March 4, 2010, - 5:20 pm

“Gloria Steinem in Wonderland”: Hollywood Turns Alice Into Feminist Manifesto, Anti-Male Action Flick

By Debbie Schlussel

If you’re planning to see Disney’s new version of “Alice in Wonderland,” know that it really isn’t Alice in Wonderland at all. It’s Gloria (Steinem) and Betty (Friedan) and Susan (Sarandon) in a high tech, souped up, feminist wonderland.  It’s like NOW (the National Organization for Women) invaded a kids’ flick and turned it into a horror movie.  There’s nothing wondrous or wonderful about it. It’s dumbed down baloney.

aliceinwonderlandgloriasteinem

Gloria Steinem’s Fantasy, Not Lewis Caroll’s Charming Classic

The new “Alice” is about the horrors of marriage and how, even back in the 1800s a young girl knows more about business and trading in far off lands than a wealthy English tycoon.  The movie, which debuts in theaters tonight, bears very little resemblance to the classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  While the 3-D effects were okay and some of the movie was cute, the destruction of Carroll’s charming tale is a huge disappointment.  And it simply wasn’t “Alice in Wonderland.”  It was the feminist manifesto fraudulently and deceptively dressed up in that name.

Instead of a young Alice, bored and sitting with her sister, falling asleep and dreaming of Wonderland, Disney’s latest Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is 19 years old, her father has died, and she’s on the way to a party, which everyone but her knows is her engagement party.  She’s about to be married off to the son of a wealthy English noble whom she barely knows and in whom she has no interest.  But that’s not before she spies her brother-in-law cheating on her older sister and that sister lectures her about how she must get married before she “loses her face” and becomes an “old maid.”

Of course, Alice’s wanna-be fiance is a slobbering idiot, as pretty much all the men in this movie are (but for her father, who dies at the beginning).  The only decent human male in the whole flick is the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), and he’s crazy.  When Alice is ambushed with the marriage proposal, she runs away and falls down a hole in a tree stump, which is where her action adventure in a dark fantasy world powered by women begins.  There is no King of Hearts in this movie, only a Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), who has an oversized head and is supposed to be the Queen of Hearts from the original.  And there’s her sister, the rival White Queen (Anne Hathaway), who is good.

A scroll foretells that on a certain upcoming day, Alice will save all the good people in the world by slaying an evil monster, the Jabberwocky, who is under the control of the Red Queen.  It shows a picture of Alice as some sort of action hero slaying the giant dragon.  The Red Queen learns of this and wants her soldiers and henchmen to find and kill Alice.  Most of the rest of the movie is their search for her, and how she and the Mad Hatter arrive in the Red Queen’s palace, then escape with a magical sword with which to slay the Jabberwocky.  Yes, there are the rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and the Cheshire Cat, along with the Hatter.  But there really is very little charm in any of them (but for the cat), as they are simply extras in a saccharin political story that is far off the path of the Lewis Carroll story where they were at home and endearing.

At the end of the movie, when Alice elects to go home from Wonderland and the White Queen, she publicly declines her male suitor’s proposal for engagement to marry, tells off her non-feminist married sister and her lecherous brother-in-law, and tells the world that marriage simply isn’t for her.  Then, she instructs the father of her rejected suitor on how to open new business in China.  You see, they are now partners in business, and she being a 19-year-old in 1800-something knows more about how to succeed in business than a wealthy man in his 50s who has been a success in business for most of his career.

The end.  Make sure to complete your NOW membership card before you turn in your 3D glasses to be recycled.

Back when I was in Fourth Grade, my teacher made me memorize a poem from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which included this verse:

The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things, of shoes and ships and ceiling wax, of cabbages and kings. And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.

There was none of that poetry or greatness in this faux-”Alice.” Not even close.

Lewis Carroll, ne Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, is turning over in his grave.  But, hey, a women’s rights activist, Linda Woolverton (who wrote this screenplay), and a bizarro director, Tim Burton, turned his deep kids’ tale into a shallow, “updated” political polemic for the 2010s.

The ghost of Betty Friedan is laughing at poor Mr. Carroll, assuming they went to the same place.  And I don’t.

FOUR MARXES PLUS A BETTY FRIEDAN
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59 Responses

Dodgson was known to prefer the company of young girls but had traded his right to marry to take orders in the Anglican Church in order to secure a steady position as a Mathematics lecturer. It may be that parts of The Hatter and Alice herself in the original were drawn from his own psyche.

mk750 on March 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    “but had traded his right to marry to take orders in the Anglican Church in order to secure a steady position as a Mathematics lecturer….”

    Huh?? You are confusing the Anglican Church with the Roman Catholic one. Anglican priests, since Henry VIII’s time, were permitted to marry and were encouraged to do so. Anglicans are Protestants.

    sorrow01 on March 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      I know that and didn’t understand it myself. I made the original source too long so Debbie rightly took it down. Have to repost. Perhaps some very High Church official, made it a condition in this case. Dodgson never was ordained. Only got to Deacon.

      mk750 on March 5, 2010 at 3:35 am

        Perhaps he was homosexual, given his preference for young girls as friends. There used to be allegations in Literary circles that he was a pedophile. His photography could suggest that. Perhaps the Church knew about the homosexuality and their response was rather than subject some poor young woman to a fake marriage, they gave celibacy a religious excuse. The Anglican Communion, which BTW considers it self “Catholic” not Protestant, permits vows of celibacy while not *requiring* them.

        mk750 on March 5, 2010 at 3:50 am

          “Catholic” here does not equate in any way to “Roman Catholic”. The Anglican church is, indeed, Protestant. Or at least it was when I was baptised and confirmed into it. :D We say in the Creed that “We believe in holy catholic and apostolic Church”, with the word here meaning “universal”, and we believe it is catholic in that it continues the link as laid down by Christ’s apostles and encompasses all Christians the world over. There is no link to Rome whatsoever.

          Alison on March 5, 2010 at 8:08 am

But this isn’t Carroll’s story anyway. It’s set years in the future, so it’s more of a return to Wonderland. It goes without saying that it won’t be like the original tale.

I actually think Lewis Carroll would approve. Okay I AM a fan of Johnny Depp and of Tim Burton for the most part. However, I can set that aside when considering whether I believe a film to be good or not, and I think this is.

Of course, anyone going to see the original story will be disappointed. However, it does say quite clearly in the trailers (at least it does over here) that this takes place around ten years after events in the original.

Alison on March 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Was at the grocery store the other day and I paid with my Disney checks( they delight the grandkids and they were on sale! LOL!) so the check I used was one with a picture of Alice from the original Disney movie.

SO the young clerk says are you going to see the new Alice?

I said “not unless you tie me to a wild Chesire cat and he drags me there!”

She laughed and said “me neither, it looks stupid!”

LOL!

Sewsalot on March 4, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Thanks. No way I’m taking my kids to that.

adam on March 4, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    You won’t take your children to see a movie that actually portrays women as strong, independent, and intelligent?

    I think that it is interesting that a movie which portrays women in a positive manner receives such a scathing review, especially by a woman. It’s a pretty good example of what bell hooks called “the enemy within.”

    It’s important to celebrate a movie that actually portrays women in a positive manner, instead of as weak, submissive, or objectified things. Has anyone looked at movies? The majority don’t even have main female characters, and if there are important female characters, typically they have some association to a man, or they are portrayed in a non-feminist story. Even Disney movies – take a peek at the majority of the female characters and let me know what you find.

    Alice in Wonderland is a breath of fresh air in the movie world. I can watch this movie and think “THIS is the type of movie that I would show my children!” It doesn’t teach that women are submissive princesses in need of a prince, it teaches that princesses can save themselves!

    Noel on March 18, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      sorry this is gonna be a long post. i don’t think people are putting down the femnist aspect of this i think the reson most people are angry is becouse it trying to put logic were thire isn’t any. alice in wonderland was ment to be a dream were anything can happen and din’t really have a ture story. it was just a series of efents i think he could have the femnist aspect but just leave the storry out side also another reson i find people not likeing the movie and you all kinda have to agree with me is becouse it did seem kinda thrown in thire at the last minut in some parts. i guess what im saying is before you noel and amy. wonderland is a place were anything can happen. but i guess people will beleve what they want.

      mike on January 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

Everything Tim Burton does is just another version of Beetlejuice, and Johnny Depp is his personal metrosexual muse.
The tree used in the movie is the same tree from Burtons other makeover movie Sleepy Hollow.
I like to watch movies to escape not be influenced by subplots and politcal euphamism.

Sic Semper Tyrannus on March 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm

If it weren’t for feminists Debbie would get slapped up for writing such nonsense on the Men’s internet. Women should be seen and not heard, and the same thing would go for the internet had it not been for feminist ideals.

Mike on March 4, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Seriously, did you take a bong hit before typing that? That is a pretty incoherent piece of gibberish, even for a stoner.

    sorrow01 on March 4, 2010 at 11:08 pm

taking away the naughty element of Wonderland kills the fun. Alice in Wonderland is often a play with sexuality on a young girl. the hypocrisy of society is especially disturbing because Alice is being harassed the whole time… one often wonders if the writer isn’t getting off on the offense of it all. Alice escapes an uptight victorian life for her dreams where she meets hypocritical scoundrels. The idea is that through the experience she becomes a more adult woman. These scoundrels certainly should never inspire a woman to become hostile and anti-social herself. In essence what you describe Debbie is an Alice who becomes her own monster. the frustration and paradox of the experience is supposed to make Alice grow into a character that the reader feels has come to a conclusion that argument and hostility comes to no end. the newest incarnation of Alice has decided to become a diva instead. how depressing.

Noah David Simon on March 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Totalitarians are known for their efforts to rewrite history to fit their ideologies. If Steinem and her ilk ever got state power, they would do the same thing, belittle the roles of men & elevate women artificially wherever they could. This monstrosity is just an example.

The emphasis here isn’t on some obscure personality traits that may reflect Lewis Carroll, it is on the political distortion of the man/woman relationship and the bizarre transformation of Carroll’s charming characters.

Little Al on March 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Carroll’s characters weren’t charming, though. Disney’s interpretation made them so, but the books are fairly dark and psychedelic in theme and style.

Alison on March 4, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Alison read the cliff notes or reviews of Carroll’s books, but obviously never the books themselves.

DS_ROCKS! on March 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    Alison is English and, therefore, had no access to Cliff notes as a child. Alison has not only read the books (and thus knows that the Red Queen is the Red Queen and NOT the Queen of Hearts who is quite a different character), but has numerous editions of them, one of which is on permanent display.

    Alison on March 5, 2010 at 7:15 am

Debbie, I swear I saw this coming when I read about this flim. An automatic turn off for me.

Squirrel3D on March 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm

I have never cared for the Tim Burton style. Thanks for the warning on this one.

Dr Dale on March 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Debbie, I join you in your assessment. Nauseating.

skzion on March 4, 2010 at 10:55 pm

so it is like the remake of Peter Pan, Hook, where Peter is now an absentee incompetent dad. So it seems Hollywood has only 3 ideas for today’s movies:

1 remake anything that has been done before
2 remake it but screw it up with a political agenda undertone but be sure to dumb it down for the uneducated viewers.
3 force feed the chosen actor flavor of the time to ensure ticket sales

None of these ideas are producing good movies but do seem to generate ticket sales (how avatar made all that money is still unknown but the answer “it looked pretty” seems to be in the lead). If people demanded better and didn’t waste their money on crap they would make better crap.

They are looking to make a “Laverne and Shirley” movie, The “A-Team” is about to be released and another Rambo movie is getting put together. So Debbie is going to have a lot of crappy movies to sit thru and warn us about in the future.

Thanks Debbie.

ender on March 5, 2010 at 2:04 am

Another example of why I don’t waste my hard-earned money at the movies…

IceNoMore on March 5, 2010 at 2:32 am

I can’t find it now. It was on About.com. Long list of Bios. This was by Gillian Something. Sorry, should have saved it.
Re: Alison, she is correct. It’s not the Cliff Notes version. It is the standard interpretation above English 101. “Through The Looking Glass” is even worse. In that one Alice does decide to become queen herself on her own chess board. I believe, after reading these several bios, that a lot of the Mad Hatter and even Alice herself were parts of Dodgson’s psyche.

mk750 on March 5, 2010 at 3:43 am

personally, i think you’re wrong. Why say that the remake is nothing like the original, when no remake is exactly like the original to begin with. each director is different, and tim burton has a very unique mind and way of portraying & executing such an amazing classic. he clearly stated in the beginning that he was not trying to remake the original, therefore the setting is of Alice returning to wonderland, and shows his vision of what it would be like if she went back, and he executed it very well. So, Debbie, i truly believe that you yourself are sexist.

nonsense on March 5, 2010 at 4:19 am

I don’t know how you are able to subject yourself to so many of these awful movies, you deserve combat pay. I did initially think about seeing this one with my granddaughter,
but when I realized Johnnie Depp was in it I immediately nixed
it. Think I’ll just order the original Disney version if it’s
available on dvd. Thanks for the warning.

Daniel K on March 5, 2010 at 7:51 am

Just make it another i.c.e. training film for the academy; everything else about it is a bad trip.

‘Ol Gloria hasn’t aged too well either. Hey, she could be next in line for the “Bionic Lesbian’s” job.

IceNoMore on March 5, 2010 at 8:20 am

Well, this is a good review. I can’t say it persuaded me to pass on it, though, as I had decided already not to see it.

Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Alice is a good source of information on embedded meanings in the stories, and has been in perpetual reprint since I first found it in college.

I always preferred the illustrations to the stories, anyway. ‘Turns out I really liked the Dalziel brothers’ engravings, and not even Tenniel’s original drawings.

mj on March 5, 2010 at 9:32 am

Tim Burton’s movies are repellent. I enjoyed Nightmare before Christmas but nothing since. It’s all the same thing–fantastical settings and characters but no soul. And Johnny Depp is always good but never great because the on-screen environment overwhelms his presence. I don’t think there’s an actor out there that could compete with the settings, costumes and craziness that Burton feels necessary to tell his stories.

And don’t get me started on the hag of a homeless woman they call Helena Bonham Carter…she might be quite the renowned actress but I can’t even bear to look at her.

The film world would do just fine if the awful troika of Burton, Carter and Depp never worked together again. But you know that’s not a possibility…people keep buying this crap so they’ll keep making it.

Joe Schmo on March 5, 2010 at 10:50 am

Is there anything Liberals, homos, feminazis, animal rights wackos, and global warming I mean climate change idiots will not destroy in an effort to con the American people into believing their agenda?
I loved Alice (the book) so do my kids but there is no way I am taking them to see this garbage, just like we did not go to Avatar. The only Wacko group movie/show I will let them watch is Whale Wars because in their quest for fame they screwed up and showed how they edit film and lie to the media about what happens on the high seas.
Personally I do not believe in giving Hollywood a single dime I earn. If I was ever going to see/buy a movie I would buy a pirated version. at least they worked for the money I would be paying them, and are not going to use the money to go on TV telling the world how evil are for not supporting crack babies and their mothers in Africa or South America

martin fee on March 5, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Glad I never read this fairy tale so I have no interest to see the current version of the fairy in its glory.
As long as we become a nation of No Fathers we will we expect? Hollywood is scum and the people who choose to watch this crap are scum.
If we are the nation that is considered to be the most powerful not only in its military but in cultural influence then I can see why so many people hate us. Hollywood and liberals are the most vile concept brought to man.

CaliforniaScreaming on March 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    CS, I would expect you, of all people, to have read it, what with your acute and flexible mind, it would appeal to you immensely.

    skzion on March 6, 2010 at 11:42 am

Thanks for the great review Debbie!!!

M-B on March 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

God I loved that book. Read it probably a hundred times.

proudreaganconservative on March 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm

you forgot to mention that perhaps Walt Disney would be rolling over in his grave… ;)

Jennifer on March 5, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Nancy stumbles into a botox-induced state of delusion and rumbles into the cesspool of the “most ethical” character actors in a scene right out of a central casting circus freakshow. Real life is more interesting than burton’s hallucinations.

Pelosi in Swampland on March 5, 2010 at 7:00 pm

GO FEMINISTS!

yay on March 5, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Love that picture of the Jabberwocky!

….er, oh..sorry…

That was Gloria Steinem. Honest mistake.

Dave on March 6, 2010 at 12:24 am

They called the monster a “jabberwocky” rather than a “jabberwock?” Did anyone involved with the movie actually read the poem?

Jeremiah on March 6, 2010 at 4:57 am

    No. But they did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night…

    IceNoMore on March 6, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I’m guessing NO, J.

    Ed Davila on March 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Boy … the chances of my seeing Avatar are limited to having a debilitating injury to the extent that I’m utterly paralyzed in hospital incapable of speech or movement but can still see, and some yayhoo puts this claptrap on a video monitor for me to ‘watch’. In no other case can I see myself being able to watch Avatar.

Pfffft.

Sheryl on March 6, 2010 at 11:36 am

This is why I love you, Deb. Because you throw the caution flag on liberal schmucks’ movies so I don’t have to be disappointed wasting my dough.
Whether the movie is praised by the popular culture or not, you simply don’t give a damn.
What will I do without you? I shudder to think.

Ed Davila on March 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm

DS, I LOVED your review. Great job! Love what you do!

Skunky on March 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I have to say that I disagree with you about this review. The movie is clearly not the Alice in Wonderland that we all know and love from our childhood. Instead it is a Tim Burton take on Alice coming back to Wonderland many years later. I thought it was quite enjoyable. The father of the groom — an important player in the movie is also a male portrayed quite well. In fact there are many women — the Queen of Hearts and the mother-in-law to be were both portrayed worse than any man in the movie. I found the film interesting, entertaining and didn’t betray my political considerations (conservative). Gotta say that I think you got this one wrong.

S: So, you’re saying that it isn’t Alice in Wonderland, but my review is “wrong” because I said it isn’t Alice in Wonderland? Puh-leeze. The title should have been “Not Alice in Wonderland,” or “Feminist Action Heroes in Wonderland.” Then, the movie wouldn’t have been the false advertising and bait-and-switch that it was. I doubt you’re a conservative in the least. DS

Stephen on March 7, 2010 at 8:29 am

Thanks for “true review.” Are you sure original poetry didn’t mention “sealing wax” (as in what they used to seal envelopes) and not “ceiling wax?”

Chris on March 7, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Thank you for the Review, Debbie.

I have not seen this Alice in Wonderland and I do not intend to, with or without this Review.

Also, I detest leftist, arrogant, snobbish, over rated weirdo Johnny Depp.

No thanks. I don’t intend to contribute on red cent to a movie which would add to Johnny Depp’s wealth, not after he insulted US citizens who actually helped make him a multimillionaire, and famous, for doing work that is easy in comparison to real jobs, like Neuro Surgeon, Cardiologist, Emergency Medical Physician, Paramedic, Architect, Construction Worker, Carpenter, Mason, Security Specialist, Engineer, Biology Research Bench Scientist, Music Composer and Orchestrator, Classical Vocalist, Ballet Dancer, Martial Arts Champion, Classical Guitarist, Pianist, Cellist, and others, Computer Security and Networking specialist, US Military person fighting for our nation, etc.

Nevertheless, thank you for posting the review, Debbie. It just reminds me that I did not want to see it to begin with, and that I really don’t want to see it at all.

Once I became an adult and was exposed to the fact that many adults have hallucinated while on drunk binges, or detoxing, or using various drugs, including LSD, I started realizing that Alice in Wonderland has the appearance of someone on an Acid trip.

I don’t like the story Alice in Wonderland. I don’t see any reason to investigate the symbolism of the characters.

The multi-night Television production of Alice in Wonderland with Tom Selleck, Whoopie Goldberg, and other celebrities, had interesting visual effects and some characters were a bit charming.

Nevertheless, I am happy to see a more Conservative viewpoint on the new release, falsely named “Alice in Wonderland.”

My wife has repeatedly called attention to the fact that many Disney stories do not include a father. She doesn’t like that at all.

William on March 8, 2010 at 6:39 am

You need to be more open minded. There a billions of movies where men assume the main character, slay dragons and are allowed to forgo marriage for exciting careers. This is the ONLY movie I have ever seen that empowers young women to think career instead of family. Besides, at 19 Alice is WAY too young to be thinking about marriage. Let’s face it, this is Alice in Wonderland with a modern slant. GO LINDA!!!

M: It’s set in the 1800s, when 19 was middle-aged. Get real. DS

Meghan on March 8, 2010 at 8:23 pm

After reading a lot of your reviews and then seeing this movie first, I wonder what other movies I missed that were good. As a 50 year old with 2 teenage daughters – I thought Alice was great rejecting that creep – even if he was a rich creep. Plus, could you imagine having that bitch of a mother in law. I will never read another review from you and blindly follow it.

Mr Buzzcut on March 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I wish somebody would buy Gloria Steinem a fur coat and tell her to go away.

Kurt Toy on March 10, 2010 at 11:36 am

I’m shocked you missed the lesbian undertones between Alice and the White Queen. They were muted, which actually took away from the story (which IS NOT for children). That is the only excuse for the underacting by Alice on the Eve of Fraptious Day.

Carrol would have been delighted and the film will likely win Oscars for Art Direction, Costuming and Visual Effects. Depp might pull one down for supporting actor, since he played the character rather than playing Johnny Depp.

I don’t suspect, by the way, that filmmakers would disagree with your analysis of what they were trying to do. In fact, they probably are quite happy that people with your POV didn’t enjoy it. They are laughing all the way to the bank, knowing that your kids will want to see it anyway and will bug you until they do, using your money for their agenda.

Michael Bindner on March 16, 2010 at 8:51 am

I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if this has been pointed out already, but the movie was in fact based on the second Alice book by Lewis Carroll returns to wonderland. In terms of tone, this movie is definetly closer to the original book compared to the PC’d disney version.

terminus on May 21, 2010 at 10:28 am

I agree with Noel on March 18, 2010 at 9:32 pm 100%

Debbie: wow, I am shocked that a woman would write such a review.

Amy on July 31, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I agree with Noel and Amy. It’s great that this movie emphasizes female empowerment, and that doesn’t make it anti-male. William, Johnny Depp is not arrogant or snobby. Consistently, people who meet him say he’s very down to earth and humble. He is so friendly with his fans. Yes, he’s weird or quirky, but not wacko, and I think his eccentricity adds to his charm.

Alicia on December 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm

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