Maybe James Cameron should stick to deep sea diving and making Avatar movie sequels that literally nobody asked for.
The legendary director took aim at Wonder Woman, one of the most critically acclaimed and popular films of the summer, and just sort of rubbed his male opinions all over it.
Wonder Woman‘s director, Patty Jenkins, clapped back with her own statement.
In an interview with The Guardian, James Cameron dismisses Wonder Woman as a giant step backwards for women and for Hollywood.
He’s wrong, but here’s what he says:
“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.”
It’s not clear how she was objectified. Her hair was nice and she looked gorgeous, but the only time that we can think of when Gal Gadot’s character’s appearance was a focus and she wasn’t in battle was maybe when she wore that stunning blue dress.
And then the focus shifted to the sword that she had concealed along her spine.
Naturally, James Cameron pivots to discussing and praising his own work.
“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, Linda Hamilton — who wasn’t only James Cameron’s star but also, for a time, his wife — doesn’t exactly have fond memories of their marriage and she hasn’t been shy about it, either.
So … that’s awkward to bring up. We’ll explain why he’s wrong in a moment.
But we’ll say that he’s absolutely right — half of the audience is female, so women should be catered to in films just as much as men are.
Like, we said, he’s wrong.
Wonder Woman herself, Diana of Themyscira, is conventionally attractive — which has always been part of her character.
There are absolutely greasy, nuts-and-bolts female superheroes.
The point isn’t that everybody needs to be an Imperator Furiosa or a Sarah Conner.
Those are great, but there are multiple ways to be a woman and therefore multiple ways to be a leading woman in an action movie.
Wonder Woman would always be a story about a strikingly beautiful woman who remains so even in the thick of battle.
(Just as Superman remains intensely handsome even when he’s in the middle of a knock-down, drag-out fight with the likes of Darkseid or whomever)
When they make a Hawkgirl movie, that’s the place to have a woman who gets dirty and gritty.
Hawkgirl is an alien (or sometimes a reincarnated one … ugh, why are comics like this), not a demigod. She hangs out in Space Taverns and gets into bar fights for fun.
James Cameron is falling into that trap of thinking that there’s only one progressive vision for females on screen, and that won’t serve him well.
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who’s won acclaim for making the most successful superhero origin movie of all time, clapped back at James Cameron over Twitter:
“James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman.”
Most of the women who saw Wonder Woman loved it.
(One of my viewing companions the first time that I saw it cried through at least a third of it. Like, tears of happiness)
“Strong women are great. His praise of my film Monster, and our portrayal of a strong yet damaged woman was so appreciated. But if women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far have we.”
“I believe women can and should be EVERYTHING just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman. And the massive female audience who made the film a hit it is, can surely choose to judge their own icons of progress.”
Like we said, there are plenty of ways to be a woman and plenty of ways to be a hero.
The thing is that James Cameron should know that.
He was one of the creators of the massively underrated TV series, Dark Angel, where Jessica Alba was very capable of kicking butt and looking gorgeous in a show that was not subtle about its feminist ideals.
Don’t get us wrong — Dark Angel had a couple of problems. None of them had to do with the protagonist being attractive.
But it is disappointing to see James Cameron speaking over so many women to give his opinion.
Men can absolutely be feminists, just as white people can oppose racism, but women and people of color (respectively) shouldn’t have their voices drowned out by “allies.”
Anyway, Wonder Woman was great.