have good hair days and bad ones. As do men but we don’t like to admit such things. Do not define women solely by what they do or how they look. Define them by who they are. The problem was never the character. She has survived over 75 years and will continue to do so for generations to come. No, the problem has been with how certain men in the film industry valued her from a box office standpoint and not the richness of the character herself. Wonder Woman is not a box office success because Gal Gadot is visually stunning in the role. It’s a success because it’s a damn good film by a damn good director in Patty Jenkins. It’s insulting to suggest that the film’s success and that of the appeal of the character is purely sexual. If that’s a prerequisite, explain why no one is rushing to see Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron?
To date Woman Woman has amassed over 800 million worldwide with over 400 million domestically, a box office ranking of #5 and #2 respectively. Number one in both categories? Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson. Hmm… I don’t recall a breastplate of any kind. Hence no controversial comments from the man who gave us Kate Winslet wearing nothing more than diamond in his Oscar-winning film, Titanic. Was it stylishly done? Yes. But then again so was the intimate moment between Diana and Steve Trevor by Ms. Jenkins. Leaving it up to ones imagination can be quite fulfilling. Thank you Patty Jenkins for giving us the Wonder Woman we all deserve. Both her history and the message she represents resonate with both women and men alike. Not because of how she looks but for who she is. Wonder Woman is as important as any hero that came before or after her. And that’s a fact.
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight