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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Wonder Woman v Sarah Connor

- Sarah Connor

In the news, a clash between the directors of Wonder Woman and the Terminator series over what makes a feminist icon: Is ‘Wonder Woman’ Feminist? James Cameron’s Comments Draw a Rebuke.

Comments from James Cameron criticizing “Wonder Woman” received a swift backlash online — including from the film’s own director. In an interview with The Guardian, Mr. Cameron called the movie a “step backward.” “All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided,” he told The Guardian. “She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing.”

Patty Jenkins, the director of “Wonder Woman,” responded with a note on Twitter. “James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman,” she wrote, adding, “There is no right and wrong powerful kind of woman.” .. Also in The Guardian, Mr. Cameron unfavorably compared Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, to Sarah Connor, a character in Mr. Cameron’s “Terminator” franchise. “Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon,” he said. “She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit.” ....

I feel I must weigh in on this - I think Patty Jenkins is wrong and James Cameron is right. Now I'll explain why :)

1) Wonder Woman ...

I must admit I haven't yet seen the film, but I've seen the part she played in Batman v Superman and I've seen trailers for the WW movie, and I've read the book, Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization, so I have a pretty good idea of what Wonder Woman is about.

I think Gal Gadot is a very good actress and that it's mainly due to her that the film did as well as it did ... it certainly can't have been the script/story. As I wrote in an earlier post, the creator of the Wonder Woman character in the comics (William Moulton Marston) was anything *but* a feminist (a bondage loving polygamist), and the grasp he and later writers of WW comics had of Greek mythology is laughable.

The movie script which I assume is the same as the official novelization, presents us with a semi-divine princess raised on a magic island devoid of men, who has little knowledge of the outside world. Is she a good person? I think so. Is she strong? Sure, - trained from childhood in martial arts, and pretty much indestructible with her magic bracelets. Is she brave? I'm not sure - can you be brave when you've never really been vulnerable?

2) Sarah Connor ...

I've seen all the Terminator movies many times, including the first two, the ones in which Cameron's Sarah appears. Is director James Cameron a feminist? From the way he goes through wives and considering the female characters in some of his films, I'd say no, but he did a good job of creating a feminist in his character of Sarah and I think Linda Hamilton did a good job of portraying that.

When people think of Sarah, they mainly reference the Sarah of Terminator 2 (1991), a tough, driven, emotionally troubled woman with a young son. She's savy about weapons and has worked out to the point of being in very good shape. But that's not who she always was and the story of how she got there is told in the first Terminator movie (1984).

When The Terminator begins, we're introduced to a 19 year old Sarah ... she's a waitress, she lives with a friend, goes out on dates, has a pet iguana named Pugsley :). She's bright, she's sweet. In the course of a couple of days, her life radically changes ... she learns of time travel and an apocalyptic future only she can avert, she's hunted by a Terminator, meets her protector from the future with whom she falls in love, and everyone she knows gets killed.

In the epilogue some months later, she's shown as pregnant and preparing to take up the responsibility of trying to save the world. Is she a good person? Yep. Is she strong? Yes, she had to be just to survive and she will be even more so after years of struggle and hardship. Is she brave? You bet she is because she's scared to death and she still sucks it up and goes on.

3) What does it mean to be a feminist icon and who gets to decide that? ...

The director of the Wonder Woman movie, Patty Jenkins, said in the above quoted article that Cameron couldn't decide who was a feminist icon because he's a man. That's dopey. The whole point of feminism is to have men and women be equals, not to empower one gender at the expense of the other.

And Patty Jenkins also said in that article that there is no such thing as a "right and wrong powerful kind of woman". Really? By this description, Louise Linton would be a feminist icon because of her wealth and position. No wonder Jenkins thinks Wonder Woman is a feminist icon ... being a semi-divine princess with magical accoutrements would certainly give one a step up on power. Mortal Sarah Connor had to rely on courage and love instead. Feminism isn't about having power over others or being the absolute best, it's about trying to always be the best version of yourself, among equals.

Hey, it's not just me: I Wish Wonder Woman Were as Feminist as It Thinks It Is

These trailers for T1 and T2. will give you an idea of Sarah's transformation. Be kind, 1984 was a long time ago :) ...


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