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Phil Jimenez
09-18-2009, 09:58 AM
Hello, fellow Wonder Woman fans!

So, a question that really intrigues me as a professional storyteller (which simply means I get paid to do what I do) is this:

Is it our job, as storytellers, to simply reflect the reality we live in in our stories, or to try and shape and change it as well?

In another thread, we were discussing the possibility of Wonder Woman affecting change through her mission, and succeeding. I love this idea. I love that she could actually changes the political landscape of the DCU. For example, what if, in Wonder Woman's world, women were no longer paid 70 cents to the dollar men are paid on the work force? What if they were paid equally (broad one, but you get the idea)?

I know that the standard rule/trope of storytelling is that we must "relate" to characters and situations. I understand this need, although I think I feel it less than some others when it comes down to specifics (Peter Parker seems to be a character many, many people relate to personally and situationally).

Could you believe in a world where the heroes who live there actually affected change (especially if it's positive?), socially or politically? Or would the "alternate" aspect of it alienate you too much? Where do you cross the line? (Lex Luthor can be president during an alien invasion, but Superman and Wonder Woman can't negotiate peace in the Middle East, for bad example).

Superbeast
09-18-2009, 10:03 AM
Considering the diplomatic goings on between the US, Europe, Russia and Iran right now, I could definitely see reforms being made to appease superpowered humans if right now they are made to appease normal human presidents with big red buttons nearby. When someone is a big red button in their own right, I imagine a lot of people would stop and listen. It's like Dr Manhattan in Watchmen. When a woman capable of taking out an entire squadron of fighter pilots singlehandledly tells you to stop forcing women to wear burqas while crushing a Tomahawk missile under her heel, I imagine that'd provide some serious motivation to change and UN resolutions would be tabled within the month.

Xeres
09-18-2009, 10:31 AM
Well the irony is the more successful the heroes are at affecting change they champion the need for that hero(ine) diminishes.

I can believe in that world though. I like the sensationalism to a point. To me it re-enforces their "hero" status.

loneangel74
09-18-2009, 10:41 AM
That is an interesting question. I think there can be a blend of both, especially when it comes to a character like Diana. Given the proper circumstances and setup, she can be portrayed as making considerable achievements in her mission, but suffering setbacks that seem to thwart her efforts. In fact, such “real-life” progression of such an endeavor would work best for Diana due to her having to deal with the greatest of challenges… free will and humanity’s enduring history of violence as well as some just plain bad blood. Rucka seemed to catch on to this idea with the sharp focus on her duties as emissary of Paradise Island. The introduction of Diana’s book was outstanding! Sadly, it seems we are moving her away from this core aspect to blend her into the superhero mainstream, and as with all great ideas the message seems to have gotten lost.

I would be excited to see Diana successful at bringing about something, if nothing more than starting a subtle women’s liberation movement in the Middle East or championing the cause of children and battered women domestically where she is responsible for establishing such support programs and stomping for their cause. I think people could believe in a DCU that gave us HEROES that did more than just beat back the next big bad and truly worked to improve humanity as a whole. Is that not at its core the difference between DC and Marvel heroes? DC heroes are the examples to which everyone can look [at least in theory].

If using actual places as targets where heroes can affect change was the line that dare not be crossed, then we certainly can use places like Bayla (sp?) – the place that Black Adam leveled during World War 3! Surely, Diana as an emissary of peace could take the lead in reaching out to help rebuild their nation despite their animosity to costumes in the wake of BA’s rampage. That seems to be exactly what she is good at. Image a middle eastern like country embracing WW! That would be incredible and strengthen Diana’s character and prominence in the DCU!

This is a great discussion!

Regards,

JKCarrier
09-18-2009, 11:15 AM
"Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it." -Bertolt Brecht

Unfortunately, I don't think it would be practical (or fair to other creators) to try and impose a Wonder Woman-created utopia across the entire DC Universe. In a world of perfect social justice, where is Batman gonna find small-time hoods to beat up? :wink: But within her own sphere, I do think it's important to show Wonder Woman scoring some victories along the way -- not just stopping the bad guy, but making a positive difference. Marston had a good handle on this, I think: Many of his stories featured weak or troubled women being inspired to straighten out their lives by Wonder Woman's example. And the fact that she was able to bring Paula Von Gunter -- her worst arch-enemy -- over to the side of the angels was a great triumph.

I do think you could get a really interesting miniseries or graphic novel out of the idea, though. Wonder Woman trying to remake the world without resorting to becoming a dictator. Think about the resistance Obama is getting to the idea of health care reform, and then imagine the reaction WW would get to the sweeping social reforms she would want to implement.

Indigo Al
09-18-2009, 12:02 PM
Phil,

I think you touched upon that as best as can be done under the circumstances, where you showed Diana working through legitimate channels for various causes (and can we please see the return of the Wonder Woman Foundation???).

As JKCarrier mentioned, a DCU where Wonder Woman affected radical positive change could lead to Squadron Supreme/Twilight of the Super-Heroes type super-dystopia. Or else, leave people with that sort of nagging doubt about a DCU where Zatanna could say "recnac enogeb" or whatever.

CarolStrick
09-18-2009, 12:18 PM
Or a DCU where Wonder Woman effected radical positive change could lead to happiness. A bunch of people in some small geographical (or social) area could begin asking, "Why not?" about some part (not whole) of their lives.

Just because Wondie's a female we don't have to restrict this to typical "women's issues." She doesn't have to solve an area's every problem, just make the people think about change, and have some of them actually change. They'll have to fit that new way of thinking into their existing culture, which might make the end result quite different from where Diana was aiming them but still positive.

As an Amazon, what would be some of Diana's ideas about how to help the world become a better place that would be very different from even your average liberal's point of view? (The idea of female superiority? Of course we haven't heard that phrase in ages, thank goodness, but...)

All I'm sayin' is that to show someone trying to make the world a better place and having it boomerang is not only, well, a little cliched, but also depressing. I don't want to read depressing comics. (Which is why my comics reading is so limited these days.)

SJNeal
09-18-2009, 12:20 PM
I think if superheroes existed in the real world, it would definitely be a different place. There'd be no way they wouldn't exact a positive change. In the comic book world, however, this isn't possible because there would be no more stories to tell.

Not incredibly long and thought out, I know. :redface:

Phil Jimenez
09-18-2009, 12:21 PM
Phil,

I think you touched upon that as best as can be done under the circumstances, where you showed Diana working through legitimate channels for various causes (and can we please see the return of the Wonder Woman Foundation???).

As JKCarrier mentioned, a DCU where Wonder Woman affected radical positive change could lead to Squadron Supreme/Twilight of the Super-Heroes type super-dystopia. Or else, leave people with that sort of nagging doubt about a DCU where Zatanna could say "recnac enogeb" or whatever.


See, what's funny about this is the automatic assumption that it would lead to a Squadron Supreme/Twilight dystopia. Why couldn't to it lead to something else, something more positive? Would readers not invest in a story that led them down a dark path instead of a light one?

I think THAT's the root of my question. Why does transformation ALWAYS have to lead down some sort of dark, dystopian road? Why can't it lead to something much better, more hopeful, lighter? Why would Wonder Woman's success (or the JLA's success) automatically signal darkness and destruction?

It's just like the Matrix! The machines tried to create a utopian world for humanity...and we rejected it outright! :)

Phil Jimenez
09-18-2009, 12:22 PM
Or a DCU where Wonder Woman effected radical positive change could lead to happiness. A bunch of people in some small geographical (or social) area could begin asking, "Why not?" about some part (not whole) of their lives.

Just because Wondie's a female we don't have to restrict this to typical "women's issues." She doesn't have to solve an area's every problem, just make the people think about change, and have some of them actually change. They'll have to fit that new way of thinking into their existing culture, which might make the end result quite different from where Diana was aiming them but still positive.

As an Amazon, what would be some of Diana's ideas about how to help the world become a better place that would be very different from even your average liberal's point of view? (The idea of female superiority? Of course we haven't heard that phrase in ages, thank goodness, but...)

All I'm sayin' is that to show someone trying to make the world a better place and having it boomerang is not only, well, a little cliched, but also depressing. I don't want to read depressing comics. (Which is why my comics reading is so limited these days.)

Great Hera! We're in complete agreement again!

Wonder Watcher
09-18-2009, 12:38 PM
Give the unique nature of Diana's mission, she needs to be allowed a little success otherwise she looks a complete and utter failure.

Greg took this on in his run and in fact, in the end, after over a decades hard work she fails.

Now that she's been back a while it would be nice if some small progress could be shown somewhere. It doesn't have to be much.

Indigo Al
09-18-2009, 12:45 PM
See, what's funny about this is the automatic assumption that it would lead to a Squadron Supreme/Twilight dystopia. Why couldn't to it lead to something else, somethig more positive?

I think THAT's the root of my question. Why does transformation ALWAYS have to lead down some sort of dark, dystopian road? Why can't it lead to something much better, more hopeful, lighter? Why would Wonder Woman's success (or the JLA's success) automatically signal darkness and destruction?

If you're talking about the kind of change that hinges on Wonder Woman's superhuman abilities, then I think it would lead to questions of humanity working towards its own sustainable positive change versus it being imposed by a magic power from "above." It doesn't have to be negative, no, but it all hinges on one being's superhuman abilities.

But when you're talking about her teaching self -defense classes to victimized women, providing reproductive health information and tech in countries that ban and outlaw it, here she's giving the tools for people to take care of themselves going forward....

I don't know, I'm probably overthinking it.

americanwonder
09-18-2009, 01:00 PM
Hi Mr. Jimenez - love your work, beautiful stuff - your Donna is the Donna, imo.

Very interesting topic and some great posts here already. I tend to agree with folks in thinking that it's important for the heroes, esp. WW, to get some victories even if they seem "small" in comparison to the problems of the world.

I loved your "day in the life" story with Diana and Lois - also really enjoyed Rucka exploring Diana writing a book and seeing more of Diana working with the UN. I don't think the book would be the same without even the smallest of changes, like the alcoholic mother or meeting the grad. student she had inspired (during Picoult's story).

Phil Jimenez
09-18-2009, 02:05 PM
If you're talking about the kind of change that hinges on Wonder Woman's superhuman abilities, then I think it would lead to questions of humanity working towards its own sustainable positive change versus it being imposed by a magic power from "above." It doesn't have to be negative, no, but it all hinges on one being's superhuman abilities.

But when you're talking about her teaching self -defense classes to victimized women, providing reproductive health information and tech in countries that ban and outlaw it, here she's giving the tools for people to take care of themselves going forward....

I don't know, I'm probably overthinking it.

I don't know if you're overthinking it, but I'm not sure we're on the same tangent. Although we could be and I'm just missing it.

I think my BIG question is why we, as creators, fans, and readers, tend to always gravitate toward stories (and thereby lend them legitimacy) that lead us down dark, dysotpian paths? Obviously, there's drama and pathology to be mined in that course, but I wonder why we often reject outright that Superman and Wonder Woman, with their incredible power and cosmic perspective, couldn't change the world in a really grand way WITHout it all veering into a dark, dystopian, Authority like world?

Can't they succeed and it just be a really good thing, a really wonderful success story?

Are we just that inherently distrustful of power, especially the top-down kind, so that even Superman and Wonder Woman are, on some level, always destined to fail in their stories?

Amazon Fan
09-18-2009, 02:23 PM
I think heroes (like celebrity crusaders in our world) would be more likely to affect social change than political change. No, Diana couldn't negotiate peace in the Middle East, but she might be able to change some people's views and thus affect change on issues that transcend politics, however tangled up in it they may be. As a Themysciran living in America, Diana is in the position to act as an impartial (maybe) observer and act without the inherent bias of someone who grew up in the U.S..

What would Diana's views be on the state of health care, for example? Would she support the rights of gay Americans to marry? How would she feel about the people who use their religion as a weapon to bludgeon other people with?

brettc1
09-18-2009, 02:30 PM
There is always a line between using reality and direspecting it. For the example you used, Mr J, if WW were to negotiate a peace between Israel and Palestine, then it does seem somehow [to me at least] disrespectful of the ongoing conflict and loss of life.

Although Tolkien never had much good to say about allegory, I think it is a valuable tool for self reflection. So in my mind, fictional characters like WW should be able to affect change in fictional countries [say in Bialya] that are allegerous with actual real world nations. You paint a picture of the world we want to live in, but you maintain a distance from the real pain that others in the real world continue to feel.

Does that make sense?

Xeres
09-18-2009, 03:05 PM
But if they succeeded in the way you're describing doesn't the story end? Isn't part of the reason why these heroes are created in the first place because of the creator's distaste for the world as it was in some form?

CarolStrick
09-18-2009, 05:20 PM
What some of us are advocating, Xeres, is that Wondie succeed in some areas, meaning some aspects of life and in some geographical areas. I'm sure that many of the geographical areas would be DC's fictional countries, but the US and other real countries could also have their Wonder movements. Remember the Wonder Scouts? We could get something like that only in a more serious and adult vein.

No one is saying the gods will give WW a magic wand which she'll wave, convert the world to instant paradise (what does that entail?), and cause the downfall of the superhero comics industry.

She can save the world bit by bit, small victory by small victory... which of course will be followed by a hard slap-down as things usually are, followed by more small victories. Two steps forward, one step back, that kind of thing. It's a big world out there, full of conflicting philosophies and confused/helped by the technological revolution. It'd be a fascinating journey and one very appropriate for our "Yes, we can" era.

bfrank
09-18-2009, 06:45 PM
When I start thinking about this, the problem I come across is this: With all the crisis', zombie invasions, alien take overs, and the wraith of god roaming the planet, turning folks into candle sticks and what not; Humanity should be united.....

raporfest
09-18-2009, 06:58 PM
I understand conflict but it gets the point where constantly throw tragic event after tragic event to the point where you question why is she still Wonder Woman or you're too depressed to read it. There is already enough darkness in the world, why do we need it the things that are suposed to let us escape and in case of superheroes like superheroes such as Wonder Woman, are supposed to give us hope.

I want Diana to like Carol said, have victories in her mission of peace and love (both great and small) but not to the point where she complety rids the world of violence and hatred because it would become boring and unrelateable. Though near the end of her life, I've always liked to think that she will accomplish her mission. She is determined that it will happen one day. Going back to what I said earlier, one of the reasons why I like superhero comics is that it is a world full of all of these costumed superheroes and supervillains and there are all of these fantastic things happening but it still feels and looks like our world. It is just so cool picturing Superman battle Doomsday in a setting that looks a lot like downtown New York City. However, it shouldn't be exactly like our world because a world full of people like Superman and Wonder Woman would be lot different positivly.

Do I make sense?:frown:

nerites
09-18-2009, 07:52 PM
Story-telling IMHO should be both sci-fi and with moral values.

Anyone who has the ability to reach masses must also realize his or her responsibility of their words and actions. It's only when you do that, when you show people they can be better, do better, that there's hope. then is when people find motivation and passion.

Writers should have a moral obligation towards all readers and be aware of the power of words.

:-) Just remember Lisa Simpson's feelings when Stacy Malibu spoke for the fist time.

I think we writers can make a difference.
That's why I love Wonder Woman :-D

Red Mask
09-18-2009, 08:18 PM
Hello, fellow Wonder Woman fans!

So, a question that really intrigues me as a professional storyteller (which simply means I get paid to do what I do) is this:

Is it our job, as storytellers, to simply reflect the reality we live in in our stories, or to try and shape and change it as well?

In another thread, we were discussing the possibility of Wonder Woman affecting change through her mission, and succeeding. I love this idea. I love that she could actually changes the political landscape of the DCU. For example, what if, in Wonder Woman's world, women were no longer paid 70 cents to the dollar men are paid on the work force? What if they were paid equally (broad one, but you get the idea)?

I know that the standard rule/trope of storytelling is that we must "relate" to characters and situations. I understand this need, although I think I feel it less than some others when it comes down to specifics (Peter Parker seems to be a character many, many people relate to personally and situationally).

Could you believe in a world where the heroes who live there actually affected change (especially if it's positive?), socially or politically? Or would the "alternate" aspect of it alienate you too much? Where do you cross the line? (Lex Luthor can be president during an alien invasion, but Superman and Wonder Woman can't negotiate peace in the Middle East, for bad example).

Mabuhay from the Philippines, Phil!

I've already confessed that I don't collect DC anymore. But for a long time now I have been bothered by some of the flaws in mainstream comic book serials. When it comes to affecting change, I have no problem with Wonder Woman getting involved with real political and social issues. I've had the same sentiments with how Black Panther stories should be free to mention actual African developments and issues, like Zimbabwe's problems and how Liberia has the first female head of state in the African continent.

But if DC prefers to maintain a contiuum that will allow her to integrate with other titles, some of those issues would have to be minor, or a temporary media craze. For example, Diana could passingly mention real people, like Chancellor Merkel, Tina Fey, or Iceland PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. But there's no way they would risk her talking about Sarah Palin or the issue of abortion in a realistic way.
It would be a slippery slope if DC is concerned about sales. I can't imagine her being able to work with her fellow JLA's if she kept pressing the issues. Wasn't the Elsewolds created so writers could express these ideas?

Red Mask
09-18-2009, 08:29 PM
When I start thinking about this, the problem I come across is this: With all the crisis', zombie invasions, alien take overs, and the wraith of god roaming the planet, turning folks into candle sticks and what not; Humanity should be united.....

The annual crises are one of the issues I have against mainstream comics. But you're right that humanity should be more united in their aftermaths. However, if Diana manages to bring more peace because they acted during the recoveries, isn't that more thanks to the opportunities the conflicts created? Could she still be able to affect positive change if the level of conflict and turmoil was just the same as in the real world?

DHacker615
09-19-2009, 03:02 PM
Hello, fellow Wonder Woman fans!

So, a question that really intrigues me as a professional storyteller (which simply means I get paid to do what I do) is this:

Is it our job, as storytellers, to simply reflect the reality we live in in our stories, or to try and shape and change it as well?

In another thread, we were discussing the possibility of Wonder Woman affecting change through her mission, and succeeding. I love this idea. I love that she could actually changes the political landscape of the DCU. For example, what if, in Wonder Woman's world, women were no longer paid 70 cents to the dollar men are paid on the work force? What if they were paid equally (broad one, but you get the idea)?

I know that the standard rule/trope of storytelling is that we must "relate" to characters and situations. I understand this need, although I think I feel it less than some others when it comes down to specifics (Peter Parker seems to be a character many, many people relate to personally and situationally).

Could you believe in a world where the heroes who live there actually affected change (especially if it's positive?), socially or politically? Or would the "alternate" aspect of it alienate you too much? Where do you cross the line? (Lex Luthor can be president during an alien invasion, but Superman and Wonder Woman can't negotiate peace in the Middle East, for bad example).

Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Every creative writing course in history will say "write what you know", but comics are a little bit different. These corporately owned superheroes had original creators. They were not paid very much, nor were they accorded much respect in their own time. It seems as though that creates an increased obligation to honor their original intent with a character. So, I guess the maxim should be what do you know better than the original character.

To my mind, that opens things up a lot. Darwyn Cooke was never a test pilot, but in reading "The Right Stuff" he learned more about that subject than John Broome. Working forty-five years later gave him a perspective on how the space adventure genre worked to which Gil Kane did not have access. Moreover, Cooke knew that the space program would send a man to to the moon and back. Those additional details made the THE NEW FRONTIER version of Hal Jordan much more relatable.

The same thing is true for nearly every comic that I have ever really cared about that featured a pre-existing character.

William Moulton-Marston created Wonder Woman to help create political and social change. In many ways, the generations that have grown up with her have attitudes that must out-strip his wildest dreams. The Nineteenth Amendment had only been law for twenty-one years when Wonder Woman was created. Twenty-one years after her creation, a sexual revolution was already under way that would move the unconventional household Marston lived in much closer to the mainstream. Female bisexuality is virtually normative. People like Jenn Grijalva barely draw a comment when they turn up on programming targeted at Gen Y viewers. Light BDSM is not so far outside the mainstream that it doesn't turn up on basic cable shows, like "Nip/Tuck". Even polygamy is an acceptable subject for HBO's "Big Love". Similarly, the second wave of feminism utterly re-shaped the economic landscape of the West in under a generation. Women have career options today that would been unthinkable in 1941.

In other words, anyone who grew up after the 1960s knows more about the pluses and minuses of the Amazon philosophy than Marston possibly could.

If anything, Wonder Woman is alienating in lagging behind political and social changes that she was created to lead. It is a shame, because both Wonder Woman and Superman are intrinsically political characters. They were both conceived to give power to people who lacked it. It would be interesting to see them dealing with "ripped from the headlines" scenarios. Neither fits neatly into the political categories we have been taught to believe in. For example, Diana Prince would probably agree with David Brooks about the Kanye West incident, while disagreeing with him about the Iraq War.

So, mark me down as a vote for "possibility". Creators cannot be expected to get the details exactly right, but my guess is that the best way to keep up with social trends is to try to get ahead of them.

Shurato2099
09-19-2009, 04:29 PM
Hello, fellow Wonder Woman fans!

So, a question that really intrigues me as a professional storyteller (which simply means I get paid to do what I do) is this:

Is it our job, as storytellers, to simply reflect the reality we live in in our stories, or to try and shape and change it as well?

In another thread, we were discussing the possibility of Wonder Woman affecting change through her mission, and succeeding. I love this idea. I love that she could actually changes the political landscape of the DCU. For example, what if, in Wonder Woman's world, women were no longer paid 70 cents to the dollar men are paid on the work force? What if they were paid equally (broad one, but you get the idea)?

I know that the standard rule/trope of storytelling is that we must "relate" to characters and situations. I understand this need, although I think I feel it less than some others when it comes down to specifics (Peter Parker seems to be a character many, many people relate to personally and situationally).

Could you believe in a world where the heroes who live there actually affected change (especially if it's positive?), socially or politically? Or would the "alternate" aspect of it alienate you too much? Where do you cross the line? (Lex Luthor can be president during an alien invasion, but Superman and Wonder Woman can't negotiate peace in the Middle East, for bad example).

Personally I would like to see super-heroes making a difference just by being who they are even if their powers don't come into play. We've seen that most strongly with Wonder Woman as an ambassador, championing various causes, etc. To be realistic about the DCU, super-heroes should have that kind of impact. But, we humans are a fractious lot and so her message would reach some but not others. Sadly, Wonder Woman is damaged goods these days from a societal and political standpoint. Her killing of Maxwell Lord was very well publicized (even after Brother Eye broadcast it all over the place) and after the events of 'Amazons Attack!', Amazons in general are not well thought of in the U.S. of A. During your run she had the recognition and clout to get things done ... not so much these days, and that's a real shame.

companion
09-19-2009, 09:13 PM
Isn't being a storyteller, and reflecting society a part of changing it? It was lightly touched on in Rucka's "Missions End" story. Athena is narrating and says something to the effect of "Changing even one mind, one heart is a victory." Sure, from a dramatic standpoint Diana and the others could never change the entire world. It would simply be boring after that, but, to me, the fact that month after month Diana, Clark and Bruce (as well as the others, but to me they're the big 3 for a reason. I loved the way Kurt Busiek had Etta describe them in "Trinity") keep trying always to make the world better. I guess, to me that's as inspiring in the real world as in the DCU.
I think Diana would always look on any victory, such as, bringing Vanessa back from being the Silver Swan, as the reason she continues to do what she does. I would think she'd go into any battle or debate thinking that if she was able to save this one person, or make that one being change his or her mind regarding hate then she'd have done her job.
Isn't the trying to change the world a victory in an of itself. Or maybe I'm just being a touch Pollyanna-ish?

AaronJ
09-19-2009, 09:34 PM
I know that the standard rule/trope of storytelling is that we must "relate" to characters and situations. I understand this need, although I think I feel it less than some others when it comes down to specifics (Peter Parker seems to be a character many, many people relate to personally and situationally).

This is something I've never gotten. At all. I don't see the point in stories in general, and certainly not in a super-hero universe, of characters being "relatable." To me, they are more like modern myths, larger than life.

Also, I honestly don't know to whom Bruce Wayne is relatable. But that's a different question.


Could you believe in a world where the heroes who live there actually affected change (especially if it's positive?), socially or politically? Or would the "alternate" aspect of it alienate you too much? Where do you cross the line? (Lex Luthor can be president during an alien invasion, but Superman and Wonder Woman can't negotiate peace in the Middle East, for bad example).

I can believe in a world where Wonder Woman comes from Themyscira, Superman comes from Krypton, and Batman is practically super-powered, but also a playboy billionaire.

Why, then, should it be difficult to believe in Wonder Woman actually bringing about real change in the DCU?

Red Mask
09-19-2009, 10:20 PM
It would also depend on how the success is presented. Is it just stated in passing without full details? I remember a story where Diana did get involved in a Middle Eastern conflict, but the leaders of the two sides ended up being assassinated by their followers. Does she resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because Ares has been responsible for fueling the hatred? Does she put an end to Neo-Naziism because the Olympians caused the spread of anti-Semitism?

I can see her ending nuclear arms in the Middle East and South Asia because DC's own history can support the futility of nuclear defense. Cheshire nuked Qurac, and no country benefitted. Vandal Savage nuked Montevideo. I think the African nation of Mali got nuked in Outsiders OYL. That doesn't even cover the numerous alien threats like when Coast City was destroyed.

Genki
09-19-2009, 10:36 PM
First, thank you Mr. Jimenez for your many thought-provoking comments I’ve stumbled across on the various WW forum threads. I always enjoy what you have to say and it gets me thinking.

To try to answer your question... The only successful changes a hero could make would be small ones. If the hero lived long enough, then all the little things might eventually add up to substantive change. Paul Dini and Alex Ross wrote about Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman trying to make the planet better in their “World’s Greatest Superheroes” series. The heroes had mixed success, but vowed to continue their struggles.

In the end, true change cannot be imposed from without, but must come from within. Would the heroes inspire internal change in a large number of people? Maybe, but so many people are reluctant to take a risk by changing themselves. If a hero were seen to be perfect and unassailable, then for every devoted follower there would be a reactionary doubter. This split would be compounded by the fact our culture likes to build up heroes/celebrities and then find some way to tear them down again. Furthermore, there are so many powerful, entrenched interests in our society that would not want to see any large changes at all.

For me then, anything other than a small victory for a hero would appear as a writer’s wish fulfillment and would “alienate (me) too much.” But I think we need to see stories told about the small victories, to give us hope.

trypr
09-19-2009, 10:54 PM
"Is it our job, as storytellers, to simply reflect the reality we live in in our stories, or to try and shape and change it as well?"

I think it is appropriately, to tell stories. A good story is one in which we discover something new or are prompted to reconsider something about ourselves and how we relate to the world around us. For stories to be artful they need to do more than illustrate (though please don't infer that I believe "illustrations" are constrained to only do so).

I think that characters inevitably change and shape the world they live in and that world will always and inevitably reflect our own in some way, as the source of inspiration. The changes that are made to that world then implicitly interact with our own: if a character acquired a fairy wand that magically made people happy and peaceful and the character then intervened with the world, then you might arguably have them create a fictional utopia. However, in fact it's a rather worrying statement about free will, if we're to accept, from the context of the story, that this is a "good thing".

Generally speaking, utopic change has been investigated in a number of mediums and there's a loose consensus that they are problematic, especially with respect to free will. The only example of a conceived "utopia" I can think of, which kind of works, is the Culture from the Iain Banks novels: where you may join or leave through consent and in which godlike technological beings ensure your personal needs are met. This is slightly different from the machines in the Matrix, who didn't ask people nicely. Further, everyone's idea of "utopia" is slightly different. The Culture accommodates this through it's vast resources, whereas the Matrix "utopia" represented a rigid set of values.

This is one of the other problems in introducing superheros who effect major change in a fictional world: Superman's idea of a utopia is, almost certainly, not mine. In fact, as much as I admire some of what he represents, there are aspects of him that I find faintly appalling: something which an adroit dystopia, like the Dark Knight, was able to touch upon. The clear nationalism is one problematic example: I accept as a character that Superman explicitly represents the "american way of life", since it's a big part of his upbringing, but it annoyed the hell out of me when Trinity attempted to encapsulate Wonder Woman in the same soundbyte. I'm not knocking a good chunk of the "american way of life" but other cultures have values too and just because the US has a strong well written constitution, it does not follow that the content is entirely unique to the country either. I know Wonder Woman has a special relationship with the US, that I respect as part of her story, but I also think she's bigger than that; with no wish to sound disrespectful.

So there are a few pitfalls with powerful beings effecting radical change in fiction. I prefer the idea of them writing books and doing interviews, personally; or interacting with a single mum, who's ex-partner left her looking after their daughters. Unless it's a plot point, it's more interesting to see larger social or political change played out exploratively, allowing the audience to make their own informed judgement without neatly tying it up.

I am also reminded of a favourite quote of mine from the comic Runaways: "...only villains try to change the whole world. The rest of us take it one person at a time."

tangentman
09-19-2009, 11:46 PM
Wonder Woman historically approached her mission by simultaneously attempting to change the world one person at a time and on a cultural scale. I always loved that Moulton showed Wonder Woman's mission at work--empowering insecure young women by encouraging their college education/employment/enlistment in military, inspiring abused women to break free from such relationships, transforming hardened criminals into conscientious members of (Amazon) society. I've said so before, but I think Wonder Woman's reformation of Baroness Paula Von Gunther showed Diana at her best. Rarely in comic book history have we seen a hero succeed so completely in permanently reforming his/her arch-nemesis!

I firmly believe that Wonder Woman works at her best when effecting these "small" personal victories. The Baroness is the most famous example. A personal, lesser-sung favorite is Diana's actions in the wake of Lucy Spears' suicide. Lucy's heart-broken parents blame Vanessa for their daughter's death, Julia rants at Lucy's mother, Vanessa goes into an emotional tailspin--everyone who loved Lucy finds their world torn apart. In all that emotional maelstrom, Diana seeks understanding above all. She wants to know what drove Lucy (and Myndi Mayer) to self-destruction. Despite the Spears' unjustly blaming Vanessa, Diana acts first and foremost as a peacemaker; she offers prayers for healing and sincere comfort. Her inspirational power easily sets her apart from the other members of the "Big Three".

With all respect to Greg Rucka, I prefer seeing Diana inspire people to playing West Wing. Perez, Loebs, Phil, and Gail all moved Diana back in that direction. I sincerely hope we'll see more such stories in Wonder Woman's future.

Gail Simone
09-20-2009, 02:04 AM
Hello, fellow Wonder Woman fans!

So, a question that really intrigues me as a professional storyteller (which simply means I get paid to do what I do) is this:

Is it our job, as storytellers, to simply reflect the reality we live in in our stories, or to try and shape and change it as well?

In another thread, we were discussing the possibility of Wonder Woman affecting change through her mission, and succeeding. I love this idea. I love that she could actually changes the political landscape of the DCU. For example, what if, in Wonder Woman's world, women were no longer paid 70 cents to the dollar men are paid on the work force? What if they were paid equally (broad one, but you get the idea)?

I know that the standard rule/trope of storytelling is that we must "relate" to characters and situations. I understand this need, although I think I feel it less than some others when it comes down to specifics (Peter Parker seems to be a character many, many people relate to personally and situationally).

Could you believe in a world where the heroes who live there actually affected change (especially if it's positive?), socially or politically? Or would the "alternate" aspect of it alienate you too much? Where do you cross the line? (Lex Luthor can be president during an alien invasion, but Superman and Wonder Woman can't negotiate peace in the Middle East, for bad example).

Wow, this is odd. I spend almost no time on these questions, I must admit!

Maybe I SHOULD! :)

First, I totally disagree with the idea that we should make all protagonists 'relatable.' I know a lot of people subscribe to that theory but doesn't it mean a homogenization of both story and character?

Plus, that thinking is used as a bludgeon, it's why there are so few ethnic lead characters, so few non-romance movies aimed at women, so few mainstream films with an LGBT in the lead role.

But beyond that, I always think part of the fun of storytelling is causing an unexpected reaction, an emotional impact that the reader didn't see coming. One of my favorite reactions is, "how in the world did this writer get me to care about Catman./Bane/whomever?"

And let's face it, I'm not even sure the notion is valid outside of people write ABOUT writing, rather than people who write.

I mean, let's look at Doc Savage. There's very little there to 'relate' to, yet he was tremendously popular for a long time. Even Batman...do YOU know any obsessive rich mega-athlete detectives?

You COULD say that Batman is relatable for his sense of loss, but I think that's fairly far down the list of traits that makes anyone read Batman.

I don't think there's a 'relate to this character' component there in the traditional sense. In the case of some adventure classic characters in particular, I don't know that 'relating' is the author's goal so much as empathy, a somewhat different idea. I actually admire most the writers who DON'T give me the expected character traits. Homer Simpsons was a largely unsympathetic character in the early episodes, and it revolutionized the entire realm of possibility in what a sitcom could be about.

This is the kind of topic I love, Phil. Thanks for bringing it up. :)