There's been a lot of controversy going around lately involving the newest release in the DC Comics universe. I'm talking about Wonder Woman. If you take the film on its own, it's just another reboot of an established property in a sea of them. The film is a grittier and more realistic look at Diana, the princess of the Amazons, as she realizes her true potential and goes on to save the world. The fan and critical reaction to the film is really good all around. Rotten Tomatoes is giving it a 93%, Google users agree, and IMDb has Wonder Woman listed at 8.3/10.
Why is there any negative to this story? Well it all starts in Austin, Texas at a theater called the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.
This was the first theater to publish the (now) all too familiar sentiment, “Apologies, gentlemen, but we're embracing our girl power and saying 'No Guys Allowed' for one special night.” Alamo Drafthouse theaters around the country have since taken up the same sentiment as the flagship theater and planned their own female-only screenings of Wonder Woman. Many have gone on with little interruption, except maybe some news channel cameras. However, there are others that have had intense levels of controversy. Some showings in Denver are now being called illegal under laws that prevent discrimination based on gender.
There are a lot of viewpoints to this argument, and all of them are valid from their own perspectives. First there are those of the women, and those for the women's only screenings. Wonder Woman is a film about a strong female character who helps protect the world from harm. She may be a woman, but she's just as capable as any man and fights to help everyone. This is a fantastic sentiment, especially for young girls. They should know that they can be “masculine” in the regard of being strong. It's admirable. They can still be a woman and be feminine, but they can be everything else too.
We should carry these same sentiments through everything. We need films with strong female protagonists, females in science or technology roles, powerful disabled characters, and any number of minorities. They're are all great. They give us different perspectives and empower types of people who might not normally have their chance in the spotlight.
The female-only Wonder Woman screenings sought to do just that. They wanted to empower women by allowing them to view the film that starred the figurehead for female strength. There shouldn't be anything wrong with this. Especially since there were plenty of other screenings of Wonder Woman that allowed in every gender. In that regard, complaining about the female-only Wonder Woman screening is similar to whining that someone else has a tastier steak than yours when you have a perfectly good one on the plate in front of you.
Even still, there is a point to be made that The Alamo Drafthouse did explicitly exclude an entire half of the population. Some would consider this poor business. On paper it truly is. You want to reach as many customers as possible, so blocking half of them is a risk. The theater chain seemed to recognize this and blatantly not care in some cases. There was at least one Alamo theater in particular that responded to backlash with even more female-only screenings. Their Twitter account had a post that read, “We heard your complaints have taken swift & decisive action. Another women-only #WonderWoman show on sale now!” Adding more female-only screenings if the first few did well is one thing. But saying that you've heard complaints about them and scheduled more anyway is just plain rude.
Excluding people from things can be a slippery slope. If we're cordoning things off for women-only screenings, who's to say the next Superman film won't have men-only screenings? But then again, if there are other screenings available, what does it matter? So long as the theaters hosting these events have screenings of the same film running at the same time available to everyone, there's really no problem. This is a situation that would happen with or without the theater's explicit involvement. I know the main theater in my home town allows people to rent out single theaters for parties or corporate gatherings. Who's to say that someone might not have just rented out a theater and held their own female-only screenings? These wouldn't have had the sanctioning of an entire business chain behind it, so the drama might have been less, but the same concept of exclusion would have remained.
No matter what side of the line you stand on when it comes to the female-only Wonder Woman screenings, the fact still remains that they have happened. They were enjoyed by a great many, they were hated by a great many, and still yet another large group of people simply didn't care either way. It seems that some are taking legal action against the theaters who held the events, so we'll have to keep an eye on what develops on that.
Let me know your thoughts on the Wonder Woman screenings in the comments. I'd love to know what you think of the events. Love 'em, hate 'em, or just don't care?