Hollywood, You Chauvinist Bastards, you Did It Again!
Seth Godin said that “the critic, the mimic, and the clown all have one thing in common, they’re not doing the work.” He went on to say that, “if they stop hiding, they might even produce something significant.” (You can read the entire blog here)
Now, I agree with him entirely. I also know I tend to take on the critic’s role and his blurb made me more aware of my need to change. However, in this case, I’m not trying to tear something down. In my case, it would be easier to not speak my mind, to say, Wonder Woman was amazing! (which it was) without pointing out its serious, major flaw. Perhaps, in criticizing the standards, the big companies, the status quo, and doing the work to call them out, I am producing something of significance…like change.
I do believe there was an attempt to change the status quo with the release of Wonder Woman. Finally, Hollywood tried to give us a real female super hero with her own story. They remade and updated everything about her so she could be a hero girls, and boys, could look up to. And they did a great job. The movie was amazing, she was gorgeous and powerful and completely kicked ass. Except for one. little. thing.
Yes, I’m reducing a massive blockbuster movie down to the heroine’s arms. Why? Because with all the work they did to make Wonder Woman a female hero for our current times, they should have done better. The movie industry has the money, the resources and the influence, to mould minds and thoughts and create standards that people strive to attain. There is no excuse, no reason, for them to have missed this small, yet very significant detail.
Diana, aka Wonder Woman, is the daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. The Amazons are an ancient tribe in Greek mythology comprised solely of female warriors. Yes, there were men, but they were only used for procreation and for the menial work the Amazons did not want to do (although, in the movie, there weren’t men at all). The lack or presence of men is not the issue here, however. What is, is that they were WARRIORS. They lived and breathed for war, for fighting, for training. In the ancient myths they even cut off their lefts breast because they got in the way of their bows. Obviously, Wonder Woman and her surrounding females had to have two breasts in a blockbuster movie, so, this was also an element in which they strayed from the myth. I only mentioned this to reiterate the fact that they were strong, powerful, kick ass warriors.
At the beginning of the movie we see the child Diana, the future Wonder Woman, desperate to train and fight like the rest of the Amazons. Amazons like her aunt, Antiope, who is the fiercest warrior among them. She trains day in and day out, and she looks the part. Check out her arms:
Behind Hippolyta’s back, Antiope begins training Diana. Diana trains and trains, all day, all night, to become a warrior more fierce than even her aunt. They show the little girl growing into a woman, or to be exact, fighting into a grown woman. And when she finally appears on screen as the Wonder Woman she will become, these are her arms:
There are no muscles. Not really. Just a skinny arm. Which is fine. If she wasn’t supposed to be some warrior who’d spent her life training, this would be a perfectly acceptable arm.
But it’s not. Because she’s not your typical woman. She is an Amazon, who spent her life training. Training with heavy swords, with a bow, pulling back arrows, fighting, punching, do I need to go on? Or are you following me here.
Let me show you some pictures of women who train to fight nowadays. Women who, while not Amazons, are fighters. They spend hours each day training. Notice their muscles?
Actually, I don’t even need to show you fighters, I can show you any athlete. Anyone doing any form of physical activity for long periods of time every single day.
Or, how about a woman who may only do an hour or so of activity every day.
Do you see the difference?
Gal Gadot/Wonder Woman’s arms:
Female Athlete’s arms:
There is no way, after all that training, that Diana would not have at least some form of muscle definition.
Well, she’s a god, you say. She’s innately strong. All the more reason for her to appear strong, is it not? She’s the daughter of a god and the daughter of the Queen of the Amazons. She still has her mother’s genes. Genes which would carry the ability to sculpt at least a little bit of muscle. And hell, her father was Zeus. Is there a single image in existence of Zeus NOT being the picture of physical perfection? With parents like that, you’d think Diana should have at least some familial physical resemblance.
And it’s not just Wonder Woman that does this. It’s movie after movie after movie. The lead female, who is supposed to play the role of a tough, kick ass hero, is so skinny she looks like she can barely lift a coffee cup. Look at Kate Bekinsale in Underworld (another movie I loved, btw, not trying to criticize the movie): she really does not look like she could annihilate you on the street. Underworld is too old, you say? Well, how about the last blockbuster that came out: Baywatch.
I was a lifeguard. I know how much swimming you have to do to simply make the cut as a POOL lifeguard, nevermind an ocean lifeguard. Those who make it outside, on the ocean, battling the waves and the currents after sprinting across hundreds of feet of sand, are some of the topmost athletes you’ll find: triathletes, endurance swimmers, and so forth. Trust me, I had my dreams crushed of getting a job on a beach when the trainer told me there was no way I’d have a chance of qualifying if I wasn’t in the same condition as top of the line triatheltes.
Here are some pictures of triathletes, a swimmer, and actual real lift beach lifeguards:
Here are the Baywatch ladies:
Do you get what I’m trying to say? It is the year 2017. Women have rights. Women can vote. And fuck it, women have MUSCLES! Why is that such a horrible thing to show? Note the difference between the male lifeguards on Baywatch and the women. Rock solid muscle (haha, literally!). If they could make Zac Efron train 4-hours per day for that show, could they not have thrown the girls into the gym for at least an hour? Would that no have made it even the slightest bit realistic?
Do you think that any male superhero, any god-like action figure, would be on a movie if he wasn’t given a strict training regimen in order to bulk up? Why should women be any different?
“But Mom,” my son said to me when I said as much on the way home from Wonder Woman. “Her muscles wouldn’t fit the costume like the men’s costumes do. She’d look funny.”
See that? That’s your fault, Hollywood. My son thinks she’d look silly with muscles because he’s never seen a female hero with muscle. You did everything right with Wonder woman: Her costume was killer, she was even wearing flat boots. FLAT! NO HEELS! And yet, you neglected to give her some muscle so my son thinks it’s completely normal for the men to be big and ripped and the women to look like they’ve never lifted anything heavier than a grape in their entire life.
Why can’t women just have some goddamn muscle? Yes, the women who aren’t out there saving the world, saving people from beaches, or training with the amazons for 12-hours a day, very easily may not have muscle definition. I know what it takes to build muscle, I work out, or used to and still do sometimes, I’ve built muscle, I’ve lost muscle. Oh yeah, and I have a degree in kinesiology. I understand anatomy and the musculoskeletal system and how easily you could have packed onto Gal Gadot even a little bit of muscle without her having to lose her “Feminine Hollywood Appearance.”
When we were at Universal Studios recently, we went on The Hulk rollercoaster. In the line up, they create this storyline that you are being made into a hulk. They have a video in which three different people walk into the lab, are each hit with the super-soldier serum that transforms them into hulks, and subsequently demolish something and run out. The three characters are a male teenager, a male in his twenties or so, and a woman around the same age. Both the teenager and the guy in his twenties grow exponentially when they are injected. They swell up, get huge like a hulk, smash things and take off.
Not so with the woman.
She gets injected with the serum and then she grows, a little bit, but rather than turning into a hulk she simply turns green, bulks up a little bit, gets super ripped but maintains her feminine shape, and…oh wait, she doesn’t smash stuff. Nope, she looks around, and then strategically shoots the exit, and then takes off.
So, when faced with this serum the two men become hulks, lose their ability to think, smash stuff, get mad, and terrorize the place. The woman basically becomes a fitness model and, while angry, still remains in control of her actions.
It’s a fucking ride! And the hulk serum! Why not turn the girl into a hulk as well? Why, when under imaginary serum, must women still not be “too buff,” or “too big,” or “too masculine”?
Why is it that we fight so hard to be equal, to be strong, fearless females capable or everything that the men are, and yet, we are still required to maintain our delicate feminine form?
It is time for a change! I’m not even asking the movies to require that all women have muscle definition. I’m just asking for some realism so when my son, or my daughter, goes to see Wonder Woman, they’re not saying things like, “The muscles wouldn’t fit the costume.” The muscles are what’s wrong with it! Or the lack of them.
My daughter does gymnastics. 6-hours per week. Just 6, so nothing to compare to the intense regimen of the Amazons, and she developed muscles this winter. Should I follow Hollywood’s example and tell her that’s bad, that it’s not normal, for her to be strong and look strong?
Yes, we are making progress. But are we making enough? Because it sure doesn’t look like it to me.