...women buy 50% of movie tickets sold in the US. So wouldn’t it be wise from a purely economical standpoint to feature more of the people ultimately funding these things?
Unless you’ve been living in a bunker without Wi-Fi, you’ve most likely heard about the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters. And if you’re like me, you’re super-excited about it. Recently, it was announced that the Ocean’s Eleven remake will be ladies-only, too. Could it be that we’ve embarked on an era in which women take center stage?
Remakes, reboots, revamps — whatever you want to call them — have the opportunity to retroactively correct film history with all-female casts. For all of human history — and I mean all of it — stories have centered on men, while women fill in the background. The supposed greatest stories of all time are modeled after the hero’s journey, which was specifically designed for men to go out and do cool shit while women stayed home and took care of stuff like perpetuating the human race.
When you do something as simple as switching out men with women, prevailing ideologies finally have the breathing room to change. As if to say, Look! Women are just as funny an interesting, too. Imagine that!
There’s also the very real chance these remakes could be better than the original classics. I think this scares some people. And I’m not just talking about women-hating Neanderthals. For someone who loves, truly loves the original Ghostbusters, it might be disconcerting to see those familiar characters replaced. If the reboot is better, we might have to admit something was wrong with the first one. Insert a dramatic duh, duh, duh!
But let’s just say it is better. Let’s suppose it achieves instant classic status in the likes of Bridesmaids or Mean Girls or Pitch Perfect 2 (anyone?). Doesn’t that beg the question, Why aren’t we casting women more? Even if these reboots bomb, shouldn’t casts be more inclusive, anyway?
Studies conducted in 2014 show that women accounted for roughly a third of all speaking characters in the 100 top-grossing movies, but only comprised 12% of the protagonists. A third of those women with speaking roles have sexually revealing attire or are partially naked. And it should come as no surprise that as women get older, the number of parts they’re offered declines. Men, on the other hand, see a slight increase in available roles as they age.
Basically, women are underrepresented in film in every imaginable way — from speaking roles to non-speaking roles, from producers to lowly PAs. Check out this fun/depressing infographic on Indiewire that breaks it down.
But the more positive salient point is this: Female executives hire more women than their male counterparts. Get more women behind the camera, and you’ll see more women on the screen.
As women, we put the pressure on ourselves to make big changes. There’s the pressure to succeed as well as the pressure to make something so perfect we’ll have to be taken seriously. But who are we trying to impress? Instead, we should be allowing ourselves to take risks and make mistakes. The scale on which women in film have been marginalized is huge, but the effects trickle down to every detail.
For example, when I first starting writing comedic sketches, I thoughtlessly assigned most of the roles to men. All the media I’ve consumed throughout my life had conditioned me to write male characters as a default. If this can happen to someone like me, who considers herself culturally aware and a proud feminist, then it can happen to anyone. Now that I’m actively aware of how gender plays a role in everything I write, it’s easier to strike a balance and avoid cliché.
We should remember, too, that women buy 50% of movie tickets sold in the US. So wouldn’t it be wise from a purely economical standpoint to feature more of the people ultimately funding these things? Don’t expect me to spend my hard-earned $14 on another dopey buddy-cop comedy.
As of now, all-female casts feel more original because there are still so few of them. Hopefully we’ll get to a place where seeing a movie largely populated by female characters becomes commonplace. When an all-female cast becomes just another tired Hollywood trope, that will be a beautiful day.
So what movies do you want to see remade with all-female casts? I’ll start taking orders. Personally, I’d like to see a remake of the remake of 21 Jump Street (with the Broad City broads, perhaps?). 2001: A Space Odyssey could also be dope. Just imagine H.A.L. as V.A.L., a creepily monotone robot woman. And I’d love to see a modern American Psycho featuring a female serial killer. Because women should also be allowed to murder for murdering’s sake, am I right?