By Allen Callaci
The first weekend of June brought Ariana Grande back to the area where a month earlier 22 people lost their lives and more than 100 others suffered injuries in a horrific suicide bombing attack at a Grande concert that was part of her “Dangerous Woman” tour. The majority of the victims of that attack–young girls–filled the Manchester arena seeking connection and affirmation from a role model of female empowerment and liberation. They represented a generation of future “dangerous women.” Let us not mistake the Manchester bombing for anything other than what it was: a devastatingly ferocious reaction to growing international female sovereignty.
The first weekend of June also brought something else to the pop culture gender conversation—the first silver screen solo excursion of Wonder Woman. The film’s positive reviews and massive grosses provided a temporary ointment for the fires that burn and engulf us. No other heroine better embodies female power and perseverance than the Amazonian warrior princess who fought the good fight for the past 75 years. This bloodied moment in history cries out for her and her credo to “fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”
Desperate times call for desperate measures and an unstoppable heroine adorned in bullet-stopping gauntlets swinging a golden lasso of truth. In a world overrun with rage, oppression and an unbalanced baboon with his fingertips on the nuclear codes, we need a woman who can rise above it all and in the words of her theme song can “make a hawk a dove and stop a war with love . . . and get us out from under.” Wonder Woman arrives as a pop culture antidote to our slow-leaking poisonous times.
It is astounding to think that it took more than 75 years for Wonder Woman to headline her own movie. It only took Lego Batman 11 years to make it to the big screen. SpawnTodd McFarlane’s bargain-basement demonic Batman rip-off took only five. In a world where women earn 77% of what their male counterparts make, perhaps this should come as no surprise. The gender inequality and stereotypes that exist in the real world carry over to the cinematic superhero universe. Consider Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts from the Iron Man films. In the first Iron Man movie Potts proudly proclaims “I do anything and everything Mr. Stark requires. Including occasionally taking out the trash.”
Would Mr. Stark would get that same level of faithful servitude from Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman? Diana hails from the female-only island Themyscira, home to a race of empowered and battle-ready women, reacts in shocked disbelief when she discovers the subservient roles that women play here on Earth. “What is a secretary?” Diana quizzically asks Etta Candy after learning that Etta is a secretary. Etta answers Diana by telling her that a secretary is someone who goes where she is told to go and does what she is told to do. “Where I come from, that’s called slavery,” Diana defiantly responds.
This is not your mother’s Wonder Woman . . . unless your mother was Gloria Steinem.
Powerful and self-reliant and–unlike so many of her male counterparts–she is unapologetically compassionate. Can you imagine Iron Man, Batman, or Wolverine uttering this heart-on-a-bulletproof-gauntlet sentiment?“It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.”
Cut to a massive crowd, one that includes victims from the Ariana Grande concert suicide bombing, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” together towards the unblinking skies at Ariana’s “One Love Manchester” benefit concert.
Get us out from under, Wonder Woman.