The Message Is the Tedium

 

My family and I went to see the new Wonder Woman movie over the weekend and enjoyed it, along with people all over the world. Yes, there is a feminist message inside the movie, which is to be expected when based on a comic book character designed from the very start to be a feminist icon. However, the message was pleasingly low-key and was balanced by the heroism of her male counterparts.

I must confess, after the insanity of creating a “safe space” for women to watch this movie without any men in the audience, I walked into the movie theater with some trepidation, expecting it to be Ms. Magazine with flashy CGI and a soundtrack. This did not happen, partly because director Patty Jenkins realized that a hero (or heroine, in this case) appears more heroic if what they do goes far beyond what even extraordinary humans can do. Fortunately, Steve Trevor (portrayed by Chris Pine) provides a male counterpart whose exploits could be compared (literally) to that of the gods. The female empowerment angle is still there, but it doesn’t get in the way of Wonder Woman being a darn good movie.

Let’s compare that to last summer’s feminist tent-pole movie, the remake of Ghostbusters, which featured an all-female cast. It was marketed from the very start as A Very Important Landmark in feminist cinematic history. And for months before it opened, it was talked up as a movie that will break through the glass ceiling and show the world that sisters are doin’ it for themselves.

It also stunk. Nobody went to see it, and the movie disappeared from the cultural landscape like an early-morning fog.

Somewhere along the line, the cast and crew forgot that the purpose of an entertainment medium like a movie is to entertain, and even the most important of messages gets lost if the audience is not enjoying what they’re listening to.

Those of us inside the evangelical church in America might learn a thing or two from these two movies, and two other movies with widely varying box office receipts.

Based on the best-selling series of books, Kirk Cameron’s Left Behind series had been touted as a movie that was the equal of anything that secular Hollywood was churning out at the time, but when audiences finally got a look at the movie, it was a cinematic and financial flop.

Compare this to Mel Gibson’s Passion of The Christ. The message of the Gospels was there as much (or even more) than in Left Behind, but Gibson took care to create a good movie that happened to be Christian (versus a Christian movie that may or may not be good). Because of that, Passion remains the most-successful independent movie of all time.

The liberal left is slowly (ok, not-so-slowly) turning itself into a secular religion, complete with their own sins and eschatology. From time to time, their attempts to move the needle on the cultural dial suffer from the same foibles other religions do: They forget that not everyone shares the same passion for their faith as they do. This presents a clear opportunity for conservatives to step into the gap and garner the attention of American culture while the liberal left is off acting like the Neo-Puritans they really are.

Are we up to the challenge?

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There are 9 comments.

  1. Sabrdance Member

    I’m not sure I see the feminist aspects of the movie in it -at least, nothing beyond a demi-god (or literal god, the movie is frustratingly vague on this point) holding a sword. In that case I’d suggest the semi-divinity is more important than the second x chromosome. If the case is made on the “Amazon women don’t have men’s aggressive bloodlust,” this is my main criticism is that Wonder Woman isn’t a very well developed character. That is not to say she is not developed, just that the development is done too ham-handedly.

    *Spoilers*

    Firstly, the idea that women are uniquely peaceful is done away with in the movie itself -the mortal villain of the piece is the woman Dr. Maru. But Diana’s apparent feminine peacefulness comes across far too much as simple foolishness. Her quest to find and defeat Ares is driven entirely be her belief in a literal, in story, children’s book. Not even her own mother thinks Ares is real. Her childish attachment to her sword and shield is equally foolish. (I object not to her wanting to carry them, but to the idea that she can’t figure out how to go through a revolving door because she won’t sheathe the sword.) Her shock when “killing Ares” doesn’t cause the war to end comes across as the kind of twist we’d expect if the character were insane -it’s “they don’t know they’re dead” level of internal reveal. But then the worst thing the movie does is have Ares actually appear, have Diana actually kill him, and suggest even remotely that this causes the war to end (the British and German soldiers embrace after Ares is killed), which means that Diana’s childlike beliefs are actually vindicated in the movie.

    Which simply opens the much larger question of, if her beliefs were basically correct, what on earth happened to make her disappear between 1919 and the Battle of Metropolis? And if Ares really was poisoning the minds of people, what caused all the other wars that presumably still happen in order for the US Military to exist and have the hardware it does come Man of Steel.

    The movie succeeds most when it tells the heroism story. Wonder Woman storming the trenches to liberate a single village is the best part of the entire movie, and that awesomeness is independent of her sex, but not independent of her character. It is fully keeping with Steven Trevor’s character -beaten down by years of endless war, first as a second to the British, and then overtly as an American -that he sees the village and says “we can’t save everyone.” And it is fully keeping with Diana’s character that she can’t just pass that kind of injustice by. Wonder Woman is a good movie, but a better movie would have explored that dynamic further.

    • #1
    • June 3, 2017, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    The production of the movie was well done. The actors are top quality. The story is a little weak. The pacing is too slow, the story / characters either needed to be fleshed out more or about a hour removed from the run time. The all you need is love ending does not sit well with me. I am tired of this stupid simplistic answer to all the world problems. It makes no sense in the real world nor in a comic book world fashioned after it.

    It was an entertaining enough movie. The mostly female (yes I am assuming) audience seemed to be determined to like it despite its flaws. I suspect it will be a box office success and will get a sequel.

    • #2
    • June 3, 2017, at 6:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Trinity Waters Inactive

    Based on this review, I’ll go see it. Chris Pine rules.

    • #3
    • June 3, 2017, at 9:29 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):
    Based on this review, I’ll go see it. Chris Pine rules.

    It’s really well done (although a bit derivative of a Marvel movie that you’ll soon figure out if you’re familiar with their canon). It stands on it’s own as a kick-butt summer action movie, without being too preachy.

    • #4
    • June 4, 2017, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Sabrdance (View Comment):
    Which simply opens the much larger question of, if her beliefs were basically correct, what on earth happened to make her disappear between 1919 and the Battle of Metropolis?

    Sequel, baby, sequel. :D

    • #5
    • June 4, 2017, at 6:50 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. cirby Member

    The best aspect of this movie was, of course, Gal Gadot. Gorgeous, of course, and fun to watch, but the thing that made her entirely watchable in this role?

    When she was in a fight scene, she looked like she meant it. No hesitation, followed through on her moves nicely. Much, much better than almost all of the action stars out there.

    Her Israeli military background helped…

    • #6
    • June 4, 2017, at 11:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. The Whether Man Inactive

    Sabrdance (View Comment):

    The movie succeeds most when it tells the heroism story. Wonder Woman storming the trenches to liberate a single village is the best part of the entire movie, and that awesomeness is independent of her sex, but not independent of her character. It is fully keeping with Steven Trevor’s character -beaten down by years of endless war, first as a second to the British, and then overtly as an American -that he sees the village and says “we can’t save everyone.” And it is fully keeping with Diana’s character that she can’t just pass that kind of injustice by. Wonder Woman is a good movie, but a better movie would have explored that dynamic further.

    Yes. This was far and away true best part for me. I got annoyed by her “fish out of water” naïveté very quickly – even the 1941 version of her character figured out on her own that she’d need new clothes to blend in.

    The Greek mythology angle was a bit overwrought, but since I just started reading “the new 52” series it borrowed from, I didn’t mind as much.

    • #7
    • June 5, 2017, at 7:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Robert Dammers Thatcher

    The image that stays with me is at the climax of the film, where Diana is high in the sky, arms outstretched, in the posture of Christ on a hanging rood, overcoming Ares. And though he has that Greek name, his function is to be Satan, the accuser. He is overcome by the combination of the power of this Christ-like figure, and the self-sacrifice of Steve Trevor for the salvation of others. As other reviews have observed, the star on her tiara glints in the form of a cross. The film is soaked in Christian semiotics – though as Drew Klavan would say, that is as likely because it comes from a culture still rooted in Christian belief and imagery, even if it seeks to forget its roots, as to be the result of deliberate intent by the film makers.

    I found it excellent, moving, and funny. Though I love America, I’m not American (nor am I a comic book aficionado), so I didn’t experience any sense of loss at the costume not being explicitly American, or her working at the Louvre, apparently for some time.

    • #8
    • June 6, 2017, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Boss Mongo Member

    Thanks, Kevin, good post.

    Had to skip through most of the comments for fear of spoilers, as my three daughters (Sweet Lord Above, what was I thinkin’?) and I are going to try to hit the film this weekend.

    • #9
    • June 6, 2017, at 5:47 PM PDT
    • Like