Wonder Woman was a unique movie for more than one reason. It established Gal Gadot as a massive star, it revived the almost-dead DCEU, but the most significant reason was women-empowerment. Wonder Woman became the highest grossing movie directed by a female director, while also becoming the highest-grossing film in the DCEU. But, nothing escapes controversy today.
It all began when Alamo Drafthouse announced that it would hold a screening for women only. The initial reactions were quite positive and applauded their intentions. However, things soon started going bad when it was pointed out that women-only screening was not legally valid.
The biggest backlash came from Stephen Miller, who was the contributor at Fox News. Miller bought a ticket to those exclusive screenings and claimed that as per the state law of New York, it was illegal to remove someone from their seats on the basis of sex. People were quick to point out to Miller that such spaces were necessary, but by then the fire was already spread.
Most of the people complaining about this, however, used hypothetical male-only screening as a counter-argument. They fail to notice that male-only screenings wouldn’t really be necessary since they are not discriminated against in ordinary spaces. The screening, in particular, was an attempt to celebrate the growing participation of women in the film industry; an industry where women are inherently discriminated against and are severely underrepresented.
This backlash could still have been ignored as a rhetoric of some fringe groups. However, things got serious when it was realized that such a screening was possibly illegal. Patty Jenkins, when asked about this, gave a mixed reaction:
“I could switch to either side of the argument, but I certainly think it’s wonderful … there have not been that many female-skewed things and certainly there have been many, many male. So I celebrate that.”
WOMEN-ONLY SCREENING IS POSSIBLY ILLEGAL IN TEXAS
Salon reported that the case was filed by Stephan Clark, an Albany professor and a gay lawyer with expertise in cases regarding sexual orientation and employment laws. Clark, who presented the case alongside an anonymous person, said that he was certain that such a screening was most probably not legal. He further added that even on a personal level, he would not have appreciated if someone organized a “Brokeback Mountain” screening exclusively for gays.
The case has some strong arguments in favor. Specifically, in Austin, the equality codes prohibit any public accommodation from restricting their service for a particular set of people solely on the basis of color, sex, sexual orientation, and race.
Alamo Drafthouse, too, realized this early, which was why they stated that they were unaware of the law that deems women-only screening as illegal. They also agree to give DVDs of the movie to those who filed the complaint. It was a nice gesture, but only if it got accepted. If the men refuse to accept it as a settlement, further investigation would be carried out, along with prosecutions.
But is legality equal to morality? Women-only screenings were a way to encourage and celebrate the growing participation of women in the industry. This was exactly what Alamo Drafthouse wanted. It would be certainly shameful if the company gets punished for such a noble act. We can only wait and hope for the best.