James Cameron might have created some strong female characters, but that doesn’t make him the authority on them.
In case you missed the interview that set the internet on fire, the Aliens & Terminator director (among other films of course) was speaking with The Guardian about Terminator 2 which is coming back to theaters soon converted into 3D. Inevitably the conversation turned to Linda Hamilton’s strong and great portrayal of Sarah Conner which then turned into a swipe at this summer’s big hit Wonder Woman.
“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!“
First of all, Hollywood isn’t patting themselves on the back. Not even close to what is happening. In fact not even Warner Bros. seems to be patting themselves on the back or even learning from what just happened this summer.
The fact that Warner Bros. didn’t instantly (and still hasn’t officially) sign up Patty Jenkins to a sequel after the the massive success of Wonder Woman, as the most expensive female led & directed film that is still breaking records, is insanity. Pen should have been hitting paper pretty much right away, and likely would have if she had been a male director.
While Warner Bros. did come out during San Diego Comic Con to announce a Wonder Woman sequel for 2019, the fact that in the recent week they have been reportedly working to fast track multiple films focused on the deranged Joker and the toxic and abusive relationship of Harley Quinn and Joker proves that the studio hasn’t really learned anything from Wonder Woman’s success, other than that they started using her more for marketing of the upcoming Justice League.
Indulging in some self-congraulatory back patting of his own, Cameron pulled out one of the oldest tricks in the book during those above statements: pitting women against one another. Essentially his above argument is that Wonder Woman is too beautiful and strong and powerful and a non-powered woman with issues who is strong is more a hero than the other. Basically, the female hero he created is good but the one that a female director used to show that there can be different types of female heroes is wrong.
Wonder Woman being beautiful and it being mentioned is not “objectifying” her. Has the character been objectified in her over 75 years of existence? Of course she has, just like all other female characters, but she stands above many of them because Wonder Woman has also been seen as an icon as a character for a long time. Being beautiful or wearing makeup or looking good does not take away from being strong and a hero and a role model.
Just because of filmmaker choices and story choices that have female characters like Ripley or Sarah Connor getting dirty, beat-up and bloody doesn’t make them inherently stronger or more a hero to be looked up to than Wonder Woman.
Also these same guys like Cameron don’t seem to have an issue with the male heroes all being beefy guys with perfect hair and teeth always looking all sweaty and rippling and put together even in the thick of battle. I don’t see them arguing that Chris Pratt/Starlord was being objectified in his seemingly mandatory shirtless scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy and it’s recent sequel or that Superman is less of a hero cause his little spit curl always stays in place even when he’s beating up Zod or another villain.
Of course there are many online, possibly even reading this article right now, that are like “But he’s just saying he likes one type of hero over the other. It would be the same thing as him saying he prefers Batman over Superman because one is all-powerful and the other is just a guy in a suit.”
First off, thanks for reading this article if you are one of the people making that argument. Second of all, your argument is ridiculous.
Yes one can say they don’t like one type of hero over another, but it’s far different for male heroes than it is for female heroes. There are millions upon millions of male heroes at this point, of every shape and size. One can say they don’t like Superman but like James Bond instead or the types that Arnold & Stallone play or Luke Skywalker or whoever else you want to pull from the giant list of male heroes.
Women on the other hand, even in 2017, do not have anywhere near as long a list of female heroes. So when people start doing that bullshit of pitting women against one another, instead of just celebrating all women, it hurts far more.
In fact I’m not even the best person to be talking about this stuff. While I realize what is going on I can never fully talk about how these sorts of things affect women, because I’m not a woman. I cannot and will not ever go through a lot of the things that women have to deal with on a daily basis through their lives, including watching their female heroes getting pulled apart and being told they are wrong for liking a certain type of hero.
Guess what folks, there is room for every type of hero. Many were trying to pit Charlize Theron’s Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde against Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman this summer, a “which is the better hero” type of thing, and they need to stop. Both are completely differnet women in different worlds with different personalities and goals and everything.
In the same way that Spider-Man and James Bond can both exist and both be heroes that different men look up to, the same goes for Lorraine and Wonder Woman and Ripley and Sarah Connor and all the rest of the female heroes that have risen over time in our entertainment world.
Cameron’s choice of how he crafted his female characters is not the only way to do it, and him trying to come off like only a man like himself knows what a female hero should be is not only utterly incorrect it’s disgusting. It’s the attitude that some men that call themselves feminists have where they believe because they contribute to helping the cause of women that somehow they are now experts and women should revere them for it. Just reading his interview with The Guardian has my skin crawling and made me feel sick, I cannot imagine how women reading it felt.
All this being said, there is one person that sums up this whole Cameron issue perfect. That is Patty Jenkins herself, who took to Twitter to put Cameron in his place.
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) August 25, 2017