I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the world changed for me recently.
In a way, it also stayed the same, although I wish it hadn’t.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw Wonder Woman for the first time. Yes, I know, I’m horribly behind on keeping up with movies and television.
Up until then, I had studiously avoided reviews, conversations about the movie, potential spoilers, the works. I went into the theater, basically, knowing that the movie was “Good”, but you know how that can sometimes turn out.
The movie blew me away. It was so much more than an origin story. DC had gotten it right. The writing was tight, the movie was entertaining, and there were moments that had a significant emotional impact.
Without giving anything away, there was a scene out in “No Man’s land”. If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
In this scene, Diana makes a choice. She chooses to help the people caught up in the conflict now, rather than continuing to move toward their longer term goal of stopping the war.
Diana does this against the advice of her companions and, it is in this moment that she truly comes into her power as Wonder Woman.
As action scenes go, it was pretty bad-ass.
If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think that there wasn’t anything “New” in that scene. You’ve seen it a hundred times: The protagonist displays their competence by wading through a horde of foot soldiers. These scenes are usually pretty entertaining. There’s a lot of flash and you really get to see the protagonist strutting their stuff, before you reach the part of the movie where stuff starts to go to hell.
But it had never been a woman before.
It had never been a confident, competent woman with agency taking it upon herself to walk straight into danger and do what’s right.
The scene moved me so profoundly, that I had to wipe away tears so that I could watch it clearly. I’m feeling that same sense of awe, those same emotions, blunted perhaps, but there, even as I type this.
At the time, I couldn’t articulate why that scene had the impact that it did. It took a couple of weeks of processing for me to put my finger on why it had such an impact on me.
In the end, it came down to that it made me happy.
It made me happy that it was a woman.
That, finally, it was a woman.
It made me glad that my daughter could see herself represented on the screen and it made me glad to know that I can look forward to seeing other stories driven by competent, confident women, because, you know…
It’s about, damned time.
Speaking of time…
In a one-two punch of awesome, that weekend the BBC announced the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.
I remember watching the reveal video and having a similar reaction.
I couldn’t believe it.
Often, my daughter is quicker to get caught up on things like this than I am. So, when I asked her if she’d seen who the next Doctor was, she said she didn’t know.
I stopped her in her tracks and showed her the video.
It blew her mind (her words, not mine).
I’ve been a fan of the show for nearly 30 years and I’d been ready for a woman to be cast in the role since Tom Baker suggested it back at the end of his run as the Doctor.
I keep watching the video and, every time, I have an emotional reaction, blunted, perhaps because I’ve watched it so many times, but there.
It makes me happy. Happy for the show. Happy for the potential opened up by this casting.
Happy for everyone that identifies with this character who, maybe more than any other, makes being smart and clever, something cool.
Happy that it’s a woman.
That, finally, it’s a woman.
So, that weekend, the world changed. It opened up. It got bigger, and the potential for great stories expanded with it to, potentially, include all people.
Think about that for a moment.
Consider all of the stories that hadn’t been told, that weren’t told, because protagonists in television and film had been limited to a narrow demographic – straight white guys.
Think of all the stories out there that could be driven by women, people of color, and the entire spectrum of the LGBTQI+ community. There are so many stories, so much potential.
This should be a wonderful and exciting time for genre fans.
And it is…mostly.
This brings us to the part of the world that hasn’t changed…and I wish it would.
The reaction to the release of Wonder Woman, and the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor was, on the whole, a positive one.
But there were some deep pockets of vitriol that spilled onto my social media feeds like an overturned garbage truck – the majority of them posted by men (big surprise there, right?).
Men claiming that the show had been ruined, despite that the 13th Doctor isn’t scheduled to appear until after the Christmas special. That, aside from the reveal video, they haven’t seen one, damned frame of Jodie in the role.
Men claiming that the Doctor is a “Man’s” role, despite there being nothing in the show (ever) that claimed that the Doctor HAD to be male.
Men claiming that if this is true, then they won’t watch the show ever again.
Good, fucking riddance.
You didn’t understand the show anyway.
That way of thinking, that kind of exclusivity, needs to go away and sooner would be much better than later.
So, to those men out there that are whining, or outraged, or somehow personally offended by the rise of female protagonists in genre film/television in general, and by the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor, in particular, I say this:
Grow the fuck up.
It might come as a surprise to you, but this show – the show you’re claiming somehow, as your own, personal, property and how dare the show runners cast a female in a “Man’s” role – is ALL ABOUT INCLUSIVITY.
You’ve been blinded by your own, stupid, sexist, or racist, or homophobic attitudes and what you fail to realize is that any of the previous Doctors (all of them played by men) would kick you out of the TARDIS for those same attitudes, and warn against letting the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
On the other side of the coin, oddly, there were women that were bothered by this casting choice as well.
Maybe not so oddly, there was, again, protest that the role of the Doctor was a “Man’s” role, which we know is crap.
More prevalent was the “What about the Boys?” argument which states that boys NEED the Doctor to be male so they can have a proper role-model.
To this question, I only have a few things to say:
Jean Luc Picard
To quote Captain America from The Avengers – you remember that movie: Superhero team, 5 guys, 1 woman – “I could do this all day.”
Suffice it to say that boys aren’t even in the same zip code where a dearth of role models would live. I don’t think they are in the same city…or the same state.
Let’s talk about girls for a second.
All very recent. You’ve got to live through a whole bunch of nothing to get here from:
Korra – no, wait, there was a “problem” with her, wasn’t there? Back farther…
How about The Powerpuff Girls?
There’s your dearth of role models.
You know the last widely distributed genre action figure targeted at girls before Wonder Woman?
A psychotic supervillan with a penchant for beating people to death with a baseball bat.
That’s who we want our daughters to look up to?
No thank you.
So your argument that boys will be losing a role model doesn’t wash. They’ve got plenty.
And, by the way, who the hell says that a woman can’t be a positive role model for boys anyway? Why can’t Wonder Woman or a female Doctor be someone that a boy can look up to?
There is no, intelligent reason why a woman can’t be a role model for boys. A positive role model is a positive role model.
So what is your real reason for not liking a woman being cast in this role?
If you don’t like the BBC’s casting choices because you don’t like the actress. That’s fine.
If you think the role has been mis-cast, that’s fine too. Although I would encourage you to give her a shot. Heath Ledger wouldn’t have been my first choice to cast as the Joker, but damned, if he didn’t knock it out of the freaking park.
If you don’t like Jodie Whittaker in the part because she’s a woman…If you don’t like Wonder Woman, or any movie, really, because of the sex of the protagonist, or because of the color of their skin, or their sexual orientation, or gender identity…
You’re missing something crucial.
And if you haven’t figured out what that something is by now…
There’s the door. Don’t let it hit you on the way out.
Time: 11:00 Am -ish
Music: Lacuna Coil – You Create