Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why They Dipped Wonder Woman in Latex

And there she was. In this photo from Entertainment Weekly, we saw the way that producer David E. Kelley intended his version of Wonder Woman to appear. The show was rejected by NBC and will not be made.

There were, of course, numerous comments that another show based on a powerful woman failed. Yes, just like the original Bionic Woman, like British TV's The Avengers with Diana Rigg, and just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Despite my problems with horror in general and vampires specifically, I've begun to watch the season DVD's of this show. It's remarkably human and vital, unlike the gorier and more sadistic vampires so popular today.)

It occurred to me that this picture explains the real reason why this series failed, and it has little to do with women being unable to carry a show.

All right, this may take some effort on the part of a lot of guys, but get beyond the skin-tight latex. Get away from the fact that this stuff hugs her body like she was naked. (In my opinion, that shouldn't matter. Nudity shouldn't matter any more. You can see stuff on the Internet for free that weren't available except in sleazy stores when I was a kid.)

Fans of the Amazon princess's other adventures should also forget, for the moment, that this outfit is impractical for a fighting woman. There's a little bit of that in superheroinedom. DC's Power Girl has huge breasts and a white outfit with a cutout to show cleavage...and if I were a super-powered foe, I'd grab ahold of that convenient handle and whale on her face for a long time. But most artists that aren't drawing pure porn understand this. In her TV adventures, Buffy Summers mostly wore conventional teen clothes with little exposed, which actually worked for her in combat.

No, try viewing this photo through this filter: this Wonder Woman looks like a plastic doll. All surface. Nothing inside. Shiny and glossy and without context.

It suddenly occurred to me, thinking back about my long life in watching genre TV shows, that this is what most Hollywood types produce when they "do a superhero." There is nothing beneath the surface for them. There's nothing beyond shiny plastic, to hypnotize the rubes.

Or maybe, that's what the Hollywood producers of these abortions believe life should be like. Because they see themselves as exactly that type of superhero. They see themselves as being shiny surface, and they deny there's anything beneath the surface. They think that's what life is all about, and that this is the way to succeed in life.

David E. Kelley has been famous for that kind of surface stuff. The show of his that I'm most familiar with is Boston Legal, which had William Shatner as an insane right-wing defense lawyer, Betty White as a homicidal legal secretary, and one lawyer who openly crossdressed. All surface. There was no there there. So naturally, that was his approach to a Wonder Woman series.

There are people who could have done a much better job. Joss Whedon proved he could make a dynamic but vulnerable female character with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which he has continued as a comic book because Rupert Murdoch's Fox networks would rather attack that Evil Black President than put on decent TV series. Whedon must be a codependent victim of Fox; he took his series Firefly and Dollhouse there, and they got screwed over by Murdoch.

Another good choice would have been J. Michael Straczynski. Joe, as he likes to be called, created many great female characters in Babylon 5. His graphic novel Midnight Nation featured a female angel, who despite being created without a soul, had a lot of soul. And the recent movie he co-scripted, Thor, featured two amazing female characters. Thor's human girlfriend Jane Foster, for once, was not a bimbo or a moon-eyed chick but a scientist and a heroine. And Thor's Asgardian friend the warrior Sif had a bright, shiny outfit that was NOT like a latex fetish thing, but remarkably practical for a warrior.

But, sadly, superhero shows tend to go towards the guys who put women in latex, even though one good blow would rip the outfit to shreds, and in hot weather, would make the women sweat to death and get skin fungus. And they do it to guys too; the Joel Schumacher Batman movies gave him rubber suits with molded-in nipples. Those nipples served no function, as nipples serve no function on me. When Schumacher had the same suit made for Batgirl, someone whose nipples DO serve a function, there were no nipples on the suit. It's been suggested that Schumacher didn't really care that much for women in any capacity anyway, including their nipples.

As long as movie producers, studios, networks and financiers see superheroes as glossy surfaces, with no possible meaning for people, series like this abandoned Wonder Woman thing will be made. Sadly, too often, they won't be cancelled before they go into production, and we'll have to actually see the blasted things.