Back in the heyday of network TV situation comedies, viewers could tell a series had run out of steam when it featured a melodramatic “very special episode.” And the same phenomenon runs through the dying comic book industry today. Case in point: DC Comics, which has struggled to maintain viability in print form even as its TV and film branches experience ups and downs, is readying its most “woke” project yet.
Rosie Knight, of Nerdist, reports that in conjunction with the release of “Wonder Woman 1984,” the big-screen follow-up to DC’s 2017 theatrical hit “Wonder Woman,” DC will release a “very special” book called “Wonder Women of History.”
And if you suspected it’s going to be chock-full of social justice warriors instead of Amazonian warriors, to a large extent, you were correct.
Helmed by bestselling author and YA icon Laurie Halse Anderson Wonder Women of History celebrates ‘real-world heroes who take up Wonder Woman’s iconic mantle and work in the fields of science, social justice activism, politics, and more.’
Which, since this is a combination of visual art and written expression, is perfectly fine, so, perhaps, critical thoughts about the project should stop there.
Or, perhaps they should continue. The growing problem for film, television, fiction and comics is the artificial and overtly politicized nature of what some major corporate publishers and media giants try to serve to kids – and have been serving to kids for decades.
And this new DC release follows that sad M.O.
In fact, among the eighteen “Wonder Women” featured in the anthology are such overtly partisan leftist political figures as fake Indian Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and the oft-anti-constitutional Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And, of course, the project is being lauded by gushing progressives as “empowering” for girls.
How the negation of the individual is “empowering” for anyone is difficult to ascertain.
Of course, in a free market, it’s up to the consumers to decide what to buy or not to buy. And this kind of “woke” activity by publishers is what fans of old comics and genre entertainment such as “Thor," “Captain Marvel,” and “Star Wars” can’t stand. Old fans have become frustrated by next-generation publishers and producers hijacking what were established entertainment creations and using them – not to propel good tales, but to “subvert traditional roles” of the heroes or the overall sentiment of the lines.
Take, for example, “Doctor Who," a series that had 50 years of established canon based on the fact that The Doctor was a grandfather, and a regenerative Time Lord -- a series that had already established the fact that there were Time Ladies. The BBC recently catered to political pressure and had the Time Lord regenerate into a female, tossing out canon, avoiding a great Time Lady called Romana who could have had her own series, and making it virtually impossible for fans to watch “Doctor Who” without thinking of the corporate heads in the boardroom, rather than becoming immersed in great storytelling.
That’s not to say that “Doctor Who” hasn’t touched on some political issues. Thanks to various writing and production teams, the character has run the gamut from subtly helping left-wing environmental groups (“The Green Death”) to being openly associated with “libertarian causes” (“The Android Invasion”). Verity Lambert, the first producer for the series, was outstanding as one of the breakthrough women in her field.
But there’s a fine line between having a message that fits with plotting and entertainment, and using established hits to drive one’s own agenda.
Here’s another example…
In 1998, I spent time as a “Writer’s Guild Fellow” at the script department of “Star Trek: Voyager,” and, though I am a libertarian and my politics didn’t necessarily fit with Gene Roddenberry’s more “left-progressive” ideals for his “United Federation of Planets,” the focus on story-based entertainment was sufficient to allow for wiggle room, where social and political issues could be touched without being too cumbersome, or they could be avoided altogether and a writer could simply write an engaging tale.
But many contemporary “creators” who have taken over these now “legendary” genre universes are using the established popularity to drive political points that are so overt, their insertion appears to be synthetic and detracts from the central art of storytelling.
Hence, the social-justice-packed “Star Trek: Discovery” has driven many old fans away, the overtly SJW agenda of “Captain Marvel”, starring the “woke” actress Brie Larson saw a powerful backlash among fans of the original comic, and Marvel’s move to have Natalie Portman become the next Thor is making it difficult for fans to embrace story before having to deal with the overt corporate wokeness of shoehorning a woman into what was established as a story about a male.
It’s not that writers shouldn’t do these things, or that they can’t do them. It’s whether or not doing so helps or hinders the suspension of disbelief, whether or not the politics are so clunky they hurt the narrative, and whether or not the act is actually a roundabout way of pandering, which would actually be counterproductive to the overall goal of promoting a minority as valued and equal to a so-called “member of the majority” – whatever that so-called “majority” might be.
Wonder Woman has long been seen as a symbol of strength and ingenuity for women. But that can’t be her primary attraction. The primary attraction has to be a good character in good stories. Focusing on politics or “wokeness” first is a towering error and ceaselessly reminds people of the people and politics behind the story, rather than the characters.
One of the most revealing aspects of this problematic phenomenon actually is reflected in the new DC "Wonder Woman" book. It’s the fact that the publishers have opted to include a biological man in their book about “Wonder Women in History.”
That man is known as Marsha Johnson, who was born Malcolm Michaels Jr. and passed away in 1992 after establishing himself as a major figure in the U.S. drag queen scene, AIDS activist, and gay rights figure.
So how does a book supposedly celebrating “Wonder Women” include a man? Is there some strange magical force that allows a man to be a woman?
Evidently, there is – and it’s the magic of social-justice politics, politics that denies reality, injects political agendas into entertainment to such an extent that it’s really propaganda masquerading as entertainment, and has run elitist publishing, film, and even comic book corporations for far too long. It’s the kind of political masquerade that sees an already left-leaning “Wonder Woman” book feature a MAN, and it’s the kind of boring leftist behavior that will accelerate the flight away from corporations like DC and towards indie creations that allow consumers to enjoy stories without SJW fingernails clawing at them.
People are free to buy what they want.
Which is why comic book companies like DC are having a tough go of it now.
And why the people at the corporation might want to awaken from being so “woke.”