My love for Wonder Woman has more to do with Lynda Carter than anything else. And last night, in the stellar documentary, Wonder Women!, Carter said that when she got the role, people warned her women would hate her as Wonder Woman. “Why?” she wondered. And then she decided to insure women wouldn’t hate her and she deliberately created a character that behaved toward women with compassion. Even the villains.
She subverted the drama by being powerful. Right? That’s what she’s saying. And one of the reasons she was so perfectly cast is that she is powerful. She has aged in that amazing way where you can’t look away. It’s not just that she’s gorgeous, but that she’s fucking powerful. Like Anne Bancroft. I never could look away from her. She’s commanding.
One of the essential things about heroines, one of the things so often missing in stories with female protagonists is the role of the general. Is she moving the story or is the story happening to her? Is she responding to the action or is she directing it?
I have heard parents lament the violence of Hunger Games, and I marvel at their response. We are a country at war, and we have been at war for a decade now. Are you under the impression that children haven’t noticed? At the center of Hunger Games, like Harry Potter, is a humanist argument about what is acceptable in wartime. It’s a story about mercy. It’s a story about how to fight without losing your humanity.
If your adversary is lawless, what are you? What are you?
Are you responding or directing? One of the many things that Buffy has so right is that she’s a general. And she gets to be wrong and right and fail and succeed. The way we do. The way we all do. The time for our stories has never been so pressing. We need them. We need to write them. We need to tell them. The whole of humanity, not just the men of steel.
And speaking of stories, tune in tomorrow with Rebecca Swartz for a look inside The Next Big Thing.