It has been Donald Trump who yells about “fake news” the loudest, which is an interesting phenomenon because Trump, by most accounts, has benefited from so-called fake news more than anyone. This week even Russian leader Vladimir Putin admitted that Russian “patriots” — though not the Russian government — may have tried to sway the American election. The lion’s share of the “fake news” found on Facebook and elsewhere during the US presidential campaigns hit Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton rather than Trump. Trump presumably benefited from stories accusing Clinton of everything from lying and stealing to, in some stories, murder.
This weekend, the much-anticipated feature film Wonder Woman will hit the screens. Wonder Woman — recently named (this is not fake news) a United Nations ambassador — is a revered fictional character, nearly alone among superheroes in being female. (WW was named “UN Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.”) She is also the only superhero who overtly uses truth as a weapon. Those two factors converge in a time when equality for women and the search for truth seem both necessary and frustratingly elusive. Wonder Woman’s famous “Lasso of Truth” — a weapon which compels honesty in those it grips — arrives in theaters too late to help Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But the “Lasso of Truth” is a metaphor for the algorithm that Facebook and other news distribution entities are looking for. There are many reasons to welcome Wonder Woman to a higher profile on the world stage via film, but the most compelling must be the idea of weaponized truth.