Just over a month ago now, on January 21, a large and international march led by and attended by so many amazing women inspired me in many ways. Women, and supporters of women’s rights, came out in droves to support many different things, but one universal message was clear – that women’s rights need to be respected and upheld, and that women’s voices need to be heard. And since movies are always at the back of my mind, I hoped this woman-positive energy would somehow transfer to the screen. Then I remembered ‘Ocean’s Eight’, and the distant talk of ‘The Expendabelles’. And now there’s plans for a ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ remake, with Rebel Wilson. It’s tough to be supportive of female-led movies, when they are just retreads of popular movies that originally starred men.
About a year ago, I defended the all-female ‘Ghostbusters’ movie as a fine, family film – which it was. I knew it wasn’t as good as the original, just as I knew it should not be compared to the original. But I still thought that, on its own merits, it was a pretty good film, and that that would be the end of the discussion revolving around which sex is the funniest.
As lovers of film, we should not be subject to so many more rounds of inane talking-points about reboots and remakes involving the “women versus men” debate. It’s tedious, infuriating, and it’s quite frankly, getting boring. My heart aches for these funny, talented women, who are no match for original fervor and nostalgia. These movies will never be as profitable as the original – Ghostbusters apparently lost Sony $50 million – and the female stars are forever marked with a monetary failure (as if there isn’t enough going against women in the industry already).
Look, I get why women would want to remake these movies – money, a built-in franchise, a good role, wish fulfillment. If someone came to me and said “Hey, we’re remaking Indiana Jones, but this time it’s a lady archaeologist”, a big part of me would be unable to say no. Of course, I’d know it wouldn’t live up to the original, and it’d totally unnecessary, but as a child who spent a few years learning how to crack a whip at bad guys, and seriously considered a career in the field of archaeology…I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity.
But we shouldn’t fall into such nostalgia and familiarity, when there are so many women with the potential to make something great and original. Let’s stop remaking 80s movies that people only vaguely care about (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), or movies that are by no means classics in the first place (Expendabelles) and therefore don’t even warrant a remake of any kind. Instead, let’s get better at rallying behind original movies with female leads, movies that currently get swept under the rug when a giant remake is released.
That said, this picture for ‘Ocean’s Eight’ looks pretty baller, and I will definitely spend money to see it. But after that, let’s stop.
What do you guys think? Are female-led remakes a good idea? Or are they just damaging the fight for gender equality in the film industry? Let us know in the comments below.