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Roland Martin - Issue #64


Roland Martin

November 14 · Issue #64 · View online

Headmaster - City of London Freemen's school; Chief Officer - City of London; Chair - Society of Heads - '...write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing' Benjamin Franklin

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Wonder Women
We watched the 2017 Justice League stand-alone, Wonder Woman, over half term. One of the interesting things about the film - and perhaps it says more about society at large that we are still having to find this remarkable, as it’s not in any way a norm - is that it was written and directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. She has spoken of the challenges which she faces as a director - 
“with a couple projects that I met on … it was ‘you would be the first woman to take on something’ … and I was like, it’s more sensitive than ever that I believe this could be successful. Because if I take it on, and it’s not successful, that’s going to be really bad and that’s going to get a lot of attention.”
- while also hitting out at established film maker James Cameron who called the portrayal of Diana Prince a ‘step backwards … She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing!’ - 
"I believe women can and should be everything, just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman.” 
Which reminds me not only of the Satrun sisters’ mash-up of Wonder Woman and the Dove advert -  
Image by twin animators, Sarah and Catherine Satrun
Image by twin animators, Sarah and Catherine Satrun
- but also of some of the sentiments put forwards emotively by Reese Witherspoon back in 2015.
Reese Witherspoon's Speech at Glamour's 2015 Women of the Year Awards | Glamour
Good news for Wonder Woman - as Witherspoon advocated and practised, funding women making films - is that it’s made business sense to back these women telling women’s stories. WW  is now the highest grossing superhero origin film of all time, coming in at $821.74 million. Star, Gal Gadot, struck back against body shaming and racism - sad, again, that she had to! - on the film’s release and has since been busting some myths about pregnant working women, having filmed Justice League with a green screen across her stomach - 
“The default should be that women get the job done, but there’s a long way to go and a lot of reprogramming that needs to be done to both genders.”
Gadot - speaking in Rolling Stone - is absolute on feminism - if you’re not a feminist, you’re sexist. I know our twelve year old daughter was somewhat baffled recently to hear her peers saying there’s no need for feminism now. Interesting that the character of Wonder Woman was “written by a guy who wanted to teach boys that it’s all right to have women in positions of power, that you can be saved, and that women can be strong” (Rebecca Hall on Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.)
I realise that if you’re being cynical, you could say it’s all too easy and it’s all well and good for a white middle aged man to declare he’s a feminist, he hasn’t had the struggles women face himself, but I’ve always aligned myself with feminism and believe it’s important for everyone to make what difference they can.
The discussion at home as Wonder Woman‘s credits were rolling, revolved around some reservations - the whole half-God thing should have given her more power etc - but essentially, we agreed it was a good step in the right direction. The back story of her inception is interesting in its own right, the offshoot of the suffragette movement and answer to the dominance of male superheroes, 'Feminism made Wonder Woman’ according to Jill Lepore: ‘Wonder Woman is the missing link in a chain of events that begins with the female suffrage, feminism and birth-control campaigns of the 1910s, and ends with the troubled place of feminism today.’ On the latest incarnation, Zoe Williams is interesting in The Guardian
“… this isn’t objectification so much as a cultural reset: having thighs, actual thighs you can kick things with, not thighs that look like arms, is a feminist act. The whole Diana myth, women safeguarding the world from male violence not with nurture but with better violence, is a feminist act. Casting Robin Wright as Wonder Woman’s aunt, re-imagining the battle-axe as a battler, with an axe, is a feminist act. A female German chemist trying to destroy humans (in the shape of Dr Poison, a proto-Mengele before Nazism existed) might be the most feminist act of all.”
She raises the question of male/female ‘gaze’ - for whom is the film being made? And looping back to where Reese Witherspoon started, writing of ‘the geological slowness of social progress in this industry, which finds it so hard to create female characters of real mettle, even when they abound in real life.’
There’s so much more to write about here. I might pick this one up again in a couple of weeks time. I have purposely avoided writing of the current abuse scandals going live across Hollywood/Broadway/the West End, not to throw up a smoke-screen - I didn’t want the focus to be all about workplace harassment for men or women - that said, Gadot did recently declare that she was pretty sure Diana Prince would not ‘ever let anyone use his power against her will’, but then again, she is half-god.
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