As a father of two little Jewish girls, I was very eager to share my impression of the “Wonder Woman” film with them. Below is a transcript of that conversation with Eleanor, age 4, and Edie, age 2.
Me: Hey, girls.
Eleanor: Hello, Father!
Edie: Bonjour, papa.
Me: I have just returned from seeing the “Wonder Woman” movie.
Eleanor: What’s a movie? Just kidding. It’s a two hour boring thing.
Me: It took 75 years for this film to be made and let me tell you…it was worth the wait.
Edie: It took 75 years for them to make a movie about the most popular female superhero of all time? And we’ve already had a Batman film in which his suit has nipples?
Me: Well, I do think that there are many implications for why it hasn’t been made until now: the typical blend of misogyny, sexism, an unwillingness by the fanboy community, of which I am somewhat a member, to embrace an empowered female character, one that isn’t relegated to being a piece of meat on display or fantasy fodder for their, ahem, “alone time.”
Eleanor: Good God, father! I’m only 4 years old!
Edie [to Eleanor]: Uncool.
Eleanor [to Edie]: So uncool.
Me: Anyway, sure, there were certain problems with it. But they were minor missteps, like a cheesy line of dialogue involving a belief in love. And then there was…
Eleanor [interrupts]: Hold on a second. It’s 2017, and as a family, we’re all pretty woke. So I’m hoping they took the opportunity to make Wonder Woman a woman of color.
Me: In Wonder Woman’s 75 years as a fictional character, she has always been white. It’s true that she had a black half-sister named Nubia… And yes, it’s true that in one of the Multiverses, Nubia is their world’s Wonder Woman. But that’s not considered our timeline.
Eleanor: Are you saying that there’s more than one timeline? Is there more than one Eleanor? Is there an army of Eleanors out there all refusing to go to the bathroom even after they’ve been asked to?!?
Me: Let me ask you something. We’ve taught you that diversity is important (and lacking), so why are you asking about that person of color issue now and not when they, say, cast the third white Spider-Man in a row for a movie out this summer—even though in a comic book currently on stands, there is an iteration of Spider-Man that is a Latino teenager? I’d like us to take a step back.
[Eleanor gets up]
Me: That was figurative, Eleanor…
Eleanor: Well, 4-year-olds are literal.
Me: I’d like us to take a step back and appreciate “Wonder Woman” for what it is as opposed to asking it to be so much more. It’s a massive success, indicative of more successes to come. Breaking records two weekends in a row with no signs of slowing down. And do you want to know what aspect of the movie I’m most excited about?
Eleanor: Sure. But as you know, my attention span is limited. So let’s get to the thing you’re excited about so I can go back to tantruming over everything.
Me: I’m most excited about the fact that the woman portraying Diana is not only Jewish, but she’s Israeli.
Eleanor: Her Jewish identity is causing a stir. After all, being Jewish is provocative.
Me: Did you know the religion of any other actor portraying a superhero?
Eleanor: I’m pretty sure Robert Downey, Jr. worships himself.
Edie: Good one.
[Edie and Eleanor high-five]
Me: See, we should be so proud of Gal right now. So, so proud. It’s a significant moment. But it’s also… just a Wonder Woman film. Why is there a need to see it as so much more?
Eleanor: I heard a rumor though that she lit Shabbat candles and posted a picture of it on Instagram.
Eleanor: I also heard she served in the IDF.
Me: Uh-huh. I see where this is going. You know, this isn’t a movie about Israel. Nor is it a movie about her love of Israel. Tell me, have you seen “The Force Awakens”?
Edie: I’ve seen one movie in my life and it was “Frozen.”
Me: Adam Driver was in the US Military.
Eleanor: Not the same thing, dude.
Me: My point is that Adam Driver was in the US Army, so why aren’t pacifists saying that they’re banning the new Star Wars trilogy? Why won’t countries currently at war with America stop showing those new installments? I know it’s not an exact analogy, but it makes me so uncomfortable that Gal’s nationality has become so integral to the consideration of seeing a movie which would otherwise be a no-brainer.
Eleanor: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.
Edie: Whoa, whoa, whoa…why are we saying “whoa?”
Eleanor: There’s a scent wafting in the air and it’s not Edie’s diaper. It smells like you’re accusing people of anti-Semitism. You don’t get to drop that charge in all willy-nilly.
Me: Well, where does anti-Zionism end and anti-Semitism begin? It’s all feeling suspect to me right now. And I can’t help but consider with this movie that the universe should be celebrating together. All the snowflakes. All of us holding hands in one big kumbaya moment. So why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we invalidate moments of progress?
Eleanor: Not sure what that meant.
Me: Which part?
Eleanor: All of it.
Me: What I mean is: when we actively look to get enraged, we will always find something rage-worthy.
Eleanor: I’m just saying that you’re unloading a lot of baggage here, and this little unicorn backpack I’ve got here won’t fit all of it.
Me: I liked the movie. It moved me as a dad of two daughters. I wish you were both older, so I could take you to see “Wonder Woman” 75 years in the making, and you can see a strong, beautiful, confident, formidable Jewish woman, a Middle Eastern, Semitic brunette who speaks with an accent. Who posts pictures of herself lighting Shabbat candles. Who embraces her identity despite the naysayers who criticized her breast size, the trolls who accused her of having a gut, the critics who can’t see the movie for what it is and the closed-minded haters who won’t even see the movie because of her nationality.
Eleanor: I wouldn’t let it all stress you out, Dad. You’ve got more important things to worry about.
Edie: For example, you’re raising us in a world of misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism and many other isms.
Eleanor: But on the bright side, you’ve also got two hours and twenty-one minute respite from it all. A summer blockbuster that stands up against all the vitriol and stagnation.
Me: …I guess you’re right.
Eleanor: Of course I’m right. I’m four years old.