There appears to be a tendency in Hollywood (although arguably in the world as a whole) that when someone fails at something, it’s acceptable to blame white males for the failure. This MyTake isn’t about defending white males or arguing that they have a hard time or anything like that…but rather it’s going to discuss my own opinions surrounding the move that certain players in Hollywood have taken in the last few years (and presumably will continue to do).
So I stumbled upon a news article (1) whereby the stars of the recent Ocean’s 8 film, which is of course an all-female reboot of Ocean’s Eleven (2001) which was itself a reboot of an older movie starring Frank Sinatra (1960), “have accused male critics of failing to appreciate their film”. Mindy Kaling whose voice is the 2nd most annoying in the world (beaten only by Melissa McCarthy who we will discuss in a moment) said “If I had to base my career on what white men wanted I would be very unsuccessful” (ignoring that her first role was in the movie ’40 Year Old Virgin’, the story of a white males fully in-tact virginity) while her co-star Cate Blanchett apparently agreed, claiming that the media has failed to make the shift in mind set in terms of gender equality.
You may be familiar with this blame-game and blatant scape-goating as we experienced it in exactly the same manner after the flop of Ghostbusters (2016) which was also a remake of a movie. Before the movie’s release, the trailer was enough to send the internet into a tailspin over how dreadful it looked. Everything that we had all loved about Ghostbusters was torn at the seams and left to spill out. Upon its release the opinions remained about the same. The movie has an IMDB rating of 5.3 which in my opinion is generous! The Ghostbusters issue hasn’t even died down and Sandra Bullock, who is the lead role in Ocean’s 8. On the red carpet for the premiere she stated “That was unfair on a level that I can’t even not be mad about talking about,” (2) and went on to make the claim that because such gifted female comedians were in the lead roles, EVERY fan should have been excited to see the new movie. I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and suggest that Sandra Bullock is NOT a fan of the original Ghostbusters but is rather basing her opinion ENTIRELY on the fact that the 4 lead roles were female. To me, that sounds far more sexist than hating an awful film. In fact the top of that very same article opens with: “Paul Feig's 2016 "Ghostbusters" reboot angered fans of the 1984 original who felt women could not star in the lead roles of the franchise.” Ivan Reitman (director and producer of the original movie) summed up the entire situation perfectly: "I think there's way too much talk about gender…I think that many of the people who were complaining were actually lovers of the [original] movie, not haters of women." (3)
Of course what you may notice with both Ocean’s Eleven and the original Ghostbusters is that they feature predominantly white males. I mean 8 out of the 11 MEN in Ocean’s Eleven are white while 3 out of the 4 MEN in Ghostbusters are white. Maybe, just maybe, rather than simply taking an idea that included white males and switching it in for white females (while completely destroying whatever content made the originals entertaining) women in Hollywood should strive to take part in films that don’t have decades worth of nostalgia attached to them? I mean look at Annihilation: pretty much the entire cast of that movie was female and it was a great film. Where were all the white male critics during that? It currently has a score of 7 on IMDB which is higher than both Ocean’s 8 AND Ghostbusters. There are PLENTY of examples where films either with a majority-female cast or with a lead female character do exceptionally well. So I don’t understand why these films do well despite these apparent “white male critics” who are apparently sexist, racist and simply have it out for female-led movies.
I mean don’t get me wrong, obviously these sorts of people do exist in the world…but the idea that most viewers who go and see these movies simply aren’t enlightened or progressive enough to enjoy a movie with a female cast is absolute nonsense. I mean I could go through each of the careers of each of these women from Ocean’s 8 and highlight the sorts of movies that they’ve made their fame from. Most that pop to mind aren’t exactly pro-feminism. Maybe…just maybe…they’ve taken part in a film that doesn’t work and rather than jumping on the feminist bandwagon in order to stir up publicity for an unnecessary and lazy film, they should use their energy to create something new.
Perhaps the worst part about all of this is that blaming white men is acceptable. Why is it so wrong to say that a movie sucks? For the record, I haven’t seen Ocean’s 8 yet and so have no opinion of it. I hope it is great. I’m a huge fan of Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter and many of the other stars of this movie and heist films can be incredibly entertaining. I’d love to see it and feel like I just watched a great movie…sadly I just don’t see that as being likely (judging from the trailer, the other cast members and its general reception). The Ocean’s movies were feeling pretty dried up by the end of the trilogy and there are only so many times you can watch the exact same sort of heist movie. Switching male characters for female characters doesn’t automatically make the film fresh, you’re basically just changing the skins of the characters and keeping everything else the same. Why is originality such as bad thing these days and why is critiquing a lack of creativity viewed as unacceptable?
I haven’t met a single person who watched the reboot of Ghostbusters and thought it was on par or better than the original. I haven’t met a single person who thought it came anywhere near the original. It was a straight up man-hating movie and I lost a bit of respect for the original cast for agreeing to take part in such a monstrosity. What makes this worst is that it gets labelled a pro-feminism movie. There becomes this sort of guilt mentality whereby if you don’t enjoy an awful film that just so happens to feature a female cast then you are branded anti-feminism.
Surely we can all agree that we're getting sick of prequels, sequels, reboots and remakes...right? I for one would much rather the industry focused a bit more on creating original content. This isn't something that is limited to solely female-led movies by any means. The superhero franchise is drained of all energy, Star Wars will be ruined in a couple of years, we have more Alien/Predator/Prometheus movies on the way...make better movies and you'll get better reviews, it's that simple. No film appeals to everyone and putting all your lead roles as female doesn't automatically make your movie worthy of positive attention!