A open letter to my dad, a former Warner Brothers executive:
Dad (Papa, Pops, Pipo),
Today, for the first time in a long time, I remember what it feels like to be so proud to come from a Warner Brothers family. I have always been proud to be a first-generation immigrant with a dad who "made it" in show business. You worked your way up from slinging newspapers as a six-year old in West Hollywood to a top executive at a major studio.
Because of you, JP and I grew up with a shared love of comic books and science fiction. And while I cannot deny the allure of the Marvel Universe (what does a daughter have to do to convince you that Guardians of the Galaxy is AMAZING), we are and always have been a BATMAN house. We are a Justice League house. There was nothing more exciting than knowing my dad worked at Warner Brothers when the Batman films were coming out. It was like being part of a secret club. It was like being IN the Justice League.
And while we both know that A Little Princess and The Secret Garden never had the success the studio wanted--they still showed a commitment to women, good storytelling, and beautiful artistry. They are forever snapshots in my memory of the magic of my childhood.
And then Warner Brothers invested in the Harry Potter Universe---the literary love of my life! And I saw glimpses of the studio from my childhood pop up with Cuaron directing Prisoner of Azkaban and more recently in the undeniable magic and whimsy of Fantastic Beasts. I went to every midnight opening in full costume. As an adult. #sorrynotsorry#yourraisedme
When The Dark Knight trilogy came out--I felt that same excitement. The storytelling and vision of the 90s grew with those of us who were there from the beginning. The same stories and heroes that captured my imagination as a kid in neon greens and purples matured into the dark grey philosophical masterpieces that Nolan crafted. I can't even count the number of nights my friends and I stayed up discussing the films and their meaning. Those are some of the best nights of my life.
But then Batman vs. Superman happened. And Suicide Squad happened. And I worried that maybe the studio that I loved so much had lost its touch. Did we need imagineers? Should I maybe take down the enormous collection of DC comic book art in my living room?
But today? Today I walked out of a sold out film (sold out for the rest of the night, btw) with a smile on my face resembling the same smile JP had when you took him to see his very first Batman movie.
You know why?
Because today Warner Brothers took a chance that Disney and Marvel still haven't taken. Warner Brothers took on chance on women today. And that chance means the world to me.
Today, little girls all over the world will--for the first time in HISTORY (or should I say HERSTORY) see themselves reflected upon a screen as a leading superhero. They will, for the first time, see a lead character in a superhero movie played by a woman (a middle-eastern woman at that!) with a male sidekick and a storyline that does not involve being saved or romanced. She is not a villain or broken woman looking for a man to find her. She is the full on superhero. She IS the saver. She is strong and powerful. She is kind and smart. She is Wonder Woman! She is a woman, dad!
I didn't realize how much I needed that until the first tear fell--maybe 15 mins into the movie. I have championed civil rights and human rights since I first learned what "betcha on land, they understand, bet they don't reprimand their daughters" meant. I know the importance of representation. Representation matters. I KNOW THAT. I make a living working for equality. But I never really realized that maybe a part of me has always been asking for representation too. Maybe a part of me has always been fighting for me? #thankstherapy
To see a female lead who does not bend to despair, who champions love and social justice, who takes a stand for good DESPITE being disappointed in the world around her? Dad, I will never forget today. I never want to forget how I feel in this moment. It is an amazing feeling to see "myself" on screen for the first time. I understand why that may sound strange--but think about it for a second. Men see themselves represented as heroes from the first moment that they are introduced to storytelling. Men have always had Batman, Superman, Frodo, Harry, Luke, Han--there is never a moment in which men do not see themselves reflected in the heros they want to grow up to be. It was amazing 2 years ago to see a black man at the helm of the new Star Wars reboot. I now know what little boys and men of color felt like watching The Force Awakens. It really does matter. It is why Ellen coming out on her show mattered. Little girls have never really had this type of representation. I don't want to discount the significance of Rey, Jyn Erso, and Furiosa. It has been an exciting couple of years for strong women, but this is different. These stories are a part of the American cultural identity. Comic books are part of our oral history. They are Americana. Women are always the princess in need or the woman being saved BY Superman or Batman. Occasionally we get to help save the day. But not today. Today we are Wonder Woman. We are the ones that can and do save the world. I can't imagine what it would be like to be a little girl in that theatre today, taking in the beauty and inspiration of the strong and diverse Amazonian women. I bet there are millions of little girls around the world in this moment wondering if there are local amazon classes to take. And that is an amazing thing.
Also, today an entire world of little boys and men saw that if they let us, women can do the impossible. Woman can lead. Women can vanquish evil. Women are strong. Little boys today saw true equals in their sisters, mothers, and friends represented on screen. It also makes me extremely excited about the upcoming films Black Panter and possible spin offs about Lando in the Star Wars universe. It is exciting to see science fiction starting to hear the cries for diversity, intersectionality, and representation. We are not there yet (as noted by the hilariously infuriating reality of the "4 Chris Problem" in recent comic book and science fiction reboots. Though I will say, I have a clear favorite--the only one who refuses to treat his female costar as anything other than the only hero worth following and giving up his life for.
So, I am reminded today that representation matters for everyone. And that even as a 32 year old Colombian-American woman, I left the theatre feeling like a giddy 10 year old. I left inspired to learn karate and how to ride a horse. I left wondering if I maybe needed to think of my body as strong instead of thin or fat. I left inspired by an all women's community that was made of of diverse women with different bodies and different strengths--all celebrated for their value: warrior, senators, healers, mothers. None were secondary in a community that truly embraced a responsibility for each other. I left thinking, "You know--forget everyone who thinks bleeding heart social justice warriors are weak. Forget everyone who thinks the battle is lost. Forget the ones who mock the snowflakes. Wonder Woman kicks ass BECAUSE she is a bleeding heart snowflake who refuses to take the status quo as is. She refuses to accept our human failure as our human identity." Dad, she is a woman. She is women. I tear up just typing that.
It is amazing what happens when a woman behind the lens breathes life into a woman who can save us all.
Especially at a time in history like this. Especially now. Especially when we inch closer and closer to having the mere existence as a woman a "pre-existing condition" that burdens men. We are no burden. We are no preexisting condition. We are half the population and half it's potential.
So, thanks dad. I wanted to share that Wonder Woman gave me back something I had started to lose in the dystopia that is 2017. It gave me back a little bit of hope. And it reminded me that storytelling has always been and will always be our strongest weapon against darkness.
My heart is full. And my mascara is a mess.