The new Wonder Woman film is shattering records worldwide, but there are no ticket sales in Lebanon and Tunisia. Why? It’s complicated.
Alongside the news a movie with a female lead and female director – and a positive message for people of any gender – is magnificently popular, there’s negativity in some quarters about Gal Gadot, who plays the title character.
Like many Israelis, she had two years of compulsory military service. Since then, she’s expressed support for Israeli military personnel and their mission in Gaza against Hamas. Consequently, the film isn’t being screened in Lebanon and Tunisia where Israel has few fans.
This leads to interesting thoughts about separating the art from the artist. Should disagreeing with Gadot (and I’m taking the Fifth on that, for now) mean you can’t enjoy seeing her pummel bad guys as Wonder Woman? Some were already boycotting the film when the arguments were about gender politics.
Then Fox News commentators complained that WW, who’s Greek, wasn’t a sufficiently patriotic American. Everybody’s got an opinion.
But political views often affect our views of non-political art. Take, for instance, the singer Morrissey.
Treading warily, lest I inadvertently misrepresent him, I note he had challenging things to say in the aftermath of the Manchester bombing.
My own views didn’t accord with his. So, is it still OK to nod along to How Soon Is Now?
Use an extreme example, and blurring the line between creator and creation gets easier. No opera by anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner has ever been staged in Israel, and it’s hard to argue with that.
But is it wrong that I avoid the graphic novels of Frank Miller because he did a book called Holy Terror, filling it with negative portrayals of Muslims? He also made some of the greatest Batman books.
I suspect the answer lies in self-reflection. Are we, by complaint, restraint or censorship, being foolish or destructive? And are my principles denying me a valuable experience?
I say that’s what’s happening in Tunisia and Lebanon. Whatever Gal Gadot thinks, she’s cool and so is Wonder Woman.
Everybody should see it. I will.