Saturday Night Fiend: Misogyny Part II

Wonder WomanI know you think I don’t love you. I know you get tired of me sweeping in and out of your life, one day I’m here and have a schedule and the next I’m off in radio silence. Yeah, well sometimes it be’s like that.

Actually, I haven’t said anything because I haven’t had much to say. It wasn’t writer’s block—it was life’s block. In the last month or so, my life has been 2 parts Brian McKnight’s Where Do We Go From Here? and 1 part Bebe &Cece Winans’ It’s OK and while things are cool (or getting cooler), they demanded my focus. Oh yeah, in the midst of this nonsense, like a disease, I contracted a hater too. But, as much fun as it would be, I’m not gonna talk about that yet—we’ll save it for Tuesday.

But today, in the afterglow of Thanksgiving and the advent of the holiday season, I’m feeling thankful. I’m thankful for you, for hanging with me after all this time. I’m thankful for every eyeball on my words, every comment and like and Share. I’m thankful for the Swoaps (say what???) and DMFRHs and Friday Night Fiends and Stacy Case and…my hater.

Today, I want to revisit an older idea. A little bit ago, I wrote a post about misogyny, particularly in superhero movies. I lamented the lack of female heroines in the movies, highlighted Scarlett Johannsen’s portrayal of the Black Widow in The Avengers, and dogged the shit outta Warner Bros and DC for their hesitance in bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen because she was “tricky.”

Well, this week somebody called my bluff. If you haven’t heard already, not only will Diana Prince be in the next Man of Steel movie, she’s already been cast. Say whaaattt? Yep, in 2015 we’ll see some incarnation of the Amazon princess in a major motion picture and she’ll be played by Gal Gadot.

Aw, that’s aweso—wait, who?

Yeah, that’s the first thing I said: who the hell is Gal Gadot? Then I looked at the pic:


Oh, she’s one of the women who look like the other women from the Fast and Furious franchise?

But the first reaction I got was, “She doesn’t look like Wonder Woman. She’s too skinny. She’s too small.” Same reaction you heard too, right? If you checked the comments on any site anywhere that reported on her casting, all the responses where about her physical appearance. My problem was, those reactions I was hearing came out of my own house. And some of them came out of my own mouth.

Now I don’t generally debate a woman’s physicality. I watched every episode of Linda Carter as Diana Prince didn’t have an issue. I bought Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman and buff-ass Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Michele Yeoh will beat the shit out of all of us. Anne Hathaway made it happen as Catwoman. Zoe Saldana is rail thin but have you seen Colombiana? She scares me.

But when they said Wonder Woman, here’s where I went:

GINA CARANO at the Fast & Furious 6 Premiere in Los Angeles

That’s Gina Carano. She’s a UFC fighter. She’s RAW! She’s tall, beautiful, curvy, got muscles and the fearsome demeanor, and a thing going with Henry Cavill—but she can’t act to save her life. She has this movie called Haywire (you can find it on Netflix) that I’ve tried to watch twice but can’t stomach it. And that’s saying a lot: I liked the first Wolverine movie, am a fan of Out of Sight with Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney, and have watched (and loved) almost all of the Godzilla movies. I like shitty movies. I couldn’t do this one.

Here’s the thing: I bought hook, line and sinker into an overly-sexed, objectified view of a what a powerful woman must be. Because it’s Wonder Woman, does she automatically have to look like Jessica Rabbit? She’s the most iconic, most powerful woman in DC or Marvel universes and she’s relegated to wearing a bustier and hot pants—the idea is we wouldn’t buy her power, her capability, if she didn’t show cleavage.

And I’m mad at myself that I went there too.

Wonder Woman is strong, complex, beautiful and a warrior. Gal Gadot meets all the requirements for the role. She is actually an actress. Say what you want about that franchise but she’s been in movies that have grossed nearly $1B at the box office. That means she can carry the nuances of a character that has spent her life as a warrior and a princess of an island full of women and acting as an ambassador to the rest of the world. Complex? Check. Gadot is beautiful, no question about that. She was Miss Israel in 2004 and has been a model. So we can check off pretty. And she can fight. See, Israel has this mandatory 2-year service in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). They have their own martial arts called Krav Maga. If you’ve ever seen it, it’s an exceptionally efficient, brutal technique of disarmament and overpowering. She can kick some ass. And she does all her own stunts in the Fast and the Furious. So strong and a warrior? Yeah, check.

Lastly, she actually looks like Wonder Woman. Like the comic initially intended.

Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman

Actors transform themselves for their roles. Christian Bale last 50 pounds for the Machinist and then adopted both an American accent and that heavy growl for Batman. Henry Cavill for so bulked up and sculpted my mother said “I think he is sexy as hell” (which set up an exceptionally awkward night of movie watching). Heath Ledger went from being a gay cowboy to a psychopathic, anarchist, murderous clown in what has become the definitive portrayal of the Joker. The point is we can do better. I can do better. Instead of focusing on how that woman looks or whether she measures up with some comic book ideal of what a powerful woman should look like, I decided to take a page from the Honey Badger. I told her Wonder Woman was finally making it into the movies. She just smiled and said, “Cool!”



justiceleagueI’ve been putting off this Justice League post because I don’t know jack shit about DC comic book characters. I know Superman and Batman, of course, but you start talking about Wonder Woman (she got a nice outfit and a rope, right?) or Aquaman (again, SeaWorld trainer in an orange shirt), or Flash (umm, he’s fast?), or Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds or the black dude?) or the Martian Manhunter (who?)—yeah, I’m kinda lost.

Let me tell you how much I love you. You deserve better than some half-hearted the-Justice-League-is-not-the Avengers post. So what do I do? Watch a full season (plus a couple episodes) of the Justice League (thank you Netflix!). I read the Kingdom Come graphic novel. Turned on 3 different Justice League animated movies. I even broke down and watched the Green Lantern movie – twice.  That’s commitment.

And it paid off.

I’m not a DC aficionado admittedly. But I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for why Marvel has superheroes and DC has icons. Icons. You get that? Icons. An object of uncritical devotion. That’s the difference between the two families of heroes and it doesn’t make one better than the other. Marvel’s claim to fame is that it takes ordinary people, people you and I can relate to, and turns them into something special—like a teenage outcast who suddenly finds incredible power or a simple scientist who learns to express unfathomable rage or the puny kid from Brooklyn who gains the power to be the super soldier America needs. But the DC model isn’t about taking ordinary people and making them extraordinary. DC shows us extraordinary people ordinary people can aspire to.

Now I know there’s like 147 members of the Justice League but to steal a line from the Avengers, let’s do a headcount here:

  • Superman – There is NOTHING in the Marvel universe that compares to Superman. Nothing. Fanboys will talk to you about Thor and the damn hammer but it’s more than strength and flight. It’s character. It’s the basic essence of who that character is and what he compels the rest of us to be. Superman is a benevolent god, a Christ figure in tights and a cape urging us to be our best. He is an example for us, something for us to strive toward. Something for us to emulate. Now I like Thor. I thought he earned MVP of the Avengers. But no one ran around their backyard with a cape thinking they were Thor. All of us thought we had an S on our chest.
  • Batman – Now I’ve said before that Batsy ain’t right. He has some psycho-emotional problems. Seriously, somebody needs to put my man in a straightjacket and take away the batarangs. But Batman is the pinnacle of the human condition. He takes two very basic, very intrinsic human concepts—revenge and justice—and hones them into weapons. Uses them to create a persona that is more than human. Think about it—this is the only normal human being in the Justice League, a group with Superman and Green Lantern, and he is a contributing member. The closest thing Marvel has to Batman is Captain American—their moral center is stronger than their physical capabilities.
  • Green Lantern – Now I like the Green Lantern: interstellar space cop, ring with powers that are limited by your imagination and your will, cool mask. Shitty movie aside, the Green Lantern is pretty awesome, right? But look at him: his power is limited only by his willingness to do the right thing. To be the right person. What is interesting about the Green Lantern is it’s not about the guy; it’s about the role. The job. There are thousands of Lanterns, all of them chosen for their will and willingness to do what is right. That is a universal concept.
  • Wonder Woman – If anybody needed their own movie, it’s this chick. Wonder Woman is the penultimate female hero. Holding her own in the Justice League, strong enough to stand toe to toe with Superman, sexy enough to walk through any city with a golden rope and a bustier. This is the embodiment of female empowerment. She is the anti-Disney princess: she doesn’t wear a fancy dress, isn’t trying to catch a man (she doesn’t even like men), and is waaaaaaayyyyy more Brave than Merida. Diana is a goddess.  She has no counterpart.
  • Flash – Easily my favorite character in the Justice League cartoon. And that’s kind of a surprise since I always thought his power was kind of lame—yeah, you’re fast, I get it. Seemed like a one-trick pony. But my man is FUNNY. I guess I like him for the same reasons I like Spiderman: the Flash has a quip for everything, thinks on his feet, trying to get at the ladies (constantly) but is a hero through and through. Where Flash and Spidey differ is in power: Peter Parker has a limited ability to affect change (though he still is my favorite superhero), the Flash can change time, run through dimensions, alter reality. I don’t know—I just dig him.
  • Martian Manhunter – To be fair, this is where DC lost me. I get that the core components of the Justice League really do spell out something interstellar but for real? The last Martian? And all those convenient powers: he can become intangible and has super strength and can fly and has telepathy and can change shape but his weakness is fire? Booo. I’d go at him with a sparkler and slap the shit out of the Martian Manhunter.
  • Aquaman – Sure, I’ve clowned Aquaman. We’ve ALL clowned Aquaman. The most useless Superfriend. The one Justice Leaguer who can’t do anything if it’s on land. Yeah, that dude. Now, in the stuff I read/watched, Aquaman was recast into a hardened ruler of an undersea nation (that mysteriously needs domes full of air to survive UNDERWATER but whatever). I know I called him an orange-shirted SeaWorld trainer—then I saw him cut off his own hand to save his son. On a kid’s cartoon. Well alright. Now, Marvel does have a character just like this—his name is Namor the Sub-Mariner. And he is an ass. At least Aquaman is a better name.

All in all, the Justice League is a collection gods in the midst of people. Where Marvel characters generally look at individuals blessed and burdened with power and their challenge to retain their humanity in the face of these capabilities, DC characters are gods among men and women. Their challenge is really about constantly and consistently rising to the call such power requires. They’re not looking to maintain their humanity; they’re looking to earn humanity’s respect.

Day 2 (Kinda): The Batman #atozchallenge

batman-wallpaper-034So nothing says commitment like failing to post on the SECOND DAY OF A 30 DAY CONTEST! But I have excuses. First, it’s hot. Second, I’m on vacation. At Disneyland. Trying not to break it. Again. I’m here with the family—you remember this cast of characters, right? The Wife, the Honey Badger and the Boy. This year, we have the Boy’s girlfriend, Pollyanna (*sniff my lil knucklehead is growing up) joining us on the trip and she hasn’t been to Disneyland since she was 8. So you have this wide-eyed girl and the Boy in his full DMFRH gear and the next thing I know, I’m trapped on Teenage Drama Island for 2 days.

Then my battery died.

I’ve discovered that power is an essential component in the successful operation of modern-day electronics. And no sooner do I show up on vacation then the $10,000 battery in my expensive-ass Macbook decides to kick the bucket. I can charge this bitch for an hour and have 15 minutes of mobility. Godammit!

Anyway, I go to Apple to get a new battery and these fuckers say a) yes, I need a new battery BUT they won’t sell it to me; and b) I can’t get a Genius appointment for 2 goddamn days. For something that takes 10 fucking minutes to replace. I have 10 minutes. I can do it. When I question them about it, the Blue Shirt Hipster with the iPad and bad breath says, “Yeah, it’s connected to the logic board. We don’t sell it to customers.”

“But it’s my Mac!” I say. “I can switch it out.”

“Nope, the version of Macbook you have has to be unscrewed. We have to do that.”

“Apple didn’t invent screws. I can figure this out.”



So here I am, back to reality and talking about Batman. And Captain America. And somebody else that starts with D today.

If you remember, in this little blog series, we are looking at our favorite heroes and tearing them apart to find the real villains behind them. Today’s selection is Brice Wayne AKA Batman AKA the Dark Knight AKA the Productive End of the Dynamic Duo.

You know my man has problems, right? Given that Christopher Nolan just made $147 Billion dollars on the Batman franchise and garnered Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar award and destroyed an entire football stadium on film, I don’t feel the need to rehash the Batman mythos. What I will say is, despite Batman’s bevy of unbalanced miscreants and murderers in his rogue’s gallery (seriously, a murderous clown who thinks death is funny, a Jigsaw-like killer who creates complicated puzzles and riddles for his victims, and a psychotic psychotherapist—and that’s just a couple), the biggest villain in the Batman story is…Batman.


Ok so lemme explain: I am terrified of guns. I’ve had a girl get shot next to me, saw the bloody aftermath of two suicides, had a friend’s child shoot himself when he found the gun, and I’ve been shot at. Twice. I realize the damage guns can do. Despite those jarring experiences, at no point did I say, “You know what? I’m gonna get a cape and a Kevlar vest and get all MacGruff on em!” Never. Did you? Have you ever decided to take the law into your own hands and dive into the fray, armed with a boomerang and a grappling hook? No? Know why? Because you’re not insane.

Revenge is one thing. Revenge makes sense. This isn’t revenge. These are the antics of a disturbed mind who happens to have the resources to support his insanity. And nobody questions it! Not Alfred, not Malcolm Fox. They just roll with it. Oh, you want a car? Cool. And it needs to shoot lasers and have jet engines? No problem! How about a tank? At best, Bruce Wayne is schizophrenic with a multiple personality disorder. At worst, he’s experiencing severe post-traumatic stress, suffering from a psychotic break at the murder of his parents, and is schizophrenic with a multiple personality disorder. My man needs meds and a straightjacket not a mask and a cape.

Not only this, Batman actively thwarts the law. Like shits in its face. He’s a vigilante (which is wholly illegal), routinely destroys personal property to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, is a consistent perpetrator of assault, denies people due process, and constantly engages in torture. Batman dedicates his life to fighting crime but is a criminal himself. There is little that separates him from the people he hunts.

In the end, Batman is a force of escalation: he pushes everything forward and, in my opinion, does more harm than good. The movies attest to this idea as well. The whole point of the trilogy was to show the logical conclusion of his actions. He wants to learn about criminals to better fight them, so he effectively becomes one of them. What starts as local vigilantism eventually spreads to an open mob war with horrible consequences, the release of chemical weapons, international events, and ends with the siege of an entire city. Batman’s very nature is escalation: he raises the bar and his enemies continue to rise to the occasion until the populace is held hostage by the combined depravity of a man of who a villain trying to act like a hero.

And that’s my word. I’ll be back later today with Cap. Until then, I’m going to Disneyland!