Paula Struckman
Cultural Confidential Contributor

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March 14, 2013
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Community Cinema features documentary on 'Wonder Women'

When you hear the movie title "Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines," who do you think of: Rosa Parks, Madeleine Albright, Amelia Earhart, or, perhaps, dynamic female athletes?

The movie depicts none of those amazing women. Think comic books! This documentary analyzes the metamorphosis of the original Wonder Woman from the 1940s until the present and how these changes reflect the shifting values of our society.

Superheroes such as Batman and Superman emerged during the late 1930s when a depressed society embraced the idea of someone coming down from the sky to help the needy, and these heroes put comic books on the map. However, Harvard-trained psychologist, William Moulton Marston, felt that within 100 years the world would be run by a matriarchy, and he envisioned a Wonder Woman, a superheroine: His psychological propaganda for the type of women who would rule the world. Marston sold this idea to a comic book company, and in 1941 Wonder Woman debuted.

The success of the comic was due to many factors. One reason, the role of women drastically changed due to their role in World War ll. Housewives were transformed into Rosie the Riveters, and women became a permanent part of the workplace. The image of a capable, strong woman was gaining strength. Another reason, her role was to teach men peace and love, not war. Still another reason: Wonder Woman captured the imagination. The heroine was an Amazon who lived on Paradise Island; she was a Princess and a Goddess to impressionable young girls looking for a role model.

Wonder Woman was many Wonder Women as her character evolved from the wartime heroine to the 1960s fashion boutique owner (perhaps a reflection of society's anxieties about women's liberation) but was later resurrected a heroine by feminist Gloria Steinem and Ms. Magazine. In 1979, the character was portrayed by Lynda Carter in a TV series; in the 1990s as an animated heroine. In 2012, the character was being considered for another TV series.

This documentary examines how our culture places values on women's looks rather than deeds. The director examines the ambivalence in our society toward powerful women. Women are portrayed as "good" and "brave" but rarely as real "heroines."

The box office demands sexy, good-looking, romantic women who help the men but do not drive the action. What is the difference between a male and a female super person? The predominate focus of women heroines is on justice and compassion.

Where is the Wonder Woman of today? Who inspires you to be compassionate, strong, able to overcome adversity? Maybe your mother, a teacher? Ah, the wonder of women!

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 14, 2013 01:48PM Published Mar 14, 2013 01:47PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.