Friday, June 09, 2017


As a father of two little Jewish girls, I was very eager to share my impression of the Wonder Woman film with them. Below is a transcript of that conversation with Elenaor, age 4, and EDIE, age 2.

ME: Hey, girls.
ELEANOR: Hello, Father!
EDIE: Dadddeeeeee!

ME: I have just returned from seeing the Wonder Woman movie.
ELEANOR: Cool, what’s a movie? Just kidding. It’s a two hour boring thing.
EDIE: Daddeeeeee!

ME: You know what a movie is. Anyway, it’s taken seventy-five years for this film to be made and let me tell was worth the wait.
ELEANOR: It took seventy-five years for them to make a movie about the most popular female superhero of all tiME? What kind of world did my mother spawn me unto?
EDIE: Spawwwwwwn! [Giggles]

ME: Well, it’s a valid question. And I do think that there are many implications for why it hasn’t been made until now. But it’s the typical blend of misogyny, male hierarchy, sexism, an unwillingness by the fanboy community to embrace an empowered female character, one that isn’t relegated to being a piece of meat on display or fantasy fodder for their, ahem, “alone time.”
ELEANOR: Good G-d, father! I’m only four years old!
ME: Understood. Sorry.
EDIE: Wheeeeeeee!

ME: Anyway, I’m here to tell you that it there were certain problems with it. But they were minor nuances here and there, like a cheesy line of dialogue or a lack of…
ELEANOR [interrupts]: Hold on a second. It’s 2017, so I’m hoping they took the opportunity to make Wonder Woman a woman of color.
ME: Sorry…?
ELEANOR: Well, she’s an Amazonian. And weren’t they Greek? Which means they could have been anything other than white?
EDIE: Elmo!

ME: You know that the Amazon is mythology so they’re not real which means there aren’t any real Amazonians. You can’t say what they were, because they actually didn’t exist. Like, according to legend, they cut off one breast so they could be better archers. Should we seek accuracy in that regard as well?
ELEANOR: Interesting. Go on, father. Also, gross regarding that breast thing.

ME: In Wonder Woman’s seventy-five years as a fictional character, she has always been white. It’s true that she had a black half-sister named Nubia, but Diana, as she’s known amongst her people was always white. And yes, it’s true that in one of the Multiverses, Nubia is their world’s Wonder Woman. But that’s not considered our timeline.
ELEANOR: Are you saying that there’s more than one timeline? Is there more than one Eleanor? Is there an army of Elenaors out there all refusing to go to the bathroom even after they’ve been asked to?!?

ME: Let me ask you something. Why are you asking about that person of color consideration now and not when they cast the third white Spider-Man for a movie out this summer, when in the comic books, right now, there is an iteration of Spider-Man that is a Latino teenager? Could’ve been a huge opportunity there.
EDIE: Ondele!

ME: By the way, I'd like to add on a side note--and this is neither here nor there, but there is a precedent for a person of color-led comic book/super film. In fact, there have been five. Steel, Catwoman, Hancock, Blade and Spawn. While it's true that this number is disproportionate when compared to those that have featured white leads, and while at least four of those were terrible, I'd like us to take a step back and appreciate Wonder Woman for what it is as opposed to asking it to be so much more. It's a success. A massive success. And it's indicative of more successes to come. Let's enjoy it.
ELEANOR: Wait a second. You saw Catwoman?
EDIE: Poop.

ME: But you want to know what I’m most excited about?
ELEANOR: Sure. But as a four-year-old, my attention span is limited. So let’s get to the thing you’re excited about so I can go back to tantruming over everything and anything.
ME: Will do. I’m most excited about the fact that the woman portraying Diana is not only Jewish, but she’s Israeli.
ELEANOR: But surely her Jewish identity is causing a stir. After all, being Jewish is controversial.
EDIE: [fart sound]

ME: Did you know the religion of any other actor portraying a superhero?
ELEANOR: I’m pretty sure Robert Downey, Jr. worships himself.
ME: Good one.
ELEANOR: Thanks.
ME: Paul Rudd is Jewish. And he was Ant-Man. I heard zero controversy there.
ELEANOR: You’re saying this is a woman’s thing?
ME: Not necessarily a woman thing, but an Israeli thing. After all, Wonder Woman is currently banned in Lebanon, and there’s talk of it being banned in Tunisia. And you know the Tunisian market makes or breaks a film.
EDIE: TOOOOO-NEEEEEEEE-shhahhhhhhhahahahahahahahahhaahhah!

ME: See, here’s the thing. We should be so proud of Gal right now. So, so proud. It’s a significant moment on all fronts. A Wonder Woman film! Let’s all be excited. Let’s see it for what it is. Why is there a need to see it as so much more?
ELEANOR: I heard a rumor though that she lit Shabbat candles and posted a picture of it on Instagram.
ME: Uh-huh.
ELEANOR: Shabbat is controversial. I also heard she served in the IDF.
ME: Uh-huh. I see where this is going. The Palestinian struggle.
ELEANOR: Yes, the Palestinian Struggle.
ME: Are most four-year-olds this informed?
ELEANOR: The Internet. Four years olds are woke.
ME: This isn’t a movie about Israel. Nor is it a movie about her love of Israel, both of which she is 100% entitled to. Tell me, have you seen The Force Awakens?
ELEANOR: I’ve seen one movie in my life and it was Frozen.
ME: Adam Driver was in the US Military.
ELEANOR: Not the same thing, dude.
ME: Don’t call me “dude.”
ELEANOR: ‘kay….bro.
ME: My point is that Adam Driver was in the US Army but no one knows that because it’s not a part of his identity. Why aren’t pacifists saying that they’re banning the new Star Wars trilogy? Why won’t countries currently at war with America still showing the new installments? I know it’s not the same exact analogy, but it makes me so uncomfortable that Gal’s nationality so integral to the consideration of seeing a movie or not which would otherwise be a no brainer. There feels something more substantive there behind that consideration. To me, it feels almost subtly anti-Zionist which is to a degree anti-Semitic.
ELEANOR: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.
EDIE: Whoa.
ELEANOR: You just pulled out the anti-Semitic stamp. You don’t get to drop that thing all willy-nilly.

ME: I can’t help but consider that now is a time in which the universe should be celebrating together. All the snowflakes. All the cucks. All of us holding hands in one big kumbaya moment. But instead the liberal movement yet again has to impose all of its hang-ups, predilections and agendas on something completely undeserving of that treatment. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we stunt the progressive movement by invalidating any and all moments of progress with navel gazing myopia.
ELEANOR: Not sure what that meant.
ME: Which part?
ELEANOR: All of it.
ME: When we actively look to get enraged, we will always find something rage-worthy. Granted, there’s what to get enraged over if, again, you seek it.
ELEANOR: I’m just saying that there’s a lot of baggage, and this little unicorn backpack I’ve got here won’t fit any of it.
EDIE: [Sigh]
ME: Here's another thing. Remember I said how happy I was that there are a number of projects on the horizon that feature heroes who identify as people of color and take great pride in it. As they should.
ELEANOR: Yup. That was like two seconds ago.
ME: There has never been a super hero movie ever in which one of the main characters proudly identifies as a Jew. Not a one. And that scene in the Fantastic Four in which Ben Grimm walks past a Menorah doesn't count. And this is what I here to tell you. That deep within my heart, I don't know if such a thing could ever exist for us in the same way a Latino or a Black or a female or a Muslim superhero can and has found an audience to champion behind it. I don't know whether a prominent Jewish superhero would find the same level of support. I'm not saying that he or she wouldn't. But I just don't know....
ELEANOR: The way this conversation is going, right now, I'm deciding between Buddhism or atheism.

ME: I liked the movie a lot. It moved me. I’m happy it exists. I am saddened that I have to simultaneously be defensive of it even though--and let’s not kid ourselves--that voice of dissent is a small minority. But nevertheless, it’s like inviting all these guests to your wedding and that one guy in the back yelling “DON’T MARRY HIM!” It’s one voice, but it ruins the vibe.
ELEANOR: Are you and mom not married? Am I illegitimate?
ME: ELEANOR, I wish you were older. I wish you were both older, so I can take you to this movie and you can see a strong, beautiful, confident, formidable Jewish woman who is finally not Scarlett Johansson. A Middle Eastern, Semitic brunette who speaks with an accent. Who posts pictures of herself lighting Shabbat candles. Who embraces her identity despite the naysayer, the haters who criticized her breast size, the trolls who thought she had a gut, the critics who can’t see the movie for what it is and the blatant anti-Zionists who are standing side-by-side with Lebanon and Tunisia for reasons more than political.
ELEANOR: There will always be the sequel, dad.
ME: Yup, there’s always the sequel.
EDIE [to audience]: Help. My dad is a dork.