In an interview with the Guardian in August, James Cameron called Wonder Woman an “objectified icon,” saying that Patty Jenkins’s movie and Gal Gadot’s portrayal was a “step backwards.” As an expert in what is good for women in film, it is no surprise that he is doubling down.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that is ostensibly about the two Avatar sequels and a possible new Terminator trilogy, Cameron addresses the Wonder Woman stuff at the top. If you’d thought he’d come around and realized that maybe, just maybe, no one cares what he thinks about this very particular subject, you would be incorrect.
When asked by the interviewer to clarify his comments, Cameron stood by it. “I mean, she was Miss Israel, and she was wearing a kind of bustier costume that was very form-fitting. She’s absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. To me, that’s not breaking ground,” he told THR. Cameron insists that his words were in the context of Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise being “a breakthrough in its time.”
In response to Cameron’s grumblings, Patty Jenkins made a point that should’ve ended the conversation right then and there. “But if women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far have we,” she wrote on Twitter. “I believe women can and should be EVERYTHING, just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman.”
This is a clear-headed and reasonable response to a man who seems only to be bent out of shape over the fact that no one is drawing connections between a character he wrote over 20 years ago and a character that a woman brought to life in a big, flashy movie in 2017. However, Cameron wasn’t content to let Patty Jenkins have the last word. His response to Jenkins is, for the lack of a better word, obtuse.
Linda looked great. There was nothing sexual about her character. It was about angst, it was about will, it was about determination. She was crazy, she was complicated. … She wasn’t there to be liked or ogled, but she was central, and the audience loved her by the end of the film. So as much as I applaud Patty directing the film and Hollywood, uh, “letting” a woman direct a major action franchise, I didn’t think there was anything groundbreaking in Wonder Woman. I thought it was a good film. Period.
Cameron’s central and confounding argument seems to be this: Because Hamilton’s character in the Terminator franchise is not dressed in a Lara Croft-esque outfit of short-shorts and a crop top, that makes her tough and therefore, somehow more valid than Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, because Gal Gadot wore a bustier and was “sexy.” Further points against Cameron include the unnecessary scare quotes that indicate that women directing action franchises in Hollywood is not out of the ordinary. Is Cameron thinking of his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, a woman who has directed many an action-oriented film, but not an action franchise? Is he thinking of, say, Velda Smith-Tressington, a female director that is actually a figment of his imagination? Is he thinking at all?
James Cameron’s opinion on whether or not Wonder Woman was too sexy, not sexy enough, or just the right amount of sexy is not important at this time. I don’t care if he made Titanic, a film so great that Jezebel devoted an entire week of content to its greatness—James Cameron is a dick.