Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

One of our back-to-back appointments here in California was cancelled, freeing the Saturday afternoon hours, so we decided to go see “Wonder Woman,” a great hero of my childhood now back in living cinematic color.

The Israeli girl they found to play her looks absolutely fabulous. Not muscle bound (“overtrained” they call it in Israel) but agile as service in the IDF renders you, the martial athleticism and stunning good looks are not artificially combined in this instance. The computer magic that extends her native powers blends seamlessly with what the real woman can do. The script is tight and the dialogue often amusing. Though the setting is World War I, the pacing is very much of the present hour.

There was a move to ban the film in Lebanon (on account of the Israeli actress) which I believe was unsuccessful. So it’s showing now all round the planet.

Which is interesting because – am I the only one who has caught this? – it’s a cinematic expression of Jewish theological assumptions about good and evil as well as Jewish experience of these realities.

For example:

  • The terrible weapon that Wonder Woman battles to overcome is partly exported from the Caliphate in Ottoman Turkey. Of course, those jihadis whose aim is a revived global caliphate are also dedicated enemies to Jewish political independence.
  • The world’s most terrible weapon exudes poison gas, surely a reference to Zyklon B, the gas that was used to murder Jews en masse in the Nazi era.
  • The mistaken approach to the combat turns out to involve laying down arms and entering a negotiation with an enemy whose will-to-kill is entirely active, uncured and dangerous as ever.
  • Appeasement of this kind is finally unmasked as evil’s handiest instrument.
  • The dreams of prelapsarian and post-apocalyptic innocence — where the devil is conceived as a being external to our human condition — are alike exposed as escapist fantasies.
  • All of us have a good and an evil impulse and we have to do the best we can with the real people that we are.

And, as the original Wonder Woman used to say to her acolytes in my childhood:

You can do if you think you can, girls!

About Abigail

Abigail Rosenthal is Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Brooklyn College of CUNY. She is the author of A Good Look at Evil, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, soon to appear in a revised second edition. Its thesis is that good people try to live out their stories while evil people aim to mess up good people’s stories. Her next book, Confessions of a Young Philosopher, forthcoming, provides multiple illustrations from her own life. She writes a weekly column for her blog, “Dear Abbie: The Non-Advice Column” (www.dearabbie-nonadvice.com) where she explains why women's lives are highly interesting. She’s the editor of the posthumously published Consolations of Philosophy: Hobbes’s Secret; Spinoza’s Way by her father, Henry M. Rosenthal. Her next book project will be Conversations with My Father. Some of her articles can be accessed at https://brooklyn-cuny.academia.edu/AbigailMartin . She is married to Jerry L. Martin, also a philosopher. They live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
This entry was posted in Action, beauty, Biblical God, Childhood, Contradictions, Cool, Courage, Cultural Politics, Culture, Desire, Erotic Life, Evil, Faith, Fashion, Femininity, Feminism, Films, Freedom, Gender Balance, Heroes, hidden God, History, history of ideas, Idealism, Identity, Jews, Judaism, life and death struggle, Love, Masculinity, memory, Moral action, Moral evaluation, Past and Future, Peace, Political, Political Movements, politics, politics of ideas, Power, presence, relationships, Roles, Romance, Sex Appeal, Sexuality, social construction, Social Conventions, status of women, Suffering, Terror, terrorism, The Examined Life, The Problematic of Men, The Problematic of Woman, Theism, Theology, Time, twentieth century, twenty-first century, Utopia, victimhood, victims, Violence, War, Work, Writing, Zeitgeist and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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