Okay, I have feelings about all-female reboots.
Equal representation is a loaded topic. In some cases it feels like we’re all at different points in the same conversation. When it comes to entertainment, however, what we as an audience deserve seems easy enough: entertaining content that truthfully depicts our communities, correctly represents us, and tells our stories in new, inventive ways.
Entertainment needs to be more aware of its influence, not in terms of box office and value for money but as the makers of culture and a method through which we record our shared histories.
The conversation on equality and representation has hit its peak in Hollywood with the recent guilty verdict of Harvey Weinstein, the aftermath of the MeToo movement, the continuous backlash to awards nominations, as well as more positive changes such as Parasite’s sweeping win at the Oscars and a slew of films that have given us a glimpse into what more inclusive cinema could look like.
The most confusing recent trend that the dialogue of equality has brought upon us is all-female reboots. This is not a comment on the movies themselves but a comment on the logic behind their existence.
Here’s what I think: gender-flipping well-known movies that had a predominantly male cast in the interest of telling female stories, or to preach equal representation, are missing the entire point.
All-female reboots seem more like a lazy rewriting of history, for an audience that has already seen the same story, by a studio that hopes the remake will bring in the same box office success as the original. But equality of the genders isn’t about replacing one with the other the way that all-female reboots seem to imply.
I remember watching Ocean’s 8 in cinemas and wondering who this movie was for. I was already a fan of Ocean’s 11 and this wasn’t so much inspired by the original story as it was ripping off the exact same storyline – it was also simultaneously a continuation of the series because, for whatever reason, the central protagonist had to be Danny Ocean’s sister?
The only real difference between Ocean’s 8 and Ocean’s 11 was that Ocean’s 11 had all the perks of being an original film with a well thought out plot. The big twist ending for Ocean’s 8 on the other hand, brought back one of the original (male) cast members, Qin Shaobo, for a sequence where he steals their actual target for them. This one scene where he singlehandedly steals all of their loot just serves to discredit the female characters’ efforts over the course of the movie and makes the whole point of the all-female reboot murkier still. To add insult to injury the movie assembled an all-star cast that could’ve made a brilliant film. All they needed was great content.
Hollywood needs to pour its effort and money into telling stories from a perspective that has been largely ignored, not rehashing the same story and taping a different gender on the front cover.
There have been plenty of sensational films that took the box-office by storm over the years that have been loved by all audiences, regardless of gender – Hustlers, Bridesmaids, Bombshell, Hidden Figures, Booksmart, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Mystic Pizza are just a few. Each of these movies, even remakes of classics like Little Women, took the opportunity to tell a side of a story that wasn’t always visible on the big screen. They told stories from the female perspective about females where femininity was a given, not a plot-point.
Organic representation takes more than just casting diverse people for the sake of diversity. True representation will come when there is equal opportunity for all, regardless of gender, race, and sexuality to own their stories and take part in every step of the process of sharing them, from scripts to the screen.
Until then, Hollywood needs to put new experiences and perspectives forward and not just churn out afterthought reassessments of movies from the past. The lasting effects of a film, at the end of the day, will be based on its own merit and not on the political statement it tries to make.
All-female reboots of existing movies are a cop-out from actually delving into female stories. The conversation about the representation of all genders, races, sexualities, abilities and everything else that makes the human experience distinct and unique is now more open than ever. Studios funding projects that swap male characters for females only miss the point of actually telling stories about women.
They need to stop putting females in male shoes and just give them the opportunity to wear their own.