A few weeks ago I viewed the movie Wonder Woman. I had planned to write an essay on the film to add a female super-heroine to my list of male superheroes. I somehow gave up on the idea since. I decided to write this short piece to explain why instead.
Wonder Woman No. 1
The movie is loosely based on the first issue of the comic book Wonder Woman published on July 22, 1942. Except for the British cast I was not impressed with the acting. The story is a bit convoluted. The setting moving from animated Greek mythology, to American comic book character and to the First World War, all conjured up in order to make the story work. I liked the short Greek mythology intro but disappointed by the idyllic fairy tale setting of an island populated by Amazons speaking with strange accents. A few minutes into movie I got the feeling that this was going to be another Hollywood blockbuster made to please a wide audience to make a box office sales record.
What prompted me to see the movie was its good reviews. And I was curious about the comic book’s creator who was a psychologist.
Charles Moulton created Wonder Woman during the Second World war in a period when American women worked in factories to build weapons while men were fighting abroad. These women were instrumental in winning the war and made the US the leading industrial power of the world.
William Moulton Marston picked the pen name of Charles Moulton for his comic book writing. He chose his mother’s family name making a matrilineal statement about his mother’s influence in his life. As a psychologist he became convinced that women had an ingrained loving nature in contrast to men’s more erratic disposition for violence. He saw the need to create a comic book character who would conquer the world with love rather than with fits and firepower. His wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston suggested he create a super-heroine to embody his idea of a loving character who would conquer the world by ending devastating wars.
Marston shared a lifelong relationship with his wife and former student Olive Byrne. Both embodied the feminism of the day. Throughout his career he recognized women’s latent abilities in the workplace and championed feminist causes. As a psychologist he realized that comic books had a great educational potential to reach a wide audience of young readers.
It took me a few weeks to figure out what bothered me about the movie. I finally realized it was a disconnect between what Wonder Woman does and what she says. Her actions throughout the movie are violent while she speaks about peace and love. One interpretation of the split personality relates to portraying an original character of a comic book in a movie format. These are two different entertainment mediums. Cinema is typically based on a screenplay that is adapted and produced by the movie industry into a media production. Whereas the comic book remains in its essence a narrative with drawings. Foremost, the comic book involves reading.
The non-stop visual violence and mesmerizing special effects obliterates the original message of love of the original comic book narrative. The disconnect between the visual violence and the narrative relies on the main purpose of the movie to make money underscoring the premise of Wonder Woman’s original comic book story: A mythical heroine who uses her female superpowers to induce confessions and communication in order to defend the world against violence and annihilation.
The Net Age does not refer to the contents of this web site or to the markup language (HTML) and the WWW that rides the infrastructure of the Net. What constitutes this new age is the hardware that is physically located throughout the planet ̶ transcending geographical, political, juridical, cultural and linguistic borders ̶ linking devices that provide a network of connections that enables communication.
Similar in fashion to the invention of the printing press. It was the new technology that ushered a cultural revolution that eventually led to the Renaissance that transformed the politics and religions of Europe. The hardware was at the core of change. The printing and distribution of copies of the Bible at the outset were merely the result of the technological invention. The physical tool was the source of an evolutionary process that promoted literacy, individualism and the reshuffling of the hierarchy of power.
The web is currently the most popular markup language used in the world. That doesn’t mean that several other hidden networks don’t exist. Most of them are likely related to state’s covert military and surveillance networks. As such, the web has evolved into a preferred tool of overlapping totalitarian surveillance systems that is corrupting the nature of communication and the sovereignty of the individual.
Powerful search engines use a self-serving mathematical justification of algorithms to promote the most popular pages not the content of the most relevant or innovative. These algorithms serve to enhance the scope and reach of already dominant systems and buries deep in its page rank creativity and progress.
However, the nature of the universe is such that any totalitarian tendency is doomed to failure and will eventually degenerate. The third law of motion states that to every emerging force/action there will be an equal opposing force/reaction. If this theory holds true we can expect that a novel code/language already exists.
Human beings are creatures of habit. It will be hard to give up a system that is so pervasive and convenient. However, necessity is the mother of invention and deep in the abyss of the Internet wilderness a new markup language will spring to life and spread throughout the planetary network.
It is through artistic creation that obvious yet overshadowed truths come to light. In James Graham’s play Privacy, the author entertains the idea that in a post-Snowden world it is not privacy but retrospection and self-communication that should be the topic of concern. In that respect, psychoanalysis, reflection, meditation or prayer are an essential component of human spirituality. Only by segregating ourselves or by being left out, do we perceive ourselves as individuals rather than pawns of a sharing economy that benefits subliminal, powerful and omnipresent corporations. In this respect, a healthy balance needs to be reinstated between a wholesome self, as individuals and integrated human beings, and the outside/on-line world of the State and subliminal moneyed corporations.
Ed Snowden made a decision to stand up and confront a system that he perceived to be misguided. He knew that his actions as an individual would result in being chastised and segregated from a system of which he was part, and that he would be segregated and prosecuted by the system.
In order to preserve his liberty/integrity Snowden has to make sure that he is off-line from persecutors and prosecutors. At the same time he is an on-line paradigm of sovereignty. The Internet being a domain that transcends juridical borders: Herein lies an on-line/off-line dynamic…
It is also something of a love story. The protagonist, identified merely as The Writer and played by Daniel Radcliffe, is a proxy for the playwright who, in the wake of a painful break-up, is trying first to use the internet, then to wean himself off it, in order to make meaningful connections with others. Through his personal journey, Graham gets at the play’s real purpose: to animate the post-Snowden world in such a way as to make us, the audience, feel that not only are our intellectual but our emotional liberties at risk.
At the center of the play is an understanding most of us grasp at but have yet fully to articulate: that the more we share with strangers online, the less available our interior lives become not just to our intimate relations and friends, but to ourselves. The play opens in a psychotherapist’s office in north London, where The Writer is meeting his therapist for the first time to discuss his state of emotional paralysis. What is the introvert to do in an age in which the sharing economy – emotional, moral, financial, structural – is the only currency available?
The most popular movie at the turn of 2016 was Star Wars; The Force Awakens. As the title of the series implies, the topic of war is being projected in future outer space even though we’re still a long way from colonizing a planet. This shows how rivalry and war are part of man‘s genetic and narrative code. Keep in mind that Joseph Campbell was instrumental in Lucas’ development of his Star Wars saga. His contribution is noted in the theme of the Force that is part of the episode’s title.
On another perspective, the title may not only allude to outer space but to Hollywood’s star system and the conquest of alien market share.
With this in mind, I couldn’t help noticing what may be a change in trend in Italy and perhaps elsewhere. During the Holidays the most popular movie in Italy was not Star Wars but a low budget movie entitled Quo Vado?
In three days the movie grossed more money at the box office than Star Wars did in three weeks. This is noteworthy because the movie is an Italian production. The people involved in the film seem to have escaped being swept away into the vortex of Hollywood’s black hole. Hopefully this movie will inspire and reinvigorate an Italian movie industry that has been moribund for the past four decades: Will Italy ever again produce directors like Fellini, Lina Wertmuller or the recently deceased Ettore Scola?
Quo Vado?; meaning where will I go or what other job will I be able to find, is a satire about a bureaucrat who his ready to do anything in order to cling to his government job. The subject touched a raw nerve in Italy where politicians and the bureaucracy have it better than a majority of working class Italians. This especially true of a great portion of the youth who can’t find a job. Whereas the private sectors, comprised of small family and mid size businesses, is burdened with too many taxes, regulations and struggling to survive in the global economy.
Bloated governments thrive elsewhere in the world. Examples of politicians, bureaucrats and the revolving door of government officials/private contractors who use tax payer’s money for an ever growing financial, security and surveillance state is a point in case. Instead of creating a more secure environment for the economy these systems create novel forms of protectionism. Unfortunately protectionism always results in a decrease in the velocity of money and a decline in the global economy. This decline will eventually be the best remedy to cure the overgrowth of a government/dark state.
astroturf: Creating the impression of public support by paying people in the public to pretend to be supportive. The false support can take the form of letters to the editor, postings on message boards in response to criticism, and writing to politicians in support of the cause. Astroturfing is the opposite of “grassroots”, genuine public support of an issue.