The new Wonder Woman movie has triggered many mixed reactions on social media following its premiere a few weeks ago. But for Arab commentators, the movie prompted lengthy notes over anti-Arab sentiments and racism witnessed in the famous film, even though the Israeli actress tries to speak Arabic a number of times throughout the movie.
Despite the considerable success of her first Wonder Woman film in 2017, Gal Gadot's latest titled Wonder Woman 1984, also known as WW84 received great lashing, mainly from Arab viewers. They pointed to the numerous examples of stereotypical portrayals of Arabs in the movie, particularly the scenes set in Egypt.
WW84 is that type of white feminist movie where a white man from Jim Crow-era segregation is the best man humanity has ever known but the Arab men are fanatic bigots desiring a border wall and Latino men are wife beaters & megalomonics. I’m stunned at how racist it was.— ahmed ali akbar (@radbrowndads) December 26, 2020
Thoughts on #WW84:— Zack Furness (@punkademic) December 26, 2020
- Nerds (Kristin Wiig) are not that selfish or vindictive. If we were, we would’ve gone into finance.
- Having an actua, real IDF soldier (even a hypnotizingly beautiful version in Gal Gadot) save Arab children while speaking Arabic is...wow...even for sci-fi.
Feminism vs White Saviorism
While the Wonder Woman series is often applauded for its feminist stance, featuring a woman with superpowers, social media users highlighted a number of scenes where WW84 slips in the typical negative stereotypes often shown in Hollywood movies, when it comes to representing Arabs.
Other scenes worth noting that invoke bad tropes:— ahmed ali akbar (@radbrowndads) December 26, 2020
1. A random cut to a man in mujahideen-looking garb making a heartfelt wish for nuclear weapons
2. A bunch of Arab men almost run over some Arab kids playing soccer so WW uses a missile to save them
3. A Greedy oil rich Arab emir
The different attempts of Diana Prince, played by Gal Gadot, to save innocent lives as she tries to combat evil as she goes to Egypt was linked to Hollywood's long-standing history of portraying white people as heroes saving the lives of non-white people around the world, only this time, it was a female white savior.
Egypt in the 80s
Some commentators also noted the movie portrayed life in Egypt during 1984 as though it was in the medieval ages, which forced them to post actual photos of the country at that time. This too, reminded Egyptian viewers of the historical portrayal of their country in Hollywood movies as a desert filled with uneducated and uncivilized people.
The former IDF-solider to the rescue
Moreover, many viewers pointed to the contrast in portraying Gadot as a hero who saves children with the fact that she is a former soldier in the Israeli army responsible for occupying Palestinian territories and killing thousands of children throughout the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Most commentators highlighted the irony in one scene in particular, as Gadot successfully rescues a number of Egyptian kids playing football on a highway while a number of large vehicles were headed towards them, as reminding them of the 2014 massacre in which Israeli warplanes killed four Palestinian children while they were playing football on the Gaza beach.
The attitude directed at people calling out the racism, xenophobia, and sexism in WW84 is ridiculous. This isn't baseless criticism. This is people criticizing the IDF agenda and demonizing of brown people in a movie where Gal Gadot was a producer. You cannot ignore that and— Diverse Tolkien (@DiverseTolkien) December 27, 2020
Absolutely no problem hating on #WW84 if the narrative spewed is one of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman saving ME children. The lives of Arab children are not a prop to lift up a character played by a woman who calls for their demise in real life.— Shireen Ahmed (@_shireenahmed_) December 26, 2020
This is not the only controversy triggered by Gadot's roles. Last October, Arab Twitter users expressed rejection of news that the Israeli star will be cast to play the well-known Queen of Cleopatra of Egypt in a future film, accusing the actress of "blackening" Egyptian history, as her family descends from Ashkenazi Jewish roots, not Middle Eastern ones.
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