Earth to Hollywood: People Will Pay to See a Female superhero Film
After 72 years as a leader among superheroes in the DC Comics universe, Wonder Woman is finally going to be in a movie. Someone else’s movie. This week, Warner Brothers announced that Gal Gadot will don the heroine’s bulletproof bracelets in Batman vs. Superman.
While it’s nice that Wonder Woman’s screen debut has arrived, it’s disappointing that it’s only as a sidekick: As Noah Berlatsky wrote here at The Atlantic on Thursday, Wonder Woman was originally meant to replace Superman, not back him up. Why not give her, or any other female superhero for that matter, her own film? Conventional wisdom dictates that Hollywood just doesn’t think it would make money. The twin flops of Halle Berry’s shoddy Catwoman film in 2004 and the ill-advised 2005 Daredevil spinoff, Elektra, are often invoked as a warning that films where the tights-wearing, crime-fighting protagonist is a woman are doomed to failure.
But times have changed and the conventional wisdom no longer applies, if it ever did. In the wake of the $580 million box-office haul for Catching Fire, the Hunger Games sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence, the economic case for the viability of a woman superhero in a starring role makes it look like a slam dunk. Here’s why.
Read more. [Image: Lionsgate / Murray Close]
[I]magine what would happen if, instead of centering our beliefs about heterosexual sex around the idea that the man “penetrates” the woman, we were to say that the woman’s vagina “consumes” the man’s penis. This would create a very different set of connotations, as the woman would become the active initiator and the man would be the passive and receptive party. One can easily see how this could lead to men and masculinity being seen as dependent on, and existing for the benefit of, femaleness and femininity. Similarly, if we thought about the feminine traits of being verbally effusive and emotive not as signs of insecurity or dependence, but as bold acts of self-expression, then the masculine ideal of the “strong and silent” type might suddenly seem timid and insecure by comparison.
It is a privilege to engage in theoretical gender discourse, and while politicians, doctors, families, and friends ask themselves if it is right or wrong, transgender people are being beaten to death. Teenage trans kids are issued death threats, and across the globe our body count rises. It is here, at the intersection of oppression, where violence is commonplace. How can we still wonder which bathroom she should use? Privilege affords the gender debate at the expense of our most vulnerable community members. When a trans woman dies you can read about it in the newspaper, where you see her described as a man instead of the woman she died for. And we wonder how to best protect our children, forgetting that some of our children are trans. TDOR reminds me that our precious politics have a very real consequence. This is a critical moment in the history of transgender rights. Will we remember those who did not survive it?
[TW: rape culture]
Sociologists and criminologists studying campus peer sexual violence have used a theory called the Routine Activities Theory to posit that sexual violence occurs so frequently on college campuses because there is a surfeit of “motivated offender[s] [and] … suitable target[s] and an absence of capable guardians all converg[ing] in one time and space.” They suggest that all three elements must be present for there to be a significant crime problem and that the failure of schools to act as “capable guardians” elevates the influence of peer support to commit assaults by “motivated offenders.” In other words, cultures supportive of sexual violence can lead to higher incidences of sexual violence.
Additionally, if the institution itself ignores the problem and fails to act as a “capable guardian,” it too helps to create the problem. Therefore, colleges and universities that want to be “capable guardians” and address the campus peer sexual violence problem are left with having not only to explain why increased reports of sexual violence are a good thing, but also why the vast majority of campus sexual violence cannot be addressed through better lighting, blue light phones, and police escort services. Complicated pictures and persistent myths are particularly hard to explain in our sound bite society.
An overwhelming majority of us come from dysfunctional families in which we were taught we were not okay, where we were shamed, verbally and/or physically abused, and emotionally neglected even as were also taught to believe that we were loved. For most folks it is just too threatening to embrace a definition of love that would no longer enable us to see love as present in our families. Too many of us need to cling to a notion of love that either makes abuse acceptable or at least makes it seem that whatever happened was not that bad.
"When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with.
The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”
All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.
And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence.”