Uproar over women-only movie screenings

Girl’s club: Wonder Woman is predicted to be a box office hit. © Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman is the first female-led superhero movie of the modern era. One US cinema chain is causing an uproar by hosting women-only screenings. Is this sexism or just brilliant marketing?

It has been over 12 years since a woman anchored a superhero movie. That honour goes to 2005’s Elektra. This was years before Marvel took over cinemas with Iron Man and a decade before DC Comics attempted to do the same with their extended universe.

Now, after dozens of comic book movies, a woman finally gets another chance to don coloured tights and defeat the bad guys.

Comic book films are something of a boy’s club. There have been 15 movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and not a single one exclusively starred a woman. And that will not happen until 2019, with the release of Captain Marvel. DC Comics have beaten Marvel to the punch.

Wonder Woman opens in cinemas on June 2nd, but not without controversy. To celebrate the movie’s release, and to call attention to gender disparity, one American cinema chain, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is holding screenings that only women can attend.

No men will be allowed in. All of the moviegoers, and even the cinema staff, will be female. Proceeds from the screenings will go to Planned Parenthood.

The cinema released a tongue-in-cheek statement on the eve of the initial screening: “Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying ‘No Guys Allowed.’”

But the move has stirred men’s rights activists, who took to the internet to lambaste the cinema. Some have called the screening sexist. Others have derided the cinema for supporting Planned Parenthood. Conservative publications have called the showings “disturbing” and “discriminatory”.

The cinema has responded to the criticism, saying the screenings have nothing to do with discrimination: “This has zip to do with equality. This is a celebration of a character that’s meant a great deal to many women since 1940.”

Actress Gal Gadot, the movie’s star, has yet to comment on the screenings, but she did tell reporters just how crucial female superheroes are. “It is so important for girls and boys to have a female, strong, super hero to look up to,” she said.

Lasso of Truth

An excellent idea, say some. And it has been a hit. The initial screening sold out in minutes, prompting similar events throughout the week. Pop culture site Polygon stated that “having a women-only screening of Wonder Woman isn’t just a statement; it’s a celebration of a movie that celebrates an aspect of superhero films most others don’t.”

Critics, however, have taken the cinema to task, asking them whether they would do something similar for upcoming male-led superhero movies. Others have noted that it may even violate the US Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex or national origin.

You Decide

  1. Are you hoping to see Wonder Woman when it opens?
  2. Are these screenings a fun idea, or is the cinema trying to use controversy in order to sell tickets? Can it be both?

Activities

  1. Imagine you own a small cinema. How would you attract moviegoers for a big superhero film? Write down five ideas.
  2. Why do you think there have been so few female-led superhero movies? Write 500 words on the topic.

Some People Say...

“If you had a guys-only screening of Thor 3 there’d be an uproar and you know it.”

— Marc Swift

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The Alamo Drafthouse is a small chain and only two of its locations are participating in this event: Brooklyn, New York and Austin, Texas. The owners have also promised that proceeds from the event will go to help fund Planned Parenthood, a medical clinic that services women. Incidentally, this is not the only time it has held exclusionary screenings of movies. There have been similar events for veterans and seniors, among others.
What do we not know?
If Wonder Woman will be a success. It is not only the first female-led superhero film of the modern age, it is also the first one ever to be directed by a woman. The movie does not officially open until June 2nd, but early reviews are positive and critics indicate that it is the best DC Comics movie yet.

Word Watch

Marvel
Even though Elektra is technically a Marvel character, the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with the release of Iron Man.
Extended universe
This term refers to the many different comic book characters and stories that share a common world, typically defined by the company producing the books and movies. Movies in the DC Comics Extended Universe have included Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers has been a mainstay of Marvel Comics since her first appearance in 1977.
Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood is a US-based non-profit that provides reproductive health care. Critics deride it for offering abortions. Supporters say it is the only health care outlet for poorer women.
Gal Gadot
Gadot is an Israeli former model and participant in 2004’s Miss Universe pageant.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Landmark US legislation that led to the desegregation of schools and the prohibition of unequal application of voter registration law.

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