We went to see "Wonder Woman" and it was fun and entertaining -- not profound, not moving, but by modern standards of computer-generated spectacle, not half bad. What is amusing is seeing that the movie, because of its tame forays into breaking with Hollywood big-budget summer movie tradition, is generating all sorts of online controversy and argument.
First, a film critic -- David Edelstein for New York magazine -- angered feminist readers by suggesting that part of Gal Gadot's appeal comes from being gorgeous. He was called sexist and attacked for not taking the movie seriously enough. First, Gal Gadot is gorgeous. How much of her appeal depends on that might depend on who you are. She can act and -- unlike many other actors and actresses cast as superheroes -- she's physically convincing, too, as someone with extraordinary physical abilities. Nonetheless, her extraordinary looks are a big part of her appeal, as has been true for legions of actors and actresses before her. Does that really need to be argued?
Second, a debate has flared over whether Gadot qualifies as "a person of color." She sure looks like a white person. On the other hand, she's an Israeli Jew, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, and so has credentials as an oppressed minority. Some culture warriors have argued, since WW is a princess from an "Amazonian island," a non-white actress should have been cast.
Well, WW is an Amazon, not a South American. She's the daughter of Zeus and a queen of the Amazons, as in the mythical race of immortal warrior princesses. So, while, yeah, the choice of a white woman for the role is surely not random but meant to appeal to white audiences, it seems a bit literal in a silly sort of way to argue that, as an Amazon, she should look like someone who grew up in the real Amazon, in Brazil.
It's equally silly to say that, as a Jew, she qualifies as a person of color. She qualifies as Jewish. Also gorgeous, if I haven't mentioned that.