Outside Reading — Fantastically Powered Princess edition

Does “Wonder Woman 1984” Hide Its Hero’s True Superpowers? by Jill Lepore

To evaluate the new Wonder Woman movie, The New Yorker turns to staff writer Jill Lepore, who wrote an entire book on the amazing Amazon and her creators. Weaving in the history the character has moved through in the eighty years since she first graced the pages of pulse-pounding periodicals, Lepore identifies a disappointing detachment from feminist thought in Patty Jenkins’s two films showcasing the DC hero. According to the timeline in which the pair of features exists, Wonder Woman has lived through a remarkable stretch for U.S. women, from earning the right to vote through the post-second-wave-feminism regressions of the nineteen-eighties, starting with the practical defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment. There’s nary a whiff of that lived history to the character, and Lepore pointedly explains why that contributes to the new film’s hollow feeling.

Is Hollywood Too Soft on Conservative Women? by Sonia Saraiya

This Vanity Fair piece, bu Sonia Saraiya, is several months old, but our household just caught up with it, thanks to an end-of-the-year press to get through accumulated, previously untouched magazines. Using the FX on Hulu series Mrs. America as a springboard, Saraiya examines the ways in which various entertainment products attempt to tell the stories of women immersed in politically rightward environments without properly reckoning with their complicity — and sometimes active participation in — oppression of traditionally marginalized groups. Saraiya writes with appropriate fire, condemning with clear and irrefutable examples.

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