Like many red-blooded America comic fans, I have constantly evolving emotions regarding Wonder Woman. As a little kid, she was just another member of the Superfriends that flew an invisible jet and saved the day. In my teen years, thanks to syndication, she was Lynda Carter. With those stunning blue eyes and jet black hair in her red, white, and bloomers; she could swoop in and save me from the bad guys anytime. I entered college and looked for ways to justify my love of comics with fellow academics whose approval I foolishly desired. I studied Wonder Woman’s literary origins and how she was so much more than Superman with boobs. Though truth be told, part of me simply wanted to sound smart in the ways of feminism. As a means of getting into bed with said feminists. Yes, you are free to shake your head and laugh at the pathetic desperation of that statement. Hey, at least I’m being honest. (Albeit ten years later). How do I see DC’s Amazon Princess now? A little combination of the three. That is one of the beautiful things about a character that has endured for so long. Wonder Woman stands for as many different beliefs as she has fans. It is these varying beliefs that make the reaction to this MAC Cosmetics commercial so very interesting:
Where to begin, right? Well, if I’m being honest, the very first thought that popped into my mind was “Damn, I love me some Mike Allred art”. Any messages aside, the commercial looks fantastic. His lines are deceptively simple and you’d be hard pressed to find an artist that draws a more elegantly powerful Wonder Woman. Then I started thinking about the message. Women can’t be beautiful unless they drench their face in powders and oils like so much dried turkey in a gravy bowl. Only Wonder Woman, in her fully painted ways, can save the poor Plain Janes of the world. She bests the vile Medusa, a savvy villain choice from a mythical stance, when you consider Medusa is her one villain that can never benefit from make-up. (Being the love and attention from others when they gaze upon her). The Plain Janes are again free go out and earn attention from their adoring fans. The commercial isn’t offensive to Wonder Woman as such. It isn’t Wonder Woman’s fault. First, we need to remember she isn’t real. True, she’s a symbol of power and independence to so many women and yes, men as well. But, she’s still an imaginary character and maybe it isn’t a good idea to imprint so many of our own desires and self-worth on a fictional character. That isn’t to say a work of fiction or a character can’t inspire one to better themselves and others. Indeed, that’s a driving goal of many creative endeavors. But only as a spring board. Something you can start from, not end at. The MAC commercial points to deeper issues within our youth and beauty obsessed culture. That’s a topic for more educated commentators to discuss. This is all about Wonder Woman.
The one owned by DC Comics and in turn, owned by Warner Brothers. I know it sucks, but Wonder Woman isn’t ours. She isn’t owned by the various writers and artists that told her tales. Hell, she isn’t even owned by William Moulton Marston anymore. Wonder Woman, just like Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and all the other underwear on the outside crowd are a corporate commodity. Harsh? Sure, but that is the reality. The MAC commercial is no different than Batman and the Joker pushing Hostess Fruit Pies in the 70s and 80s. “Oh Joker, you may be a homicidal maniac, but you sure know a tasty Boysenberry Pie. I can’t fault ya’ chum. Lets eat”! Belly laughs and diabetes for all. If only Barbara Gordon had some Suzy-Qs on hand, the ‘ol Clown Prince of Crime might have thought twice before blowing her through the spine. Okay, so maybe you think the self-worth of millions of women isn’t the same as a pushing some trashy snacks. Well, not to a cosmetics corporation or advertising company. They have a product to sell. DC and Warner Brothers have a character to promote. Both want to make money doing it. In that regard, whether you agree with the commercial or not, the spot worked. We’re all chatting about MAC products and DC gets to keep Wonder Woman high atop the cultural zeitgeist.
Personally, I don’t buy into the message behind the commercial. Plain Janes don’t need any saving from the terrors of, well, plainness. Do or don’t use MAC’s products or any cosmetics I suppose. If your entire self-worth is based about the opinion and demands of others, that points to deeper issues that a site that writes about comic books and Lightsabers can’t help you with. This is about Wonder Woman. It always has been. She’s a founding member of the Justice League of America. She’s a cunning warrior. She’s a loving caregiver. She’s an inspiration to many. She’s a leader. She’s a diplomat. She’s beautiful. She’s frail. She’s strong. And now, she’s a spokeswoman. Pretty sure she can do it.
After all, she is Wonder Woman.