Resuscitating Wonder Woman

In Writing on January 16, 2015 at 5:49 pm



Originally posted on The Hooded Utilitarian. 


…It didn’t have to be this way. Noah’s recent book, Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948, records an alternative which had been present at the dawn of superhero comics. Unlike Superman, the original Wonder Woman comics were not a personal fantasy of power and assimilation, born already calibrated to the yearnings of depression-era, immigrant, and wartime youth. The Wonder Woman comics were an intentional manifesto, meant to instill radical concepts of femininity, masculinity, sexuality and heroism into children. Noah’s book elucidates William Marston’s radical philosophies and agendas, which informed every aspect of the forties run. If not for the kaleidoscopic visuals and zany scenarios, the barely-sublimated kinkiness and infectious fun, Wonder Woman might have been remembered as being propaganda designed to re-educate America’s youth. Instead, Marston and artist Harry Peter created one of the most original and unclassifiable comics in history. Despite its initial success, publishers didn’t know what to do with it, and America came out of the war more sexually repressed than it had entered. The Marston/Peter run hangs off comics history like a forgotten evolutionary branch. The indomitable Diana of the original comics faded away, and less interesting archetypes convergently evolved to take her girdle, to fit DC’s limited ‘heroine’ niche. (more…) 

Snowpiercer: Severed From Reality

In Writing on November 21, 2014 at 1:04 am


Originally posted on The Hooded Utilitarian. 

Some stories seem too smart to be symptomatic. Rather than try to suppress or exorcise the fraught, irrational elements that inevitably bubble up through the floorboards, some stories court the absurd directly. This instinct is the one truly smart thing about the movie Snowpiercer, the summer’s critical dark horse, recently released to a very positive reception on Netflix. The world’s audiences and film critics can be forgiven for projecting this intelligence upon the rest of the film, which doesn’t deserve it. (more…)

House Wine: Obvious Child’s Cheap Anonymous Red

In Nightly Glass, Writing on September 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm


Originally posted on The Nightly Glass

Wine signifies wealth on film. The successful boyfriend in the beer-fueled Drinking Buddies packs wine on a picnic hikeRobocop’s cocaine kingpin drinks it at work. In Say Anything, the heroine’s affluent family grills her blue-collar boyfriend while sipping from crystal glasses.

This connotation obscures a fundamental truth about wine: that it is often the cheapest booze available. A bottle of wine costs as little as a few dollars. Yet many film-goers would not recognize whether a bottle was expensive or cheap just from the look of it. Plenty of cheap wines have fancy labels, while prestigious boutique producers use the same eye-catching, colorful designs as mass-produced corporate brands. (Highly branded wines are the easiest to identify. Many people have a basic understanding that ‘Silver Oak’ is expensive, which underlies its popularity despite its poor price value.) If a glass of wine isn’t known to be high class, its assumed to be aspirational of high class. The same could be said of wine drinkers.

A pile of cans’ or ‘a flask’ visually connote cheap drinking more effectively, but their representation becomes inextricably tied with characterizations of desperation, and recklessness. So chalk it up to Obvious Child, whose heroine Donna finds herself knocked up by a relative stranger after losing her job, apartment, and serious boyfriend, to be the rare movie that documents the reality of the struggling wine consumer. (more…)