So if you were ever a fan of Wonder Woman, Charlie’s Angels, Xena, Buffy or any other strong, fictional female, I highly recommend trying to catch Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.
Watched it recently. Seeing the footage from the old series, hearing amazing women like Gloria Steinem reflect on what the characters meant to them, seeing little girls even now being captured by these ideas… It kind of put it all in perspective, how these stories that may have seemed silly or frivolous at the time (and that I sometimes get embarrassed to admit having been a fan of) actually played a part in women’s evolving role in our society.
The documentary didn’t lip-gloss over the troubling aspects of some of these portrayals, either. It touched on the complicated nature of these icons: typically created by men for men, hyper-sexualized, etc.
SIDENOTE, interesting or not: Unlike the people interviewed, I don’t remember ever wanting to be Wonder Woman. No—I was just in love. The show ran from 1975-1979, which would’ve made me a 4- to 8-year-old fan (assuming I watched the original broadcasts, which I think I did), and even at that age, I like-liked girls. Pretty amazing.
Not that it was a lustful thing; it was just this intense need to watch the show, this dreamy feeling I got. (TO THIS DAY, I melt when I see Lynda Carter.) I didn’t realize or understand what I was feeling back then, didn’t understand why Charlie’s Angels adventures filled my dreams (Jacqueline Smith… sigh…), didn’t understand why I thought Christine Cagney was so riveting. It was only as I matured that it all started making sense. And that’s not to say those beautiful women and amazing characters didn’t mean more to me—or that every fan was gay. It was important to see women exhibiting that kind of strength and intelligence and grit, in spite of all the exploitative stuff. I think it gave me and other girls confidence on some deep, subconscious level. Because maybe that’s how we change, how we evolve—we believe the stories. We take that next step, because it doesn’t occur to us that we can’t, that the story was just make-believe.
At any rate, the lingering bother is that the documentary brought up the way Xena was killed off. I am trying not to be ashamed to say that I AM STILL VERY UPSET ABOUT THIS, PEOPLE. Even after all these years. Because even though it was couched in silliness and low-quality production, and even though the characters never actually kissed, that show managed to depict the most profound lesbian relationship I’ve ever seen in a TV show or movie, to this day. TO THIS DAY. And then they destroyed it, horrifically.
And then I coincidentally finally watched Brokeback Mountain. I know, I know: everyone watched it and talked about it years ago. And I should be used to it by now—the gay ones always die, or lose their relationships, or lose their relationships AND die. Or they’re already dead (i.e., vampires). Sigh… But it just gets to you sometimes.
And NO, the hilarious gay friend/neighbor on [insert name of sitcom here] doesn’t really help.
So, I’ve been feeling a little discouraged. But THEN, a friend forwarded me the link to this hilarious short, She Said, She Said, with Marisa Tomei. Hey, now. Maybe things are looking up.
I wrote all this before the Supreme Court overturned DOMA and Proposition 8. Things are DEFINITELY looking up. :)