Two weeks ago, a suicide bomber’s attack on Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, England, left 22 dead and over 50 people wounded. Most young people would have been so shaken and frightened by what had happened that they would have rolled up in a ball and hid in a dark room somewhere; however, that was not the way Ariana Grande saw things. This brave and determined young woman was intent on doing something to help those hurt by the attack and also show the world that these kinds of incidents would not have their intended effect of stopping people from going out and enjoying their freedom to go to concerts and do other things.
Grande somehow managed to gather acts such as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Pharrell Williams, and Cold Play to perform at her One Love Manchester concert at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, raising $13 million for the victims’ families and entertaining 50,000 fans in the process. This bold and dynamic action proves this young woman’s grit and fortitude and is a shining beacon of hope that crumbles any chance of the terrorists succeeding at what they hope to accomplish.
If you were watching the show (as many people around the world were), the exuberance of each performance and the reaction of the crowd were more than the right antidote for what happened two weeks before (and also on Saturday in London). By the time Ms. Grande sang a tear-provoking and powerful performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” it became clear that her concert was more than anything about love and its overwhelming ability to rally the human spirit.
Meanwhile this weekend in movie theaters Gal Gadot exploded on screens across the country and around the world as the iconic Wonder Woman. And if Ms. Grande proved that love is what the world needs now, it also requires a depiction of a strong, powerful, and independent female who can kick the bad guys’ butts as well as Batman or Captain America.
It seems crucial that at this point in time when women are being targeted, as was the case in the Manchester bombing, that the world sees a woman taking on the traditional male role and shining bright. Gadot, who already made an impression playing this character in Batman vs. Superman, really takes the opportunity in this film and makes more than the most of it. Gal Gadot gives us a hero we can admire, whether we are male or female, and sends a clear message to those who would repress females that women can do anything. Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is brave, loyal, and yet has a sense of innocence and goodness that truly brings this character into a new light for audiences.
The third member of this dynamic trio is Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who can be credited with the vision that has made the film such a great success. Beside infusing this familiar tale with a spontaneity and zest that many superhero flicks seem to lack, she also has shaken up the genre – a female lead and female director can take a film just as far as a male lead and male director – and that is something that has long been needed in filmmaking in America.
This past weekend’s box-office numbers saw Jenkins’s Wonder Woman rake in the highest opening take ($103.1 million) for a film directed by a female director. The film is not only a financial success, but critics and fans are raving about it and that has not always been the case for films in this genre of late. Jenkins has crafted her story in a way that has a wider appeal than the usual superhero movie, which usually targets a predominantly male audience.
These three Wonder Women set hearts a flutter this weekend, but also made a difference in tangible ways. While raising a good deal of money to help the victims of the Manchester bombing, Ariana Grande stood up for the freedom of expression not just in England but the world over. Her One Love Manchester concert rocked not only because it featured great music but due to the crucial message that love and unity are the ingredients for a better world and that violence in all its horrific forms will not deter people from doing what is good and what is right.
Gal Gadot has arrived in a really big way, and she becomes an inspiration for girls everywhere. More importantly, Gadot’s character is crucial for boys who will be initially attracted to her appearance but will learn a lesson – women and girls can do anything men and boys can do – and that is needed now more than ever. Other female actors who long to be action heroes or cast as a lead in a film should thank her because their chances of being considered for those roles have gone up exponentially.
And then there is Patty Jenkins, strutting into the old boy’s club (that Hollywood still seems to be) and throwing her hat into the middle of the ring. She will now rightly compete with male directors on a more even playing field and hopefully this will open doors for other female directors to follow her lead and get a bigger piece of the action.
This past weekend three wonder women – singer Ariana Grande, Israeli actress Gal Gadot, and American director Patty Jenkins – rose above the detritus of horrible events and shone a dazzling and reassuring light for all the world to see. Congratulations to this dynamic trio on a job well done!