Wonder Woman is a critical and commercial smash that has earned, to date, over $800 million worldwide. It catapulted its star, Gal Gadot, to fame, and inspired lots of little girls to dress up in Wonder Woman costumes, which is all very cute and heartwarming. It was a record-breaking success — Wonder Woman is the highest-grossing film directed by a woman — and will be back in IMAX theaters this weekend by popular demand and, probably, to hype the movie’s imminent Blu-ray and Digital release. Considering how women are faring more broadly in this year of our nightmare 2017, this was a little bright spot, a gleaming golden lasso in a pile of unmitigated trash.
Did you see Wonder Woman? Did you leave the theater asking yourself, “I wish a man would tell me how to feel about this”? Then you’re in luck, because James Cameron is here with some sizzling takes to send us into the weekend.
In an interview with The Guardian published Thursday, the Titanic director described himself as thoroughly underwhelmed by all the fuss over Wonder Woman:
“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards.
He went on to cite an example from one of his one films: Sarah Connor from Terminator. Sarah, he said, “was not a beauty icon,” which is an opinion that surely thrilled Linda Hamilton, who played this non-beauty-icon in the 1984 film. Cameron continued: “She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”
Cameron is not wrong that there’s nothing Hollywood loves more than pointing out what a great job Hollywood is doing. Wonder Woman aside, this is an industry that is still (or, at least, should still be) the subject of an ACLU-prompted government investigation into sexist hiring practices; misogyny in the entertainment industry is so systemic and rampant, the ACLU argues it qualifies as a civil rights violation. But Cameron’s argument seems to come down to the notion that Wonder Woman is too hot for the movie to qualify as a win for women is… interesting!
There is a nuanced, complicated discussion to be had about whether Wonder Woman‘s bustier, short-shorts, and wedge boots fit into the “catering to the male gaze” versus the “she’s an existing intellectual property and the uniform is what it is” versus the “some women like dressing in clothes men also happen to like” to “we live in a sexist society and we’re doing the best we can, good lord, let a girl wear an outfit, for the love of Themyscira.” But why is Cameron presuming that a movie helmed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, will be the product of “male Hollywood doing the same old thing”? Does he think Jenkins didn’t really have creative control over her own movie?
Thursday evening, Jenkins responded on Twitter:
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) August 25, 2017
So Cameron does not think Wonder Woman was feminist enough. But Cameron also didn’t think that board was big enough for Jack and Rose, even though time and science have proven him to be objectively wrong. Nothing is ever enough for James Cameron.
For what it’s worth, Jenkins just finalized her deal to direct Wonder Woman 2. It will make her the highest-paid female director in Hollywood.