How did the #remakewithwomen hashtag come about?
I was, like all the other nerds and geeks on the internet, paying attention to the announcement that a remake of Ghostbusters with an all women cast was a go. I was, like many other nerds and geeks on the internet, by turns amused and dismayed at the “purist” reaction (read: people who refuse to cope with change especially if it involves making a marginalized group into the heroes).
My geekdom has been around since I was old enough to read and turn on the TV. My feminism has been around since it was called “women’s lib”. So I was delighted with the announcement, and it jogged my memory: I used to do a thought exercise with myself: asking the question what a movie would be like with a woman in the hero role instead of a man.
The movie that always pops to the forefront when I think this way is The Last Starfighter, about a teen in a nowheresville trailer park with few options to get out of it. With little else to do between school and being the dogsbody for all the seniors in the park, he gets the high score on the town’s one video game. Alex is a unisex name, and why couldn’t it be a remake with a girl who plays the X-Box or Playstation her single mom scrimped and saved and scrounged to get her? That single update is literally all the story would need; it’d be just as great a hero’s journey story with a woman in the main role!
That led me to think of other movies that would benefit from a remake with women. Galaxy Quest was next. Star Trek has given us a woman captain, even a series. We had a glimpse of a woman captain in one of the movies, but we’ve never had one head a movie herself. Galaxy Quest, making fun of Star Trek, seemed the perfect vehicle to do with women in the main roles.
While the hashtag has been done lightheartedly, my intent was to make people think about their ideas of what makes a good movie, and whether it really matters if it’s a man or a woman in the starring role. Why can’t Die Hard be about a hard-edged New York City cop named Jonni McClane, who is just as badass in a fight? Women can’t do stunts? I give you Carrie Moss as Trinity in The Matrix. Women can’t do badass? I give you the majority of roles Milla Jovovitch has played. Women can’t do badass and have depth? I give you Sigourney Weaver and Jada Pinkett Smith! We can DO it! How about instead of rebooting Indiana Jones, we recast it? Indy’s granddaughter in the modern age, or a niece or cousin of his in the original timeline, doing like Indy does in her own way? I loved Pacific Rim, and while Mako was the hero, the 30-odd women in the Shatterdome were basically set dressing.
I was delighted to see people ran with the hashtag, showing that they’d love to see other movies with women filling out the cast. The League of Extraordinary (Gentlemen), Oceans 11, and many others have turned up, showing how many people are behind the idea of more diverse casting and giving women a chance to shine and be the star. How about The Last Dragon? A girl with a kind-hearted but humorous mentor learns about her inner power? That seems to be the problem with putting women (and other marginalized people) as the heroes: a lot of people react like such a person embracing their power is a threat. (See also: Frozen).
I will admit that my whimsical nature got the better of me. I did offer tit-for-tat in fairness. If we’re going to remake Ghostbusters with women and keep the costumes the same, it’s only fair we let the men remake a property that’s usually all female. My first suggestion was Sailor Moon, but honestly, I also wouldn’t mind seeing a Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants.
Watching the hashtag grow has been rewarding as it has exciting. Other things people are tweeting under #remakewithwomen include “The Bible” and “Society”… And in reading that article about women of color scientists being mistaken for janitors, I realize that it’s all the more important that the media put women in prominent and lead roles. Men don’t believe that women can do what they do because they don’t see women doing what they do!
What films do you think would benefit from a recast with women? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the hashtag, or in the comments where you can go longer than 140 characters.