Community Cinema presents "Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines"

Community Cinema presents "Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines"

Mon, 03/25/2013 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Vaquera Films

This documenaty looks at female superheroes, warrior princesses, and other icons of women's empowerment in pop culture.

Please join us Monday, March 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Little Theatre for a free screening of Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines followed by a panel discussion. Exploring our nation’s long-term love affair with comic book superheroes, the  film raises questions about the possibilities and contradictions of heroines within  the  genre. Reflecting our  culture’s deep-seated  ambivalence  toward powerful women—even in this so-called post-feminist era —women may be portrayed as good, or brave, or even  featured  as  “action  babes,”  but  rarely  are  they  seen  as  heroes  at  the  center of  their own journey. This film is part of the Little's Women & Power: Women’s History Film Series and a WXXI Community Cinema Series presentation.

Tying the film together is the groundbreaking figure of Wonder Woman, the unlikely brainchild of a  Harvard-trained  pop  psychologist.  From  Wonder  Woman’s  original,  radical  World  War  II presence,  to  her  uninspiring  1960s  incarnation  as  a  fashion  boutique  owner,  to  her  dramatic resurrection  by  feminist  Gloria  Steinem  and  the  women  of  Ms.  Magazine, Wonder Woman’s legacy continues today—despite the fact that she has yet to make it to the big screen.
The hero is a key archetype in Western culture, yet heroes have almost invariably been male and white.  Twenty-eight  centuries  since  Achilles—arguably  the  first  superhero—the  classic  heroic archetype  remains  unaltered:  displaying  the  so-called  “masculine”  virtues  of  strength,  courage, assertiveness, leadership, physicality, and sometimes violence.
Why are these characteristics considered “heroic”? What happens when women engage in ways of thought  and  behavior  traditionally  confined  to  “masculinity”? Why  do most  superheroes  show little  or  no  talent  for  communication,  family,  or  empathetic  caring? Why  aren’t  these  values considered heroic, and how do our ideas about heroism reflect our culture’s values?
In  our  era  of  increased  plastic  surgeries  and  emphasis  on  “looking  good,”  rather  than  acting powerfully, many psychologists, media and social critics have long decried the fact that women are bombarded with  images of physical perfection  and portrayals of  their  gender purely  in  terms of sexual attractiveness. It is time to counter this with some reflection on why our culture struggles with images of women triumphant beyond the domestic arena of relationships and family.
This film invites women  and  girls, men  and boys,  to  consider how  stereotypes  in  the  comic  art genre serve  to  limit our vision of women, while reinforcing some of society’s deepest prejudices against them. Exploring how our highly visual culture places more emphasis on girls’ and women’s looks rather than on their deeds, Wonder Women! urges women to claim the action genre—and media in general—as their own, if they want to change how they are represented.

This film will be followed by a talkback. Panelists include: 

Barbara LeSavoy, PhD, is Director and faculty of  Women and Gender Studies (WMS) at  The College at Brockport in Brockport, NY.   Dr. LeSavoy teaches Feminist Theory, Sex and Culture, and Senior Seminar in Women and Gender Studies,  and she maintains a dynamic scholarship agenda.   Her research and publication areas include women’s global human rights, gender and popular culture, intersectionality and  educational equity/success, and women’s stories as feminist standpoint.  Dr. LeSavoy chairs Rochester/Novgorod  sister city Linkages Women's Partnership Committee and  is currently  leading a three faculty team working on a SUNY National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)  project that will support a global classroom linking students at the College at Brockport with students at Novgorod State University.   Dr. LeSavoy also chairs the Greater Rochester American Association of University Women (AAUW) College/University Partnership committee and the Biennial Seneca Falls Dialogues College Alliance, and she is a founding member of the Greater Rochester Consortium of Women and Gender Studies Faculty.  

Fredericka (Freddi) Macek currently works for the Rochester Labor Council, AFL/CIO as the Retiree Committee Coordinator. She taught elementary grades in the Rochester City School District for 33 years. She served on various educational committees especially through the Rochester Teachers Association. She also served on numerous union committees and held several elected positions, including primary chair and 2nd vice president.

Shortly after retiring from teaching, Freddi became the labor liaison for New York State United Teachers Retiree Council 5, and was hired in a part-time position with the RLC as the Rochester Labor Council, AFL/CIO Retiree Committee Chair (Coordinator). She has been in this position for 12 years. As the Committee Chair, she works with retiree representatives of the union retiree groups in the Rochester area and reestablishing the Rochester Labor Council Retiree Group. The reps keep each other informed on retiree issues such as Medicare, Social Security, pensions and also labor issues such as the Employees Free Choice Act, Right to Work legislation, etc. Their main goal is to help Rochester Labor Council in their efforts to keep working families working and to maintain/create jobs that pay a living wage. 

Freddi also represent the Rochester Labor Council on the Investment Cabinet of the United Way and is a member of the UW Women’s Leadership Council and the Labor Leadership Group. She holds an elected positions in her own union retiree groups and is a member of Beta Eta of Delta Kappa Gamma.

Carter Soles is Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the English Department at The College at Brockport (SUNY).  His research interests include geek studies, gender and identity studies, film authorship, and the comedy and horror genres.  He has published articles on the queerness of the independent film Chuck & Buck (2000) for Jump Cut and on the figure of the hillbilly in 1970's horror cinema for The Eco-Cinema Reader (Routledge, 2012). He is the co-author, with Kom Kunyosying, of "Postmodern Geekdom as Simulated Ethnicity," appearing in Jump Cut 54 (Summer 2012).

Dr. Alisia Grace Chase is Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture and teaches classes on both Women in Art and comics and Graphic Novels. Her research examines the representation of women in many facets of American popular culture including cinema and comics/graphic novels. 

One of Dr. Chase’s  academic articles, “Draws Like a Girl: The Necessity of Old School Feminist Interventions in the World of Comics and Graphic Novels” (published in Feminism Reframed: Reflections on Art and Difference) addresses the very same issues brought up in the film.

The Little Theatre, WXXI, and The Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies present ten films in honor of Women’s History Month. The Women & Power: Women’s History Film Series is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.

Watch the trailer here:

WONDER WOMEN! The Untold Story of American Superheroines from Vaquera Films on Vimeo.