Joss Whedon & James Cameron

Bad Allies: Joss Whedon and James Cameron Edition

In light of the recent uproar over James’ Cameron’s comments on Wonder Woman and the revelations about Joss Whedon that have made people concerned about his role as director of Batgirl, it’s probably important to talk about WHY we, as members of the fight-me-and-you’ll-see-I’m-not-weak sex, feel like Cameron, and Joss and his defenders are just…missing the point.

Hint: It all comes back to misogyny. Yes, even if you don’t think it does.

Two different subjects — one conclusion: Joss Whedon, James Cameron and, of course, their apologists, don’t get it. So we’re going to explain it to them. And we’re not going to use little words, cause they don’t deserve it. We’re just going to speak the truth. As we see it. After all, isn’t that what they do all the time?

First – let’s talk James Cameron and Wonder Woman. Is his opinion important, or even valid? Did anyone need it? Let’s compare Wonder Woman to Cameron’s own female heroes. Is he the feminist hero he pretends to be?

Shana: I’ve never even thought “James Cameron” and “feminism” in the same story before, much less the same sentence. So, um, no. He’s not a feminist hero — at all — and nobody wanted his opinion on whether or not Wonder Woman treated women well or not.

I don’t need an old dude mansplaining to me what a feminist film should look like. Thanks.

Furthermore, does he want a cookie for making his Sarah Connor “not a beauty icon” and “troubled.” Like, I’m so glad that in order for a female character to be considered good enough by some old, white dude, she has to be ugly and “troubled.” Also, please explain to me how Diana Prince’s beauty made her any less strong. Or, better yet, how does having a female director mean it’s still “male Hollywood?”

What is any of this supposed to mean when it comes to treating women and men as equals, which is what feminism is, and/or showing well-rounded female characters, which Cameron — a man — thinks Patty Jenkins failed to do?

“She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!” – The Guardian

Seriously, and then he pats himself on the back for half of his audience being female, thus proving he’s a hero! Take several seats, Cameron.

Luci: What really pissed me off about this whole thing was that he basically said that an independent woman — in his opinion — is someone who is troubled, flawed, not a beauty icon, but still kicks some ass. How dare Wonder Woman come charging through all over his beloved “strong independent female” characters with her strength, her courage, her independence and — gasp! — her beauty? What a travesty!

And I am not saying that Sarah Connor is not an independent female character, because she is; what deeply bothers me is that he said that Wonder Woman is an objectified icon and that this absolutely fantastic movie is “male Hollywood doing its old thing.” That a woman cannot be beautiful and well adjusted, and also independent.

I mean, does he have any idea what being a woman in this world is like? Does he have any idea what it was like to grow up with close to zero kickass female characters to look up to?

I don’t think he does.

Wonder Woman has not only flipped the way strong female characters are perceived, but it gave something so incredibly precious to little girls and women around the world. It gave us representation. It gave us someone to look up to, someone that makes us feel empowered and proud to be a woman, and that hell yeah, we’re taking this world by storm and there’s nothing you can do to stop us.

As a kid, I was never into superheroes; and that was mostly because they were for boys and I just couldn’t relate to them or feel empowered by them at all. After all, they were all men…and how could a girl ever be interested in something that was for boys only? While I had to endure those ridiculous reprimands of “that’s not ladylike,” or “girls are supposed to like dolls and princesses,” or “why are you playing soccer with the boys and not being a good little girl?” throughout my childhood, I got through it with my head held high.

When I started taking an interest in movies and TV, I involuntarily looked for shows or films that had kickass female characters, someone that I could look up to and think, “yeah, this is what I’d like to be like when I grow up.” Now that I think about it, my first ever female icons were the Halliwell sisters on Charmed: Three fantastic, beautiful, kickass sisters who fought evil forces and still had time to enjoy themselves and go through all those things a young adult woman goes through. I couldn’t have chosen a better role model to start my TV education back then.

But I’d never gotten over this wall I had when it came to superheroes. I never liked superhero movies, and even TV shows took a lot of warming up to. I resisted so much when it came to shows like Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. But do you know what kept me around? The amazing, complex and badass women in these shows, and how they were all smart, intelligent and self sufficient — and they opened my eyes to this incredible new world.

So when Wonder Woman came around, I couldn’t wait to see it. It was the first superhero movie I actually watched in a movie theater because I was that excited about it. I took my niece with me because I wanted her to experience this amazing piece of art and just revel in it. And maybe because she is only 12, I think she couldn’t quite grasp at the time what that movie meant for women and how amazing it felt to sit in a theater and see this beautiful, strong, intelligent and independent woman take it upon herself to save the world and not depend on a man to save her.

When she turned to me and asked why I was crying during that scene when Diana charges through No Man’s Land, I couldn’t really put into words what I was feeling. Because right at that moment, my 9-year-old inner child was rejoicing at the fact that I finally, finally had a superhero I could look up to. And that still makes me emotional, because you know what? These little girls, who got to watch Wonder Woman now, will grow up thinking they can be brave amazons, and speak several languages and save the world, and that they’re not damsels in distress and they sure as hell don’t need a prince to come save them. Because at the end of the day, they are just as capable as any man to do whatever their heart desires.

So no, James Cameron, you don’t have any idea what it’s like to be a woman. You don’t have any idea what it’s like to feel under-represented or stereotyped or talked down to. And you have no idea what a female superhero movie directed by an amazing woman means to us — what a game changer Patty Jenkins and her movie really are.

So, please, do yourself a favor, and kindly shut the hell up.

Lizzie: Ha, no. This is a case of another white male thinking that his opinion is somehow something that’s not only valid, but necessary. Why does he think this? Well, because he’s a white male, and they’ve been taught to think like that. Why else? He seems somehow butthurt that people have forgotten about Terminator and Sarah Connor and how HE, James Cameron, really did a female heroine BETTER than Wonder Woman, and many years before, and in a way this whole thing sounds like he’s basically saying: Why didn’t I get the praise Patty Jenkins is getting?

Which, I can’t roll my eyes back farther. It’s physically impossible. The level of arrogance it requires to not just think this, but actually express it, is mind-blowing.

Truth is female representation has gone a long way, and it STILL needs to go an even longer way. Yes, Sarah Connor was good. But she was also a stereotype, just a different stereotype, and it’s very hypocritical of Cameron — a white male — to sit there and say same old, same old, when Diana Prince is actually a different stereotype, with a different treatment and, guess what, A FEMALE DIRECTOR. So, no, not same old, James Cameron. Not to the people this representation actually matters to.

Sarah: James Cameron is allowed to have his own opinion about Wonder Woman, same as everyone else. What he doesn’t have is the right to stick his neck out for no apparent reason other than he needed to put himself on a pedestal, and force others to hear him. It’s the equivalent of people constantly screaming on social media because they are desperate to be heard, yet not even paying attention to the words they are saying.

Here is a filmmaker, script writer, supposed feminist comparing a movie and character he had nothing to do with to a lady he wrote in Terminator. Making it about Diana’s beauty compared to the “grit” of Sarah not only diminishes both of these characters and movies but completely misses the point of why Diana is someone I would look up to.

It has nothing to do with her beauty, her “looks” and everything to do with the person she is in Wonder Woman. Diana’s beauty is a part of who she is for sure, but Diana is the closest representation of a true hero in a literal superhero movie I’ve seen in a very long time. She was strong and powerful, while also happy and joyful in the moments she tried ice cream and declared a simple snowfall “magical.” It was as if she was right there, real; and while I know female representation isn’t perfect even now, this was the farthest I think we have come. I’m excited to see what’s ahead in the future, and I can guarantee it won’t come from James Cameron.

Oy, men.

Laura: Let’s start with the movies James Cameron has made: Terminator, Terminator Something, another one with Swarzenegger, Aliens…Are you telling me he doesn’t think Sigourney Weaver is beautiful? Zoe Saldana? Do all women, according to him, have to have blue skin like a smurf, or let the love of their life die when it’s clear the piece of wood you’re left standing on to survive has space for one more?

The problem is not only that he’s mansplaining why we shouldn’t like Wonder Woman but where’s he’s coming from. Don’t get me wrong. Even if he was the greatest director of all time, and had a long list of female characters that we could identify with — not even then it would be ok.

But Cameron’s filmography makes the comments even worse.

Yes, Ripley and Connor are great characters to look up to, or empathize with; however, if he’s telling us they’re this archetype of strong females because of how they look it just tarnishes his production.

Diana is not our hero because she’s pretty and makes heads turn. We aren’t in love with the Wonder Woman film because of her love interest. We are completely excited about it because, after more than a decade, we finally got a superhero movie about a woman. Because if we think like Cameron, and everything is about the looks, no one should look up to Thor or Iron Man. Because of course they’re not only superheroes but handsome ones! It’s a moot point.

Next time you want to explain to the female population why they should be offended by a character, or the view of a female director, just change the gender of the subjects in your sentence and try again, James.

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Lissete Lanuza Sáenz

Lawyer. Writer. Columnist. Geek. Believes in "Murphy's Law". Is into sports, colorful shoes, Thor and coffee ice cream. Falls in love with fictional characters.

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