The star of the 1970’s TV series Wonder Woman will be returning to TV this fall…on CBS’ sleazy sex comedy Two and a Half Men.
A relative unknown when she was cast as Wonder Woman on the television series about the superheroine (which ran for one season on ABC 1976-77, and then on CBS from 1977 to 1979), Lynda Carter rapidly gained the approbation of comics fans and the general public alike – and proved a role model for children, especially young girls. Not only did she physically resemble the comic-book character, combining statuesque beauty, athleticism, and grace, but Ms. Carter brought to her portrayal an upbeat optimism which was equal parts gentleness, sincerity, and intelligence (with just a hint of tongue-in-cheek humor).
In her subsequent career, Ms. Carter epitomized the word “classy.” Unlike many performers who retain a lifelong association with a science-fiction, comic-book, or fantasy character, she never seemed to resent being known as Wonder Woman, and never denigrated the role, the character, or her identification with it. Indeed, in interviews she seemed to recognize, and even cherish, the popularity with and influence over young viewers the role had given her.
Ms. Carter retains her charm and grace today; and certainly, it is understandable that she would seek opportunities to return to prime time. But it is tragic that such a return will be on a program which consists of nothing but tawdry, explicit sex jokes which serve to degrade and devalue women, reducing them to objects whose only purpose is as a means of sexual gratification.
News reports state that Ms. Carter “will play a version of herself on the series — a version which Alan Harper (Jon Cryer) harbored a crush on in the mid to late ’70s.” Viewers can expect a deluge of “jokes” about a teenage Alan masturbating while watching Wonder Woman, thus rendering even pop-culture’s strongest icon of feminism into an object of adolescent sex fantasy. Amid the current ferment over former “Disney kid” Miley Cyrus’ exhibitionistic dance at the MTV Video Music Awards, this demonstrates once again that there is nothing innocent that today’s TV writers cannot sexualize and corrupt.
Throughout the 75 year-history of comic-book superheroes, Wonder Woman has remained the medium’s single most iconic female heroic character. As such, it represents a tremendous opportunity to offer girls a heroic character of their own to inspire them, and to look up to. But in recent years, DC Comics has gone out of its way to squander this opportunity, portraying Wonder Woman in a sexualized, ultra-violent fashion. Through such changes, fans of the character – one who, in the words of the TV show’s theme, could “stop a war with love” – at least had the classic series and their fond memories to enjoy. But now, the actress who once brought to life a character who represented the way women are so much more than merely objects to arouse men will be reduced to both a sex toy and the butt of humor.
Ms. Carter deserves better.
And so do her fans.