The Trouble With Hollywood’s Gender Flips

Hollywood’s female-focused reboots require women to relive men’s stories — and to fix their politics, too.


Comments: 168

  1. With all of these remakes in the works it just goes to prove that Hollywood hasn't an original thought left. Thanks but I'll pass on this one and any green screen blockbuster.

  2. Agreed, and that's why I'll spend more time at home watching old movies, unless there is something new from directors like Nolan, Fincher and the like.

  3. What Ms. Hess doesn't take into consideration is that most of the movie-going public are tired of remakes, female-eccentric or otherwise. No one was clamoring for an "Overboard" or "Back to School" remake. It's an insult to our intelligence when studios believe that casting women in a remake of a film that wasn't that good in the first place will result in surging box office receipts.

  4. What I take away from this story can be summed up in the last line "When women complained that they aren’t afforded the same roles in Hollywood that men are, they weren’t speaking literally." Re-purposing these roles is lazy and should not satisfy female moviegoers who want to not only see women driving the plot but also see a great movie. The relationships between women has been explored in most all art forms why are "blockbuster" movies so late to the game?

  5. It really does a disservice to the actresses, since they always have the shadow of the 'original'. These movies are also remakes of films that aren't *that* old. There was a 41 year period between the first Ocean's 11 and the second. There's a 17 year period between Ocean's 11 and Ocean's 8.

    I also think that, as the writer briefly mentions, many of these movies would benefit from being able to have openly queer characters. Many of these films hint at it (Ocean's 8, Kate McKinnon came off as somewhat flirty with women in Ghostbusters), but Hollywood is afraid of upsetting foreign and conservative markets.

  6. In fairness, studio movies don't really explore male characters or relationships in much depth either. They may have done so decades ago, but these days most studio movies focus on plot and action. It's indeed lamentable.

  7. Those 80's comedies weren't originals. They were Saturday Night Live skits expanded to two hours, and they ended up making more money than the show could ever dream of. The line a Paramount Studios tour guide told us tourists still holds true: that they ran out of original ideas years ago, and that now all they do are sequels, reboots, and blatant thefts from books. If Hollywood can figure out a crass way of exploiting a social justice movement to make even more money, it won't hesitate one bit.

  8. Why does Hollywood push remakes or reboots? 99% of the time they are not good.
    And aren't there enough writers in America (or anywhere) who can and do offer fresh material to Hollywood?
    Enough already. been there done that movies do not excite at all.

  9. It's easier to explain a bomb to your boss when you can show positive returns for previous iterations.

  10. @Elizabeth-

    “Hollywood” doesn’t push anything because it’s a metaphor.

    Producers must compete for scarce production dollars on a very uneven playing field. They option as many good ideas as they can buy for installment-development.

    Nothing new about this business model. For example, Charles Dickens’ novels were initially published as bi-weekly installments. The updated version, styled “reboots”, “spin-offs”, “sequels” and “prequels”, is pitched to distributors (they finance production) because it’s easier to sell a known quantity/quality than unknown ones, and because the career challenge facing everyone involved is to develop a franchise if only to keep working, just to stay in the game. A producer might have twenty different projects “under development”, multiple pitches for each, because nobody knows anything, least of all what will sell. Also, projects are developed with an eye towards cloning them because audiences fundamentally want the same but different. For example, in the initial installment of the “Terminator” franchise the star (Schwarzenegger) is the antagonist, an unstoppable robot relentlessly pursuing the Maguffin until crushed (literally) in a battle climax, at the very end. In the sequel, Schwarzenegger is again a robot, only this time the protagonist defending the Maguffin against an even more dangerous antagonist, a more menacing robot-enemy called “T-3”. A role reversal worth millions of dollars, especially to Schwarzenegger, why he came aboard.

  11. There's another reality that feminists in media (movies, television, advertising) either don't understand or choose to ignore - that is that out in "fly over country" a lot of women still like men and WANT to see them on the screen. I say this because I am noticing more and females replacing males as on screen reporters, hosts, etc television, and some shows seem to be writing male characters completely out of the script. I'm sure this is all part of the "who needs men" agenda, but a large percentage of the audience doesn't go along with that agenda.

  12. I think that the main reason we are seeing females replacing males as on screen reporters, hosts, etc. on television is because sex sells.

    I have noticed that the vast majority of these women on these broadcasts are young and sexually attractive, and this is highly pleasing to male audiences and, likely, women as well.

    I would, for example, much rather see Katie Pavlich report the news than Bret Baier, even though Bret does an excellent job.

  13. No, I think that “replacing men with women” as a blatant studio money grab is most of the point here.

  14. ??? I honestly find this comment puzzling. There are still plenty of men showing up on screens, and wanting to see women on the screen does not mean you don't like men. Sincerely, a feminist who, like other feminists I know, also likes men.

  15. An excellent, thoughtful appraisal of the problems associated with Hollywood's rebooting of all-male comedies- far more incisive than anything Manohla Dargis has come up with in her own repetitive encomiums to movies of this ilk. Indeed, the most significant point being made here is that revisionism (at least when it comes to the conceptual and casting phases of these movies) is anything but a guarantee of quality. Apart from "Bridesmaids," these movies have been bad, bad and worse, and the mind-bendingly boring "Ocean's 8" may well be the worst of them all. But why limit this consideration to the comedy genre? How about action-movies and melodramas like "Proud Mary" or "Ghost in the Shell" or even the ridiculously overpraised "Wonder Woman"? Are these movies remarkable simply by virtue of the same deficiencies in plotting, characterization, visual design and/or editing being somehow compensated for by the casting of women in the leading roles? Two words should suffice (though it might seem like an out-of-left-field analogy): Sarah Palin.

  16. You're not truly accepted until you have the leeway to make bad art and still have a career. I'm serious. I see these films as progress.

  17. There's been great movies with female leads and ensemble casts. Anyone filming a 'remake' runs the same/frequent risk of making a lousy movie. If studios are so interested in making a statement that they put out things like the Ghostbusters reboot, are they hurting the argument for movies based on a primarily-women cast?

  18. Anyone see Annihilation? It had a all female cast and it was really good. These female reboots are unfortunately going to do nothing for woman. They all have lower budgets and poor scripts. At the end of the day people will remember the original before thinking back of the remake. Hollywood can't go back and change things, it should simply start anew.

  19. Could someone else provide links to the numerous Times articles celebrating this sort of mere tit-for-tat approach to "gender equality"? I'm kind of worn down from reading fellow HRC voters coming on like John Bolton in opposition to Trump's dance with Kim.

    Google "Lindy West". That should narrow it down.

  20. People say Hollywood has no original ideas left but I have to say, gender-swapping movies and then accusing anyone who isn’t doing cartwheels of being some kind of “ist” no matter how terrible the movie is (looking at you, every-second-must-be-a-quip-we-cannot-have-silence Ghostbusters)is a pretty neat trick.

  21. Since you're discussing McMcarthy here, it's a shame you didn't mention "Spy," which cleverly satirizes the support role women have traditionally played in spy/action films. Another fine collaboration between McCarthy and writer/director Paul Feig.

  22. "His Girl Friday" directed by Howard Hawks and starring Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant based on the play "The Front Page". If you want to switch up the genders in an existing work this is how you do it.

  23. Just saw this, and it is "liberated" in a way that few current films manage!

  24. One of the best movies ever made. Not only is it cleverly written, the other reports respect, admire, and treat the female reporter (Rosalind Russell) as an equal. Love that film!

  25. Hawks said that he was doing a quick read-through of the original play and his secretary was reading Hildy--and he realized it worked better with a woman in the part.
    Which leads to another point. Hawks was a master and nearly all of the swapped films cited were made by people a long way down the scale.

  26. I don't have a problem with reboots ( female driven or otherwise)

    The market will bear what and essentially dictate what it likes and what it is willing to support. Everyone is a critic (especially for a reboot), but if there is supporting viewing public out there, then why is it such a ''crime'' to cater to them ?

    After all, males have dominated Hollywood since its inception (let alone the world), so lets all tap down on the misogyny that is overt or inadvertent.

    Enjoy the movie, and if you do not like it, then move on to the next, without all the theatrics. That is how you show support for the next young filmmaker that may be a young woman dreaming of her art.

    Aye?

  27. Nope. I do not have unlimited $$ to go to the movies, therefore I will not go to a film just to "support the next young filmmaker". I took a hard pass at Oceans 8, as I did for the Melissa McCarthy film. But then again, I liked the original Oceans 11 so much, I skipped the Clooney franchise and watched other films that he made.

  28. That the latest oceans movie is doing well is not surprising in a country where McDonald's is considered food and 40% of the population thinks trump is a thinking human.

  29. As imperfect as these remakes might be, they are evidence of positive change. As more women end up in writer's rooms and executive suites, more original and non-male-origin stories will emerge. In the meantime, the fact that major money is supporting and promoting movies with female leads who are not playing the old mother/wife/girlfriend/prostitute female stereotypes feels like progress.

    Hollywood is fiscally conservative: The quicker we quit filtering for perfect feminist movies and just go see entertaining movies with reasonably-well-written female leads in them, the quicker original movies with really-well-written women in them will be greenlit...in part because those imperfect-yet-successful female-led movies can become part of the traditional, risk-averse "it's like X, but with Y", pitch.

    Keep in mind, also, that your own standards may not be universal. Bridesmaids was not everyone's favorite movie, and not everyone sees it as feminist (We, too, can poop in the street! Huzzah! Nope. ) Movies with all-male casts can be very entertaining. I, personally, don't find female-female conflict any more realistic or entertaining than male-female or male-male conflict. I *like* seeing women in movies, but they are not a prerequisite to me feeling entertained.

    Most of us go to the movies to be entertained. If your idea of what is feminist does not match what most audience-members find entertaining, then expect to remain disappointed as Hollywood caters to the crowd.

  30. We might note that in "Bridesmaids" Melissa McCarthy's inappropriateness was enabled partly by her victim's unwillingness to tell her what to do with her attentions. Such restraint won't last in the face of 21st century feminism, which seems to define cray-cray behavior as the new normal.

  31. Exactly. No wonder my go-to for enjoyment of female protagonists, however flawed and/or pathological, include gems like Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, and Gone Girl, among others. Even Rosemary's Baby (paging the ultra schemer Ruth Gordon), beats any of these sanitized, PG-rated movies that end up in the "feel-good" bin but do little for showcasing female power.

  32. Just started watching a British tv cop comedy/drama called No Offense. Women are in a lot of the main roles. Lots of men involved too. It’s funny and engaging. Give it a try.

  33. These movies have an unfortunate aura of "Socialist Realism" for the politically correct. When I read about old movies whose remake is motivated by putting women in formerly male roles it is like seeing a sign " Ladies Room" on the theater door.

  34. It's more like switching the bathroom signs. Instead of saying "Men's Restroom" they switch it over to say "Ladies Restroom" even though you go in and it's still technically the men's restroom.

  35. My spouse and I watched Oceans 8 in the theater and enjoyed it. It's a fun, date-night movie - not a PhD dissertation. Two thumbs up.

  36. Remakes, no matter how you cast them, are likely to be unsatisfying. Gender flipping roles is just another way to justify a remake.

  37. My problem with Ocean's 8 is the same problem I had with the previous 3 Ocean's movies. IMO they do not honor the original. The only thing the first 3 had in common with the original with the original was the lead character's name and the location. They don't actually get away with the heist in the original. Well they don't actually get to enjoy the money that is. And one of the crew dies.

    I actually like heist/caper movies, but I was never able to get past the comparisons for any of the Ocean's movies. Same with The Italian Job. Thomas Crown Affair did only a slightly better job of honoring the original. Perhaps I just don't like remakes of old classics.

  38. My original comedy, "Teach Me Tonight," received some
    interest in Hollywood. But, since my two female characters
    are in their early fifties, and I refused to change their ages
    to early thirties, my script did not sell.
    The female producer told me it's better just to get it made
    and on my second script, I can hold out.
    I responded by saying that the film would then be stupid,
    I would be embarrassed, so thanks but no thanks.
    So here I sit with this script. I will not give up. Perhaps
    Hollywood will one day produce original concepts.
    [email protected]

  39. "... my two female characters are in their early fifties, and I refused to change their ages to early thirties ..."

    Sandra Bullock is 53 and Cate Blanchett is 49.

    "The female producer told me ..."

    How much was she willing to spend on actors?

  40. Holly Bower,
    Hollywood does do original work, but they’re usually low budget Indie films. A few come to mind, ‘Juno’, ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, ‘The Guard’, and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

    qKb,
    Holly Bower doesn’t tell us when she tried to get her film made nor what size budget was available. Additionally, maybe the “female producer” wasn’t given a large enough budget to hire a Sandra Bullock or Cate Blanchett quality actor.

  41. Don't hold your breath. Hollywood opts for what's safe and guaranteed to make money because they're publicly traded and shareholders will flip their gold plated wigs if someone were to try to actually make a film with a decent story and some substance instead of a guaranteed moneymaker like Super Z Men 7: The Lost Artifact in 5D SUPERMAX with Kinetic Smellovision.

    I think you have an interesting idea, but if you want to do it, be punk rock about it: You're going to have to do it yourself and do it independent and don't let them tell you it'll never work because they're too afraid to try.

  42. It's all so utterly stupid, self-serving, and transparent. So now, due to the #MeToo movement and trend, every young PC woman wants to be a 'feminist', complete with 'pink power' hats, kitschy framed embroideries on their walls which simply read 'resist' (resist?? Resist who or what exactly?). Instagram 'poets' who write about female 'empowerment' are sudden celebrities (with their books of 'poetry' due to come out shortly, in order to cash in while the flame is still hot). Hollywood, being the hypocrites that they are, initially and continue to mistreat and devalue women, and then turn around and pretend that they now want to 'cater to us', and so they offer re-hashed films with a female cast, full of actresses who clearly have no scruples about themselves, about cashing in on 'garbage' rehashed movies.

    It's all so utterly vapid, from so many angles. But sadly, most people ain't 'woke', and simply think 'oh, how cool and 'empowering' is this?' It's not all that different from the recent Marvel movie was it, with the all black-cast of superheroes? Give me a Spike Lee movie any day, over some generic superhero film where they simply switch-out white for black (or like in this case, men for women).

  43. @ Lisa (in NYC)
    Actually, using Black Panther in your argument is not analogous to the discussion of gender-flipping. The writers didn't switch out white for black in in that film in the way the article describes women being switched for men in the roles of the films named. The characters in Black Panther who were Black were always Black American or African. And the Panther character has been a part of the superhero universe for several decades so it isn't a remake. Whether he is a generic superhero is an opinion you can have but you don't have to be 'woke' to appreciate him if you like superheroes. What isn't generic is seeing so many dark-skinned characters in one movie who are given strong heroic qualities. Name 10 films and tv shows in Hollywood history that have an equal representation of dark-skinned particularly Afrocentric heroes and I'll give you 20 films where light-skinned Eurocentric heroes are portrayed as "the normal" representation of what a hero is "supposed" to be. You mock people who find 'empowerment' from Panther. Do you think the same of people who consider Superman, Batman, and Spiderman a hero they find 'empowering'? An all-black cast shouldn't be a big deal but it becomes one when an all-white cast is the 'norm' no one questions in a world that is far more than white.

  44. 'Resist' is not about feminism, per se. It is a political message to resist creeping fascism and white nationalism.

  45. This is the "lean in" mantra gone awry - modern feminism does not value women - it values women acting like men. The unique aspects of women and what it means to be a woman are completely ignored or washed over in glib Mom jokes... Women are also people - flawed and complicated. Modern feminism has ironically turned them back into Victorian-era ideals - capable of no-wrong doing and fainting at the slightest offense ("take down those naked painting ASAP please!") But I suppose this whole conversation is meaningless since these days gender is a construct anyway and a man might as well be playing a woman and vise-versa since it's all in our heads.... right?

  46. Let's cut to the chase, the remake of "Ghostbusters" was a much maligned disappointment and a bust. "Ocean 8" on the other hand, is a smash hit. It's that simple.

  47. I have similar feelings. These all female reboots are taking the place of giving women their own thing. It does two things: It causes older franchise fans to call foul and and it ties these women's work to that of the men that preceded them. It's also shamelessly gimmicky. Give women money to make original movies. If they need to have every project signed off by the success of a previously male franchise, then it really isn't a female creation, just a female interpretation of a story that everyone has already seen.

  48. And yet many a film with a mostly male cast has been remade with a mostly make cast and no one says a thing.

  49. Interesting article. I do take issue with "And when the women of “Ghostbusters” gently sexually harass their ditsy hunk of a receptionist (Chris Hemsworth in glasses), it lacks the malicious edge of Bill Murray effectively stalking Sigourney Weaver under the guise of busting her ghost. Because real women are physically and socially vulnerable to men, granting sexual power to them on film feels harmless and a little cute."

    I strongly disagree. As a youngman who dealt with constant sexual harassment from 1 - a female general manager when I worked in the service industry and 2 - several female bosses at a firm, I will say sexual harassment of one's employees, regardless the identity of the harasser or harassed, is not "harmless" or "a little cute", its abhorrent and should not be tolerated. For a piece that otherwise feels pretty up with the times, I am disgusted at Ms. Hess' suggestion that men being harassed by woman is a worthy thing. No one regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or any other identity factor, should tolerate being harassed.

  50. I don't think she was defending any sort of harassment, I just think she's saying the new Ghostbusters' form of harassment was way less direct. It was Kristen Wigg making a few comments vs Murray basically stalking someone.

  51. I also found this an odd argument. Sexual harassment is wrong when done by either gender. The notion that a female boss who can control the career of a male subordinate flirting inappropriately or demanding sex for career advancement hardly reads as cute.

  52. This is an incredibly boring opinion piece about how Hollywood isn't smart or pro-woman enough because it's remaking blockbusters with women in the lead roles.

    Seriously Ms. Hess?

    Women can't be high end jewelry thiefs and entertain us?

  53. While plenty of the backlash against the ghostbusters reboot was from people who had a problem with the female cast, the reason some fans of the original had a problem with that movie was simply that it was godawful. Unlike the original, tightly scripted and clever, the remake was mostly popular comedians riffing, improvising lines and speaking over one another. It’s not sexist to dislike a movie because it’s a shameless cash grab/cash-in on the original, and bashing every critic as sexist is extremely unfair. I say this as a huge fan of the movie bridesmaids (whose subject matter totally made sense to have a nearly all female cast).

  54. As a woman I agree the ghostbusters remake was awful not nearly as funny as the original. Then again that is often the case with remakes.

    Even remakes of foreign language films into English can be blah. The Swedish language film of Stieg Larsson‘s ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ closely followed the book, but the English version with Daniel Craig was meh.

  55. I loved so many of those movies as a child. Then i grew up and moved on. there is so much cringe worthy junk in older movies. these reboots however do nothing to change that narrative. they just flipped the script and decided everything that was cringe will be alright as long as another gender is at the helm. Does this tactic move the cultural discussion forwards? I think it just serves to split people everyone up while making you a quick buck in the process.

    I think I will start investing more of my time in independent media and foreign productions. At least they still know how to take a risk.

  56. "And even when a Hollywood franchise is retooled around women, it still revolves around men — the story lines they wrote, the characters they created, the worlds they built."

    Thank you for saying that. It annoys me so much that women's way into film should be, as it is in corporations, through behaving like men, accepting their values, mimicking their behavior.

    It is still mostly men who produce movies, and male-oriented scripts resonate most with them. Sure, put women in the lead, that's trendy - but be sure they know how to shoot a gun as well as look good in a tight-fitting costume.

    Power is still the value at stake (not empathy or cooperation) and there has to be a single hero (no co-protagonists or ensembles allowed). I won't believe progress has been made until I see different values, different points of view appear on the screen, not just different body shapes.

  57. I agree it is time for women to march under a different banner, their own banner.

    A movie like Thelma and Louise, with female leads motivated by empathy and selflessness, or a new company founded by women dedicated to the same, would be much admired and supported by many men, me included.

    But are there enough women who truly wish to fight for these more humane ideals, in Hollywood and on Wall Street, or are there more who simply wish to ride the tide of our current zeitgeist to financial reward?

    As a man, I am not qualified to objectively answer the question... but my feeling is that women in the end are as much a part of the problem as men are.

  58. All of these gender-flipped films share one main thing in common - they are all unwatchable terrible. They don't improve on the originals, they mock and denigrate them. They take great writing, great acting, all around excellent films, and make them into politically motivated big studio trash. It's not even possible to make a good one, in my estimation. Women need to come up with their own stories. Retelling old ones and making men the butt of literally every joke and slight in the film is a formula for absolute drek.

  59. Seems to me eradicating men instead of finding gender parity is misandry replacing misogyny. I think remaking classic films is bad no matter who the cast is. Can't writers think up anything new? Everyone wants equality but can't you people write something new? *example* So in so STOMPS ON MEN. How is that a good thing or logical feminism? I am a genuine #METOO and think hating and pigeonholing men is just as bad as the reverse. Want to death knell Hollywood? Continue on this path. Find a common ground , pay the actors equally and get on with making realistic films. Rhianna is my girl so I will watch this film.Ghostbusters le Femme was an awful remake of a classic as was the remake of Steel Magnolias. STOP! Write something new.

  60. “Seems to me eradicating men instead of finding gender parity is misandry replacing misogyny.”

    Absolutely! Well said!
    And I very much agree with your entire statement, thank you!

  61. Women are not inherently weak. I invite anyone who disagrees with that statement to walk into any advanced boxing, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu, or knife-fighting class. Those ladies will hit you and hurt you fifteen times before you even know what's happened. In my opinion, the vast majority of the current problem is women not being clued in to this fact by their families and communities at large. And the people who are supposed to be helping routinely reject this truth. I spent my entire college career trying to introduce basis ideas of self-defense to the "Take Back the Night" group on campus, and was treated as an enemy. The only way any of this is going to end is if women start to stand up for themselves. Someone cat-calls you? Knock their teeth out. Break their nose. Someone touches you inappropriately? Do some permanent damage. It's not hard. There are many men and women out there who will happily teach this for free. It's not easy, but it's essential. Can you imagine, if even for one week, everyone on a college campus saw a hundred men walking around with splints on their broken thumbs? Or if there was a 10,000% surge in groin injuries? This nonsense would probably stop a whole lot sooner than the ridiculous sensitivity training that any lunatic thinks will ever work...and I'm not a tough guy - I can't even make a fist with my left hand anymore from the beatings I put on men who misbehaved around our female friends, but I'll never stop trying to help...

  62. That's a great idea if your objective is to fill up our prisons with women who commit serious violence on cat callers. Here's a hint: that's not "self-defense."

  63. The best gender switch remake of "Ghostbusters" is 2011's surprise hit comedy "Bad Teacher" in which Cameron Diaz plays a lazy, fraudulent, and selfish but naturally commanding teacher. Screenwriters Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky had previously worked on a Ghostbusters III screenplay that never got made, and you can see a lot of Bill Murray's Peter Venkman character wound up in Diaz's character in "Bad Teacher."

    http://takimag.com/article/the_second_least_glamorous_job_in_showbiz/pri...

  64. Gender flips, in addition to Hollywood recycling, have the unfortunate effect of unbridled toxic fandom finding an excuse for cyberbullying.

    Star Wars actor Kelly Marie Tran was recently forced to end her social media accounts.

  65. Most movies aren't good. As more movies are made with women in leading roles, it stands to reason that the number of not-good movies starring women will increase commensurately. Endlessly remaking the same ten movies because it's a safe bet will continue until it isn't a safe bet anymore.

    I appreciated the movie Atomic Blonde, which introduced Charlize Theron playing a new character, much more than I would have enjoyed a rebooted James Bond franchise with a female lead. The filmmakers were free to create their world from scratch without having to maintain a recognizable brand, and they had fun with it. But my fear is that simply by typing the words "rebooted James Bond franchise with a female lead" I will have somehow caused it to happen.

  66. Atomic Blonde was terrific. Now THAT was a female leading role.

  67. "They have to do everything the men did, except backwards and with ideals."

    A brilliant sentence. Bravo.

  68. Did you really watch Fred Astaire?

  69. Even that Amanda Hess sentence is a reboot. Hess paraphrased what was said about Ginger Rodgers having to do everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in high heels.

  70. Ryan,
    I watch and enjoy Ginger Rodgers. Fred Astaire is a great dancer, terrible actor.

  71. Does everything have to be about politics, gender and/or race? What about the concept of a great film that seeks the best actors and/or actresses for each part created and that is written and produced for the purpose of quality entertainment.

    This stuff is getting really old and simply is not needed. The United States is not Saudi Arabia or Iran.

  72. When you create these all-women remakes, you’re admitting that you couldn’t create a good original project for these female actors.

    Let’s creare a new term for this called: masculine appropriation. This is when women come in after the hard work of men and then claim they deserve equal respect for the adaptation. This is occurring in Hollywood, politics, and business. The world, it’s countries, science, medicine, culture was created by men, but now we’re supposed to believe female stories that try to retcon history? I don’t buy it. Neither should you.

  73. If all these gender-swapped reboots fail to give women valid creative outlets and are only good for outraging immature men, then why, pray tell, are they still being made? Ghostbusters shouldn't have been rebooted not because it offended some men, but because it was a bad, boring idea from the start. The men who sneer and boo Ghostbusters and Ocean's 8 solely because women are placed in leading roles are trolls, and the only way to win against a troll is to move on and do something better with your time.

  74. So you admit that it was a bad, boring idea from the beginning, yet the only reason men might possibly have to diss it is sexism and immaturity? Physician heal thyself.

  75. Let's be honest.. Men or women as leads, makes no difference when Hollywood is as played out as a doddering, aged giggolo.

    When I find more interesting content on Vimeo or YouTube, made by people NOT interested in pandering to gender identity politics (though truthfully, it's there on lots of channels) who are most interested in telling an interesting, compelling ripping good story, it doesn't take a genius to realize the 'biz' is out of ideas.

    The other aspect that is the most irksome with the 'flipping' phenomenon is the tacit statement that ONLY a story originally written about a male character, has the historical potential to generate a new audience - *as if!* - an original story written about women, aimed at a woman-dominated audience, can't - or won't - generate the interest..

    So we get regurgitated stories where the female leads are built on the past frameworks of the male ones.

    Bleeeaahh...

    Thanks, but if this is the best Hollywood can do, I am SO glad I tapped out of all of it - TV included - well over a decade ago.

  76. I thought Sandra Bullock looked more like the sister of Captain Jack Sparrow than Danny Ocean.

  77. My fellow feminists let's forge our own path instead of following in the existing well worn ruts. Let's seek out the excitement ahead of us instead of the safety of the past.

  78. Hollywood has been remaking films since the silent era. Remakes with female leads are about attempting to make a bundle by dusting off an old high-grossing film and putting a new spin on it.

    It's not just females doing bad remakes. Spencer Tracy's 'Father of the Bride' was great. Steve Martin's remake 'Parenthood' was awful!

  79. Steve Martin remade Father of the Bride.

    Parenthood is a completely different and winning film if for no other reason than Keanu Reeve's shudder at the idea of anyone being able to become a father.

  80. Calm down, they're having fun.

  81. they may be having fun...the audience is not...

  82. The inclusion of Roxane Gay's quote about an all-female "Lord of the Flies" not only undercuts the majority of this argument -- women should be interesting and not just oppose men -- but it trades in the same kind of gender stereotyping that this article pushes against.

  83. It still amazes me that we expect Hollywood (Hollywood!) to lead society and not the other way round. Movies are a business venture, not a beacon of morality. Shouldn't we focus more on putting more women in REAL WORLD positions of power rather than fictional ones? Because I promise you, screenwriters will write what they see and audiences will respond to what feels real, not what liberal society wishes it looked like. This ever present narrative (in the NYT and eslewhere) that if we fix the movies we'll fix society is wasting everybody's time. We need more female Senators not more females playing Senators.

  84. At least it sounds like most of these films pass the "Bechdel Test," which requires that a movie have (a) two female characters who (b) talk to each other (c) about something besides a man. A number of great classics (e.g. Casablanca, Dr. Zhivago) fail this test.

    (A stricter version of the test requires that both female characters have names. Ouch.)

  85. Both Casablanca and Dr. Zhivago are great, compelling films, in my opinion. Are they now considered instruments of the so called "patriarchy" and about to be banned?

  86. I’m a woman and feminist, I never heard of that test. I had to look it up, and I must say it’s ridiculous. Movies, books etc. shouldn’t have to conform to any prescribed formula. Casablanca and Dr. Zhivago are terrific movies though Dr Zhivago was a better book. I wouldn’t want to see ‘12 Angry Men’ remade, the entire premise would be lost. All should be enjoyed while keeping in mind the era they represent.

    Women should be presenting new ideas and concepts not rehashing old ones. Write books, make movies that reflect our female perspective, just as men write and create from their perspective. That’s why I enjoy the writings of both Margaret Atwood and Philip Roth.

  87. As an author, I write almost all my stories about Me in the title characters slot. But I have one story that has two leads, A girl that is going through the same epic training as the guy is , It is told in a slice of scene style, where time is a odd thing as it is an Alternate Universe story, each story is about a new set of places and thinking, But PoV is from My Eyes and I am Male. Hollywood has been whatever it has been, Movies of the some genre can't be sliced to bits as a He V She which one is going to gross more contest. True Grit with a lead female. The outlaw josie wales as the girl who..... Just write new stories, Get them out there folks, rehashing old timelines, can wear thin fast... One ocean's movie was enough.. Fresh stories, are hard to generate.

  88. "A girl that is going through the same epic training as the guy is , ..."

    You didn't say much about the story, but there are numerous books about women and war:

    * "She Went to War: the Rhonda Cornum Story" by Rhonda Cornum with Peter Copeland.
    * "The Soviet night witches : brave women bomber pilots of World War II" by Pamela Dell.
    * "The unwomanly face of war : an oral history of women in World War II" by Svetlana Alexievich.
    * "Writing the siege of Leningrad : women's diaries, memoirs, and documentary prose" by Cynthia Simmons and Nina Perlina.

  89. When white males the world over revolt and slap you back into servitude (not that Im ok with that), just remember that you brought it on yourself with this whole "it's sexist against me but not against you" or "two wrongs dont make a right but they make me feel better" mentality. Getting someone to treat you as an equal has never met success by flipping the tables and expecting it to work.

  90. Well, then. This article flirts dangerously with the politically incorrect idea that women and men are different. Yes! Little girls may be interested in fantasizing about being the primary aggressor in shoot-em-up (laser-em-up, martial-art-em up, whatever) movies, and a few college women may relate to the bathroom/slap-and-tickle humor that some of the movies mentioned are rife with. But most women that I know can take or leave those narratives.

    Adult women have few Hollywood movie options when it comes to seeing their own milieux on the screen. ("Bridesmaids" was terrific, and so was "Elle.") Gender flipping hardly ever works because the genders don't experience the world in the same way.

    You'd think in this time of re-thinking so many aspects of male/female identities, the possibilities for stories would be endless. But Hollywood, as one famous director said, is like a shoe factory--if one style sold a lot, let's make a zillion more that are only slightly different. It's not exactly a trailblazing industry--actual artists (writers, directors, actors) have little to do with the material that gets financed.

  91. Surely it’s no longer a “politically incorrect idea that women and men are different.” As a young feminist have stand in the 1970s, I enthusiastically embraced giving androgynous names to what turned out to be our two daughters. 40+ years later I’m still happy with that choice (as are they).

    But I’ve learned that women and men ARE typically inherently different, just not in the binary way that the patriarchy would have us believe. It’s MAINLY nature NOT nurture, contrary to my still-forming young social scientist understanding back in the day. Surely acknowledging these inherent gender differences is no longer politically incorrect today.

    It was the patriarchy that led many feminists back then (I think? As a man, I’m not qualified to label.) to assert the primacy of nurture over nature. Even though most of us now know the opposite to be true, the patriarchy (authoritarianism, fundamentalism, Trumpism) is still threatening all of us, and feminism is more important than ever.

  92. Surely it’s no longer a “politically incorrect idea that women and men are different.” As a young feminist have stand in the 1970s, I enthusiastically embraced giving androgynous names to what turned out to be our two daughters. 40+ years later I’m still happy with that choice (as are they).

    But I’ve learned that women and men ARE typically inherently different, just not in the binary way that the patriarchy would have us believe. It’s MAINLY nature NOT nurture, contrary to my still-forming young social scientist understanding back in the day. Surely acknowledging these inherent gender differences is no longer politically incorrect today.

    It was the patriarchy that led many feminists back then (I think? As a man, I’m not qualified to label.) to assert the primacy of nurture over nature. Even though most of us now know the opposite to be true, the patriarchy (authoritarianism, fundamentalism, Trumpism) is still threatening all of us, and feminism is more important than ever.

  93. Remember when Marlo Thomas played the part of George Baily in the gender swap made for television 1988 remake of a Frank Capra classic, "It's a Wonderful Life". Well, uh, no you probably don't.

  94. I remember it. And I thought it was pretty good.

  95. I remember it. And I thought it was pretty good.

  96. The author is spot-on. Gender-flipping is lazy. What's next, turning all-white cast movies into remakes with people of color? Does no one see how silly that is? Women need their own stories to tell. More original content, more women writers, and more women directors and producers. This is becoming increasingly hard to do when literally every Hollywood blockbuster now is a sequel.

  97. "What's next, turning all-white cast movies into remakes with people of color?"

    You didn't see "The Wiz"?

  98. Mary,
    Have you not heard of the remake of ‘Death at a Funeral’ made with a mostly black cast with Chris Rock in the lead? Or how about the remake of Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier’s ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kushner?

  99. Mary,
    Have you not heard of the remake of ‘Death at a Funeral’ made with a mostly black cast with Chris Rock in the lead? Or how about the remake of Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier’s ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kushner?

  100. Don't watch reboots, remakes and sequels. Don't pay for tickets, netflix, or any other means of watching them. There is no other way to demand original material from Hollywood. Heck, let them adapt books at least, since single authors can apparently come up with more interesting stories than their hundreds of screenwriters.

  101. Any crime movie with a scene showing a bunch of actors crowded around a computer screen is an automatic failure, IMO.

  102. Especially if the computer is making noises that no real computer actually makes. The same rule applies to TV.

  103. Especially if the computer is making noises that no real computer actually makes. The same rule applies to TV.

  104. It was 2 hours of pleasant entertainment on a warm spring evening. Any place that serves junior mints and popcorn is not providing high art.

  105. I'm surprised by the omission of 2013's "The Heat," starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. A smart, hilarious buddy cop comedy with two fantastic lead actors, it was not a female reboot of a specific film. When my mom and I saw "The Heat" in the theater, we were in stitches!

  106. Apparently you did not understand or read the article.

  107. Apparently you did not understand or read the article.

  108. Thank you for addressing the issue of whether or not Bullock and Blanchette’s characters were meant to be lovers. I saw “ Ocean’s Eight” this week and, for the life of me, do not understand why this plot point was handled with such ridiculous coyness. The consensus of the three of us who saw the film is that, yes, they were lovers based on dialogue, but in 2018, why would we even have to parse dialogue for clues??

  109. Plausible deniability and overseas box office potential (especially in China).

  110. Plausible deniability and overseas box office potential (especially in China).

  111. There is a mindset in Hollywood that women must be in one of two modes: Either a den mother or a complete ballbuster, the latter of which exists under the misguided notion that men get to be just that without consequences.

    Male producers like to pretend that women enjoy objectifying men in order to justify and continue their objectification of women, but they always pull back. That scene mentioned with Rodney Dangerfield revealing the naked woman would never be played in gender reverse because women don't typically find that sort of idea interesting and male producers don't want to put it onscreen.

    I also agree that they go overboard making women too dynamic as though dynamic is required. Remember the remake of "Sabrina?" In the original, David Larabee's girlfriend was just an everyday woman but in the remake she was a leading surgeon. Couldn't she just have been another business person, school teacher, or advertising executive?

    Male producers do not understand women and their motivations, and so they are giving them their own. This leaves the women to being measured against the standards and success of men under the notion men are doing such a bangup job of it. A true women's film would just give women lives lived like women in real life, where conquering the world is less important to them than living life well.

  112. Can't we just have movies that are not proxies for the virulent anger of a small portion of our population that writes for magazines and newspapers and appears on cable? A lot of us just watch movies. We see no meaning in people dressing up in costumes, memorizing lines written by others and emoting them with fake feelings. It's called "make pretend". Why can't we leave it at that?

  113. It feels like the "gender-flipping" thing is thankfully winding down. Ghostbusters was considered a box office dud and Ocean's 8 appears, even with it's enormous female star power, to be only be a modest success commercially. Neither film was particularly well-received by critics.

    The big splash will always be in creating original material, but for every Bridesmaids you will get many lesser films. The best female (and male) roles are in indies: Ladybird, I Tonya, Three Billboards, but, of course, they don't have the reach or cultural pizazz of studio movies. Still, it is an encouraging sign that audiences are demanding more original fare. One hopes the studios will hear their call.

  114. I can understand why any group - women, a minority, etc. - wants to see people who look like them on a screen, to relate to their world. But when the worlds portrayed are just silly or stupid, why not create something brand new, something which actually portrays something worth seeing, a book of value, etc. But it looks like the audience will go to anything with a name in it, rather than consider whether there is value in the product. So didn't go the the Male Oceans series, itself a remake, won't go to this. It's cut down my movie going drastically when even the so called art houses are showing main stream dross.

  115. The bigger problem is Hollywood likes formulas that work, that is until the last film flops. The only Ocean’s movie worth watching is the original Rat Pack one.

    Interestingly I’m not reading much negativity here about the George Clooney remakes only the all female cast reboot. Is it because few remember Clooney didn’t do it first, or does he get a pass for being a guy?

  116. Somewhere in the actual NY Times review of Ocean’s 8, the reviewer described the original - “mediocre film done by the Rat Pack in between shows in Vegas.” I stopped reading the review to run to bathroom and find some bicarbonate. He thought the Clooney version was a masterpiece. Sure. Probably nobody cares about gender flipping of the Clooney version for the same reason no one cared about gender flipping of Godzilla in the Jean Reno version.

  117. Michael Blazin,
    Went back and read that review, just another reviewer who judges past movies by current P. C. standards and therefore dismisses the original. Also what’s up with making “Lord of the Flies” with a female cast? The original 1963 British movie was fantastically disturbing. I skipped the 1990 remake.

    I never saw the Jean Reno Godzilla so I can’t comment on the good, the bad, or the ugly. I really enjoyed him in ‘The Professional’.

  118. I saw Ocean's 8 with my wife over the weekend, and it was remarkably bland. I've been contemplating just why it was so bad, and I think this article gave me a clue; namely the plain truth that it was an attempt at a gender-flip remake. The original (remake) was fine as it was, and adding this movie did NOTHING to change that in any way...in other words it is irrelevant. If you are going to take on a social cause, you have to do it in a way that emphasizes the presumed injustice of the previous iteration, and this movie did no such thing. it only aped it's target, badly, and ironically simply reinforced the idea that things were better as they were before.

  119. "...except backwards and with ideals."

    Brava, Amanda Hess!

  120. The wise critic avoids any attempt to direct attention to her own cleverness and focuses on the subject.

  121. The 'malicious edge' of Bill Murray 'effectively stalking Sigourney Weaver'?? Wow, I really think you need to watch the movie again...

    And, by the way, what exactly counts as 'gentle sexual harasssment'? I thought the point made countless times by the metoo movement was there was no such thing as
    'gentle' in this context...zero tolerance, etc.

    Do you begin to see the problem of this 'in the eye of the beholder' stuff?

  122. It's all justifications and double-standards. Women want men to stop engaging in those things, yet they feel entitled to it for themselves.

  123. I don't think that an all female "Lord of the Flies" is at all impossible to imagine. Did the woman who said it would not happen think that a group of girls could not be savage or cultish? As a feminist, I can assure her that girls and women can be horrible humans.

  124. Hi Chris, I’m not sure if your referring to my comment or not. I’m also a feminist, and an avid reader. I first read ‘Flies’ when I was 12 or 13, and have reread it several times since. It’s one of those books that offers something new with each reading. My objection to remaking the film with a female cast is twofold, 1. I don’t like messing with the original source material namely William Golding’s book. 2. I think the original film can’t be improved upon.

    My objection has nothing to do with whether or not girls can be just as “savage or cultish”. Girls and women can be just as ruthless as boys and men.

    I believe women should be creating new original concepts not co-opting another’s original material. We should be cutting new paths not bumping along on old well worn ruts in the road.

  125. Haven't you seen "The Heathers"?

  126. NYHUGUENOT,

    Heathers was a terrific film, however it was written and directed by men. It doesn’t fit the definition of original material done by or for women.

  127. I am fed up of remakes, and putting women in the lead roles in movies previously made with and by men is certainly not my idea of making things interesting. The fact that most of the directors of these remakes are men points further to the laziness of the approach. Can't we make stories that have mixed casts, as in the real world, with no obvious gendered notions of protagonist/antagonist? My experience with both men and women around me is that some are genuine, honest and sincere, some funny and self-deprecating, yet some are scheming, or completely self-absorbed and ruthless in their disregard for anyone else. All ingredients for a good story.

  128. The conflicts between women in "Big Little Lies" may have been authentic, but they were not universal to all women. As half the population, women are a diverse category. Many of us could never imagine ourselves in the kind of cat fight conflicts that arise between jealous, insecure, feuding moms. Those conflicts are about being jealous and insecure, not about being female. And lets not forget that 20% of American women do not give birth in their lifetimes.

  129. I do find it sad how the author excuses sexual harassment in the female Ghostbuster films because she believes men aren't capable of being sexually harassed in real life. A man who is subordinate in a job is just as vulnerable to sexual harassment as a woman would be. Yes, some women sexually harass as well and it is neither "harmless" or "cute" despite what the author says.

    What's worse is Roxane Gay's comment that girls wouldn't fight in the Lord of the Flies remake because she thinks girls are always more civilized than boys. This is just obvious sexism given that girls from the modern world would struggle just as much as boys, if not more, if thrown onto a desert island.

  130. Great point. My lesbian cousin was beaten & abused by her partner. Abuse of power is the problem here; not gender.

  131. If thrown on a desert island, the woman would look towards the strongest most alpha male for survival. She would give her body willingly to survive. There was a reason that society formed the way it did originally.

  132. The Trouble With Critics. This was a good continuation a the group heist storyline. Well written, edited acted and told with appropriate nods to the predecessor. Critics need to choose their battles better. There are a LOT of useless "reboots" and "remakes" that deserve a good "kick" because there are hundreds of writers with excellent germs of ideas for new movies, original movies, or even a story better told nowadays and they should be going after those. Still in the midst of this self-eating industry, there comes a few that deserve an applause, a smile, a nod because it was done well. We ALL like a movie done well, and this was done well. Of course they dealt with men, it's modern day earth. And what they did was fun and very entertaining to watch. Save your snack for the things that truly deserve it.

  133. Are you seriously saying movies shouldn't be criticized because they are 'well made'? Hollywood puts tons on money into movies, most are 'well made', but when the stories and script are idiotic, its open for criticism.
    Its somewhat anti anti anti feminist to say that there can't be an all female remake when in fact Oceans 11 was an all male remake. That is subtly not mentioned here and the critic misses that sandra bullock and melissa mccarthy did a 'cop buddy movie', so are entire GENRES off limits here? Part of the reason MM role in 'bridesmaids' was so funny is because it was SO recognizable in relation to its male counterpart. The biggest complaint here of the ghostbusters reboot was that it was BAD, not that it was all girl. And in this case the criticisms here seem valid, a few script changes could have changed it into a better movie without the baggage of the story which this critic points out. That can be said of virtually EVERY hollywood movie, not just reboots. But at this level of movie making, when MOST of hollywoods offerings are super hero movies, (amazing that Wonder Woman and her 'male lead' isn't even mentioned here, is it because it had a woman director? Even ww gets a 'makeover'), this can't be taken as a suprise that these movies are such bad attempts at 'feminism'. Movies are generally bad attempts at life, films are a different story.

  134. I think there's a lot to be said for showing society how male focused our films are by putting women in these roles, but I think this is such a strong argument against the trend. Great piece Amanda Hess!

  135. Well written, nuanced piece. I disagree that this article is attempting an assault on entertainment. She mostly praises most of these reboots, and explains in detail why they work and where they fall short. It is not feminist griping to point out the obvious problem with rebooting films that are important popular phenomena in our cultural imagination. Any reboot requires comparison, by definition. This gives filmmakers a double edged sword of opportunity because folks want to see the new take bc they loved the old take, but obviously those same folks are going to assess the film at least partially by comparison. When the roles and plots were designed to be played by men, it makes sense that the reboots would sometimes work and sometimes fall flat. The most convincing part of her argument is that Hollywood’s current understanding of feminism isn’t fleshed out yet- so it hamstrings representation into perfect women with great female-female relationships that don’t reflect our current culture.

  136. Hollywood has lost their ability to come up with anything new. They can remake movies or swap males for females as often as they like but at the end of the day it's just another poorly made rerun. I will pass.

  137. Of course we need more stories by women, with subtlety and nuance about female relationships. But that doesn’t preclude this strain of movie. Women deserve heist movies and superhero movies and action movies starring women. They’re fun, escapist fantasies with easy formulaic plot lines, and a dollop of feel-good feminism on top. And that’s just fine. There should be room in the world of movies for women to inhabit all of these spaces - expecting films starring women to be high-brow think pieces is narrowing the scope on what women are allowed to do and where they’re allowed to show up, and that’s counterproductive. By the way when I saw Ocean’s 8, the theater was about half men. And I’m thrilled by the idea that men get as much joy watching a heist movie with all women as I did watching Ocean’s 11 when it first came out. To me that’s as important - the normalization of women in powerful roles on screen.

  138. What was the powerful role in Ocean's 8 again? Was it the thief?

  139. I totally agree. Having more women’s representation in movies is not having them act just like men, it’s allowing them to write their own comedy and act in a way that women can relate to and laugh at. As a woman, I don’t sit around wanting revenge and wishing I could be just like a man. That’s why I never liked Kill Bill- because it was unrelatable and obviously written by a man.

  140. Really? Watch the new season of Dr. Who. Some roles are simply best played by men. This is not a dis, but apparently the pc bull cries out for a ridiculous role reversal . To what avail? Equality in Acting? REALLY?

  141. We want a good story. We want good acting, directing, cinematography. We want it to make sense. We want the movie to fulfill its promise--if it's an action movie, we want action; if it's a clever heist, we want a clever heist; if it's a comedy, it should be funny. What we don't want is a morality pay hoisted on us by a tiny portion of upper class liberal intellectuals who live in a bubble echoing each other - this article uses the term 'woke' straight-faced - dictating what the rest of us should see, lecturing us, using millions to virtue signal each other, & telling us if we don't like it, we are obviously to blame, that we are obviously stupid fans (you know, the stupid ones who pay to see the movie), or racists or sexists. What we are evidently not is an audience paying to see a movie. As a woman, I do enjoy interesting, compelling, fully human women on screen. But it needs to service the movie itself. Don't expect us to line up & pay to see an orgy of holier-than-thou virtue signaling devoid of anything that makes a movie great (plot, acting, etc), full of hypocrisy (Hollywood is the last place that should be lecturing us on sexism, #metoo) & outright contempt for over half of America (eg Robert Deniro's standing ovation; or sneering at us if we dare to dislike their poorly made propaganda). The trouble with the gender flips is that they're not good movies. Make good movies with women in them, reboots or not, & we'll see them.

  142. A woman's character is more complex and has more depth if there is bisexual tension between her and a business partner? Why? And I thought Bridesmaids had some good moments, but they were undermined by unnecessary vulgarity throughout the movie. Apparently female comedians must stoop to Seth Rogan's middle-school brand of humor in order to be considered funny in Hollywood. No thanks.

  143. These reboots speak to exactly two things: the absolute and total creative exhaustion of the American film industry, and the absolute and total intellectual exhaustion of modern feminism. Nothing more to say, really.

  144. I don't do remakes especially when they sour the film by gender swapping. If you want a chick movie then write an original script if you can and sell that not some Frankenstein monster version of what is a good movie. I'll wait till they are on free TV if they ever make it that far.

  145. I agree women should be writing, producing, directing and starring in original material. However, I find your use of “chick movie” to disparage gender flipping in films quite humorous, especially your Frankenstein reference. Do you consider Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to be “chick lit” since it was written by a woman?

  146. Sorry but men need need to have their politics fixed.

  147. This piece is well written. The only problem I had was the reference made in Ocean's Eight were Debbie says the line about the little girl's dream of being a criminal. She doesn't say it to the rest of the women, she says it to herself in the mirror.

  148. If you're old enough you will remember film like Midnight Cowboy, Sunday Bloody Sunday or Mrs Robinson. Or even the film adaptation of Kazantzakis' Zorba the Greek. Or 'Z' about the assassination of a Greek politician. Then there are Coppola's movies: Godfather(s) and Apocalypse Now. Alas in the last 10 years or so that has nothing even remotely resembling those films has emerged. I read recently in the NY Times that average IQ has been dropping since 1975. I suspect that the appalling film we are now subjected to confirm that bleak IQ statistic. Too dumb to appreciate good movies. Too dumb to make good movies. Too dumb to know the difference between good and bad movies.

  149. Oh fiddle faddle. You do realize that when those movies you mentioned were being made there was a chorus of people just like you moaning and groaning with that same old tired complaint that they just weren't making movies like they use to. There is plenty of good work being done on "film" ow whatever today. Maybe if you could stop moaning over your lost youth you would be able to find some it.

  150. Then there's auteur David Ladd, producer of "Alien", who read the original script and told Ridley Scott it might be better with two women in the ensemble.

  151. Shame there was no mention of "Annilhation" (2018) an all-female lead cast sci-fi film that is becoming a cult hit. Here we have a wonderfully original story, fantastic effects, strong female characters, and a heart-pounding action movie with enough drama to warrant repeated viewings. For this sci-fi fanboy, the entire film works marvelously, with the performances by Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, and current "Hollywood it girl" Tessa Thompson true to form and character, not bad emulations. As military types, they could have tried to copy the men from "Predator" or "Aliens" but thankfully didn't. They show strength and vulnerability in perfect proportions. Sadly, Hollywood didn't market this film and it came and went in a blink. It's all me and my fellow male fanboys talk about, and wish that more films like it were made - not more reboots than last year's iPhone.

  152. Right? A staggeringly beautiful, original big-budget genre work that's forward-thinking in more than just its gender politics, yet is hugely commendable for its femme focus regardless. Sadly, a phony whitewashing scandal blindsided and sunk its good graces during promotion. Women are only victims until they aren't, and people only want thoughtful, creative art until they don't.

  153. Anybody who thinks that “Lord of the Flies” doesn’t make sense done as all female a) doesn’t know enough females and b) hasn’t seen the play done with a female cast. The latter is fairly common of late and it works incredibly well.

  154. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s progress. Today, female actors are stepping into men’s stories for blockbuster movies. That’s better than nothing and I hope it gives the actresses the success, power, and clout to tell their owns stories to mainstream audiences in the future. Besides, men star in mediocre sequels all the time. Why hold the women to a higher standard?

  155. Spin-offs and sequels are rarely as good as the original. Is Oceans 8 as good as the original? No. Is it at least as good as Oceans 12 or 13? Absolutely.

  156. Two words: Red Sparrow Make that four: Lady Bird

  157. This is a brilliant analysis and it reminds me of an interview I heard on public radio decades ago (it must have been on WBAI) with a feminist writer (whose name, unfortunately, I no longer remember). Responding to the emergence of such faux feminist magazines back in the 70s as Playgirl and Viva - magazines that were largely mirror images of their male counterparts, Playboy and Penthouse - she noted that, despite their ostensibly feminist purpose (they purported to be in service of and all about women's sexuality), they actually were created by men who assumed that female sexuality was merely an identical but mirror-image of male sexuality. For example, that since men enjoy looking at pornographic images of women's bodies, it follows that women would derive the same sort of enjoyment if only they had the opportunity. But, of course, as that writer pointed out, these magazines were, in fact and yet again, examples of men defining women's sexuality (and viewing it through the narrow lens of their own male sexuality) rather than women themselves discovering for themselves what their own sexuality actually is and creating their own outlets for that purpose. My sense is that the faux- and superficially feminist movies that come out of Hollywood and the erotica (or pornography) that comes from wherever it comes from will inevitably succumb to the same fatal flaws in credibility so long as they are projections of male fantasy rather than female reality.

  158. Sorry, but this article way over analyzes the current state of reboots with actresses. I see it a different way—Hollywood’s unquenchable thirst for profit limits the development of rich, and rewarding storytelling. Successful movies are remade flipping the character’s sex because the original franchise has run out of sequels, or the original actors are now too old. I enjoyed “Oceans 8,” but continuously felt an original story with that fantastic cast could have been much more entertaining.

  159. Annie Potts wasn’t the love interest in Ghostbusters. Sigourney Weaver was the love interest.

  160. The most effective use of gender-swapping was 1940's "His Girl Friday" based on an old play "Front Page." When the relationship between the newspaper editor and his reporter (originally both were male characters) was framed as a former romantic relationship between a man and a woman, all that followed made much more sense and was an improvement on the original. It can be done.

  161. This critique is so needed! I long for stories that reflect women’s actual lives- what it is like to be a mother, daughter, childless, work as a woman, age as a woman - something relevant. Even the typical plots developed by Hollywood don’t appeal to me. Hollywood not only has to stop putting women in men’s remakes but rethink the kind of stories they choose to make into movies if they truly want to appeal to women and create powerful roles for women.

  162. I have no particular opinion of these remakes, just that they (whoever is in the lead roles) strike me as lacking a little bit in innovation - why not a totally new script? But when it comes to the remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrel I just wonder how it will be cast - because the male scoundrels are being outsmarted by a very clever woman in the original movie. She first seems to be a dope but then wins the whole game. Will two the two con women be outsmarted by a guy in this remake? It seems there are better plots to reinterpret if feminism is the cause of the remake.

  163. This is just wearisome. Like too many other pieces over-stretching and vainly groping to make a point that can’t and shouldn’t be made. On the other hand can’t wait to see the sequel to Little Women with the original Ocean’s Eleven cast. Sophie’s Choice? Sal’s Choice.

  164. "These reboots require women to relive men’s stories instead of fashioning their own. And they’re subtly expected to fix these old films, to neutralize their sexism and infuse them with feminism, to rebuild them into good movies with good politics, too. They have to do everything the men did, except backwards and with ideals."

    Exactly where is this written in stone? I expect these films to entertain me. Nothing more.

  165. There's really nothing new about all of this. The TV show 'Charlies Angels' comes to mind. The women in that show were good role models...at least by 1970's standards...but there were always those who missed the point (some of them called it 'jiggle TV').

  166. I’m disappointed in these remakes for many of the same reasons. Does the world need more Oceans movies featuring either gender? Probably not. Does the world need more movies made by, about and led by women as smart, courageous heroes? Most definitely yes!

  167. Hollywood just doesn't get it. The main consumers of action movies are college and high school boys. That demographic likes its heroes, sometimes anti heroes, to be male. They just do. There are a few exceptions for heroes who from their first incarnation were always female such as Batwoman or Wonder Woman or Charlie's Angels.

    Recasting a male hero as female is a recipe for disaster as we saw in Ghostbusters.

  168. "My Girl Friday" (screenplay by Ben Hecht from his play/movie "The Front Page" with Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant) switched the gender of Hildy Johnson to female. It worked wonderfully; Russell's Johnson is even more entertaining than O'Brien's & Lemon's, as far as movie portrayals are concerned. Does "The Front Page" constitute a "franchise" in the sense that the opinion writer means?