Wonder Kids: How Wonder Woman’s Impact Isn’t About You
It’s about the wonder, power, and equality she inspires in children.
4 min read
Ever since Wonder Woman came out two weeks ago, every news source, blogger, water cooler coworker, neighbor, and Facebook friend you haven’t talked to in 6 years, has something to say about it. Whether it be overwhelming praise, judgments on the levels of feminism the movie actually portrays, or even rare criticism of the film, like most movies, everyone has an opinion. But I’m here to talk about the views that you don’t see Reddit threads or think-pieces for; I’m here to talk about the kids.
First, I’d like to highlight what many of these posts and articles online are consistently pointing out (and are right about) since certain facts are indisputable.
According to a study done by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, of the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2016, women accounted for only 7% of directors, down 2 percentage points from 9% in 2015 and 1998.
The same study also reported only 13% of the writers for these films were women.
And according to a study by the same center, in the top 100 grossing films of 2016, females comprised only 29% of protagonists.
Now, what were Wonder Woman’s numbers?
Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman - only the second female director ever to have a budget over $100 million
The screenplay writer and all three story-by writers were men. There were no female writers for this movie.
Of course, Gal Gadot as Diana is a (powerful!) female protagonist.
So yes, the 2016 statistics above are shocking. And yes, Wonder Woman does an excellent job at breaking through those barriers. And yes (a third time), Wonder Woman probably should have had a female writer.
Does this mean female directors and protagonists will achieve a greater equality in Hollywood as a direct result of this film? Maybe, maybe not - you can debate it all you want. Because while you’re praising or critiquing Diana’s stance on feminism mid-movie, the child next to you is doing something much more powerful: imagining themselves as her.
Role models have always played an important role for children. If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they usually name an occupation (or person) of someone they have seen doing that exact thing. For me? I wanted to be a veterinarian ,because the veterinarian I knew made my dog and my hamster magically feel better. She was amazing.
So when director Patty Jenkins retweeted a note from a kindergarten teacher about her students’ reactions, I was incredibly delighted.
In addition to the glaringly impressive inclusion of a 5-year-old’s ability to pronounce Diana’s homeland of Themyscira, each and every instance on that list shows how children change after just seeing a movie. The first bullet point even highlights a boy perfectly happy to ditch the hypermasculine Captain America for the empathetic, female superhero who fights for…. basically the same thing (has no one else noticed the plot similarities?!). On the surface-level, these children are already aiming to do some pretty amazing things - prepare to save the world, learn 150 languages, fight Good but not Evil - but the overarching lesson each child has picked up from Wonder Woman is to stand up for what you believe in, stand out if you want to, and be brave.
You can tell me a few months or a few years from now if you think Wonder Woman hasn’t had any impact on equality in Hollywood. Go ahead - since I’m not sure if it will (just hope it does). But I am 110% confident that changing the media shown to children to include equally distributed characters and roles - through superheroes, prince and princesses, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender, and more - will directly improve equality in our world.
So keep making movies like Wonder Woman or Moana. Make more movies featuring minorities of all kinds - to accurately reflect the immense power and positive influence different genders, cultures, classes, etc. have on our society.
The importance is to continue showing strength and bravery, not perfection - as Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani explained, and continue to employ more than just white men to showcase these compelling characters. Then, our future will include more equality and be a whole lot brighter.
Have you seen Wonder Woman yet? What were your thoughts the movie? Please share them with us in the comments section below. Enjoyed this article? Please share it with your friends to spread the word!
Hi friends, I'm Kim Whitney! I'm a fourth year (of five!) computer engineering and computer science student at Northeastern University in Boston. I've worked four full-time software developer internships (or as we call them at NU, co-ops) so far at EMC, Apple, Starry, and now Turo! I also enjoy art and design, rock climbing, swimming in lakes, and doppler radar - though my passions lately have mainly revolved around diversifying the tech workplace. Please don't hesitate to send me a message; I'd love to chat!