Post Trump Art in Film and the Wonder Woman Renaissance
There is no question for me as to what was the best movie of last year: Wonder Woman.
Not just because it is great story that is told well, but it is populated by memorable characters whose roles are played by wonderful actors. None more so than Gal Gadot, who so inhabits the role of Wonder Woman. It causes us to ask if she really is Wonder Woman in the same way we asked if Robert Downey Jr. is really Iron Man, or if Christopher Reeve is really Superman.
Wonder Woman is the best movie of last year, for so much more than those reasons. On January 20th, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. On the January 21st, women all over the nation found their inner Wonder Woman and marched in protest of Trump’s victory.
By the following Monday, on January 23rd, flanked by Vice President, Michael Pence, and an assorted cast of fellow white men with Trump signed an executive order officially barring federal funds from organizations that promote abortion around the world; involving Planned Parenthood as well. The President and the GOP described this move as pro-life, but it’s really pro-birth. If the GOP were really so pro-life, there would be a lot less children in orphanages in this country.
However, even before that moment, we had a feeling about how Trump felt towards women. He did not see them as equals; he was grossed out by their reproductive system. Just look at these quotes from when he was campaigning on in 2016…
In response to Megyn Kelly aggressively questioning him during a debate: “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump said in a CNN interview. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
After he was targeted by Huffington Post editor, Ariana Huffington, he not only called her ugly, but made fun of her divorce: “[Ariana Huffington] is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.”
On April 16, 2015, he posted this tweet and then quickly deleted it: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
Also, the most infamous quote of all: “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Trump is a scumbag who values women only for their outward appearance, and what they might be able to do for his libido. Put his misogyny and treatment of women aside for a moment, and let’s not forget how he treats people whom he sees as less than him:
The symbolism in Wonder Woman is anti-Trump. She fights hate with love. While Trump does everything he can to drive us apart, Wonder Woman wants to fight for those who cannot do so for themselves. She wants to fight for what she believes in.
Wonder Woman was not the only response to Trump’s presidency or his attack on women or people. On Hulu, we saw The Handmaid’s Tale.
Based on Margaret Atwood’s bestselling 1985 novel, it is a very dark, serious, morose and disturbing parable about the direction in which our society could head given the man who sits at the head office, and the man who is next in line to assume the office (a forecast for the future). While The Handmaid’s Tale is without a doubt important, it can also be very hard to watch because of how grim it is. Yet, I would argue that no punches should be pulled in the cautionary warning that is The Handmaid’s Tale, but in sheer terms of digestibility, it can be hard to watch. As a result, its message of warning may not have reached as many audience members as it could have if the tones were lightened. However, let me mention, I don’t think it’s tone should be lightened; it is just the wake-up call that we need. This brings me back to Wonder Woman, which disguises its feminism amid action and fun, but that doesn’t make it any less important. In fact, because of its easier digestibility, I’d say Wonder Woman is more important.
In October, Trump signed another order, this one officially rolling back the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate by allowing employers with religious or moral objections to exempt themselves from offering birth control to its women employees. Though it may not be grammatically correct, I use women here to denote specifically women. Female includes all that is not male, regardless of the species, and this is strictly geared towards women.
Furthermore, that’s not all the happened in October that made Wonder Woman so right for this year. In April, Bill O’Reilly was released from Fox news for sexual misconduct. Though the story was almost immediately forgotten, it was a portent of things to come. Also, in October, The New York Times and The New Yorker reported that more than a dozen women accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexually harassing, assaulting, or raping them; he was only the first, though. Since then, there has been a near continuous flood of power players in Hollywood being accused of sexual misconduct: Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Louis CK, Matt Lauer, Morgan Spurlock, etc. There are almost too many to mention.
(I applaud Gal Gadot for refusing to make another Wonder Woman movie under Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment.)
Then, came the allegations against the men in office: Al Franken, and Roy Moore (who was only running for a Senatorial seat), and let’s not forget our own Commander-in-chief. Interesting about Moore, who is a Republican, while Franken’s actions were condemned by Trump (Franken is a Democrat). Trump defended and sided with Moore against Moore’s accusers.
In an age when the religious right is taking more and more control of the government and imposing their religious beliefs upon the laws of the land; taking steps to defund Planned Parenthood; and giving employers the option not to cover birth control if it conflicts with their moral values; Wonder Woman is the movie that needed to come out. When seemingly there isn’t anything being done to stem the flow of rape culture, and when more and more women come out every day with a new story of sexual misconduct from their superiors; Wonder Woman is necessary.
Wonder Woman comes from a place of respect, a notion we as a people should take note of.