Yesterday, The Guardian published an interview with director James Cameron in which he said that Patty Jenkins’ take on Wonder Woman was an “objectified icon” and that the widespread critical acclaim for the character’s film has been “misguided”. Yesterday afternoon, Jenkins took to Twitter with the perfect response.
Rather than spelling out her thoughts as a thread of tweets, Jenkins posted a screenshot of a very brief, thoughtful breakdown of the inherently sexist critiques Cameron levelled at her film. As successful a filmmaker Cameron may be, Jenkins wrote, his “unsurprising” inability to think of Wonder Woman as a strong female character is rooted in the simple fact that he isn’t a woman. Jenkins also very explicitly pointed out why it’s so problematic to cling to the idea that women can only be strong when they’re depicted as being “hard, tough and troubled”.
In his interview with The Guardian, Cameron reasoned that Wonder Woman was a “step backwards” in large part because she was depicted as being both beautiful and strong. Cameron held up Terminator‘s Sarah Connor (a character of his own creation) as a better example of a strong character who “earned the respect of the audience through pure grit”.
One of the oddest things about Cameron’s comments is his seemingly having forgotten that during the course of her movie, Wonder Woman singlehandedly takes down multiple squads of armed soldiers using only her sword and shield before slaying the god of war. What’s more, her entire story arc is literally about making the toughest decision of her life — leaving her family and friends behind in paradise — so that she can save a world that neither understands nor respects her.
If that isn’t “pure grit”, then I have no idea what is.