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Marion and Macbeth

My second actor I admire who’s just turned 40 is someone that has once starred in the same film as Kate Winslet, but not in a scene together. She is five days older but I did my piece on Kate first as I knew Kate first.

 

The face on the weekend newspaper pullout drew me. But the pictures on the inside of her in her next film startled me. A young woman chose to become older, less conventionally or obviously attractive, and be in a gruelling, often sad story. To take on such a part intrigued as much as it impressed me. The film was La Vie En Rose. The actress – Marion Cotillard.

From then on, I began looking out for Marion; like Kate and a few others, it’s almost a given that her presence in a film will mean my presence at the cinema. I prefer Marion’s French speaking roles, although I have seen several of her Hollywood ones too. She enlivened Inception and gave it heart and psychology. She has told Petit Mouchoirs (AKA Little White Lies, I prefer the French title); she has been the magical, time travelling muse of Woody Allen; she’s fought for her job at a Belgian factory. And she was in Mary, along with Juliette Binoche – an elusive but brilliant film on the making of a Jesus epic, focussing on Ms Magdalene.

But my favourite role of Marion’s is Rust and Bone, which I review on here – a film of the stomach and the heart.

I waited to post this until I’d seen and thought about Marion’s latest role as Lady Macbeth.

Although I’d wanted this to be a post in praise of Marion, I knew before starting this that it would end as an appraisal of Macbeth.

So let me round up what I love about Marion before moving to Scotland. I want to counteract the negative recent discussions, pulling up some past comments she made, and say that I admire someone who doesn’t take what is the supposed accepted norm and isn’t afraid to ask questions about our supposed reality. That’s not ridiculous, it’s courageous.

*

Right, we’re in Caledonia now; it’s the 11th Century and snow is howling about our muddy mountain camp; blood and sweat make the protagonists’ hair stick up like a duck’s tail.

What I didn’t like about this Macbeth is that there was not enough Lady Macbeth. Or witches. And so I didn’t get to enjoy much of the person for whom I watched the film.

This meant that it was a very male focussed story, or truly, a very Michael Fassbender focussed story. It’s one of those plays who are basically vehicles for the acting prowess of eponymous hero.

I felt alienated as I need women in a story to have a way into it. And I didn’t like the person Macbeth, so I had little to hook onto.

Then was my big issue – I need to check the play to see if it’s better fleshed out in there. I’ll come back to what was missing as my snaky logic mind is going to take me to two other places before I get to elucidate this point. I’ll do the first natural link – abridgement.

I know that some of the witches’ lines from the play were cut, and I enjoy the witches most. I also noted that both witch and wife are temptresses, Eve and serpent in one, and that it’s easy to see this as an almost Tertullian view of women – the “devil’s gateway”. Tertullian is one church father I never let claim paternity rights, or sent a greetings card to. And it’s not a view I’m happy to see apparently propounded. I was surprised that Germaine Greer, queen of radical feminism (or at least, in its royal family) did not mention this in her insightful Oxford Very Short Introduction to Shakespeare, though she spends some pages on the play. Macbeth is about subverting the natural order, but that interpretation suggests that women being agents and instigators brings down horror on everyone. Again, it’s a Fall story, though Scotland here doesn’t exactly look like Eden.

I could tell that it was a film made by someone not familiar with Scotland. Indeed, director Justin Kurzel is Australian.

It looked like Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights. It also looked how a non British person told me she pictured the country before living here. I thought that our films would make her think we lived in Jane Austen land. But she said that due to the films she’d seen, she imagined us to be gritty, muddy, bleak and rainy. This was just such a film.

My practical self leapt in – no-one who’s lived in Scotland would wear so little outdoors in winter. The Real Macbeth website shows him in head armour and with furry animal skins as a cloak. This is a sensible Scots warrior. However, I noted Inverness was too cold to shag without all your clothes on, according to this film. Like Shakespeare in Love, the key couple said their lines intently whilst in the act. That’s about all these two films have in common.

I have a big bugbear about sense of place and architecture especially. As I can recognise buildings from a glimpse and often date them, I knew instantly where the filming took place and that it was a) far from the place that real Macbeth lived, and b) totally the wrong period.

Bamburgh Castle looks wonderful, but it’s not Scottish, and worse, it wasn’t built in Macbeth’s day! Castles were a Norman invention, and Macbeth died before they got building.

That brings me to an even more upsetting piece of location. The oldest parts of Ely Cathedral are c100 years younger than the actual King Macbeth. The Normans built structures greater than had ever been seen by Dark Age dwellers. No palace ever had spaces the size of Ely Cathedral’s 248ft long nave, save Westminster Hall. Yet the idea of cathedrals for palaces was also used in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth – but with an interesting contrast.

Shekhar also had high crane shots down onto tiny people; it was part of his mis en scene to create a dark, frightening world where Elizabeth was not yet an established queen. He also chose stone for destiny, as something outlasting and greater than even a great prince. Durham cathedral, the location for the royal palace of the first film, was a male dominated world of court, and Elizabeth had yet to come into her own.

When she’s done so in The Golden Age, the stone shade shifts: it’s warmer, the sets are brighter, there’s more colour. Shekhar leaves the brooding Celtic North East for the Ship of the East Anglian fens. The location of Ely cathedral signifies that although we’re in the same palace, Elizabeth’s in control; it’s now the court of a woman. And yet that same cathedral serves Macbeth as the setting for the downward spiralling darkness of a male dominated world but woman generated ambition that leads to murder and madness. Similar shooting, contrasting story and symbolism. Ely Cathedral also features in my story.

Elizabeth and Lady Macbeth dine in the same room – the Lady Chapel of Ely – but that Scot would have seen no nodding ogees – for Gothic came in well after her time. The Macbeths sleep in a bed that’s 16th Century – Elizabeth could have done so, but not they.

Obviously, a look has been chosen that ignores the furniture of the time, which was brightly painted – but it jangled on me every time I saw the Norman aisles turned into bedrooms that they never could’ve been. And there was stained glass in the shots – also not yet invented. And under the 14th Century famous lantern tower, 11th Century Macbeth curses with Satan’s name – which surprised me was allowed in a living church.

What I minded most was that the film never gave a sense of why the Macbeths want the throne so badly. We’ve barely met the Macbeths before they’re desiring and scheming – wouldn’t they believe the kingship prophecy would fulfil itself, without so quickly and ineptly making it happen through foul means? The first time Lady Macbeth speaks, she’s onto the “Unsex me here” speech, so understated that I didn’t feel her evil incantation had reached sufficient climax to execute the execution. Without a real impetus and build up towards the desire for the act, the central piece of plot fails.

It also seems a ridiculously conceived murder. Two people in the camp stand to gain from Duncan’s death. One runs – yes he could be a culprit, or understandably, he’s fled for fear of his own life. The other chief suspect kills Duncan’s guards in a fury that surely says – 1) I can kill violently and at close range, 2) I’m overacting to cover up. Duncan dies not through accident or disappearance, but a very obvious murder in Macbeth’s own home! Wouldn’t need Miss Marple for anyone to get Macbeth on trial!

He is a horrid king, not a hero as some say of him, and so I cannot understand how ruled as long as he did, nor did I want to spend time with him on set.

The scene of Macduff’s wife and children’s death was so horrific that I couldn’t see why people would stand by as it happened. It’s not in the play that way. And I felt that Macbeth would be killed at that moment – no need to wait for the avenging one who was ripped untimely from his mother’s womb. What a strange plot that is! Aren’t those delivered through caesarean considered born of a woman?

In thinking of how that prophecy could have been better fulfilled – someone begotten not created? – I wish to nearly round up by commenting on the lack of magic and how it was missed in a medium that would have done those supernatural elements so proud. The film tried to be semi rational and it failed because it took out those elements of an essentially magical story. The more literal and rational you make Macbeth, the less it works.

I am angry at how witches are portrayed, when they have fought to have their sisters freed from the vilifying paranoia that has dogged them so long. The witches here are more seers than hags. If they were men, they’d be called wise men and prophets. Witchcraft is the craft of the wise, yet these sisters are definitely weird, and I’d have preferred in the Terry Pratchett sense. Shakespeare’s contemporaries may have seen witches as but is it fair to still portray them so today?

Visually, the scene that remained with me was the orangey tiered mists of the final battle. We’d seen orange before, in flames, and the fire and blood connoted was therefore fitting and powerful.

I struggle with tragedy as a genre – this is too tragic. At least Romeo and Juliet do something for their families and city potentailly. The Picturehouse brochure tries to connect Macbeth to popular political TV shows House of Cards and Game of Thrones, and to the war on terror, but I didn’t feel anything very contemporary in this film, other than the stylistics.

I am reading a Scots penned book on the real Macbeth and may return to discuss this or with any insights I have about the play; but as a vehicle for social commentary or psychology, I felt I didn’t move very far.

But as I sought out both play and historic figure (somewhat unlike Shakespeare’s king), the film must have had some success.

Back to my novel campaign and I’ll be back on Monday with an English centenary

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Bitching about Austen

I might have a season of this, so prepare yourselves.

I’ve already had one – “Death Comes to Pemberley” and links to “Going Off Austen” and I wrote elsewhere “Lydia and Wickham – Pride and Prejudice’s Naughtiest Couple”.

Why am I bitching again? Why didn’t I take Austen off my shelf (lord knows I need the space) 4 years ago and let Janey fans enjoy her?

Having my Kate Winslet season (blog posts on here previously) led me to watch the 1995 Sense and Sensibility, which I was reluctant to do; as I’ve said, I’ve not got on really with Austen’s other 5 novels and I’m fed up with polite period adaptations. But I wanted to see Kate’s performance and her career progression. And for a while, I liked the film; and though it was slower to get into, I read the novel with some pleasure.

It was easy to see why the woman that gave us Ophelia and Rose in Titanic could play Marianne Dashwood – passionate, impetuous, heart broken, (near) dying. I did various “Which Austen character are you” quizzes, and received varying answers, but Marianne appeared more than once. And I wasn’t unhappy with that, because Marianne has spirit, she’s genuine, she doesn’t care for those stupid social rules that beset Austen, she’s not materialistic, she speaks and knows her heart.

As for her supposed faults — it was my irritation with that question that got me the result of Lady Catherine De Burgh in one quiz (I’m sort of amused by that and a bit secretly proud). Emma Thompson in her actor/writer’s commentary of the S&S DVD often points out Marianne’s selfishness and rudeness: she rises unbidden at the table of her hosts and asks to play the piano; she boldly hops into a barouche with her boyfriend in public; she speaks or won’t speak ‘out of turn’ (think how dreadful that phrase is!) and she even complains about her sister’s cold feet in their shared bed. And she writes late night letters to her love who’s just publicly and inexplicable spurned her.

This is really what worries me about Austen. I nearly called this piece

Austen fans keep prudery alive

because I’m more disturbed that modern people are getting this, and sticking up for it! The introduction to the Pitkin guide to Austen, written by a man, says that Austen gives us a moral standard (and lets men understand women!!). An article high on the search engine results I won’t name, but that I did comment on, reviews this film with a paragraph on “Bad Content” which includes low necklines and unmarried mothers. The same magazine issue that my truncated guest essay was published in (Jane Austen’s Regency World, Nov 2010) had an article about sex appeal in Austen. It was illustrated with louche cartoons lampooning contemporary royalty, but the text incongruously is about the fact we don’t understand “seriousness” of the “moral crime” of single motherhood today (GOOD!) and full of words like “condemn” “immoral” “vulgar flirt” and “lower impulses” about anyone whose sexuality is more open.

Do you want us to put the corset back on?!

Many of Kate Winslet’s films have been about women who literally and metaphorically take off the corset, but S&S is about a character who puts it on. In Jude and Hamlet, her ahead of time unconventionality and strength are her undoing, but in Titanic, she is freed. Marianne, understandably as a teenager, would need to mature; she can be thoughtless and unfair, and I most dislike her dismissal of 35 year old Colonel Brandon as aged and infirm (rightly lampooned).

Let me slip aside and say

Jane Austen is ageist

Not only are her heroines ridiculously sensible at 19-21, (even though Jane was double that age when writing – oh we have Anne in Persuasion who’s mid 20s), but she makes the mothers or grandmothers beyond romance and beauty. Lively Mrs Jennings is a widow in the book s0 why not have a romance for her? What about Mrs Dashwood, who is my favourite – only 40, as alive as her middle daughter, and whose wit is removed from the Ang Lee/Thomson version: “men are safe here, let them be ever so rich” and her riposte to Marianne’s inability to imagine that anyone older than her can love. Note how dowdy and pale Gemma Jones is made as Mrs D. What about her and the Colonel?

Austen’s men get wives half their age which by today’s standards would seem dubious.

Back to my corset: I don’t want understanding of those mores revived in our day, thank you. I’m pleased that sex before marriage and children or living together without marriage are not things that most of us bother to judge any more. I don’t want crushing etiquette and class delineation to be revived, or those fragile reputations. And I don’t want to go back to a world of deference and where we never learn to speak what we feel (see my article on Her this Feb).

Let me be clear – I have strong values; just not those constricting, judging ones that Austen lovers seem to see themselves as guardians of.

As for sexuality: everyone who exercises it in Austen is a tart or blaggard. And we’re so upset that anyone might adapt or spoof Austen and go higher than a U certificate. I stick up for Andrew Davies now for putting that (very slight, sensuous) seduction scene at the start of his 2008 Sense and Sensibility. The book’s got a dull opening to adapt and that act, as Jane herself says, is the ‘vice’ that set of all the others. People in Austen who are sexual are gold-diggers and preyers on minors; they shock polite society. Heaven help what Willoughby and Marianne might have done in that barouche the day of the picnic…. well, wouldn’t most of us as a passionate couple? But of course, they can’t have, if Marianne is a heroine.

Early Marianne is the most congruent of Austen heroines that I know, but instead of Elinor and her learning from each other, Marianne becomes her sister. Sense and Sensibility is the story of the taming of Marianne, if not the humbling of her. Marianne is ashamed of her conduct and tells her sister it should have been like hers. By the end, she’s promising to rise by 6 and keep busy all day, improving herself. She never really falls for Brandon, it’s engineered by her social circle (not in the 1995 film), and she becomes “devoted” and mistress of a household, family and most worryingly – patron of a parish…. all before her wisdom teeth have arrived. Yet the former Marianne often acted out of perception and a kind heart: getting up from the table to play the piano to stop a guessing game upsetting to her sister; speaking out against an attempt to defame Elinor. She is right to want to discover what’s happened with Willoughby and tell him how she feels about the ball snub, and so I support the letter than Emma Thompson criticises her for.

Elinor’s embarrassed by Marianne’s public tears on her behalf, and later is glad to note Marianne’s silent discretion the next time she feels like a blub.

Elinor tells Edward – who has stuck up t0 his dreadful mother who cast him off – that he does owe her an apology for he has given offence. I can see none, for his engagement would never need to have been concealed if his mother approved and Mrs Ferrars snr should have allowed her son the autonomy he surely deserves.

Finally, I go back to the lack of corporality allowed, that these characters are all asexual with nothing under their dresses or breeches, and how they are defended if anyone suggests otherwise! We can’t bear to think of them or Jane herself as a living, carnal woman – but Jane had a fanny, she didn’t just write a character with that name.

I know that statement and this whole article (and their sisters) will cause anger, but I note generally how people denigrate what clashes with their own opinion on something they hold precious. Whether it’s Game of Thrones (the antithesis of Jane’s world, where you’ll be criticised for criticising the normalising portrayal of violence) or the genteel drawing rooms of Austen, fans won’t stand for 1 star reviews. But it takes away freedom of speech and forgets that not everyone likes the same. There are many people – intelligent, cultured, well read, tasteful – who don’t like Austen, find her boring, don’t understand the appeal (I’m told Bronte was one). Perhaps because I was one, in my corset, I feel the need to talk about Austen and ensure corsets do not return, for the reanimation of those social objurgations really scares me and rouses me as the former Marianne.

I now feel like watching the zombie version, the Fight Club spoof, or the one Austen I rate – Rozema’s Mansfield Park.

But let’s be honest: Jane wouldn’t do well on one of the writing schools at Chawton — conspicuous exposition in dialogue, telling not showing, heavy backstory at the beginning, baggy endings of endless codas.

Am I going to stop this now? For this article, yes, but the future? I suspect I’ll dust Austen off again for another rant.

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All Fur Coat and No Knickers – a response to Game of Thrones

This is a phrase in Britain meaning “you really aren’t much underneath all your show” and Game of Thrones is full of characters with animal fur flung across their cold aristocratic shoulders, and knickerless scenes… 

SOME PLOT SPOILERS

This is my first foray into fantasy; as the 3rd season starts to air on television in Britain, I watched the first on DVD. I have not read any of George R R Martin’s chunky books.

I have long been a fan of period drama and addictively though critically watched HBO’s Rome. Swapping accounts of recent viewing with a friend, I was told of this other HBO [Home Box Office] epic. It occurred to me how much fantasy is like history, except made up. Being in the mood for more of the same, I waited patiently (or not!) to come to the top of my library’s over subscribed reserve list for the box set of the tale of Westeros.

I don’t know what to make of Game of Thrones or fantasy in general. It seems strange to concoct all these odd sounding names and say them with all seriousness (my spellchecker has struggled with this article). I do not like violence but accept it is part of the world of say, the Tudors and Ancient Rome. The TV creators didn’t invent traitor’s executions, they show what happened or might have happened in that era (though how graphically is still a choice and often an unwelcome one). But in Game of Thrones, someone modern has created those worlds of cruelty. Why not set fantasy during an enlightened, non violent era? Why chose to make a world with the worst of punishments, the harshest of honour codes, and most of all, the worst treatment of women?

How could a modern teenage girl (Sansa Stark) with her timeless disinterested sneer and raised end of sentences, say she badly wants to be a wife and bear royal sons!?

Women in Game of Thrones never have pleasure for themselves; it is always about giving pleasure to men in a firmly patriarchal society with traditional gender roles.

Worst, like Rome, is the horrors that women do to one another. A witch takes revenge by killing beloved a horse, husband and son; and in return, she is burned alive, in a scene recalling the Indian custom of Sati which was outlawed in the 19th C. It is not helpful to the work that Wicca is trying to do in unravelling the demonising portrayals of witches.

I also wondered at how Peter Dinklage could play a character who is constantly called names like ‘half man’, ‘imp’ and other derogatory words for his small stature. Why not invent a world where what was known as ‘dwarfism’ is highly prized?

That thought leads me to some first impressions- that the Wall is like the Reject Bin on kids’ TV show the Raggy Dolls, where all the outcasts get put to bond and learn to love themselves (hurrah – one good message!); the White (or would that be At At) Walkers resemble creatures in arty Asian film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives; Khal Drogo looks like Ming from Flash Gordon and sounds like something between Darth Vader and South Park’s Cartman  – or even Non from Superman II; and occasionally, Cookie Monster; the headgear on Lannister guards looks like a creature from 60s puppet show Stingray; and the saying ‘there’s Always been Starks at Winterfell’ sounds just too like Stella Gibbons’ bleak earthy farmyard cousins in Cold Comfort Farm. I feel a hybrid take off coming on…

Two scenes to comment on, in episodes 6/7

Introducing Tywin Lannister whilst he skilfully carves a dead stag gives the scene movement and also shows his menacing and adroit character, whilst hinting at what he what like to do to his inlaws, whose symbol (‘sigil’) is that animal.

But shortly after, Lord Petyr Baelish reveals some important information to his whores whilst they practice for their clients on one another. It’s quite a graphic scene but it is a confused one. We’re distracted by the women having sex so we don’t fully take in what Petyr is saying. And as a backdrop to his revelation, a practice session between characters we don’t really know makes an unsexy… I can’t call it a love scene as there’s no emotion and no relationship between them. It made me angry as it seemed to be offered up for us viewer’s gaze and for brothel owning Petyr, particularly to titillate males, and insults love between women.

I found the sex to be disturbing – not because of how explicit it is, but that is usually with  minor characters and with a whore (meaning extras who don’t get to say a line but have to go topless, or more, before several million viewers). They are done in a position which is often uncomfortable for women and in a way that makes them akin to animals (also common in Rome). The key one that Bran sees on a climbing expedition mission is also doggy style and of the same tone as a Dothraki conqueror would do to the enemy’s women.

The only one that was meaningful is where Khal Drogo’s relationship with his wife is transformed. Forced into a match with a be-moobed huge brutal warlord who cannot speak her language, Daenerys endures her husband’s nightly rogerings until her Pleasure House trained handmaiden helps her out (the second and only way we see two women together). By looking her husband in the eye and showing him a new way, the couple connect and become a loving union, with Drogo calling her “Moon of my life.” That’s a rather nice love story, unlike some of the things he does to his enemies… [Moob = Man Boobs, squashed into a corset. Perhaps that’s why he appealed to me as a gay woman – and also his fab eye make up!].  I’m intrigued that an internet image search brings up so many hand drawn pictures and dolls of Drogo, and people dressing up as him. I can see he has captured the imagination of lots of viewers, as he has mine.

However, internet searches also show what the novel version of Khal and Daenerys’s wedding night was. He was a surprisingly gentle and sensitive lover, using his one Common Language word – no – to gain consent from his 13 year old! bride. The DVD extras don’t really explain why this was changed to be an unpleasant scene to watch and make. The producers claim the original from the book didn’t work in rehearsal, but that’s down to writing and acting. Although the TV version gives Daenerys control over her destiny, there is room for that without two rape scenes.

As Khal Drogo has died, I am not sure I’ll be watching season 2. What or who else would make me rejoin that library queue to see more horror? I felt a draw to Arya from the moment she left her needlework and pinged her bow and arrow, but her strength comes from being like a boy. Lena Headey, an incentive to watch the show, is a cold harsh queen, although most of the touching human moments are with or about her and her husband. Despite his debut scene of making his 10 year old witness a beheading, Ned Stark feels rounded and often sympathetic, and his wife Catelyn one of the stronger and better treated women (and best looking). Ned also recognises Arya’s independent spirit and gives her secret sword lessons – yet her empowering life changing moments come from the decisions of men. Ned is often merciful and wise – but also now dead.

The other touching scenes are in the Reject Bin, the watch at Hadrian’s’ Wall crossed with Hoover Dam, where bastard Jon Snow (also the name of a Channel 4 newsreader) bonds with weedy fat boy Sam (their estimation of Sam, not mine).

Apart from wanting to see the hateful Joffrey dead, I am not sure what would make me care enough to spend another 10 hours in Westeros. Despite what the interviews on the DVD extras say, I didn’t feel the characters were that rounded or make major developmental journeys – though it was better than Rome – except for Daenerys who marks her slave rescuing leadership by publicly torching one. Westeros is far removed from the current Western world with little to say on ours. I am disturbed most of all that the regular horror is a choice and offered for entertainment, rather than showing and critiquing brutal realities and historical facts. Power is the desire of most characters, with fear and force being ways to attain and retain it. Unless I hear that this changes, I think I’ll be checking out Xena Warrior Princess instead. I’ll let you know whatever I watch.

Of course, this could work like ancient myths, and maybe I have missed something. Please tell me if I have! I shall watch it again and read some of the tomes, just in case…

See my next post, “Winter is Coming”

 

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Rome and Cleopatra

I have allowed myself to go back in time to the world of Caesars Julius and Augustus, via the disk and screen in a box (ie DVD player). It’s opened an interest in a part of history I had previously ignored, and introduced me to a certain queen of Egypt that I’d overlooked, but who is certainly my kind of woman. (I admire strong royal women such as Anne Boleyn).

The parallels with Anne are pretty obvious: little historical evidence, vagueness about her birth and parentage, and most of the information we have coming from, shall we politely say, non sympathisers. Cleopatra too has been also seen as the siren, ambitious femme fatale. Perhaps more than Anne, she is known for opulence if not decadence – have you seen a pouty woman posing and said “Think you’re Cleopatra?” The HBO/BBC television series, Rome, is full of pouty women, including the just mentioned last of the Ptolemy dynasty. (I was surprised to learn Cleo is in fact Greek). The show’s creators claim that they’re women focussed, but there are far fewer women in this vampy, campy epic. Atia of the Julii is akin to Joan Collins (and Eddy from Ab Fab), but far more bloody, and the performance by Polly Walker has a definite comic turn.

I would like to have seen more females and found the show harder to relate to because of that, especially that only so few were positive. I thought little of the two semi historic solider characters through whom we see events unfolding.

As well as the treatment of women – particularly the rape as torture of one noble woman by another – I was shocked by the compete lack of critique of slavery. The second season was screened during the year that Britain celebrated the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery, with campaigns to stop other forms. Here was an opportunity for the show to have backed that; but instead, the ownership of others, brutal treatments punishments and sexual abuse is considered normal. The actors justify their characters and enter the mindset that ‘there’s always suicide if you don’t like it,’ (as Ciaran Hinds said of playing Julius Caesar). I was also furious that men had the right to beat and and kill the women of their families without appeal, protection or punishment.

The show has little in the way of character development except towards defeat or power. There is little forgiveness or redemption. The one act there is – from Vorenus’s daughter – comes because he is apparently dying (and the show ending), not because he’s done anything to earn it. Nothing has happened for his daughter to accept their mother-killing, cursing father, full of unbridled rage. Servila and Atia’s feud ends with Servila publicly cursing Atia then killing herself. Romans saw forgiveness and mercy as weakness, the historical commentary tells us, but it seems the writers do too; and how can they speak so generally of a world long gone? Could we sum up our society’s values so simplistically? Rome was multicultural and multi- class; I think saying “Romans thought…” is far too vague, especially without offering evidence. But wouldn’t it have been better for Rome to have shown people who were different? Most stories are about people who we admire for not being like the rest of their society – the one non snob in an upper class family who values love over status; the person who challenges racism or homophobia or some other injustice. Yet with Rome, there’s no-one really to admire and the cast is too ensemble to latch onto anyone’s story. No-one breaks free, no one does anything especially good. Titus Pullo, one of the soldiers we’re meant to rally for, ends by strangling his partner and sending her (he believes) to roam as a lost sprit forever. The plot about him being the father of Ceasarion was ridiculous. There are rumours that Cleopatra’s son with Caesar was not in fact fathered by Julius; but a quick ** by a passing solider hardly constitutes much of a fatherhood.

Cleopatra was portrayed in an angering manner, Nearly 50 years after Liz Taylors’s iconic performance, the writers here showed a far less feminist Queen than the Hollywood of the 1960s – and both were written by Anglo and American males. HBO’s Cleopatra is a drug and sex addled kitten who lures brute faced Anthony away from his true roots (and gets told off by the angry faced Kevin Mc Kidd for tricking Antony into killing himself). We are encouraged to have a little understanding and sympathy for her final dilemma. She cries movingly before parting with her children; she foresees that Octavius Caesar is a monster about to parade her naked through Rome before killing her publicly; but she’s not really been a worthy adversary or much of a ruler. Earlier, she shoots a slave dressed as deer instead of letting Anthony deal with urgent political matters, driving up prices to start a war with Rome. The only brave thing this Cleopatra does is actually hold a live snake, taking Shakespeare’s best stage direction literally (Liz gets bitten by dipping her hand into a moving basket of figs). The beginning of her and Anthony’s relationship is missing so we arrive in Alexandria to see them as drunken lover, both in ridiculous eye makeup, without understanding why Cleopatra’s seethrough dress took their association from flirtation to a famous historic love affair.

It took me a while to establish a rapport with the myriad cast, many of whom were familiar by name (Cicero, Brutus, Pompey) but by the time they felt like rounded characters, they were dead. By the end of the show, nearly everyone I cared about was dead – or the foils that made them interesting were: Atia lives but her rival Servila does not; Niobe, Vorenus’s wife throws herself off a balcony when her secret affair was revealed.

Compared to some recent cinema viewing – To The Wonder, Cloud Atlas – this show was engaging enough for me to watch both seasons back to back, and all the extras. But Rome ultimately is as camp as it is brutal, making violence kind of fun, but without challenging society or giving a continuing storyline that really drew me. The one person that always made me laugh was the Herald, especially for his hand movements – and an interesting device to tell us what had happened (eg the upshot of a battle) with amusing anecdotes to show that commercials are not new!

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Whistleblower

is a 2010 film starring Rachel Weisz about the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac.

It’s the flip side of My Age of Consent post on Socyberty (link in previous post). I want to make clear that I take abuse very seriously. Whereas some young women manipulate older people and it is inappropriate to call what might be unwise and unhealthy relationships child abuse, this film is clearly a story of what is.

In fact the legal ages are irrelevant, as what is happening is horrific and wrong for anyone of any age. It would not be less shocking if these were over 21s, and no less horrible for those that suffered.

I am not going to make any explicit comments here, should anyone be alarmed. The film too conveys horror without detail.

One one level, I am impressed by the film. It is based on the memoir of an American former police woman who was sent to Bosnia in the late 1990s as a peacekeeper, and who uncovered wide spread trafficking overlooked and often used by personnel of international military, law enforcing and peacekeeping organisations.

First of all, I want to back up. Why is an alien country going into one already torn with civil war, to have a foreign military and police help them sort out their problems?! What right does another country have to go barging and interfering, setting themselves up as world police?! Do any of these countries exemplify a perfectly just, libertarian society? No!! In fact as I shall write in the future, I don’t think democracy is the best system; I am intrigued by Isonomy as suggested by a former lecturer. (This could end up going back into another summer of Wonder Woman, who upheld democracy – see my earliest posts). And I feel that the US particularly* is not in a position to show another country how fairness works; there’s enough corruption at home without spreading it to a land limping after years of guerrilla warfare.

Spreading that corruption is exactly what seems to be happening.

Even Kathryn’s contract was dubious – $100,000 for 6 months work – tax free. After the global financial problems and cuts, such pay makes me livid – why should anyone work even indirectly for a government and be exempt from contributing with such a high salary?! “Is this even legal?” Kathy asks in the film. It shouldn’t be.

Next, there is legal “immunity” for those working for the various organisations. In the film it is called Democria, a British registered international company recruiting army and police officers. There should never be immunity – if you’re wrong, you should be brought to justice.

I feel like I did after the Valerie Wilson Plame film, Fair Game – that I both admire the person for sticking up to a powerful system and telling the world what’s really happening; and dis-ease for their jobs. As much as I don’t support the work of the CIA, the peacekeepers (ironic title) are another shadowy force supposedly for the good of civilians. Anyone reading this very much will know my thoughts on the irony of suppressing liberty to protect it, of opaque organisations off public radar who want to hold secret courts  – yes I opposed that British proposal. (See https://elspethr.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/justice-is-restored-but-the-chickens-are-gone)

The verb ‘police’ is one I am uncomfortable with. Although I have seen police strap lines claiming role is support for the public, practice is one of non action when needed with heaviness when it is not.

Kathy wants better recruitment and training for those doing her work – and clearly she took her police role seriously and genuinely, as I’m sure many others do. But that shouldn’t be a surprise – people shouldn’t be getting through the recruitment net who don’t. She recognised the need for better cultural understating in her role, but I really feel outsiders should not be there, especially as she’s shown the UN to have serious corruption at its core. She claims some officers were actually running the sex rings, while the organisation wouldn’t allow inquiries.

Death threats are are sure sign that she’s right. Officials have made statements that Kathy is wrong, even that she deserved her dismissal… but why the threats if she was erroneous and had a genuine reason to be sacked? Why would she make such a thing up, and go to such a risk, especially if it only over sour grapes for a job loss?

I was pleased that the book has been published and a film made, with many well known actors keen to be involved, as well as being an opportunity for a first time director. But I can’t see that the Whistleblower got an airing in Britain, or perhaps as widely internationally as it might have been. It wasn’t nominated for any of the usual film awards, though it did get some humanitarian type ones. I can’t find a British release date for it, and I have checked my own film magazines and brochures – I don’t think it came to my city nor was it picked up by the major cinema chains. I found it in the library, a single copy, unlike the mass orders of some new films.

I am writing this partly to say, this is a film that needs to be seen. This is an issue that needs to be known – but what can be done to stop it?

And I am also voicing my mixed views. Portrayed by a favourite actress, it was easy to sympathise with the actions of Kathryn. Reading more about her, I felt conflicted and this is as much about keeping out of other countries and the immunity/tax free corruption as it is the atrocities being inflicted on young women.

*PS that was not meant to be an anti US diatribe. You know I criticise my own country enough!

Someday, I shall write an article called “Things I love about America”.  Several individuals will feature, including dear friends.

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Change our Minds, Wonder Woman

Season 3 of the 1970s TV show starring Lynda Carter – part 3 of my Wonder Woman musings

By mid season two, watching had become a chore for research. I wasn’t too excited to begin season 3. The first episode set up the expectation of further struggle to continue as well as disappointment. As pointed out by an internet site, it seemed to be targeting teenage and child audiences with its characters and themes – juveniles into skateboarding, amusement arcades, teenage music idols. There’s nothing to refer to who Wonder Woman is or where she’s from, no more poetic philosophical speeches, but just regurgitated plots about mind control and identity stealing – and even the guest actors are recycled.

It seems that Wonder Woman wanted in on everyone else’s show. Female agents were doing well: Diana Prince becomes one. Humanised robots and computers were popular: a Metal Mickey and K9 (with Roadrunner noises) are introduced. Space features regularly to be a Star Wars/Trek/Buck Rogers rival. In the penultimate episode, it seemed they were trying to copy Arnold from Different Strokes, Cheetah from Tarzan and decided that LA had more appeal than Washington.

Lynda’s long ponytail and the over zealous gradually blusher return. They rarely bother with glasses now for Diana – which are still huge – but it’s assumed no-one will make the connection so there’s no need to disguise her. But that takes half the fun away!

There’s an attempt to have others in the IADC office – a short-lived woman named Bobby – but IRAC and Rover return and have more character. I was cross that like in life, computers take the jobs of people, but I became quite fond of IRAC and even found his bruised electronic ego, his raspberries and competitive board games amusing. Steve’s often kept in the office – though he’s eventually allowed out a bit more than last season – and Diana is orphaned in the concrete tower of a Washington government office, without even shots of her apartment, let alone her real home.

But then I found myself enjoying it again. That is partly about Diana. If she is appealing to me, the show works. By that, I don’t mean whether she is personally attractive to me, but whether she’s attractive as a character. The warmth and naiveté of season 1 disappeared. I liken her to Evie in The House of Eliot, the BBC drama about two sisters setting up a fashion house. Evie, played by Louise Lombard, was an utterly charming 18 yr old at the start. Naturally, the character grew up and the actress did too. But what we got was not a mature version of lovably Evie, but a hard person reflected in her image change. By the end, I’d gone off Evie and that alienated me from the show. At least there were two sisters and I felt warmth toward the other. In Wonder Woman, she is the only main character and so losing connection to her meant alienation from the whole show.

The paling foundation and harsh blusher seems to change for the better, as did the shaping of Lynda’s eyebrows. The lipgloss I so wanted to blot – was. She’s naturally tanned again.  But what of her character? She’s become patronising and even predatory to kids and other young women. She’s become hard spy lady that everyone drools over but no-one was going to get.

The feminists on the DVD features said she’s sexy but not threatening to other women. But she’s too thin – and Lynda lamented on the commentary to episode one that her bones no longer shew as they did 30 years ago. She ought to be glad about that. Comic books and the actress who played her says ‘no stomachs’ to women; no cellulite, no large limbs. It’s cool to see your bones, it’s cool to be sticky.

There were flashes of warmth – such as to her friends in the skateboard episode. But the way Diana treats a child in the leprechaun episode was not her usual charm. As a child, I’d have run from this strange woman who was irresponsible in her advances towards young Lisa, not thinking how a child might be frightened. Lynda says she played the child relations as a yearning in Diana for children she doesn’t have. I didn’t see anything maternal about the way she spoke to the girl then – she was snaky and pushy, not explaining who she was, but rather sounding threatening: ‘if you want to help your friend, you’d better talk to me’.

So I changed my mind twice: from liking it more than I expected, to disappointment, back to liking it and then a ultimately a bit disappointed, perhaps in the way the show closed.

There was a little sadness when the last episode ended and there was no more TV Wonder Woman to see.

As the show was cancelled, there is no ending, as Lynda Carter laments on the commentary. She wishes there was chance to say goodbye to the character she’d played for 60 episodes and I have watched for two months.

A weakness of Wonder Woman was its lack of continuing plot and its lack of excitement. Other series drawing to a close would make us all tune in, impatient to see how it’ll all tie up.

I could think of a scenario that would make that last episode exciting. We know Wonder Woman will round off her time on earth as we’ve known her – but how? Will she marry Steve? Will she take up Andros’ offer? Will there be a pull back to her island? I would present the possibility of all three. If Wonder Woman is heterosexual, might she have to chose between her man and her people on all female paradise island? Or could this be an opportunity to change that ancient race? That would be interesting in itself.

Lynda’s suggestions of why her character could end the show were all about  love and families. I am now convinced she does mean what I feared as she has talked about this so much – the idea that Wonder Woman is lacking without husband and family (and by extension, I read, so are we). I think in that sense, Lynda doesn’t fully get her character. Wonder Woman is a goddess. There’s an issue straight away with reproducing with humans, and perhaps even questions about goddesses and physical intimacy. Like Queen Elizabeth I of England, it seems Diana has chosen a mission and her people over what we term as personal happiness.

However, often people with families say the reverse of what Lynda implies – that it takes away their identity as it subsumes them – not that they become more fulfilled and complete. How can Wonder Woman be a feminist if she retires to be a mother and wife? On the extras, various American women writers assemble to say what they love about her. They state that Wonder Woman has been an example of the dual role of woman. But Lynda’s Wonder Woman would give up being Wonder Woman. To lead by example, Diana would need to continue being Wonder Woman and do her family role.

I couldn’t see in Wonder Woman what these women in the documentary could. I wonder if Wonder Woman is too American to be an icon for outsiders: it has created a sense of other in me, when at first I was inclined to the reverse. Perhaps it’s because Diana becomes naturalised to America that I stop being able to identify with her. She stops any critique of America; now it’s expected that her loyalty to her ‘new friends’ – i.e. a government intelligence service – comes before her own people. Her Mother, Queen Hippolyte, vanishes into the mirror of episode 3, season 2 and forever out of the series – never again is the island mentioned, or that Wonder Woman comes from somewhere else.

Reading an introduction by Mercedes Lackey to a 2008 comic ‘Circle’, I am reminded that in the comic book world, Diana is definitely other. Her stories feature ancient gods. She is divine, not human. She is begotten not created – yes I did borrow that line from O Come All Ye Faithful. Like Superman, she is sent to our world from elsewhere, to live as one of us. But although the Superman movies made a very clear link between the Christmas story and their film being released at that time, the Messianic parallel works better with Diana than Kal-el, divinely progenitored from earthly materials. Diana chose her mission at a time of need – she wasn’t sent into the world as an unconsenting baby. Her mother yet lives, not as a prerecorded hologram of deceased mortal commoners, like Superman’s parents, but as an eternal wise Queen.

The DVD extras of season 3 comment on how that Wonder Woman is a change from the usual father son relationship of hero stories, sent by and communing with her mother and sister. As the pilot bravely said: “Sisterhood is stronger than anything…” There is little of that kind of statement now. Feminism is assumed and demonstrated through ass kicking, literally. Wonder Woman now hits out before she is hit – she even headbuts in one episode (23). That goes against the peace loving message that Wonder Woman is all about. That the thoughtfulness of the start was never returned to made this a harder blow, and a missed opportunity to have used entertainment for positive world changing, as Wonder Woman was conceived to do.

 

 

 

 

 

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Woman of the Hour?

No, about 46 minutes per episode – 36 of them so far…

I have already shared my thoughts from the first series of the 1970s TV show and a little research into the comics – my first and very pleasing forray into the world of  Wonder Woman. Now I have completed watching season 2 and my feelings are different.

Wonder Woman has changed TV network and also time period. The season premiere begins by being incredibly similar to the original pilot – the crashed plane, the women on Paradise Island, the bullets and bracelets competition to win the mission of returning with the craft to America. Steve junior’s in a suit, no longer a uniform, and has grown up to look just like his Dad from the first season. Etta Candy and Colonel Blankenship are gone, and in their place at the office are a talking computer and robot, a short lived boss called Joe, an unseen voice, and later, Eve, one of the series’ several black characters (there were none in Season 1). Steve spends more time on the end of a phone and less joining Diana on escapades. Paradise Island soon ceases to feature.

Diana is now a star in her own right; she becomes a famous agent of the Inter-Agency Defense Command. In the first season, Diana wasn’t considered pretty enough to enter a beauty competition and she is picked as Yeoman due to her lack of glamour. Early in the second season, Joe isn’t sure she’s got the right wardrobe to go undercover as a ‘swinger’. Now, in every episode, her looks are commented on admiringly. Like the series itself, Diana undergoes a change halfway through. Diana’s style becomes what she’d call ‘slinky’ in the first season. Her hair and make up change and she doesn’t seem as beautiful and appealing. Comic book artist Phil Jimenez states he admires Lynda Carter’s portrayal for its grace, regality, femininity, dignity and style. Diana was naive, but never dippy. Some of that has gone by the close of this season and that has a huge bearing on my appreciation of the show.

The Wonder Woman costume has a subtle make over, making the PE pants highlegged, and the cleavage more prominent. The stunts are bigger and it seems a little more violent. There’s also greater sexism. Wonder Woman’s first girl fight left her and the other woman with ripped clothing. Later, Diana happens to rip her pants (in the US sense) in a parachute jump, at the knee; so she cuts her trousers off at the groin to make them hotpants. (Steve also falls with her but doesn’t suffer any rents to his clothes). Yet, even in a swimming costume, Ms Carter never shows her actual legs – the satin tights remain.

That line in the lyrics does, but much of the theme tune’s other words are changed and an irritating sound that like a kid who can’t play the recorder is added. The Nazis are phased out, and now Wonder Woman fights ‘on the side of right’ rather than for hers. No more stopping wars with love, no more metamorphosing doves… she’s woman of the hour and her chance to fight evil is not denied… almost as if she wants to kick ass. One comic artist on the DVD extra said that Wonder Woman wants to spread her message of love – she’s not looking for fights. Yet these lyrics suggest the reverse.

Early on in the season, there were links with the first series and the opportunity for some thoughtful questions posed. But by the end of the first disc, there’s no more just war discussion, no critiquing or even assertion of what makes America good. The side of right and America’s government are unquestionably synonymous – and Wonder Woman fights for us  – even against her own people on Paradise Island. That episode, “Trouble in the Bermuda Triangle”, speaks of aiding the American arms supremacy. The writer has misunderstood all that Wonder Woman stands for – she is for peace and justice, and would hate nuclear weaponry. I wonder if Wonder Woman had stayed in the US till the end of the war, whether Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have happened.

Episode 3 attempts to deal with how Japanese people were treated by America during the war, although the above atrocities are not talked about. Was this episode on relocation camps to abate bad feeling from Japan or to encourage fellow Americans to lose their old prejudices? It ends with the shocking line: ‘That’s why pencils have erasers’ regarding the mistakes made by America to Japan. I would be interested to know how that episode was received by Japanese viewers, as it can come across as clumsy and even propagandist; but the storyline seems at least like an attempt to deal with issues. These essays peter out shortly after.

The Nazis were appropriate adversaries with far more potential than those of the seasons set in the 1970s. Sometimes these new villains have special powers – the Japanese psychokinetic, the boy with psychic gifts – but these are appropriated by military intelligence. Villains rarely have much of a reason for being evil now. The overlooked country’s royalty trying to use the olympics to win recognition was an interesting idea – but it got lost in camp evil laughs and silent massaging twins. The writer of the Outer Space episodes with Andros returns – but this feature length episode was far poorer than the one in the first season. The aliens are now after minds, not moral judgments; and apart from a swipe at all bureaucracy, there’s little food for thought this time.

The laughs are less; since the comic books titles go, there’s no more invisible planes or voice mimicry; and only the yogic travel into outer space amused me.

It felt by the end that I was watching a different show, far different from the one I had found so inspiring and surprisingly thoughtful as well as entertaining.

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Get us out from under, Wonder Woman

When I switched my viewing and research from the British Royals to Wonder Woman, I was expecting a complete change. But Wonder Woman is also a Princess Diana, and I’ve found quite a few parallels, as I’ll explain in a future post…

The Wonder Woman Lynda Carter TV show might have cult status, but it isn’t something most people would expect to quote from literature and philosophy, or discourse on ethics and society, or teach us how to live.

Yet it does all those.

In season 1 (on which this is based), there are quotes from Socrates in ancient Greek; the behavioural psychologist, Pavlov; Dr Johnson on patriotism; economics, and scientific equations. It makes witty social critiques of bureaucracy whilst trying to address international relations. But most of all, it is a vehicle for feminism.

Wonder Woman was a war baby, created in 1941 by a controversial psychologist. William Moulton Marston (pen named Charles Moulton) wanted to right the gender balance amongst superheroes. He believed that women are the future and are natural leaders. He believed – like proponents of single sex schooling – that women thrive when away from the influence of men, and are capable of equal or better physical and mental feats. He set his heroine as being part of a Greco-Roman myth, the mighty all female race, the Amazons, living in highly civilised peace. As he wrote, women’s roles and perceptions were altering, paving the way for feminism.

By 1975 when the TV pilot was aired, feminism had happened and was on its second wave. Theologian Mary Daly had publicly left the Catholic church because of its oppressive patriarchy to live on an all women island, and allegedly communicated with men only through an interpreter. The TV show seeks to sympathise with the sentiment but to step back from that extreme and show both men and women as good and bad, capable of living together harmoniously.

The slave-like bullet proof bracelets that Wonder Woman wears were created by Moulton to remind that if women let them, they are in servitude to men. The bracelets’ secret substance gave rise to the episode title The Feminum Mystique, refracting the famous Betty Friedan text. Hindus too have seen a feminine mystique, a force called Shakti. For Moulton, this is symbolised in Wonder Woman’s lasso which compels its captive to tell the truth. Much is made of the connection between this device and that Moulton partly invented the lie detector test, but this immoral and inaccurate contraption actually does an inverse task: it spots lies, not finds out truth. Moulton claims that all women have this power to disarm and bring out honesty through charm.

It seems, like Indian women, that there is a dichotomy and contradiction between the venerable female ultimate force and a sexualised submissive domesticity. Moulton said that women’s qualities are wrongly seen as weak, but he sees their attributes as including meekness and submission. In the 1970s TV series, women’s qualities are cited as strength and compassion. Wonder Woman is the first superhero to fight with love, not for just truth and justice. The theme tune lyrics reflect this, but also the ambivalence of the show: Wonder Woman fights for democracy, love and honesty; the world is ready for her peace and women’s lib message. But she does it in satin tights. She’s conventionally attractive and slim – beauty queen Lynda Carter dieted for the role. She wears very little, despite the dress conventions and climate of her adopted home. Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, managed to scale a ladder in heels and a floaty dress in Rear Window, but Princess Diana of the Amazons must swap her native diaphanous groin skimming dress for a cross between a circus costume and a gym suit to assume her role in the ultimate example of democracy.

But as both lead actress and male commentators in the Season 1 DVD extras say, actually Wonder Woman in the TV show doesn’t feel titillating or objectified. All superheroes have outlandish, skin tight and sometimes revealing costumes – the Hulk, Hawkman and He Man all basically just wear underpants. Lynda Carter’s tights are a step up from having the bare legs of the comic book. Her outfit becomes simply a uniform; and although beautiful, she is never ogled over by the men around her, but accepted as their equal, if not superior. There’s a purity around her that commands awe and adulation, but not objectification.

Lynda Carter often says that it’s sad that Wonder Woman never, like her, has love or children; and that therefore most of us have more than the Amazonian Ambassador. But but I like that an ultimate heroine is complete without these. It makes Wonder Woman an even better feminist icon because it says that reproduction and marriage are not defining aspects of womanhood – indeed, personhood. It is undermining for single non parents to believe they are lesser and missing something; but it is also unhealthy for anyone to think that we need these others to be whole, or that we are defined by our relationships. And Wonder Woman does find love, on many levels: each episode, she finds a new friend, animal and human, of all ages – and is clearly close to her mother and sister. (You’ll never see Shadowlands in the same light after seeing Debra Winger’s debut here!) Carter’s insistence on repeating this idea regarding motherhood and romance is disappointing, and if it is meant how it is taken here, undermines what she brings to the role.

I at first felt the weekly girl fights were also part of degrading Wonder Woman to arousing entertainment. That might be a by-product, but as the first season’s extras imply, it’s more about giving other women key active parts that show their importance in the story. It helps the gender portrayal balance of having female villains as well as a protagonist; and a show down fight between these is normal in the action genre. Often, Wonder Woman is able to reach out to wayward sisters, particularly in Episode 3 of season 1. An unappreciated, endangered Nazi leader is recruited for the Allied forces, ending in a touching moment of bonding.

Wonder Woman also ribs beauty contests (ironically played by a Miss America) and the shallowness that makes Major Steve Trevor unable to see beyond another kind of uniform past the disguise of his bespectacled efficient secretary, Yeoman Diana Prince. Unlike Clark Kent, Diana does not act particularly different to her vigilante counterpart, so the ruse of her secret identity is more about playing to expectations and prejudices.

There’s explicit statements on gender, just war causes, and animal rights. As outsider, Wonder Woman can comment as so many sci-fis do on the fallacies of Earth people. Passionately pro-American, she still opens her adopted country to critique. She delivers a Nazi war criminal alive for a fair trial, unlike recent events in the Middle East.

The show’s makers claim their groundbreaking series opened the way for other strong women roles in television, and that fans wrote in to tell how Wonder Woman had inspired them to try new careers that they thought impossible (though admittedly these were often government and military related).

The Wonder Woman television series  remains brilliantly entertaining, and its old special effects make it all the funnier – I especially love that invisible plane. It – and she – have rightly become an icon for many, regardless of sexuality, gender or country. My hope is that in all the fun, the serious messages and discourses are not lost on viewers, and like the lyrics, it will change our minds and change the world.

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