Browse By

Gender bending isn’t the answer to feminism

Illustration: Alex Gomez · The Sentry

Hollywood is making an unnecessary evil

Ocean’s 8 is a reboot of a franchise that replaced the likes of George Clooney and Matt Damon with Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett as the leaders of a team of criminals attempting to pull off a heist. The largely female remake was undeniably a success, raking in $139 million in the United States. It’s the second highest grossing film of the five-film franchise, behind the $183 million of the Clooney Ocean’s 11. While Ocean’s 8’s box office is completely worth celebrating, the film itself represents a trend in Hollywood, which is not necessarily problematic but more so upsetting.

Ocean’s 8 is a product of Hollywood gender bending in which studios take an established property and, in some way, redo it but with women instead of men. While the success and quality of gender-bended films vary, as evidenced by the drastically different receptions to 2016’s remake of Ghostbusters and 2018’s Ocean’s 8, these films represent the idea that Hollywood believes one basic thing: remaking a property with a female cast is inherently progressive.

To be clear, this is not the case. Just because a movie has a mostly female cast does not, by some scientific equation, make it feminist. Yes, it is always good for a movie to give a spotlight to minorities in film, which, if being honest, is anyone who isn’t a straight, white male. However, being progressive is not the cause behind most of these productions, profitability is.

The studios who commission such films choose pre-existing properties that have already proven themselves to be popular and lucrative. This poses the question that if studios believe that for something to be successful with women, it first has to be successful with men. Who can say for sure what dogma studio executives follow, but this guess is well-founded. 

Again, the question arises, what does this mean? Sometimes gender bending succeeds and sometimes it doesn’t, but the same can be said of literally any other movie. 

The monetary success of these movies proves there is an audience for female-starring ensemble films; after all, half the population of the earth is comprised of women. Yet, remaking something people love dearly (and in some cases being disrespectful to the source material à la Ghostbusters) is not a good solution to the proven need of more diversity on screen. 

The solution? Bridesmaids, The Beguiled, Whip It, Book Club, and any other ensemble films that star women and are not based on a previously male-dominated property. 

None of this is to say that remakes themselves are bad or that Hollywood is out of original ideas—neither of those things could be further from the truth. All any of this means is that it’s time Hollywood starts learning that original, female-led films are just as, if not more, profitable than remakes of something else. 

It’s a win-win situation because not only will the films serve an audience that so clearly wants to see movies starring characters they can relate to more closely, but fans of the original who (for reasons misogynistic or not) feel the thing is being ruined won’t be able to be upset over drastic changes to something they love.

Latest posts by Alexander Elmore (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *