Wonder Woman Was… Weak

SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to write this with the assumption you’ve seen the movie. If you haven’t, you might want to go watch it and see if you enjoy it, because I seem to be in a tiny minority.

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Let me start by saying I wanted to love this movie. Rebecca and I got luxury seats for a matinee showing on Friday, and I’ve kinda loved seeing every weasel out there who feels afraid of empowered women.

I still consider myself a burgeoning feminist. I’m tripping over old preconceptions all the time, but I have three daughters whom I want to raise to be strong women. What do I mean by that? I’m not sure. Maybe strong enough to demand higher pay. To demand to be treated with respect from the men they choose to date. To not be afraid of being called a “bitch” if they aren’t docile. To not be trampled by oafs like me.

I want them to be strong and kind, centered in Christ, unshakable in the knowledge that they are daughters of God – queens in embryo – with power to be more than just what is allotted to them by a patriarchal country and world.

So that’s me. I really thought I’d love this film.

But it has problems. Some are technical, some are artistic, and some are thematic.

Technically, it did a lot of very cool slow-mo action sequences, but those were often interrupted with shaky-cam that made me lose my place in the action. I hate shaky-cam. (See my PhD dissertation titled “Bourne Movies Are Blurry and I Hate Them”, and the class-action lawsuit I started,The People vs Michael Bay).

Some of the CGI was terrible. I mean, it would have blown us away in the 90s, but now it was smack-dab in the middle of the Uncanny Valley, making me uncomfortable when I should have been cheering. Queen Hippolyta jumping off her horse was the first time I noticed – did they paste her face onto a 3D model?

But most of the F/X problems seemed to be in the physics: flying objects and people didn’t arc correctly through the air. I get that Wonder Woman can jump really high, but there didn’t seem to be any slowing at the top of her arcs. Or at least the slowing wasn’t the right speed. Something was off.

All that is totally forgivable in a fantastic movie, but I’m not done.

This one. "Ooh, you're strong. Well here I go again."
This one. “Ooh, you’re strong. Well here I go again.”

Gal Gadot, while impressive in the fight scenes, still didn’t seem to be an amazing actress. I lost count of how many times she did the little renewed-determination-head-tilt. Maybe just three?

I never felt what she felt. When Steve dies, I didn’t weep with her. Was that her acting? or just flaws in the screenplay that made him less than her true love? Maybe it was both. (Or was it just me? Well, no, because Rebecca didn’t like the movie either.)

Which brings us to the screenplay. I thought it started strong enough, but the dialog… it was always kinda first-level. Bland. Predictable.

That’s not quite true… Etta Candy (Lucy Davis) had some fantastic lines, and I think she really gave the movie some of its best humor.

So weak dialog was a general problem. Here are some others:

  • Steve gets out of the bath as Diana enters, and rather than sitting again to conceal his nudity, he just sorta stands there. Why? So that they could make a penis joke that wouldn’t have worked otherwise. I don’t care how fit you are – unless you’re a flasher, you’re going to be modest. Especially given the era in which it took place.
  • Ares says he’s only suggested how to make weapons to mankind, but never poisoned their hearts – yet when he dies, suddenly all the Germans are chummy-chummy with the quartet of invaders. You could say, “Oh, well, he was lying,” but then that robs the movie of one of its central themes, that man is complicit in the evils of war. Steve states that theme on the tower as he begs Diana to come help him. So, the movie couldn’t make up its mind.
  • How did German ships catch up to Steve’s plane?

Thematically, there’s little difference between Wonder Woman and any other superhero. There are overtones about Diana fighting not for revenge or hate, but for love. Um, no. I mean, she does on the battlefield and in the village, but there is zero love in her eyes as she fights the final battle. If anything, losing Steve is the spark that sends her into a frenzied fury, empowering her with a desire for revenge, giving her the abilities necessary to take on Ares. Shouldn’t she have learned he was her brother, and felt compassion for him, and ached as she took his life, her love for mankind having to override her love for a lost sibling? That would be someone fighting for love, I tells ya.

Wonder Woman needed to make some sacrifice for the story to make her a heroine to me. Instead, Steve(!!!) makes the final sacrifice, giving his life to save the world. THAT’S HER JOB!

No, of course she can’t actually die. We need her. But to many storytellers, it’s an obvious misstep. She needs to give up what she wants more than anything in exchange for the greater good… and then still get what she wants. (I don’t know what she should want more than anything. Love of a man shouldn’t be it, though, because that’s weak sauce, especially if we’re trying to say women don’t need men in order to be of value.)

And here’s the biggest problem of all: this ended up being Steve’s movie. We see far too much from his perspective, making Wonder Woman an object of fascination. She’s so strange, so different, so beautiful! When in reality we should have been seeing more of HER viewpoint, how strange and different the world of men was.

Take her moment with the car. We don’t zoom in on the details of the car, it’s smelly exhaust, any of that – we just see Steve pulling her out of the way, and her glancing back. It felt like the writer was determined to derive humor from the situation by making her the fool, the one we laugh at for her naivete.

Too often Diana is the butt of the joke, rather than the one telling it. As a result, she becomes the object, the prop in a movie about Steve falling for a mysterious Amazon princess.

I wanted to love this movie, but it let me down.

I don’t hate this movie like I did Man of Steel – that movie left me angrily searching for Zack Snyder effigies to burn – but I wanted something better.

Taylor Swift Song Generator

This took me quite a long time (15 minutes) so I hope you appreciate it. Click to generate a new Taylor Swift song.

Time to Go / Abandon Ship – part 1

So I have a fun idea for a game that I’ve been working on in April. Randomly generated levels, a countdown timer, and random obstacles – missing keycard, hostile alien, voracious infestation, missing power coupling, etc.

Here’s a start. I need to fix the teleporters today or I’m going to go crazy.

Video Game Apathy

I’ve been suffering lately – yes, suffering – from Video Game Apathy. They don’t hold pleasure for me anymore. In fact, media as a whole seems to be sucking me in less than it used to. Movies, TV, books, even.

In short, I’m worried I’m getting Old™.

What does interest me, you ask? Crosswords, Wheel of Fortune, Agatha Christie novels–

Just kiddin’. What interests me now is creating. Writing, programming, drawing… putting stuff into the world instead of absorbing what’s been created.

I’m 6k words into a middle-grade novel that I’m really excited about, but which, as usual, I haven’t adequately outlined. We’ll see how that goes.

Depression and Asking for Help

Why is it so hard to ask for help when we’re depressed?

Robin Williams was found dead yesterday from an apparent suicide. Asphyxiation.

About 24 hours before he was found, I had thoughts running through my head of how I could choke off my own air supply — could I just tighten a belt around my neck? Would that work?

Dunno, don’t care. I stopped that line of thinking, emailed my brothers and my sister, and asked for their prayers. It was about all I could do. Told them I was safe, but really down. I think that was true – I couldn’t really kill myself. But I didn’t want to sit there thinking about it, either. I broke off a piece of an Ambien and went to sleep midday Sunday, hoping I’d wake up in better spirits.

It helped pass the time, but didn’t fix my depression. In the evening my little brother texted me, asking if he could do anything. Did I want to come over? No, I couldn’t fathom leaving the house.

Then, with all the strength I’ve mustered in any action of the last few years, I texted him to ask for a priesthood blessing. I dropped the phone and started bawling – it had been so hard to ask for that help.

He was at my door within ten minutes. We visited for an hour, during which I bawled and told him the things that had triggered this latest depression, and then he gave me a blessing of comfort. (If you’re not LDS, I’ll let you google.)

It’s been 36 hours or so now, and mostly I’m doing better, but Robin Williams! Dammit. Here’s this hilarious guy that people love, in so much pain that he takes his own life. Had he been asking for help, at least? Or had he been suffering through it with no support? I hope it’s the former, but the thought of the latter breaks my heart.

Man, what if my spiral had continued Sunday? What if I hadn’t emailed my siblings? Thankfully I don’t own any guns – no rash decisions here – and thankfully my pain hasn’t ever gotten so bad that I could conceive of leaving my kids fatherless.

Thankfully I believe in God, and another life after this one – one where my existence will continue, no matter how much I try to destroy it. Knowing that I can’t stop existing, only living, is a crucial thing for me.

I don’t know why asking for help is so hard. But if you’re depressed, maybe it’d help to talk to somebody who understands the pain? Or to a stranger? Either way, if you’re depressed, and especially if you’re suicidal, talk to somebody. You can email me at this address if you like – depressed@randytayler.com – and I’ll try to get back to you soon.

An App Idea for Recovering Addicts

One of the big helps in 12-step programs is the existence of sponsors: people who are willing to take your call anytime, so if you find yourself at the brink you can get a boost of willpower from a friend.

(Say you’re super-depressed after losing a love one, or having a relationship break up, or getting fired. You desperately want to ease the pain with your drug or alcoholic drink of choice. Your willpower is spent, and you find yourself at the convenience store, a six-pack of beer in your hand, approaching the register.

You remember where this leads for you. So you call your sponsor – a friend you made at Alcoholics Anonymous – to ask for strength to not buy your fix.

They answer, though they’ve been asleep now for an hour. They talk you down. Remind you of how much better sobriety is. You find the modicum of strength to return the beer to the fridge, and leave the store.)

Now, if you’ve never been to a recovery meeting, or gotten a sponsor, maybe you could call a friend – but maybe they don’t understand why you’re calling so late, and figure they can call you back in the morning. Or, maybe, you don’t have a friend you think you could call. Now what? You’re alone, on top of everything else, and you just know the beer will fix everything.

So, how about this for an app idea? A button that’s labeled “HELP” – you push it, and it connects you to somebody else with the app, opening a chat session, with the alternative to place a call.

Yeah, it’s a stranger, but it’s a stranger who understands your battle. They’re battling the same forces themselves. They generously take the time to talk you down.

You like this stranger, so you click “SAVE CONTACT,” and now you have an anonymous (unless they gave you their name) friend you can contact directly next time, building up an address book of potential sponsors.

If you’re on the receiving end of a request for help, you won’t always be able to help. So, you can click “PASS” or “CANCEL,” and the app looks for another person who could help. The original asker doesn’t see this process, necessarily – they might just notice it takes a minute or two longer to get a response.

When setting up the app, you can put in your zip code, and choose to find sponsors near or far, depending on how frightened you might be of losing your anonymity.

You can both click “CALL” if the chat isn’t working well for this emergency, and the app’s home server makes a call to both phones and connects them. Or if that’s too technologically expensive, users just opt to give out their number to the sponsor they’re chatting with, and the sponsor clicks it and calls the person directly.

You also put in your gender, so that it matches you up with people you won’t end up in an affair with. (An important feature for people struggling with sex or porn addiction.)

I don’t know how this app can pay for itself – I wouldn’t trust ads that might be in and of themselves triggers for whatever the addict is fighting. But I don’t want people to have a purchase as a barrier to entry. Maybe rehab clinics pay to be sponsors, and can encourage folks to come in? But that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe we just find some altruistic sponsors for the server load on the back end? Dunno.

Any recovering addicts out there want to chime in on what they think? Would you use it when you’re fighting temptation?