Won­der Woman flies to a safe space

Re­al­ity and en­ter­tain­ment con­spire to merge into a bizarre alt-re­al­ity

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Suzanne Fields Suzanne Fields is a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times and is na­tion­ally syn­di­cated.

Find­ing a safe space, where never is heard a dis­cour­ag­ing word and the skies are not cloudy all day, ob­vi­ously has a wide ap­peal. Safe spa­ces were born on the cam­pus, to ac­com­mo­date “snowflakes,” the sen­si­tive, fear­ful and frag­ile folk who imag­ine them­selves unique and de­mand to be treated that way. But sup­ply has out­stripped de­mand, and a safe space is com­ing soon to a theater in a neigh­bor­hood near you.

“Won­der Woman,” the movie, is des­tined to be the big­gest hit of the year, what the Jewish weekly For­ward calls the great­est boon to the chat­ter­ing class since the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump. One Hol­ly­wood pur­veyor of hype says it might even save Warner Bros. “Won­der Woman” posted ticket sales of $200 mil­lion in its first four days, and stirred dozens — maybe hun­dreds, count­ing the blogs in fly­over coun­try — of re­views and “re­ac­tion pieces” that guar­an­tee riches, con­tro­versy and en­hanced fame for Gal Gadot, a one­time Is­raeli sol­dier, model and Miss Is­rael, the ac­tress who por­trays the Ama­zo­nian war­rior who demon­strates that any­thing a man can do, she can do bet­ter.

Diana, princess of the Ama­zons, raised on a re­mote is­land, the ul­ti­mate safe space, and trained to be a war­rior who can­not be bested in com­bat, res­cues a pilot whose plane crashes into the sea. He tells her about a great con­flict rag­ing in the rest of the world. She is per­suaded that only she can save that world, and leaves home for the first time, her in­no­cence in­tact, to fight at the side of men in an­other war to end war, and dis­cov­ers her destiny. The movie should be the fi­nal an­swer to any­one who still cav­ils at the no­tion that women can be as ef­fec­tive as men in mil­i­tary com­bat.

But now crit­ics raise many new ques­tions. Is it OK that Won­der Woman is drop-dead gor­geous, and men are al­lowed to no­tice? Is she fem­i­nist enough? Is she too fem­i­nist? (Im­pos­si­ble.) Since Miss Gadot is white, is the movie a totem for the white Zion­ist supremacy con­spir­acy?

Whether it’s “a good movie,” with a crack­ing story well told, is ir­rel­e­vant in an age when re­al­ity and en­ter­tain­ment have be­come one. One of the cru­cial ques­tions still to be reck­oned with is whether Miss Gadot’s dark skin, dark hair and sul­try dark eyes are enough to make her an au­then­tic Woman of Color (a WOC in po­lit­i­cally cor­rect ar­got.) Is it po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect to ask?

These are ques­tions at least as im­por­tant as whether Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign col­luded with the Rus­sians, whether James Comey’s tes­ti­mony will shake the foun­da­tions of the re­pub­lic, or whether the Amer­i­can pull­out from the Paris cli­mate-change ac­cord dooms life as we know it to a dark and watery grave. Won­der Woman will see about all that. She once lived in a comic book, en­cour­ag­ing lit­tle girls to think they could go to war against evil with their big broth­ers. But last year, on the 75th an­niver­sary of the first ap­pear­ance of Won­der Woman, she was des­ig­nated by the United Na­tions as Hon­orary Am­bas­sador for the Em­pow­er­ment of Women and Girls, to pro­mote “gen­der equal­ity.”

The oc­ca­sion took on the trap­pings of state, with an un­der­sec­re­tary gen­eral on hand to mix and min­gle with the ac­tress Lynda Carter, a Won­der Woman in an ear­lier movie, and di­rec­tor Patty Jenk­ins and oth­ers in the cast of the movie.

Gal Gadot would ap­pear to be a woman for all sea­sons, an ac­tress with a string of suc­cess­ful movies, mar­ried (and to a man), the mother of two daugh­ters who tools about Is­rael on a black Du­cati Mon­ster-S2R mo­tor­cy­cle that would have im­pressed Steve McQueen. Or even Won­der Woman.

It’s the mark of our su­per­fi­cial age that a movie can be­come re­al­ity for a gen­er­a­tion of snowflakes. Some of the re­views of “Won­der Woman” re­flect how deeply the age has em­braced alt-re­al­ity. “What lingers [af­ter watch­ing the movie] is the feel­ing of hope that the movie brings, that it some­day might be pos­si­ble for fe­male ra­tio­nal­ity to de­feat male bru­tal­ity” (San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle). “‘Won­der Woman’ has raised the bar. Now let’s see if the boys can clear it” (The Wash­ing­ton Post). “It mat­ters that a woman is call­ing the shots in this movie. Diana and her fel­low war­riors are fig­ures of sim­ple, ad­mirable strength, and while there’s a sim­mer­ing ro­mance . . . [the lead­ing man] knows he’s the girl­friend here” (The Bos­ton Globe.)

Good movies are good fun, and good act­ing can trans­port an au­di­ence to the un­seen world of the imag­i­na­tion. But a movie is only a movie, af­ter all, and the ac­tual world is nei­ther a movie nor a comic book. Re­al­ity comes with no money-back guar­an­tees.


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