It’s tough identifying as female and as a nerd. It’s especially tough when you have to be both together, at the same time. Over the years, being one of those two things has aged better than the other. If you’re here reading this in 2017, you know which one it is. There’s a sense of disparity that I’ve felt long before I knew what “disparity” meant: the idea that the stories of these heroes and cool guys that I read/watched? I wasn’t meant to relate to these heroes. If I did, well, son, that’s too bad. It meant that, I had to deal with characters of my gender being relegated to roles I wouldn’t always want to play in real life. There would (mostly) be heroes and there would be their women. I could choose to ignore that and enjoy it all, or sulk about minor details. I could either - excuse me - be a man about it, or be a girl.
Even though Wonder Woman was always proverbially there, being as invested in her as Bruce or Clark was also made unnecessarily difficult. In the Pre-Amazon.com world, I - like all of us - had to resort to actually physically looking for comic books at bookstores (those things). For demand and supply purposes, let’s just the say the ratio wasn’t even close to being healthily unhealthy. To say that I recognised the deep-rooted gender problems in our society at the tender age of late-single-digits would be a complete lie. I didn’t, because I didn’t know it could be that bad. I chalked it up to the world not being connected enough. I had hope.
The early-2010s arrived, and I had no hope. Hollywood kept churning out “Bad Male Action Movie” and its numerous sequels, where women were either weak punch lines or weaker plot devices (or, if they were feeling generous, both). If a woman had to be a “strong” character, she couldn’t really be “normal”. She had spout cocky one-liners about not being like other girls, all while wearing impractical clothing, because just being a woman wasn’t enough. It had to be in your face the whole time. It was clear that media was created and catered keeping in mind a male audience, and anything more was a bonus. Even if there were women-led action movies and TV shows, the facts were there for us to face. You could interchange the genders of the characters and it wouldn’t change a damn thing. Because “female-led” and “female-centric” are two different things. The female experience, unlike the male one, didn't make for good popcorn-munching. I’m not sure who decided this, but we sure went along with it for a very long time.
Until 2017. “Wonder Woman”, the live-action film is something that tangibly exists now, and it’s about time. We can talk about whether or not the movie itself is great enough to warrant the massive amount of praise it has been garnering. We would ideally want to keep it free from any bias and “free pass” of sorts just because it is an out and out female movie, from the lead character to the ratio of men and women and as well as the director. We would want to do that but we have to accept that it’s not going to be easy. The playing field of commercial, blockbuster movies is not level by any means. Straying from the tried-and-tested white-man-saves-the-day formula is still considered a giant leap, embarrassingly enough. A very high profile media outlet even called the whole endeavour a “risk”, trying to justify it by saying that a major studio had never given a woman a 100-million-plus budget to make a movie (never mind that the director had already been responsible for a film that won its lead actress an Oscar). What’s even funnier than this? A lot of the blockbuster movies today, including a few of the Marvel ones, have hired big boy directors based on minimal or no actual feature film experience. So, we have to ask here: doesn’t this sound oddly like…a bias?
From the $$$ part of the whole thing to the movie itself, it’s not astoundingly perfect. I’ll say it because if you’re probably thinking it. The movie is radical. It’s heart-warmingly simple and human and yet so very avant-garde. This is the first time ever that a superhero gets to present an alternative POV in the clutter of comic book properties, and that POV is completely seeped in what it is for her to be - you got it - a woman. It is Diana’s struggle to be accepted, heard and listened to in a world that doesn’t know how to do that at all. Most importantly, she doesn’t understand why the eff not. It isn’t because she comes from an island that’s too pretty to not be CGI (it isn’t, canyoubelieveit?) and is populated by women. It’s because she hasn’t had to prove herself extensively more than her XY-chromosomed counterparts. Her being ridiculously skilled (and a *spoiler* demigod) has been enough. It should be, and it isn’t. And that, people, is the most integral part of this risky endeavour. A woman may be able carry a tank or a movie entirely on her own, but she’s always going to have to prove herself slightly more in Man’s World. The greatest achievement of this film is that audiences around the world get so see that portrayed on screen for essentially the first time. Wonder Woman is equal parts wonderful as she is woman, from her intentions to her motivations. She will stumble a little bit, but she does have the power to save the world on the other side of the movie screen too. She just wants you to let her. At the rate we’re going, it’s going to become as normal for a boy to want to wear a Wonder Woman t-shirt, read her comics, and buy her action figures as it is culturally accepted for him to wear a Batman one. For the first time ever, the disparity that I've felt won’t be around for much longer. And you know what? Just the thought of that is pretty darn wonderful.
Scribe: Ruchi Vasudev
Captain's Log: Ruchi is writer for Geek Fruit HQ and thinks Jared Leto should have played all the cast members of Riverdale, including Betty and Veronica, well cause frankly, he damn well could. Find her on instagram @ruchisvasudev