Wonder Woman: The most relevant and important pop-culture icon of the living generations. [Spoiler Free]

As you may already be able to tell, I’ve seen Patty Jenkins’ and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and I liked it. A lot.

Women don’t sell in western-genre-action-films. They don’t sell in comics and they most definitely don’t sell action figures. Don’t believe me? Walk into your nearest toy section and check out the offerings of Star Wars toys. You’ll probably notice that the hardest characters to find on the shelves are the female leads from both recent offerings of Star Wars on the big screen (and it’s definitely not because they’re flying off of the shelves too fast). Marvel themselves, even with all of their glorious success have refrained from attempting to make a dent in this giant hole in the market. Surely they could have made women take centre-stage in mainstream action culture instead of the previous efforts in the super-genre that fell short of the numbers in comparison male-led (or i guess you could just call it ‘the standard’) offerings we see month after month. But as Kevin Feige (Marvel’s own Walt Disney) has cautiously danced with press over the past few years, the concept is ‘a challenging thing’. Perhaps this is why Marvel have waited on the sidelines for DC/Warner to attempt it first. You’re probably listing the number of successful female action icons on both hands as you read this, and I can too. But I’d challenge you to think carefully about which demographic these heroines were aimed at and how. Even if you can find one that genuinely wasn’t marketed as boy-bait with guns, did it even make a step at the foot of the mountain of success the big boys did? The Divergent series’ finale found it’s home away from the silver screen its predecessors debuted on and instead slid in for a humble conclusion in home release. Did anyone with professional insight expect any different of Wonder Woman? Absolutely not. But ‘boy’ were they wrong. And it wasn’t because she handed the fella’s their asses (I mean… she totally did in the film, but there was much more going on than that 😉

When it comes to the structure and plot of Wonder Woman, no new ground is really broken. It’s a comic-book origin story like many others. Our protagonist receives a greater calling, meets a love interest, struggles to adapt to her responsibilities, is surrounded by personal and social struggle, discovers greater power within the depths of tragedy and despair and most importantly kicks a bunch of stuff over. But that’s not where the magic of this unprecedented entry into Super-Action comes from.

Where I remember leaving the theatre after Captain America: Civil War bedazzled by explosions, easter eggs and cameos thinking ‘wow, that unmemorable villain sure got what they had coming’ (and sure, the forgettable villain in Wonder Woman sure got what he had coming). I instead walked out of WW thinking ‘What am I going to do differently in my life?’

Yep. Diana Prince was stronger and braver than the boys. Yes, she had her emotions pulled at and manipulated to progress the plot and yes, she kicked people through brick walls. She got dirty, she spoke her mind and displayed values of honour and courage that no one else managed to acquire without her example (don’t all boldly coloured supes?) What sets this film apart is the fact that Avenging loss wasn’t the motivating force that overcame an opponent just outside the reach of our lead. Yeah, she got angry. Really. Angry. Yes, that anger was even inspired by sadness and loss. Without spoiling plot details for you. Anger, pain and loss were motivating factors for Wonder Woman, but the element that i’ve never before seen displayed in this caliber of film, is the fact that these motivations were purely reflective. WW falls in a landslide of anger, then reflects on it and instead acts from… are you ready? Love

The first moment in the film that we see Diana in full costume moments before leaping into action. I couldn’t contain my emotions. I cried, man! It was visually beautiful and excitingly stimulating for sure, but I wasn’t crying happy comic-nerd-tears. In fact I didn’t know at the time why it got to me so much, it was only discussing the movie after that I realised it was one simple, magnificent thing:

Wonder Woman didn’t finally jump head-on into bullets because she had finally become angered enough by an unjust mans world. It was because she could no longer contain her love for the helpless victims of World War One not to!

Where this film becomes a generational masterpiece is due to the graceful display of acceptance for what is and what one believes in. WW didn’t have to abandon her femininity to be on par with the men gunning for her blood, she instead embraces the masculinity of violence in one fist while following through with the compassion and nurturing of femininity in the other. Further to the film’s credit, Chris Pine’s supporting character ‘Steve Trevor’ also embraces the gentleness a man can embody when he allows the femininity within himself to shine (even with a ripping six-pack and a great haircut). This film didn’t put one gender before the other. It didn’t put anyone in their place (which it so effortlessly could have). Instead it stands as a lone example of what it is for two opposing genders to actually deserve to stand together.

The biggest take-away from the film for me was this: Love. Really is. all you need. Anyone reading this that is familiar with me, would probably label me as an idealist. But even I have struggled to whole-heartedly swallow the premise that love conquers all. My whole life I have so desperately wanted to believe this. But in a world full of bent values, injustice and pride over priority. I’ve never been able to understand how love can really be an effective rival to so much ugliness and hatred. Until now. Until Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman teaches us that in order for love to combat the viscousness of hatred and greed, we are not required to rid ourselves of our dark motivations. Anger, jealousy, resentment and despair are unavoidably motivating. We need these emotions. They are a big portion of half of our experience as humans. But when we learn to give ourselves that extra second beyond reaction, acting in love is just as unstoppable a force as an amazon with bullet-reflecting wrists.

Wonder Woman shows us that in order to use love to it’s full potential we must: Embrace our hatred, step into our anger, hold our breath in our sorrow for consideration, then act in love.

Functionalism has become an acceptable element of all that we wash our hands of in the world. But not for Wonder Woman. WW doesn’t have time to allow for a few eggs to crack just to make her omelet (ok, so she mayyyy have killed a few people along the way, but let’s not be precious here 😛 ).

The film has already crossed 222 million dollars in ticket sales (and deservedly so). Not because the feminists are putting the heads of men on spikes, But because it is a much needed example of what it looks like when opposite sides of a coin display the qualities it will require for us all to deserve the right to call ourselves equals at all.

See the movie. Learn from it’s example. Support the brand, buy the merchandise and the toys. Heck, get more and give them away if you can. Show the market place and the suits that this is the kind of culture we want to spread in the world.

Make no mistakes. Inequality has it’s many corners. Racially, sexually and socially. But this film is a leap forward and i’ll support the shit out of it. Hopefully you will too, if not, maybe you’ll at the very least leave the popcorn-littered seats with the one question I also did:

How will I make a change now?

My highschool teacher successfully groomed my friend into drugs and sex

Why does she call him by his first name? No one else at school calls him by his first name…

I could tell she had a thing for my teacher. Boy is she going to wish she’d taken it seriously when I asked her out after he knocks her back. I boasted to myself through my jealousy. She’s going to make an idiot out of herself here, he’s a teacher, she’s a student, of course he won’t be interested. He’s in his 40s!

Turns out she was no idiot. I. Was the idiot.

She was 14 and in grade 10. I was 15 and a grade above. We’d known each other since we were 7 years old and in second grade. We were “girlfriend and boyfriend” on and off the whole way through primary school before losing touch with each other when I moved to high school a year before her. We lived across the (waterless) creek from each other. She was incredibly fun, I was always getting into trouble because she’d have me laughing hysterically at the most inappropriate times. I always found it confusing as to how she became such a creative, outgoing and hilarious person. As kids her house was always a little awkward to be around, because her family were european and her dad was always stern and dismissive with her. I never once heard him speak in english (it was 1994, so i’d never been to another kids house that didn’t have english speaking parents). But the vibe I got (which could be totally wrong for all I really know) was that he didn’t really have much time for her. Her mum was wonderful though.

I’d kind of forgotten about her until she graduated into the senior area of our high school. I was totally smitten by her and I had to tell her! She invited me to her place to hang out. That’s when she told me that she had a 31 year old boyfriend from overseas she’d met in an online chat room. I thought it was weird of course but I had absolutely no sense that this was a dangerous situation. She told me that her parents were really pissed about this relationship she’d been having online and that she was mad at them in return for not understanding it and for not allowing them to meet in person. All I could think about was how much this screwed up my chances of us dating again, because she liked older guys.

That’s when she started referring to one of our teachers by his first name. She said that our teacher was really understanding and that he’s great to talk to. He must have met her dad I remember thinking. What an awesome teacher he must be to give her his private e-mail address and to counsel her like her actual father probably doesn’t. Eventually I got frustrated with the inadequacy of my age not being appealing to her and stopped pursuing her.

She’s crazy if she thinks adult men are going to go out with her. 

Yeah. “Crazy”.

He was everyone’s favourite teacher. Undisputedly. He wasn’t like all of the other teachers. He was in touch with us. He knew how to talk to us and he knew how to engage with us. Year after year students would love his classes. He was motivated, dedicated and in touch! Who wouldn’t feel special to have extra access to the guy outside of school?! Every single. parent. teacher. and. student. LOVED. this. man.

By the time i’d gotten to year 12 I had completely forgotten about my crush on her, her ‘weird’ attraction to older men and her ‘privileged’ relationship to the ‘student favourite’ teacher of our school.

“They’re together, didn’t you know? They have been for ages!” Bragged a mutual friend of she and I.

I didn’t believe it. What bullshit. So I thought fuck it, I’ll ask her. Then it was very real. She was so proud of it. That was when I learned about the drugs he gave her, how he’d dress her up in nurses outfits, about how they’d have sex at school, about all of the close calls between them and other school staff nearly busting them, about how another of the schools most popular teachers and close friend of his also knew about this relationship, about how he simply viewed this relationship with a grade 11 student as a “bad idea”. I thought it was all her fault. I thought she’d forced him into it, that she was messing up HIS life. I saw her fading away into a permanent haze of pills and coke that he bankrolled. Everyone just accepted the fact that they would fuck each other between the walls of a construction area in our school. That when the principle would come into his room after school for a chat, completely unaware that she was on her knees under the very table they talked across.

The relationship continued after she left school as we all watched the drug use go up at the same rate that her mental stability appeared to go down. I was living with friends, my housemate’s girlfriend was part of her social circle still and we lived at “the party pad”. That was when I saw a very different version of our teacher than the one we’d all known. The two of them would break up, get back together, break up, get back together. I remember it was new year’s eve at our party pad and it just so happened to fall during one of their separated phases. I don’t really know why, but she invited me to listen in on a jealous rant of his over the phone that night…

…that was when I finally heard it. The manipulation, the way he spoke to her like a disappointed father because she was partying with people her own fucking age…

‘well, i guess this does say a lot, if you’d rather be there with people like that, I hope you are happy with that, I guess I just thought perhaps…’sigh’… that you were more mature than that’.

It wasn’t much later in the new year that she took refuge at our place during the next break-up, that he beat the absolute shit out of her car in our drive-way. Full ‘Wolf of Wallstreet’ mode in some kind of a coke-binge-tornado of passionate fury.

I randomly saw her maybe a year or so after while I was working in a tobacconist. She was in a slightly manic panic telling me about how she’d just stolen about 10 grand from his personal safe and was moving to Melbourne to become a professional skater. Next time I saw her was in my early 20’s. I tried to talk to her but she barely knew who I was let alone where she was.

And I judged HER. I didn’t know shit. I thought all of this was the product of her own poor decision making and that it was really sad to see someone i’d known most of my life become a shell of themselves because of their ‘mistakes’.

Turns out i’d later get married to a victim of childhood sexual abuse. And because of her journey and courage, had my eyes opened to just how cunning and masterful predators like child abusers can be.

I was there when I saw her not get the attention from her father she probably needed, I was there when she started to seek out the attention of older men and I was there when she unknowingly played directly into the hands of an opportunistic piece of shit who destroyed her fucking mind, body and life.

But not once in my life did I get told by anyone how an appropriate relationship between a child and an adult should look. Not one teacher, parent or sibling discussed it. I had absolutely no idea what was happening right in front of my face. But they didn’t know any better then and neither did I!

We all knew. Other teachers knew. Other parents knew. Eventually someone made a complaint to the school, but she was no longer a student then. The school politely asked him to resign (a credit to all of the great work he had done there since the place opened). Where was his next job…? A girls only high school.

As far as I’m aware he was last known to be teaching in a rural area to indigenous Australians. And I have zero. ZERO doubt…

… he’s the most popular teacher there.

 

 

I’m not safe on stage next to a girl.

I’ve been a musician for most of my life. At the age of 21 I became a professional and full-time performer, I got to travel overseas to the Middle East and back multiple times for 7 years, I performed in front of Osama bin Laden’s brother, on secret RAF and U.S. Navy bases in the UAE and Oman, surrounded by alcohol, surrounded by different nationalities, religions, ideologies, I performed in the nice parts of town and the rough parts of town. Never in the 10 years that this has been my life have I ever felt as though I was in danger. Not. Once.

That was before. Before I accidentally made the mistake of performing in a duo with an attractive, 19-year-old girl.

Not on a secret military base. Not to the sibling of a now assassinated terrorist. Not even in the bad part of town. It doesn’t matter where we go, it doesn’t matter what we do. Performing with a 19 year old girl in my home city of Adelaide, Australia is the most unsettled i’ve ever had to feel on stage. In my life!

For some reason, men of all ages want to touch her, cat-call her, grab at her, pick her up and run out of the fucking bar with her and (wait for it, because this one’s my favourite) at our previous gig this past weekend decided to sit 20 feet away from us mid-song and rub his penis (for her entertainment of course) for 45-fucking-minutes. Now I’m not one to judge by appearances, but this lovely fella looked like he’d just fallen out the back of a paddy-wagon (which is fine, people can look how they want!) and it’s pretty safe to say the second you sexually assault my singer (in the presence of her FATHER) it would appear the contents of said book matches the cover to a T. Right?

“She’s the one being sexually harassed, how does that make you unsafe?”

How? Because she’s 19 and I’m a 31 year old male and i’m 6 feet tall. 9 times out of 10 we’re performing an hour away from home, it’s midnight when we pack up and if ANYTHING is going to happen to her, i’m the only person there to defend her. And I would any day of the week. But i’m one guy vs a sea of generic wife-beater wearing bar flies and their mates. We have to coordinate leaving together, I’m always looking over my shoulder for the guy I had to ask not to use our gear for “karaoke” during a set-break, I mean fuck! In this part of the world you don’t even have to do anything wrong to wind up on the floor after you’ve been punched in the back of the head by an unprovoked stranger. So what odds am I playing at working with the 19 year old that (rightfully) told some dick-head to get fucked after he LITERALLY strokes his penis AT her?!

The cops do get called at times. But chances are they already know the guy pretty well. “Come on, mate, that’s not o…. oh, please, stop urinating on the bar” as we make our way out the back.

I get it. It’s not about me. It’s about her and all of the other ‘hers’ around the world who have to consider what they should or shouldn’t wear on stage whilst singing soul music! My duo partner hardly shows up in fishnets and a duct-tape bra singing about her vagina (and so what if she did, still not an invitation). We’re playing 60’s and 70’s top 40 and she’s in a full-length dress. Which to me, hardly says “Can I see your penis please, guy with no shoes on?” She can’t get through one song without having to wonder if she should or should not smile at passers by, what if she sends the wrong signal, I mean it’s not like we’re meant to be entertaining or anything…

Is this stuff getting worse? I feel like it is. Is it because we’ve got a “pussy grab’n” president in the world now? Or was he merely elected by a wave of misogyny that broke before him? I don’t know. I don’t care. It’s not an episode of ‘Popeye’, fellas. So please…

…put your dick away and when she tells you to fuck off? Don’t think you’re in one of those ‘P.S. I Love You’ “she wants it but she’s just not showing it yet” moments. You’re embarrassing yourself and you should be extinct.

-Yours sincerely, the Punching Bag sitting next to her.

The “comments section”. Snapshot of humanity or alternate reality?

We’ve all been the victim of it, we’ve all probably been the villain at times too! If you’re reading this now then chances are you’ve gone to battle with (or been attacked by) another commenter. It stings, it’s personal and it’s addicting! Not only that, it appears to be getting worse and worse!

At a point in history where humanity has seen the exponential growth of our technology, our potential and population; “The Internet” and the rise of social media could easily be seen as a birds-eye perspective of the current state of our societies and their social norms. But is that the case? Or is the internet just the manifestation of a reality free of consequence?

Who doesn’t feel brave in the comfort on their own space, behind their own device, from the safety of their own profile? Social media allows us to define ourselves with imagery, short bios and social associations. But much like the way we can dress ourselves to align with an idea of what we want people to see, we can also build our digital appearance. For some it’s an opportunity to represent themselves as the way they honestly hope/believe they are. Or invent a completely parallel avatar to appear the way they want the world to see them. That’s a lot of power! A power strong enough to essentially alter their corner of this “digital reality” completely! Not only that. This new and invented self is out there! Mingling with other invented concepts of “real people”. And they’re at war!

So when someone says something racist, sexist, aggressive, violent etc. is that the truth? Are we looking beneath the veil of how they fit in to the “real, physical world” or just the alternate version they have developed for the online “realm”? Maybe that’s nonexclusive. Honestly, how could we even begin to know? What I do know is this: Social media is likely to be the reality most of us communicate within now. Our cultures are so plugged into it now that it’s killing us on the roads! There’s such a high importance on staying connected to it that a large number of people are willing to risk their own safety to use it!

Humans have always had a big issue getting along with each other. Look at human history (honestly, any of it) and you’ll see this has been a bit of a shortfall of human evolution.

What did we think was going to happen when we allowed 1.79 BILLION of them to talk to each other from opposite ends of the earth… instantly… impulsively and worse yet… emotionally?

I’d say it’s probably going about as well as to be expected.

Where things start to go wrong? When this false reality we believe we’re plugged into starts being adapted into our physical lives. Why is that a problem? Because for better or worse, the internet has made minorities a thing of the past. A person may not have any ability or opportunity to spew their hate-filled and bigoted thoughts at the workplace, school, train station or any other place that people tolerate having them around. They might be excluded for doing so. But in digital reality, finding another 5, 10, 50, 100, 1000 people to enable and resonate with those thoughts? Not so hard. Not only do their own statements gain (unwarranted) traction, but their affiliates are also ready to go when it’s time to attack opposing (probably fairer?) ideals.

Facebook, google, twitter, they all use algorithms specifically designed to align with your personal world view. They have obligations to their advertisers and they need to make sure you stick around, keep reading, clicking and driving up their revenue. That’s not very easy to do if one of your users is a KKK grand dragon and Facebook keeps telling him that afro-americans are people too.

Will this get better soon? Will we figure this out? History says “no”, but don’t lose hope yet:

Next time you want to avoid an all-nighter flame-war with NO victor, keep this in mind:

  1. You do not have a personal vendetta against this commenter, you have not and probably will not ever meet this person! (and if you do already know this person, well now you know them “better” and do you really want to bring MORE of that into your life?)
  2. Try and find common ground. Can you understand what they’re saying without having to actually agree to it? (better yet, do you actually know what they meant? Or did you just assume you do?)
  3. Imagine you saw that person stand in front of a group of people and say whatever garbage they just posted… how would that go down if they did? Would they actually have the guts to say that out loud? And if they did then what kind of person would they have to be? Probably one standing (or unconscious) in a now empty space.
  4. If someone has made a comment that offends you and pushes your buttons, they’re your buttons! You might not agree with or like what they said, but maybe you’re wrong. No one gets through life without being wrong at some point. Maybe it’s a good idea to consider whether this is one of those times.

We have the fastest communication in history, it’s amazing! We’ve done amazing things with it, i’m sure we will continue to do amazing things with it.

But the one thing that hasn’t been enhanced or even really given a chance to be represented in this globally connected platform is context. 

We are not the worst thing we’ve said (any of us would be permanent outcasts if so) and neither is the idiot that made a comment about your parenting on an Instagram post.

The internet is a reality. Good or bad? I guess that depends on your algorithm. So “like” responsibly. We’re contributing to human history one post at time, what’s your contribution going to be?

 

Earth, meet World.

Subjectivity wasn’t missed. In fact it was the only reason things flourished at all. Success wasn’t measured by personal worth. How could it have been? Subjective purpose was now a redundant ideology of a species long gone. Success was measured by connection and expansion. Yet admired by none, as it was necessity. Not fantasy.

For all their borders, their ‘principles’ and their distorted ethics. When the earth went to war against the world, their ideologies and contingencies for securing their shores were wiped away before the waves had even hit.

Resources were stored and allocated. A kind of self awareness that preceded self awareness. Connected to each other, bound by a symbiosis that only felt natural. The wood wide web. A message to prepare for what was to come travelled great distance. Unbiased of species, lineage or profit. Merely a gift to survival itself. Another generation must remain.

There is a magic out there. It doesn’t care to be noticed or celebrated. It simply is. Always present, always flowing, forever connecting. For if you have ever experienced anything at all, you have already witnessed its might.