The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Friday, June 16, 2017

Samurai Woman

Remember Tom Cruise is... The Last Samurai? If not, and if you really wanted to recall it, you can watch its distaff remake Wonder Woman.

(Yes, I know, I'm going full Ross Douthat here, writing about a movie when I could be writing about current events, or about philosophy. Pax Dickinson would not approve. Perhaps I can claim I am critiquing story-structure. Or I could just blame the heat again.)

In both movies, a foreigner with magic celebrity power drops in on a dying world to... well, I'm unsure. S/he does some saving of days. But always in the back of your mind, you know what's coming next. In Meiji Japan, what's coming next is the samurai ethic enlisted by the national army and applied to Pacific conquest. In Versailles-era Germany, what's coming next - after (mutinous) Ludendorff, and Doktor Poison - is Hitler, and Doktor Mengele.

Sure, hooray feminism in the latter case... to the extent modern feminists can consider Wonder Woman as one of them, but that's quite another rant. I'm still left feeling like the good guys haven't won. Or at least that they've won an extremely temporary victory and one that can be used as precedent by some very bad actors, in Wonder Woman's case by Hitler's Furies.

If Wonder Woman were truly subversive, it would better explain the temptations and corruptions power offers to women. Doktor Poison would have a sight more screentime, agency, and effect on the plot. Ares would be a metaphor, not a supervillain. Diana would consider joining a pro-power faction: maybe the Nazis, maybe the Bolsheviks, maybe Edith Wilson in all her liberal-fascist glory - and then, I hope, she'd resist it. With these changes to the story we'd be more invested in the stakes of it.

UPDATE 6/17 11:40 AM - backdating this post to the night I saw the movie.

posted by Zimri on 22:00 | link | 0 comments

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