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Saturday, August 22, 2020 

Wonder Woman 1984 uses villainous take on Max Lord as a metaphor for Donald Trump

After reading this quite eyebrow raising feature on Collider, I'm not sure what's worse: turning Max Lord into a villain as seen in the past 15 years since Countdown to Infinite Crisis, or, using that same template as a political metaphor for Donald Trump and more troublingly, capitalism, which the 2nd major WW movie appears to be written as an assault on, explaining why Gal Gadot participated in a chorus for John Lennon's Imagine song on the web:
The world of 2018 feels unrecognizable from our current point in time. We were just two years into Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency which beget the immigration crisis along the Mexican-American border, talk of collusion between Trump’s election campaign and Russian officials, the public-facing resurgence of white supremacy, and the height of the #MeToo movement. Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins was thinking about this moment on the U.K. set of her sequel to 2017’s DC Comics blockbuster—like the rest of us, blissfully unaware that in just two years time a global pandemic would force the public into quarantined isolation, dismantle the U.S. economy, and lead to a situation where a sitting president supports withholding funds for the postal service to prevent mail-in voting.

At the same time, just as Jenkins was thinking about the world of 1984 in relation to 2018, the problems of the past maintain parallels to problems of the present.

In the ‘80s, a time of excess and drive to achieve the “American Dream,” “It was like we thought for sure it could go on forever and there was going to be no price and you could just [have] exponential growth,” the filmmaker says on the set of 1984. But, as Jenkins and her characters realized, there is a price. “I think in that way, we’re talking about then and we’re also talking about right now,” she adds. “We’re talking about what we’re dealing with right now because that struggle is very much alive in our own psyche.”
So the news site scapegoats Trump over mail-in ballots for starters, and predictably would rather resort to the tired cliche of white supremacy, when bigotry comes in all races and both sexes, and anti-white racism's been on the rise of recent. But of course, these kind of people would rather remain selective in their outlook. The site goes to list what the filmmakers are saying:
First of all, why the year 1984, specifically? Might it have something to do with author George Orwell’s futuristic dystopia? “We should have that conversation after you’ve seen the film,” producer Charles Roven In any case, 1984 “was at the peak of [America’s] power and its pride,” associate producer Anna Obropta mentions. “It was everything commercialism, passion, wealth, even violence was in excess. It was a decade of greed and desire.” In simpler terms, “it was humanity at its best and at its worst,” she says.
I notice no mention of socialist structures in the original Soviet state still around at the time, until Reagan called for tearing down the Berlin Wall, which led to the USSR collapsing by the end of the decade. All they care about is allusions to capitalism? Now that's certainly troubling, though the following reveals more:
Who is the villain of this next chapter? Well, there are multiple antagonists, but the real enemy, one might argue, is capitalism. Gadot observes that Diana’s adversaries are not “obvious villains,” that she found herself rooting for them initially as much as she was rooting for Diana and Steve when reading the script. Game of Thrones’ veteran Pedro Pascal plays comic book villain Maxwell Lord, only in the context of the film he’s the president of Black Gold International. He’s the king of phony informercials. If people are chasing after dreams of wealth, power, and fame, then Max is selling those dreams. He is this “desperate, self-obsessed, fraudulent entrepreneur who runs a business selling the American Dream,” Obropta Barbara Minerva, another antagonist played by Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig, is beguiled by this illusion and eventually corrupted by it. The character will begin her transformation into Cheetah, one of Diana’s most famous adversaries from comics canon, by falling victim to Max’s scheme. “At first look, it is a dream come true,” Obropta continues. Diana’s once timid, bookish gemologist friend at the museum now feels “feels physically stronger. She feels more seen and respected in the world, but her power takes a very fast, very dark turn as she transforms into this vicious and savage creature, like nothing we could have ever imagined.” Diana, meanwhile, sees all the greed and all the “bad things that that are being done in order to get to the top,” Gadot says. “I think she doesn’t like that so much: the price that people are willing to pay in order to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. But other than this, I think [Diana] loves the ’80s. Great hair, she’s rocking the hair and styles, it’s great.”
Forget it, if this was written as a stealth assault on what the filmmakers happen to be building on at the movie theaters (assuming it's eventually released there, what with the Covid19 crisis still around), it's discouraging. From the content of this article, or lack thereof, it sounds like socialism in the USSR is being given a pass. And, there's more:
Expect parallels between Max and Trump. Photos of the fired reality TV star with a trail of bankruptcy filings adorn costume designer Lindy Hemming’s work space. “Donald Trump, of course,” she says, while discussing sketches for Max’s business attire. “Well, that’s helpful to look at, isn’t it? There is something about the period of Donald Trump and being a businessman, of being rather sleazy a little bit, and a bit goofy and a lot of talk. So that’s why he’s there. There’s more but I ought to just…” She trails off but “zip it” comes to mind.
I'll bet nobody cares Trump was more of a Democrat back in those days, and you won't hear it acknowledged anywhere in the film's promotion going forward. Here's more clues to what perspective the filmmakers took at the time they were first filming WW 1984:
While the film is set in 1984, it’s very much about what we’re going through today… or, more specifically, what we were going through around 2017-2018 at the time the movie was actually in production. As we know all too well, the world has drastically changed in the past six months alone. “It was particularly the ’80s because of the fact that that was the height of everything we’re now paying the price for,” Jenkins muses. “It was like we thought for sure it could go on forever and there was going to be no price and you could just [have] exponential growth. Then it could keep going, and all of this excess. And so I think in that way we’re talking about then and we’re also talking about right now. We’re talking about what we’re dealing with right now because that struggle is very much alive in our own psyche.”
Correction: it's all in their minds. Right down the notion we all believe capitalism has no downside, or that we thought it could keep going flawlessly for all eternity. Obama certainly proved otherwise, and Joe Biden's got connections confirming he's willing to continue the socialist legacy. If this is what they set out to do, they're not providing a much better scenario than one in Batman vs. Superman serving as a metaphor for attacking opponents of illegal immigration.

Maybe this explains, however, why the first WW movie was set during the 1st World War instead of the 2nd - because that way, they wouldn't have to concern themselves with the real evil of Germany's National Socialism. Just like they're not particularly concerned with what China's communism led to this year. So capitalism is the problem, and not socialism, in the 80s or today. Whatever merits the first WW movie had, it's turning to mush here in the second, and not just because Max Lord's been exploited as a villain here, but also because of what he's used for by extension. I don't feel encouraged to see a movie like this if that's what they're going to waste their time on. Though it explains why realists in Israel don't see Gadot as a "national treasure" (and she even violated Corona quarantine guidelines during a trip back here 2 months ago).

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