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Next week PBS will air Wonder Women! The Untold Story of America’s Superheroines that looks at the history, and more importantly, the legacy of Wonder Woman.
I viewed the documentary a few weeks ago and it is a powerful piece that shows why heroic characters like Wonder Woman are so important to society and to young girls and women. It includes interviews with Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter, Gail Simone and Trina Robbins among others as well as everyday women who have been inspired by the character.
The project has been a labor of love over many years for the film’s director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan. I’ve touched base with her over the years as she’s been funding, creating and showing the film around the country. With the film about to debut to a television audience, she took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to talk about the project.
This documentary is AMAZING. I wrote about it back here, but I’d just like to re-iterate: I cried. This is powerful stuff and from the origins of Wonder Woman to the “will you choose to be strong” speech from the series finale of Buffy, it shows the history, the impact and the importance of superheroines.
So, all of you: read this interview, watch this documentary and keep kicking ass.
So, tonight I got a chance to attend a screening of the documentary WONDER WOMEN: The Untold History of American Superheroines. As the name suggests, it starts off as an examination of the character of Wonder Woman, but then traces how her influence led to characters like Sarah Connor and Buffy Summers, what she means to feminist icons like Gloria Steinem and Kathleen Hanna and the importance of visible superheroines in the media.
I absolutely loved it, which shouldn’t come as a shock. But I’ve gotta confess something: while I watched most of the movie with a huge smile on my face. However, there were a few parts. Well.
I maybe teared up a bit.
The movie showed a clip of Buffy’s speech from “Chosen” about giving all of the potentials her power. I got teary.
In an interview, Jane Espenson mentioned that she still gets people who approach her at cons and tell her the only reason they made it through high school was because Buffy did (BTW: this is true for me, as well).
And. Okay, Gail Simone talking about her take on Wonder Woman and her approach to writing the character…yeah. That part made me tear up.
Look, maybe it was just because I had a long day at work. But I think more likely it’s because that is how important superheroines have been to me in my life and how much of a symbol of hope they are for me.
I know a lot of people shut down or roll their eyes when I go on and on about women’s portrayal and visibility in comics. Because to them, the question is why should it matter if there are representations of strong, complicated female characters in comics? But a lot of that comes from fanboys who don’t have to actually actively look to find strong, relate-able role models in media. Media produced for you isn’t considered a “genre,” it’s just considered the status quo. People don’t feel they have to make a special effort to portray characters you’ll identify with.
Think about that: it’s not considered NATURAL to create media that will appeal to women. It’s something that has to be studied and coded and treated like rocket science. We live in a world where it is considered an amazing thing when a male creator can create a strong female character…we live in a world where a male creator is more likely to find success in doing so because women make up such a small percentage of media creators (I believe the documentary tonight mentioned that women are responsible for creating 3% of the world’s media. THREE PERCENT). And that’s not even touching intersectionality, because let’s face it, most of the notable heroines are white, able-bodied, straight cis women (yes, I’m sure you can name exceptions to that rule, but one or two characters does NOT equal “fair representation.” No matter how awesome Oracle, Storm and Kate Kane are.).
Look, just watch the documentary if you get a chance. Find information on a screening or when it is going to air in your area. And try to understand that Wonder Woman isn’t just a token female character. What she is to people like me, what she stands for, is an incredibly powerful thing.
Suggest that Katy Perry would be perfect for the role of Wonder Woman.
Seriously, just. Just DON’T do that, okay?