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So, James Cameron commented on Wonder Woman movie. Director of the film, Patty Jenkins, responded. And I completely agree with her. The entire interview is here for you to read. Honestly, before I dive into this, I just have to say that I’m quite sick of 3.5 billion people out of 7 billion on this planet, a half that is, is considered to be ‘the other’. That’s just something I cannot and will not accept. For myself, I am the default.
Now that I got that out of my system, let’s see what Cameron had to say. The first matter at hand, and you have it in the title, is that he finds attraction to independent women a problem because “they don’t need you” in whatever sense he meant that. On the contrary, this is the best situation in which you can find yourself. You will have someone who will be with you because she wants to, not because there is some agenda behind it. It’s as if you skip the first two steps of Aristotle’s ideas of friendship and relationship and go immediately to the best part, where you stay together because you make each other better. In relation to that, you should be seeking out independent women and self-reliant people in general. They know what they want and they will respect you and care for you for who you are.
And, now, of course, we go to the main quote taken from the interview, the one where Cameron basically states that Diana cannot be a role-model to women because she is attractive and doesn’t have a troubled personality and background as Sarah Connor, and that Wonder Woman is ultimately objectified because of those qualities she possess. Firstly, if you want an example of mansplaining about which women other women should find inspirational and how women should feel and respond to something, this is a quote to be referenced. In addition, this also reads as a not so complimentary statement about Linda Hamilton. Also, Sarah Connor is a problematic character from feminist perspective. In fact, two of the most famous tough women appearing in movies directed by Cameron, Connor from Terminator 2 and Ripley from Aliens were different in their traits from the characters they were in the original movies, Terminator 1 and Alien, respectively. One could also argue that Connor in Terminator 2 and Ripley in Aliens do reflect men idea of women power fantasy. And that is how we come to the essential issue here.
Reading the entire interview, I didn’t think Cameron was coming from an intentionally demeaning place, or that he meant something truly bad. However, I think he has a wrong, obsolete, narrow view. What needs to be acknowledged is that Sarah Connor was a strong response to sexism of uninteresting, underwritten female characters in film, especially in action movies. She was physically impressive, in the foreground, she did not ask anyone about their opinion, and she did not care what her hair looked like. But, that was then. What Cameron doesn’t seem to understand is that Wonder Woman is comprehensive and that is what has made her movie so successful. That is what Patty Jenkins probably had in mind when she wrote “multidimensional” in her response. We all know the third act of the movie wasn’t the greatest, but the lead character of Diana was the one who kept it all together and that was what people came back to. She is not ‘the other’, she’s one of the two sides of default coin. What Cameron doesn’t realize is that gushing over babies, looking good in a short skirt, and overcoming obstacles and opponents are not mutually exclusive. There are so many women around the world who have not gone through severe and bad experiences and there are attractive women as well. Are they less worthy? Are they unable to be strong?
What Patty Jenkins managed was to show a determined woman. In addition, her looks do get mentioned in the movie, but only as a passing observation, not something that aids her in achieving her goal. On the topic of objectifying Diana, it’s ridiculous to me, because there is no instance of male gaze in the movie and that is what is important. The difference between Doctor Poison and Wonder Woman, who are both brilliant women. However, one of them still has to fit into a certain role due to certain expectations she might have failed, while the other one is free from any social constraints and acts in accordance to her own intuition and reasoning, respectively. The movie speaks volumes regarding its characters.
Last but not the least, Wonder Woman is still a comic book character and we all know how good looking they are. There is a certain aesthetic that needs to be featured in this type of narrative.
This is not pointed against James Cameron. He is a good filmmaker, but he definitely needs to step out of his perspective. He just didn’t know what he was talking about in this particular case, and it seems that he was even congratulating himself for something I don’t think he can be fully credited.
This is pointed at support to Patty Jenkins. Female empowerment, the true one that engages on all levels and not just in corporate statistics, and especially one done by women for women is good. This I would like to add on everything that has been said before. Feminism and humanism go hand in hand. Feminism breaks down gender and social predetermined roles in order for humanism to allow creation of roles which are earned or chosen. This should be clear to you, if you have even remotely functional mind and if you can hit the door on the first try when leaving the room. Those who somehow don’t understand really don’t want to, and times shouldn’t be wasted on them. Stay great and support the great. Write you and read you soon.