Kiki is “my person”. It’s a term that originated from one of my favourite television series, Grey’s Anatomy. “My person” is the one I go to for just about everything. She’s the one I can’t stay mad at and the one who supports me even when I refuse to say sorry. Being someone’s “person” is a commitment.
I’ve started my blog with this explanation to contextualise why I capitulated – despite my every nerve railing against it – to watch Wonder Woman with Kiki as part of her birthday celebration.
I’m not a superhero junky at all – I remain blissfully unaware of the difference between Marvel and DC characters.
But the idea of Wonder Woman appealed to me on a number of levels. Here was a strong woman able to hold her own in a world of superhero men. When I was little she was the woman I would want to be if I were a superhero.
As a child, I remember very few extraordinary superhero women. Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Thor – there were enough men to worship. But bar Wonder Woman, Supergirl – whose name still grates – and She-ra, the saviours of the human race were all men and all white.
As I think back, I assume it’s one of the reasons superheroes did not interest me. Too many flaxen-haired damsels in distress and too few raven-haired kick-ass tigresses. I just didn’t relate on so many levels.
So, getting back to Kiki – there I was not innocently uninterested in the launch of Wonder Woman in cinemas despite it breaking box office records. I’d seen enough on my Facebook feed to give me pause for thought. Tunisia and Lebanon had banned its screening. Their objection lay primarily with the main character herself – Gal Gadot – who embraces Zionism.
Having lived through apartheid in the 80s as a teenager of colour (albeit a more “privileged” colour), I cannot in good conscience support an apartheid state in any form.
But with a bit of foot-stomping from Kiki and the promise of an extra-large raspberry slushie, off I traipsed to watch Wonder Woman.
Yes, I was forced by my beloved Kiki to watch a movie I had no intention of watching. But as I think back on the experience today, I’m glad I did for a number of reasons.
Knowing the background noise around Gadot and the general responses among western feminists and media, I went into the theatre with many pre-conceived ideas.
Yep, this woman has a body to die for. Tick the box.
Yep, the special effects are “amazeballs”. Tick the box.
Yep, it’s fantastic watching all these men’s jaws drop to the ground as a woman kicks ass left, right and centre. And this to many may be construed as feminist.
Procreation v pleasure
Undoubtedly my favourite scene was our female protagonist telling an uncomfortably naked lead actor that women realise men are important for procreation but not so much for pleasure.
There were instances of clever wit. But the overall story was what I expected. For me, it was great fun picking apart and interrogating ironies and inconsistencies.
I drew a few stares at the timing of my laughter. Only Kiki, bless her soul, could understand my derisive snorts.
My problem with the movie is not simply Gadot’s Zionism. It is also about how feminism is portrayed. For me, Gadot’s personal and on-screen character is a flawed one and it is troubling that most western media explain away her position rather than interrogate it. The irony of her character is glaring when you watch the movie itself.
I recently read an opinion piece by Susan Abulhawa, author of the acclaimed Mornings in Jenin. Abulhawa is a woman I admire immensely and her analysis was on point. But I had to question whether it was wise to simply ignore what doesn’t appeal yet criticise it. It hints at a paternalism that does not sit well with me.
So, I’m glad I watched Wonder Woman. I’m glad I could understand the furore surrounding the movie and Gadot herself. But I’m especially glad that I was able to draw my own conclusions from an informed position, having sat through some two hours of watching a rather wooden actress who really does have a body to die for.
Kiki, I love you. I really do. But next time – I’m picking the movie.
- Here’s the movie trailer for your entertainment