• Thu, Dec 5 - 12:20 pm ET

Stop Freaking Out About How Skinny And Jewish Wonder Woman Is

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Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in the coming Batman vs Superman film, slated for a release in 2015. Great, right? A beautiful woman is going to embody a badass female character onscreen for the very first time ever. Except ugh. The troubling, negative conversations about Gadot’s casting are already happening.

Some cretins say the gorgeous model and actress is “too skinny” to play Wonder Woman, which doesn’t surprise me, but still makes me shudder when I think about how willing the general public is to pick apart every single goddamn thing about a woman’s physical appearance, even a woman as beautiful as Gadot.

And then there’s the whole Jewish thing. Interestingly, Time went out of their way to mention that the new Wonder Woman will be Jewish, which brings up intriguing, squirm-inducing questions about the nature of the visibility of Jewish women in the media. While it wasn’t a negative mention of religion in any way (“Plus, Gadot’s casting means Wonder Woman will be Jewish, fulfilling many a fanboy’s fantasy”) it was still deemed worthy of mention, which has, in my opinion, some real cultural indications.

It’s worth pointing out that characters don’t necessarily take on the religions of the actors and actresses who portray them (Is every character Richard Gere plays Buddhist, then?), and that I see no real indication that Gadot is actually a practicing Jew, other than she’s a citizen of Israel. Gadot was Miss Israel in 2004, served in the Israeli army and reportedly grew up in a religious Jewish home—but that doesn’t mean that she practices Judaism.

Israeliness seems to straddle the line between a cultural identity, an ethnic identity, a national identity, and a religious identity. Judaism as a cultural marker and Judaism as a religious practice are two different (yet often interrelated) things.  While Natalie Portman is a practicing Jew—who named her child the Hebrew name Aleph, even—her religion and cultural identity is rarely mentioned in conjunction with either her work or her personal life. I associate a certain strain of boring, ultra-talented elegance with her way more than I do any kind of Jewish identity. Perhaps that has to do with her obvious physical attractiveness, something she clearly has in common with Gadot. Or maybe it’s the roles she’s chosen, Oscar-bait stuff like Black Swan or hipster cute fare like Garden State.  Still, I also think that if someone like Natalie Portman, an American Jewish actress, had been cast in the role of Wonder Woman, the question of religion wouldn’t have been worthy of mention in the media.

But of course, media outlets only report on the otherness of actors and actresses if they are actually other. I doubt they’d have found it worth mentioning if a Christian (or, for that matter, Buddhist) actress were cast as Wonder Woman. But if the actress were a person of color or otherwise othered—like a Muslim, for example—you can bet it would be noteworthy, as it is that Israeli Gadot will be taking on the sexy role.

When we discussed Time‘s mention of Gadot’s Jewishness, the Jewish members of The Gloss staff talked about the stereotypes associated with Jewish women and why it seems so remarkable that Gadot has been cast as a powerful sex symbol. Julia Sonenshein and Joanna Rafael both commented that they’ve been told several times about how shocking it is that they’re actually attractive, you know, since they’re all Jewish and whatnot. Unfounded, stereotypical assumptions about Semitic femininity are alive and well, in case you thought the old jokes about harpy JAPs and overbearing Jewish mothers were dying out as Woody Allen ages. (For what it’s worth, I am not not and never have been Jewish, although I did minor in Jewish Studies. That had more to do with my love for Saul Bellow and the Sex, Gender and Judaism class I took as a college junior than any personal history with the Chosen People).

There’s been talk of a Wonder Woman movie for ages, as well as criticism about the fact that we haven’t had one yet, decades after Lynda Carter starred in the TV series. Although it’s a shame that Wonder Woman will likely play second fiddle to Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman, instead of starring in her own movie, this is still a score for women’s depiction in big-budget superhero action films. Hell, maybe Gal Gadot will be so successful in the role that they’ll give her her own film.

Either way, I think it’s going to be amazing to see an Israeli (and possibly actively Jewish) actress in a major role in a huge superhero film. While much of the conversation around her has been admittedly positive, the discussions still point to her otherness within her cultural identity. After all, we don’t often see articles that mention “Blonde, blue-eyed Baptist girl cast in important role,” do we? Nope. So there ya go. Still, I’m hoping that we won’t see much more body negativity in relation to her casting. And, dear god, let’s hope we don’t see any anti-Semitism, either.

Photo: WireImage/Getty Images

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  • Elizabeth Alexander

    I don’t understand how her Israeli-ness is noteworthy. Like isn’t the joke about Hollywood that it’s all Jewish people? (another stereotype, i know, but go with it). It makes no sense that a (maybe) jewish actress is an “other”

    • Julia Sonenshein

      I think that stereotype applies a lot more to executives than to beautiful actresses though!

    • Elizabeth Alexander

      yeah, i guess that’s true. either way, this is still ridiculous!

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Agreed. I think people always assume Hollywood “is run by Jews” but make a big deal about female Jewish actresses. Sigh.

    • Joanna Rafael

      Stereotypically, jews are behind the camera, behind the scenes, but not stars. That’s one of the reasons why actresses like Lauren Bacall and Natalie Portman change their surnames professionally.

    • bee

      Well, the stereotype is racist. Jews are absurdly overrepresented among young, attractive actors: Natalie Portman, Logan Lerman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Ezra Miller, Andrew Garfield, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kat Dennings, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, etc.

      About half of movie female superheroes have been played by Jewish actresses: Supergirl (Helen Slater), Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

    • Julia Sonenshein

      I think that stereotype applies a lot more to executives than to beautiful actresses though!

  • Tom H.

    i’m sorry, I can’t support someone acting a paragon of hope and justice who has served in a genocidal army. that’s just the bottom line.

    • Jihadi_Pig

      I don’t like supporting racist idi0ts like you but I apparently have to…

    • Quin

      You do know that every Israeli citizen is drafted into the Israeli army?
      Thanks, stop judging now.

    • lindenen

      You need to learn more about what many Muslims in the Middle East teach their children about non-Muslims before you call the IDF genocidal. It’s been going on since before the creation of the state of Israel…remember… half of Israel is made up of refugees from Muslim countries.

    • WilliamPenbrokeTeller

      Israel was created by an act of Jews mass-murdering the Arab populace then stealing the land. Exactly as the Jews mass-murdered 65 million Russian Christians when the established the Jewish Tyranny called “the Soviet Union” (which started with the mass murder of the Czar’s gentle Christian family.
      The Jews murdered 10 million Russians in 1917 then starved at gunpoint another 40 million Christians in the Ukraine. Meanwhile the Jews were disappearing millions more into their anti-human forced labor death camps where the Jewish tyrants raped women and children to death while working the men until they were human skeletons. And they have the gall to complain about Germans taking sane action to expunge the violently psychopathic anti-human Jews?

    • Cpt_Justice

      Thank you for compacting every insane lie ever told about Israel into one simple post. Oh, no, wait – you made sure to expose who you REALLY hated – thanks again!

    • Cori

      Serving in the military is manditory in Israel. It’s not the same as signing up, unless she stayed on after the required time.

    • OhOk

      Conscientious objectors have been able to avoid service, fwiw. It’s also not racist to disagree with the IDF activities in Palestine. Every international law expert ever agrees that the situation is a controversial shithole of pain and suffering. Everybody chill.

    • Crazyrabbit

      You have it backwards. It’s her “side”, that’s trying to stop the other side from committing genocide to the Israeli’s.

  • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

    Part of the mention of her Jewishness is probably because of the conflation of her religion with her nationality, like you mentioned. Our Superheroes, even ones from outerspace, are often viewed as American, especially in the Justice League, so casting an Israeli actress who looks vaguely “exotic” in Hollywood parlance is an interesting choice. And a largely positive one. Hopefully, one day these things won’t be of note, but sadly, in a culture of white male superheroes, it is.

    • bee

      Wonder Woman is from some exotic Greek island.

    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      Yeah, I know, but we still view her as an American – the lasso of truth, the red, white and blue outfit. That was my point. it’s cool to see that they cast someone who is at least from a country on the Mediterranean. It shows a little casting creativity that most superhero films lack.

    • SmellyFingers

      “We”, no i have never viewed her as American because she isn’t , even with the costume on.

  • DaisyJupes

    Her size matters (Wonder Woman was an Amazon and this chick is a model, two waaaay different body types aside from height), just as Tom Felton’s body would matter if he played Thor, because he is absurdly tiny compared to him (there are countless articles about how a guy isn’t big enough, sexy enough, muscular enough to be so and so). That being said, they picked a correct looking person aside from size.

    I’m not sure how the fact she’s Israeli and Jewish matters unless they’re significantly underrepresented for lead roles.

    • JennyWren

      I think it’s a little soon to be ruling out the possibility of her gaining muscle for the role, though. Many actors and actresses have undergone physical transformations for roles, and most of them have to do work to maintain the look they want. She’s probably working at keeping her current figure in some way also.

      I admit it would have been refreshing for the studio to have picked a “stronger-looking” actress right off the bat (although then you know people would have been complaining about her not being hot enough), but I’m not willing to write her off completely just because of that.

    • DaisyJupes

      I completely agree with the stronger looking thing. Pretty is often chosen and everything else on the back-burner. With Vampire Academy, I was depressed at how tiny and vapid the main character was for the movie even though the whole series was about a race of strong people protecting their counterparts.

      If the WW actress can gain visible muscle (whether her thighs and arms remain tiny or not), I will be completely satisfied. She needs to be strong, not weak looking or they are completely selling out on WW. They won’t give her a movie of her own, so they better do it right!

    • JennyWren

      Agreed. I certainly don’t think a woman has to look obviously strong in order to kick butt, but in our one-track Hollywood system this is a golden opportunity to expand on the kinds of body we usually see and to praise an alternate feminine ideal. Like you said, WW is not going to get her own movie any time soon.

      That said, Gadot has a wonderful face for WW (it’s in the eyebrows, I think!) and if she can acquire the physique she could really give the WW legacy a shot in the arm.

    • suckaD

      A brown eyed Jew playing a blue eyed American….Yeah that makes tons of sense…She’s not attractive either…

  • Armored Knight

    Her Jewish heritage doesnt bother me in the slightest..it is her frail frame. This role demands a Katy Perry body to START with, that then needs 1 year of weight training…this is going to be a hard sell.

  • sdk5

    It’s perfectly acceptable to refer to Ms. Gadot as Jewish without knowing the full details of her observance. One doesn’t depend on the other.

  • OhOk

    Christ, Natalie Portman is Israeli too.

    But yeah, I am more offended that they cast a model instead of a real actor to play such a badass. The whole Jewish xenophobia is really creepy.

  • ExComicReader

    Whoever is doing the casting should be fired. Not just a Wonder Woman without big blue eyes but the choices for Batman and Superman suck too.

  • Lineage2MediaCom .

    she was only picked cause she is a jew.

  • Eric

    Why are you automatically Jewish if you’re born in Israel?

    • Cpt_Justice

      Not even the idiot who wrote this article said that.

  • be

    And now Antman and Sandman are Jewish, too! And best of all, Percy Jackson.

  • Crazyrabbit

    Nobody cares about her being jewish except a few racists. It’s HER that’s the problem. Not her attitude, not her beliefs its her looks. To thin. I know Hollywood will “magically” make her look good. But there are Sooo many more that could already do a better job. Wonder Woman needs,, not should but NEEDS to be built, yes BUILT well and curvy with a stern but beautiful face. With blue eyes and able to pull combat moves off fluidly and with but not limited to ropes/swords and shields. A Greek accent for once would be perfect.

    • LordElfa

      Her being Jewish unfortunately plays into that. There are at least 3 dozen actresses off the top of my head that would make better looking and acting WW then her. Her being Jewish and the whole “Hollywood ran by Jews” thing just puts her being picked in a suspect light by those who think that way.

  • ☆JAGANAR☆

    if i wanted a toothpick for diana i would have appreciated the even more useless K-STEW….. >__> atleast then BAT DUCK VS SUPERMAN would go down in epic fail history .

    JESSICA BIEL,

    CHARISMA CARPENTER

    garcelle beauvais

    all AMAZING ACTRESSES who fill the profile for an amazon perfectly … and we end up with A slagging toothpick >__> (IM Gonna go ahead and agree with mel gibson on this one…. )

    WHATEVER MAN , both kirby and the 2 alfreds we lost since the batwest cave are turning over in their graves right now.

  • Augure

    So it wasn’t enough that Hollywood studios had 90% of producers being jewish, hiring 90% of director being jewish, hiring themselves a growing majority of actors who are jewish, even though they represent a small part of the population.

    Now they’re hiring Israelis, although she’s not fit, talented or famous?

    Yeah right, obviously USA is in dipper shit than we are in Europe or other parts of the world because at least we realize what’s going on…

  • EarlOfCamenbear

    Skinny & Titless.
    A woman lacking breasts of any note.
    A stick devoid of muscle or feminine charm.
    Too wimpy to lift a 75 pound weight much less exhibit Super Strength.
    I congratulate the director in casting the best female to defame Jewish women as being flat-chested wimps lacking in both personality and depth.

    Who comes to her defense? An aging hag of a Feminist who lost her genetic beauty so quickly after her loose-lipped open-vagina-policy teen self-degradation years.
    Ha! Sheer hilarity that you think selling the men of this nation a gaunt stick-starved wimp of a woman as a “Wonder Woman” will sell anywhere when real men can see many real woman worthy of desire in their own hometown, versus the limp noodle of a wimp woman that Decrepit Comics is trying to sell them in a movie.

  • Cpt_Justice

    Wow, you almost outdid “Time” in your stupid reaction to Judaism. You are wrong, BTW. Judaism is all inclusive of the two things you specifically tried to make distinct. It does not matter if a Jew practices the religion; s/he is still a Jew. Please, stop trying to “defend” something that hasn’t been attacked, because you are actually offensive. Possibly the *nastiest* thing (as opposed to the previous *stupid* thing) you said was “I associate a certain strain of boring, ultra-talented elegance with her way more than I do any kind of Jewish identity.” You could not possibly have stopped to think about that for even one second before you spit that out, especially given the very discussion you said you had with Jewish women about that very same prejudice.

  • OJTruth

    This woman cannot even speak English properly, and is in desperate need of a big mac or two, this article is really a piece of shite. Carrie, you are an idiot.

  • Solar Guild

    This article is Lame! It basically condemns those who want to see something more than the overrepresented runway model archetype. We’re all bad people for wanting a modern day female athlete to play the part of an Amazon. smh

  • benjamin

    She Is a Racist scum….Supporting IDF War Crime …DC Should be ashamed ..