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Wonder Woman 1984 Is Under Fire For Offensive Arab Depiction
Wonder Woman 1984 initially received rave reviews by critics. However, it has since been getting heat online by viewers after it finally launched in U.S. cinemas and HBO Max on 25 December 2020. It is also currently showing in international countries like Malaysia.
Those who watched Wonder Woman 1984 has condemned and lambasted one particular segment in the movie. In order to discuss what happens, I’ll be writing about spoilers from the movie, so here’s your last chance to stop reading if you haven’t watched it yet.
For context, in Wonder Woman 1984, antagonist Maxwell Lord doesn’t have any super abilities (unlike his comic book counterpart). Instead, he absorbs something called a Dreamstone, which grants people’s wishes.
Now that he is a living Dreamstone, he gains the power to grant wishes, while also being able to take whatever he desires from them in return should they have anything he could want. He uses this ability to manipulate people into making wishes that benefit him.
At one point in Wonder Woman 1984, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) goes to Cairo, Egypt, to take the oil reserves of an Arab oil tycoon. The Arab oil tycoon wants to re-establish the old kingdom of Bialya (which is actually a reference to DC Comics’ fictional Middle Eastern country of the same name).
Lord coerces him into turning that into a wish. In return, he takes his oil reserves and personal army, leaving the oil tycoon to face the ire of the local populace, who are now trapped within a literal wall separating them from the rest of the world.
The Arab is depicted as a money-hungry oil tycoon and an intolerant bigot. The aforementioned wall appears because he wished for all heathens to be kept out of the country.
During the climax of the movie, Maxwell Lord asks the entire world to make wishes in a global broadcast. Viewers are then treated to scenes depicting people from several foreign countries.
In one of those scenes, an Arab sniper can be seen wishing for nuclear bombs. It’s heavily implied that this Arab shooter is a terrorist. This is especially offensive, considering that they could have gone with any wish that doesn’t conform to established prejudices about Arabs.
Some people are also pointing out how ironic it is that Diana AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is portrayed as saving a bunch of Arab children from getting killed by Arabs. She achieves this by beating up some Arab soldiers.
Seen from the perspective of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, some people find it tasteless and insulting that an Israeli is saving Arabs from other “evil” Arabs. This scene also seems to perpetuate a white saviour complex of sorts.
Gal Gadot herself is a former soldier of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). She served two years in the military force, which is mandatory for any Israeli citizen.
Many people hold this against the actress/model because the IDF is often accused of committing war atrocities against the Palestinians. Since she was in the IDF, many find her complicit in whatever the IDF did. Gadot has also previously shown herself to be pro-IDF in the past.
Personally, I pointed out how disappointing Wonder Woman 1984 was in both my official review and my post-review spoiler piece. However, I think it’s better to judge a movie by its own merits, instead of simply picking out bits that offended me.
It’s easy to overlook the social and political side of a movie, but it’s also as equally easy to focus too much on them. What I’m saying is that to each his/her/their own, and it’s ultimately your decision whether to avoid watching a movie for its offensive content.
You can check out some of the tweets below, as many users voice out their issues: