Wonder Woman as political media

Cover of Wonder Woman comicWe had an interesting class discussion of “entertainment media” as “political media.” I brought in what I had learned from an interesting story in Smithsonian magazine (“The Surprising Origin Story of Wonder Woman“) that discussed the agenda behind the creation of the Wonder Woman comic character.

Wonder Woman was created with a couple of goals. One was to take the heat off of the comic book publisher because many people thought comic books were dark, perverse, and/or subversive. After only being around ten years, comic books were already blamed for leading the nation’s youth down the wrong path. Comic books were described as a “national disgrace” by one newspaper. To rehabilitate the image of comic books the publisher hired psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston who wanted bring in characters that reflected the growth of women’s power in society. In the words of Moulton, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”

There have actually been two books recently published on the origins of Wonder Woman. The Smithsonian article was based on The Secret History of Wonder Woman. I had already read a free sample chapter of Wonder Woman Unbound. I’m not a big fan of comic books, but it was a topic that generated a lot of discussion about the motivations behind media.

I know this strays beyond the usual bounds of a Texas politics course. However, I thought the reference to old comic books was an interesting way of engaging some students who usually sat out class discussion.

Cover of the Secret History of Wonder WomaCover of Wonder Woman Unbound

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