Sunday, 12 October 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1186: ChickBusters!

A few days ago it was announced that Sony/Columbia Pictures, writer/director Paul Feig, and collaborator Katie Dippold are going to do an all female reboot of the beloved 1984 fantasy-adventure comedy Ghostbusters.

Now anyone who says "boo" against the project is immediately shouted down as a "sexist" "misogynist" monster who is worse than Hitler, which is preventing any real serious discussion about it, and the nature of gender-swapped reboots.

So let's look at the PROS & CONS!!


1. FEMALE STAR POWER: There are a lot of actresses who can carry a movie comedy, and if you combine them they can potentially take a franchise into the blockbuster stratosphere. Sandra Bullock, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, are just a few who have had major hits with screen comedies, and who already have a good record working together.

2. COST: Since you only have to pay an actress 77¢ for every dollar you pay a male actor, you can save a fortune. (This part is what you call "edgy satire.")


1. THE MINDSET BEHIND THE PROJECT IS FUNDAMENTALLY DEMEANING TO WOMEN: Take a moment to think about it. Hollywood is under a lot of pressure to give women better leading roles.

But Hollywood is reluctant to give women leading roles in anything but either consumerist-mad romantic comedies or sappy/shallow romantic melodramas, because they believe that anything else is somehow a risk.

What does Hollywood do?

Hollywood says, in its own left-handed way: "We don't want to give women something original that they can make their own, because we don't think they're capable of pulling it off, despite all the evidence to the contrary. So here's a dusty old franchise that's pretty much already dead and buried. If it succeeds, we'll give all the credit to the original franchise's popularity, and if if it flops we will use it as an excuse to not make more female-centric star vehicles."

That's not good, for women, or for movies.

There was a time when Hollywood paid serious attention to women and movies aimed at women. Actresses like Barbara Stanwyck, Katherine Hepburn, and dozens of other female stars built long running careers playing women who were not only strong and in control of their lives, they were also  the central star of their movies.

I don't know what infected Hollywood so badly against women, but it almost destroyed their ability to develop decent vehicles for women beyond  making them either act like male archetypes, or just tossing them the scraps from the remake/reboot table.

Hollywood can't even market women in movies without embarrassing themselves over their own warped view of femininity.
What did the marketing department do to that poor woman's neck?

It's not like it's hard to develop an original franchise for female stars in the underdog vs the world spirit of Ghostbusters.

How about this one off the top of my head. The setting is the future. Space travel is not only available, it's relatively commonplace. Sandra Bullock plays Sandra Fury, an academic who loses her job due to the treachery of a co-worker. Unemployed and angry she joins her long estranged sisters, Melissa McCarthy as Melissa Fury, and Kirsten Wiig as Kirsten Fury, who are building their own interstellar spaceship to go prospecting for opportunities for fame and fortune on alien planets against restrictive government bureaucrats and fat-cat corporate rivals.

Toss in wacky adventures with Sandra as the "fish out of water" character, some crazy aliens, a sassy robot, and these women standing up for the proverbial "little guy," and you have The Furies*, an all original franchise that doesn't have the expectational baggage that comes with slapping together a gender swapped remake.

It's not hard, it just takes a little imagination.

Movies made by, for, and starring women are good for the movie business as a whole. Pop culture needs natural diversity in storytelling to keep alive. But they need originality with that diversity, not just shifting around genders/ethnicities in stuff that's already been done.


*The Furies is now officially copyrighted by me, and if you touch it, you gotta pay me big time.

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