Oh I’m so disappointed I just want to cry. What’s a feminist superhero fan suppose to do with that??? Like a kid, I climbed into bed to watch the new Wonder Woman, filled with anticipation, and within minutes was like, What the fuck? (I said “what the fuck” when I was a kid. I learned it from my 80-year-old aunt so I was allowed.) It’s like I opened a present on Christmas morning only to find a doll instead of a Lego set. Not that Gal is a doll in any way. She’s fantastic. No, so maybe it’s like getting a Learn How To Read book rather than Choose Your Own Adventure that respects your intelligence level? I dunno. I’m at a loss here. Can you tell this film has scrambled my brain? I’m actually dumber than when I sat down to watch it.
I am not going to critique specific elements, since there’s plenty of that out there right now, and I don’t want to spoil it in anyway because I want everyone to rent or buy it. Why? Because I believe in paying women to make superhero movies even if they suck. Just pay for it, turn it on, and then turn off the volume and read a book or something. I don’t care. Just give Gal and Patty and the gang enough dough so they can try again and make a better one next time. Come on, I mean did Jar-Jar keep us all from watching Attack of the Clones? Of course not. Well, I mean almost. But no. In the end, we kept hope alive.
And there are some good bits of course. As my husband said about one section, “That was a really good 12-minute romcom.” Eye roll. He didn’t even pause the movie while he went to get a snack.
What is striking me today is that I’m actually glad I am able/willing/determined to sit down and write something negative about a movie with my heroine, my childhood obsession, someone I’ve even played in a satirical sketch on stage.
THIS IS A GOOD THING.
A girlfriend and I saw both Wonder Woman and Black Panther and we were like, “Look everyone, can we just not critique these two firsts? Can we just give them a complete pass on the little stuff and be like, I fucking LOVED it, let’s move on.”
But now that we are on WW#2, I actually think it’s a huge step for feminism to be able to say, “Guys you totally didn’t nail it this time, but keep going, let’s see what you got next.” Because it means women filmmakers and female superheroes are in the game. Yes! Just criticize like you would any dude’s movie. Finally! Excellent! I’ll take a bad movie just to prove times have changed!
It’s like when I noticed people criticizing Kamala for her legislation rather than if she smiled enough. Okay, the woman is a smile maniac, so that’s not a good example, but you know what I mean. (Also, I love the Chucks, Vice President. I do. I will happily objectify you and your shoes with enthusiasm.)
So, if you’ll indulge me, I’m hoping enough time has passed and I can just self-indulgently criticize one aspect of Black Panther that from a feminist and writer perspective has driven me crazy. I am hoping that this will be understood as an act of respect, that now that things have moved along a bit, I can critique this one thing: The king gets determined by who can punch the shit out of the other the best?!?! What?!?!
Okay seriously, I was so disappointed in this one thing. It’s the WORLD’S MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED SOCIETY!!! And the entire country of Wakanda all agree that the king should be the one who’s the strongest and toughest, but not the smartest?? I just was like, “Who missed this in the writer’s room?? Did the women all go pee while this was happening??” Because, right? I’m thinking this was not a woman who came up with this idea. But that is for a longer piece. This is just a two-paragraph digression. Black Panther is one of my favorite movies ever and yes I overlooked this point. Okay, no wait. I didn’t. Clearly I did not overlook this point. (Palm face, breathe, sigh, move on.)
As a writer and comedian and actress I know that an audience’s reaction and journalistic criticism can shape our future work. I once wrote and thanked a critic for pointing something out that we’d done in a show that was somewhat accidentally anti-male. We hadn’t realized it and I appreciated it. He told me that was the first letter he’d ever gotten thanking him in his 20+ years as a reviewer. Which didn’t surprise me, but seemed like something people should do more, like it’s a wasted opportunity. As far as shithead comments on Youtube (and there are many) I never write back, and these days I don’t even read them. I mean, I’m not a masochist. I want constructive criticism for my work. And for the work of those I admire.
So Patty, you’re welcome. I’m sure this is going to be a rough month for you. But give us #3. (I hear it was greenlit yesterday!!) Set it today with all the issues of women in 2021, perhaps. Get your finger back on the pulse. I look forward to all the hearty, respectful, criticism. Especially the negative ones. That will let you know we’re finally in the game.