Friday, February 11, 2011

Made Up

DI: Okay. I’m going to let a genie out of the bottle, here. You and I had spoken before. We were planning, after I’d made arrangements for a year’s worth of interviews with Bruce, for a year with you, too. Then there was a lot of shuffling, financial crises and, actually, I’m not entirely sure what all has contributed to our slowdowns. But rather than starting in January of this year, you’re waiting patiently. I’ve heard a lot about you, from two men who I feel it’s safe to say are great admirers of yours.

But you’ve been in the news a lot, lately. There’s the David E. Kelley script floating around [note: that has apparently been picked up for production]. And then there’s a new MAC make-up set. I know there’s been a sort of a mini controversy about the products, along a lot of familiar lines. People accusing you of selling out, of hocking products and an image that aren’t appropriate for young girls, who are some of your biggest fans.

I’m not sure how to introduce you, exactly, I guess if we’d had more time before deciding to do this while Bruce is out of the country, that’s one of the things we’d have talked about. But I’m speaking with Wonder Woman, Diana, Ambassador and Princess of Themiscyra.

WW: You bring up a lot of points, so I’ll parse it out and speak to them, one at a time. First off, I’m not “selling out.” In the context of a live person, I’m not sure how you do that, how that accusation even makes sense, but no. My portion of proceeds, from any of these endeavors, will be going to charity. Second, there’s a very good reason why I’ve agreed to these projects, and why now.

With Clark gone, there’s been a vacuum in the world. And, quite frankly, I want to take advantage of that. Clark was always very conscious of not wanting to have a message when he was alive. But I have a message. A very clear message, I think, distilling the wisdom of my people, a lot of which will be news to a great many people.

But before I can, I have to brand myself a little more clearly. A lot of people looked to the similar color schemes in my armor and Clark’s over the years and just assumed we were married, and that, as is traditional, that I was weaker and subordinated to him.

Even when I explained to people that my armor is traditional, going back thousands of years, most people roll their eyes. Because people look at Greek and Roman sculpture and think it was a very muted culture, all classy but bland white and dark colors. But the Parthenon was as gaudy as Vegas in its day, painted in vivid and evocative colors. My armor is very much a part of that tradition.

Unfortunately, the colors inherent in that tradition were the same as Clark inherited from his family. So I had the choice of honoring my heritage and being called Clark in a swimsuit, or turning my back on my culture just to make a few people who didn’t know better think better of me. So I have what they call a branding problem. And all of this is to explain, more clearly, to the public who and what I am and represent.

DI: By selling make up with your face on it?

WW: It seemed a little silly to me, too. But that’s marketing. In the sphere of marketing, Lady Gaga reigns supreme. Don’t expect me to go to those lengths, but that’s the world I’m trying to reach, the same one where Lady Gaga is probably the most popular musician alive.

But to your point about make up, and whether it’s harmful to girls, it’s a complicated issue. The idea that women need to represent some point of physical and aesthetic perfection is inherently wrong. Expecting women to spend more time on their appearances, the objectification of women, these are still very much a part of the culture. And I think it can be easy to fall into that trap, where you become part of the population de facto requiring women to hold themselves to these standards.

DI: Let me interrupt you for a second to ask: how much make up are you wearing, right now?

WW: Very little, actually.

DI: Please tell me you’re lying.

WW: I have a little bit of rouge on my cheek, and a nude pink lipstick.

DI: No foundation, no, uh, concealer?

WW: You’re out of your depth, aren’t you?

DI: Drowning. But is the make up cruelty free?

WW: Yes, actually.

But to me, feminism is about choice. Forcing women to conform to an unrealistic standard of beauty is immoral.

DI: But by popularizing yourself, aren’t you, in fact, holding yourself up as an ideal candidate for that unrealistic beauty standard?

WW: I think your point would be a fair one if I underwent plastic surgery. Or allowed Photoshopping on any photos of me. But I don’t; I don’t sign a release for photos without a guarantee that I will not altered in any way. I’ve been criticized before in the past for all of these things, and the Photoshop rule is a reaction to that, but I’ve never had any kind of work done. I’m not augmented. I don’t think I should hide or apologize for the way I look.

And I think that’s the heart of the issue. I’m fortunate, in that I’m coming from the positive end of that spectrum, but it isn’t fair to penalize women for the way they look. Instead, women should be free, or at least as free as men, to be comfortable with their appearance. In this day and age, a man can grow his hair or his beard long or shave it all off without much stigma. But women are scrutinized.

What it comes down, to, or should, is that women should have the same options as men. And I’d argue, there are options that should be opened to men, as well. If a man wants to wear foundation, or eyeliner, or paint his nails, there should be no problem. People should be free to make decisions about their own bodies. It’s somewhat analogous to the African American community retaking the word “nigger.”

DI: Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white woman say that word with such force, and, help me out here, confidence, without it sounding, well, racist. I guess, technically, your skin’s maybe a little olive, so “white” might be inaccurate, but you know what I mean.

WW: I do. But that’s my point. Anything that gives other people power over us is wrong.

DI: I want to be careful how I say this, because it’s a sensitive issue. But some people complain that in particular with that word, it then becomes “their” word and only okay for them to say. In a way, you’re excluding white people to make sure they can’t exclude black people. There’s certainly some tension in that idea.

WW: I think there’s a transition, there, where an outgroup can’t use something the ingroup does without being seen as an oppressor. But the goal, eventually, is for the old meaning to die entirely, become extinct. So that no one can use it for oppression. Once you’ve passed that threshold, the word opens back up for everyone. I think gay has mostly made that transition; fag and queer are lagging only slightly behind it.

DI: You’re less intimidating than I thought you’d be. I kind of worried I was going to get punched out a window, with some of the questions I wanted to ask. I’m not sure how closely you’re involved with David E. Kelley’s show featuring you.

WW: I’ve purposely distanced myself from it. I don’t want to stand over his shoulder and dictate a biographical and accurate portrayal of my life. That would be boring, and at the same time invasive. So I’ve stayed as far away from it as I can.

DI: But Bruce specifically questioned the Sex in the Cityness of the script. I don’t think he meant to imply that you don’t girl-talk, just that it didn’t feel right for you.

WW: I think I’m dishier than Bruce might know. He’s never really been privy to the girl-talk.

DI: You sure about that? He is a sneaky guy.

WW: That’s… creepy. But no. I think he could have spied on us. But he wouldn’t. For all of the seedier aspects of his life, at least from an outward appearance-

DI: The “bachelor” who constantly has a revolving door of children staying in his home a la Michael Jackson, the brooding billionaire in fetish gear, his reputation for general dickishness-

WW: Yes, all that, he really is a perfect gentleman. Respectful. Honest. Surprisingly caring.

DI: Surprising that he cares?

WW: Surprising by its depth.

DI: Okay, I think that’s probably a good place to end it. But I’m really glad that we’ve got more conversations coming up, because I think I have more questions than answers written down, now.

WW: I look forward to it.

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