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“Wonder Woman” Director Patty Jenkins Schools James Cameron On “Strong Female Characters”

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Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has thrown a Lasso of Truth around James Cameron after he criticized her depiction of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman.

Cameron — who directed Titanic and Avatar — shared his comments about Jenkins with the Guardian, in an interview published yesterday under the illuminating headline “James Cameron: ‘The downside of being attracted to independent women is that they don’t need you.’” 

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BTW, the headline quote refers to Cameron describing his type — he has four ex-wives (Sharon Williams, producer Gale Ann Hurd, director Kathryn Bigelow, and actress Linda Hamilton) and is currently married to actress Suzy Amis.

But anyway, on to Wonder Woman.

Asked about the success of Wonder Woman, Cameron said:

All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!

wonder woman

Patty Jenkins responded with a statement posted on Twitter. It reads (emphasis mine):

James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though he is a great film-maker, he is not a woman. Strong women are great. His praise of my film Monster, and our portrayal of a strong yet damaged woman was so appreciated. But if women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far have we. I believe women can and should be EVERYTHING, just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman. And the massive female audience who made the film a hit it is, can surely choose and judge their own icons of progress.

Jenkins definitely has a point that female characters can be three-dimensional and interesting without being “hard, tough and troubled.” And tbh, Wonder Woman has far better female characters than fucking AVATAR.

wonder womanNot "hard, tough and troubled." Still a great character.

After Cameron’s comments circulated, people pulled up a few relics from the past that show he’s not such a pro when it comes to envisioning female characters himself.

For example, in 1998, Kate Winslet told Rolling Stone that Cameron called her “Kate Weighs-A-Lot” while filming Titanic and pressured her to lose weight to play Rose.

Titanic

And in a 2009 interview with Playboy, Cameron said this the male audience watching his hot lady alien character in Avatar:

They won’t be able to control themselves. They will have actual lust for a character that consists of pixels of ones and zeros. You’re never going to meet her, and if you did, she’s 10 feet tall and would snap your spine. The point is, 99.9 percent of people aren’t going to meet any of the movie actresses they fall in love with, so it doesn’t matter if it’s Neytiri or Michelle Pfeiffer....

Right from the beginning I said, “She’s got to have tits,” even though that makes no sense because her race, the Na’vi, aren’t placental mammals. I designed her costumes based on a taparrabo, a loincloth thing worn by Mayan Indians. We go to another planet in this movie, so it would be stupid if she ran around in a Brazilian thong or a fur bikini like Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C

I came up with this free-floating, lion’s-mane-like array of feathers, and we strategically lit and angled shots to not draw attention to her breasts, but they’re right there. The animation uses a physics-based sim that takes into consideration gravity, air movement and the momentum of her hair, her top. We had a shot in which Neytiri falls into a specific position, and because she is lit by orange firelight, it lights up the nipples. That was good, except we’re going for a PG-13 rating, so we wound up having to fix it. We’ll have to put it on the special edition DVD; it will be a collector’s item. A Neytiri Playboy Centerfold would have been a good idea.

Playboy then asked, “So you’re okay with arousing PG-13 chubbies?” and Cameron responded, “If such a thing should ­happen — and I’m not saying it will— that would be fine.”

avatar"Right from the beginning I said, 'She’s got to have tits'" - James Cameron

But sure, go on about how Wonder Woman is an "objectified icon," dude. We're with Patty Jenkins on this one. 

Wonder Woman

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Erika W. Smith is BUST's digital editorial director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erikawynn and email her at erikawsmith@bust.com.

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