Movies Pop Culture

I’m a feminist and I think all-female reboots are completely missing the point

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.

Press Pop Culture

Best of The Tempest 2018: 9 Stories from Pop Culture

It’s been a peculiar year in the realm of entertainment. We’ve had such big, progressive victories and such big setbacks and anachronisms in terms of representation, transparency, and inclusivity. Many LGBTQ+ artists thrived, and 2018 was dubbed 20GAYTEEN by singer Hayley Kiyoko. It was the year of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, and yet big name studios are still out there producing films that are imbued with racism, sexism, homophobia, and fatphobia as well as often promoting rape and hate.

We’re still light years away from consuming the egalitarian entertainment we deserve. I knew that very well when I became Pop Culture Editor at The Tempest. I understood that I would have to look closely at many media products that would make me mad, which I would rather ignore and avoid at all costs, but I gladly accepted the challenge. I believe our mission is to shed light on everything that is going on, and that includes denouncing the many injustices that occur in the entertainment industry. We can’t possibly stay silent about the things we deem wrong, because silence is complicity.

But we also don’t like to only see the glass half empty, and we love to admit that there are many things to praise and to celebrate. Without further ado, I present to you 9 of my favorite Pop Culture stories we published in 2018, a mix of the good and the bad.

1. Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Despite the good representation that television and the music industry gifted us with this year, blockbusters are still actively promoting the erasure of female queerness as well as employing queer bait. This is a trend that needs to stay in 2018.

2. What time is it, Hollywood?

What time is it, Hollywood?

What about what happens behind the camera? This article explores some trends of the entertainment industry from the inside out, because actresses are not the only people we need to protect. Let’s say #TimesUp to all kinds of discrimination.

3. Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

There is a big misconception in fiction and in critique: that a female character who dares be different and dislikable is automatically a great feminist heroine. She’s not, and that’s okay.

4. Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

We are tired of people giving J.K. Rowling a free pass for everything just because she wrote a beautiful book series 20 years ago. For a while now, she has been twisting things to appear “woke” instead of honestly admitting that as the times progressed, she also wants to be more inclusive. There is no need to say that she was planning plot twists all along when in reality the implications of that make her way more problematic. Read why in this piece!

5. Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

If you don’t know what an item number is, you need to read this piece. If you do know, you need to read this piece. It’s eye-opening and I will never look at a Bollywood film the same way again.

6. This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

Contrary to what some haters will have you believe about feminists, we do celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of men, when they deserve it. This article is a clap on the back of an Oscar-winning director for an amazing film that contributed to making 2018 better.

7. Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think

Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think 

You may or may not know this show, which was a true revelation for its honest representation of working (and woke!) millennial women. However, the show has been accused of portraying a utopistic world of equality (but it really doesn’t, the protagonists deal with misogyny, racism and homophobia every day). This article cleverly responds to that claim, contextualizing it particularly within the journalism world (where the main characters spend most of their time) that we know too well.

8. Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Abusers deserve to be held accountable for their actions. After the tidal wave that was the #MeToo movement, it’s good to see that celebrities are still being taken down after abusive behavior.

9. My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

A constant struggle in the transition to adulthood is that we are burdened with too many responsibilities and we have too little time to do the things we actually want to do out of sheer pleasure, like reading. It does not help that books have gained a very strong competitor for our time and attention, the “monster” that are streaming services.

We’re ready to kiss 2018 goodbye. In the hope that 2019 will be a more satisfying year for women, people of color, and all oppressed minorities, happy new year from the staff of The Tempest!

LGBTQIA+ Movies Pop Culture

Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Ocean’s 8, the all-female addition to the heist movie franchise, came out this summer to great fanfare. While it provided plenty of quippy one-liners, entertaining hijinks, and many shots of Anne Hathaway in couture (thank you for that), there’s one thing that was decidedly absent: lesbians.

Even since the all-female reboot was announced, lesbian and bi+ female fans have been wondering if there would be any romantic interaction between characters. Many were hopeful that the film would take advantage of the all-woman ensemble to show that women can be partners in more than just crime. However, all the gals in this film remained simply pals. The lack of lesbian romance was disappointing, especially because of how much wasted potential there was. Ocean and Blanchett’s character Lou have undeniable chemistry, and it took little imagination to read their relationship as that of former lovers.

As E. Alex Jung wrote in the Vulture article titled ‘Ocean’s 8 is a lesbian movie‘, “while Ocean’s 8 is technically a heist movie, it is actually a movie about how men are boring and peripheral and women are fun and should have sex with each other.” Making this subtext text would only have made the movie stronger, and would have added another layer to a movie that, while entertaining and enjoyable, lacked any real weight.

The most disappointing part of Ocean’s 8 unacknowledged lesbian undertones is that this is hardly as isolated incident: a string of big-budget movies over the past several years have either written out lesbian storylines and themes or only addressed character’s queerness off-screen. Ghostbusters, the other all-female reboot to grace our screens in recent years, had fans falling in love with out lesbian Kate McKinnon’s character Jillian Holtzmann.

While director Paul Feig essentially confirmed off-screen that Holtzmann was a lesbian, there was no overt indication of this in the movie, apparently due to studio restrictions. While it was certainly easy to view Holtzmann as a lesbian throughout the film regardless, it would have been nice if the producers had seen fit to acknowledge Hotlzmann’s queerness on the big screen instead of just privately to fans.

In 2016, Wonder Woman comic book writer Greg Rucka confirmed that he interpreted. Wonder Woman as bisexual. That gave fans great hope that Diana would be portrayed that way in the 2017 Wonder Woman blockbuster starring Gal Gadot. But despite having spent her whole life on an island populated entirely by women, the producers chose for the vast majority of Diana’s interactions in the movie, and her only romantic relationship, to be with men. Fans are currently petitioning Warner Brothers to explicitly confirm Wonder Woman as bisexual in the upcoming sequel, but since they saw no need to do so in the first movie, it’s unlikely they’ll decide to now.

A similar situation occurred with Tessa Thompson’s character in the 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok. Thompson played Valkyrie in the film, a hard-drinking battle-scarred Asgardian warrior. Thompson said in an interview that she viewed Valkyrie as bisexual, and even convinced director Taika Watiti to film a scene of a woman walking out of Valkyrie’s bedroom. However, the scene ultimately got cut. Despite having 19 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to have any LGBT characters in their movies. A bisexual superhero would have been enthusiastically welcomed by the franchise’s large LGBTQ+ fanbase, and it’s regrettable that such a small reference had to get cut.

I could go on for ages. Actress Daniella Pineda confirmed that her character in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, paleoveterinarian Zia Rodriguez, was supposed to be a lesbian but the reference to her sexuality was removed for the sake of time. Is one line of dialogue really such a time-consumer? Scenes get cut from movies all the time, but when references to queer characters are regularly removed it starts to look like more than just a coincidence. Lesbian and bisexual women deserve to see themselves explicitly acknowledged on the screen as much as everybody else. When was the last time a movie studio removed a heterosexual romantic subplot?

Movie producers should either visibly include lesbian characters and themes in their films or not at all. The trend of hinting at lesbian representation but only explicitly acknowledging it in press tours is insulting. It allows producers to have their cake and eat it too: they can drum up interest in their film among queer fans, who are so starved for representation that we’ll take even implied gayness, but avoid the controversy and risk of losing revenue from more conservative moviegoers that including an explicitly LGBTQ+ character would create.

Lesbian relationships and characters are not any more inappropriate or risqué than that of any other sexuality, and lesbian and bisexual+ women deserve to see themselves represented authentically on the screen.