DC’s female-led superhero film ‘Wonder Woman‘ is a huge bloody success by any standards. It’s smashed box office records, restored faith in DC’s ability to make superhero movies that aren’t shithouse, and really, really upset a few dudes who weren’t able to go to one screening in the entire world.
And yet, a widely-panned review published on Vulture devoted most of its 1000 words to charting the fuckability of Gal Gadot‘s Diana.
Film critic David Edelstein describes Gadot’s portrayal as “the perfect blend of superbabe-in-the-woods innocence and mouthiness” who “isn’t even photographed to elicit slobbers”. (He attributes this to the film having a female director in Patty Jenkins.) When Diana arrives in WWI-era London, he notes that she’s as “a sort of mermaid with no idea how to dress or talk to male authority figures”. He writes earnestly that “she looks fabulous in her suffragette outfit with little specs, but it’s not until she strips down to her superheroine bodice and shorts, pulls out her sword, and leaps into the fray, that she comes into her own.”
As you can imagine, his review did not go down well with just about anyone.
— Donna Dickens (@MildlyAmused) June 2, 2017
“perfect blend of superbabe-in-the-woods innocence and mouthiness.”
— Geek Girl Diva (@geekgirldiva) June 2, 2017
— Jorge I. Castillo (@jicastillo) June 2, 2017
Edelstein has now responded to his critique being critiqued in a lengthy Facebook post, arguing that he “did not believe that describing the appearance of the leading actress would be off limits” and that the real issue with his review is that “some people can’t read”.
His justification for certain pilloried lines are quite incredible. The coming into her own via booty shorts and a sword bit? “This is meant to evoke the characterisation of the actress and the ecstasy she evinces when free of those clothes and in battle. It is not sexist in the fucking least.” Sure.
Anyway, pro-tip: if you have to defend your writing line-by-line against waves upon waves of criticism, either the core themes are worthy of said criticism or the writing is. In this case, both.
You can read his full defence (via Tumblr) below.
It’s weird to be pilloried for writing a sexist Wonder Woman review. Weird and infuriating. I did not believe that describing the appearance of the leading actress would be off limits. There is no prurience. Early on, I say she has a combination of “super- babe-in-the-woods innocence and mouthiness.” This is obviously a play on “babe in the woods” and she is literally “super.” They are contrasting characteristics, hence the sentence.
The original comic has S&M overtones, and that has been written about elsewhere at great length. I say that fans of that particular viewpoint might be disappointed that the female director does not photograph Gal Gadot “to elicit slobbers.” This is a GOOD thing.
I mention that despite being awkward in “real” civilised clothes she looks “fabulous in her suffragette outfit with little specs.” The suffragette outfit covers every inch of her body from her hat to her shoes. It’s a triumph of costuming, not of her physique.
There I’m attacked for talking about her super heroine bodice. Here is the context: “She looks fabulous in her suffragette outfit with little specs, but it’s not until she strips down to her superheroine bodice and shorts, pulls out her sword, and leaps into the fray that she comes into her own. More focused on world peace than bombs and bullets, she’s on an ecstatic plane of her own.”
This is meant to evoke the characterisation of the actress and the ecstasy she evinces when free of those clothes and in battle. It is not sexist in the fucking least.
Finally, I do generalise favourably (in a parenthetical) about Israeli women. I have known a few. The secular ones at least have learned to stand up against a lot of angry Jewish males (maybe THAT is sexist); they serve in the army; and they have a vibe uniquely their own. It’s amazing that a role played by the apple-cheeked Lynda Carter is now played by an Israeli model/actress. To say as much is well within bounds.
A tweeter by the name of Priscilla Page from a website I’ve never heard of says this is “how not to write about Wonder Woman.” Another blogger attacks me for saying that the female director doesn’t know how to stage action. Since I said the same thing about Seth Gordon with Baywatch last week (and have said it about Christopher Nolan and many others), I have trouble believing someone would suggest this as a sign of my misogyny.
If describing a female super heroine in garb that has been written about at great length is “how not to write a review,” I don’t know what to say. If any of my friends here wish to take me to task respectfully, I will listen. Right now I think the problem is that some people can’t read.
The problem? It’s certainly been identified, David, and that’s you’re supposed to have wank before writing.