Why Ocean’s 8 Signals the Death of Strong Female Characters in Hollywood

So if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I wrote two Ghostbusters articles related to the trailer and the film itself. This post is going to look at the upcoming film Ocean’s 8. The all-female reboot of the Ocean’s Eleven films. Let me once again (just for arguments sake) highlight that I’m not against female roles in films at all. The nature of this article is NOT to bash the female actors or having female lead characters or anything like that. Rather it is drawing attention to the lack of imagination in Hollywood and why these sorts of films do nothing to promote the idea of female lead characters and certainly shouldn’t be seen as supporting feminism. Just to warn you: I sometimes flip between referring to the females in question as actors and actresses. I don’t think it hugely matters either way.

 

Backstory

If you’re not familiar with the film: Ocean’s 11 was a 1960 film featuring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. The version most people know is the 2001 remake featuring George Clooney and Brad Pitt. The story line essentially revolves around a heist: It follows 11 men as they rob a casino. Who would have thought you could sum up a film in 9 words. It grossed over $450 million worldwide and currently has a rating of 7.8 on IMDB.

In my opinion it’s a fun and entertaining film that has a decent (all be it fairly predictable) story but is light-hearted enough that you don’t have to take it too seriously. There is a great cast who seem to have great on-screen chemistry and while it is a reboot, Ocean’s 11 is one of the few remakes/reboots that actually do a much better job than the original.

 

The Hollywood Heist

So what is my beef with Hollywood over this one? Similarly to the Ghostbusters remake, there is a clear lack of vision and imagination. Ghostbusters did not need a remake at all! As a fan, I would have definitely gone to see a sequel featuring most of the cast but a remake just was not necessary. Who in the world is going to top Bill Murray as a Ghostbuster? The answer is nobody. Ever!  So by A) Giving it a remake/reboot (I’m honestly not even sure what it would be described as at this point) and B) Making it an all-female cast just to be different, was in my opinion a disgrace. I’m not going to focus on it too much because I covered my opinion extensively in my previous posts.

So why is it that Hollywood now feels that we need to remake a remake with an all-female cast? The simple answer: money. The 2001 film was undoubtedly a huge success, especially if you take the whole trilogy into consideration. There’s a change going on in Hollywood that is very noticeable: by putting females or minority groups into previously white-male roles you get the support of certain groups and it makes the film seem “progressive”.  Now, I’m not against this at all. I think many roles could be drastically improved by mixing it up: Idris Elba as James Bond would have been incredible. A female Doctor Who: less so. This probably makes me come across as sexist but hopefully once I explain what I mean you’ll see this is not the case.

 

Preference is not Sexism

Again, I’m going to try not to go wildly off topic here but the reason I don’t think there should be a female Doctor Who isn’t because I want to only see it as a male role. Rather, it’s because we literally just did that with the Master. Anyone who watches Doctor Who knows that in most cases, the companion is often just as important as the Doctor. Rose Tyler: Strong woman, Martha Jones: Strong woman, Donna Noble: Strong woman, Amy Pond: Definitely a strong woman…you get the picture. It’s not like these companions are damsels in distress. They are partners and they always play just as much a role, if not more than the Doctor.

Yet the BBC is trying to get that “progressive label”. That’s why the last companion was a black, gay woman. As I mentioned, we literally just had the Master become Missy and that was very well done (although John Simm is difficult to top).  For the record (because I feel like I can’t state it enough) I am ENTIRELY for female roles and diversification of roles. My issue isn’t with that at all. My issue is with doing it for the sake of doing it which is clearly the case with shows like Doctor Who (which, by the way, has been getting worse and worse over the recent years). I’ll come back to this point in a moment but for now, let’s get back on track.

 

Ocean’s 8

So what’s wrong with Ocean’s 8? Let’s start with the concept of the film. It’s not sexist to say that the idea of a heist is more male-oriented. I even carried out my own survey by asking completely random people if they’d go see a heist movie. While most males did say they would, most women said they would not (I’ll update this with the figures once I’m finished). So what benefit is there to forcing a cast such as this into a film that is almost definitely going to flop?

This takes us nicely onto the next issue: the cast. I could pick apart the cast of any film but this one in particular stands out. You have some incredible actors in it (and actually I probably will see this film just to see them in these roles) such as Sandra Bullock (she’s not my favourite but she is a good actor), Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter and of course Cate Blanchett. Olivia Munn is also listed as making an appearance but her role is yet to be confirmed (as far as I am aware). These are all incredibly gifted actors and this alone makes me want to watch this film. Sadly, everything else about it puts me off.

The rest of the cast is an example of this. My main pet peeve is having Matt Damon reprise his role in the film as Linus. This is a tactic that is used over and over again. We saw it in Ghostbusters, we saw it in Star Wars, we’ve seen it in films like The Hulk. Yes, when used correctly in can be a hilarious moment but in cases such as this it’s a desperate attempt to connect a film to its previously (and more successful) version. You also have Rhianna and Mindy fucking Kaling. When you have such incredible black actresses like Zoe Saldana, Halle Berry, Viola Davis or Paula Patton, why choose such irritating and just awful people such as these two? Rhianna can’t act and Mindy Kaling has a voice that actually is only comparable to that of Melissa McCarthy. That’s just an interesting coincidence.

 

My Deeper Concern

Similarly to Ghostbusters, my issue does not lie with the fact that it’s a female cast. My issue lies with the fact that we don’t need the film in the first place. I could give you an endless number of films that are coming out that just shouldn’t be getting made. The reason I’m focussing on this is because similarly to Ghostbusters, I’ve seen reports stating that automatically hating this film is sexist.

First of all, we just saw this film. I mean sure, 16 years may seem like a long time but here’s why it isn’t: Star Wars came out in 1977 and The Force Awakens came out in 2015. That’s 38 years between the films, more than double the time between Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s 8. Yet fans were still all too aware of the fact that the storyline was essentially the same.

My next issue is with it being called Ocean’s 8. I haven’t read this confirmed anywhere and perhaps it’s just speculation…but could it be so that there is space for a trilogy? Ocean’s 8, 9, 10 followed by the 11, 12 and 13 that we already have? STOP! Ubisoft do it, Disney do it, DC do it…why is there this need to create the number of films so far in advance. It just leads to rushed final products, sloppy storylines and disappointed fans!

 

Why hating this film actually Supports Equality

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t view it as sexist to be against this film, Ghostbusters, a female Doctor Who, ETC. I actually think that my opinion is more supportive of female roles in films that those who will blindly go see it simply because it’s an all-female cast. Why? Because this is simply another desperate attempt by Hollywood to earn the “we use females in major character roles” badge. Look at some of the films that have been aimed at women recently: Ghostbusters was an absolute disgrace, Bad Moms and A Bad Mom’s Christmas that basically appeals to mothers who wish to escape from their children to party. How to be Single which was like a female “lad’s” movie and also just plain awful.

Meanwhile films that actually display abusive behaviour towards women such as the 50 Shades of Grey franchise are applauded, respected and smash the box office. Why? There are some incredible female roles in film and TV that people just seem eager to ignore. Peggy Carter in either her own series or Captain America where the role highlights some of the many difficulties faced by women in the workplace both then and now; Game of Thrones has some of the top female characters ever that repeatedly display brilliance and cunning over their male counterparts; Eleven in Stanger Things; Mulan; Jessica Jones; Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs is another example of a woman overcoming very real issues; Rey in the Force Awakens; you could say Katniss Everdeen but I thought those films were pretty poor; Dana Scully from the X-Files; Ripley from the Alien series; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and not forgetting the brain box from Harry Potter: Hermione Granger. Not to mention upcoming characters like Captain Marvel and I’ve heard that Wonder Women is a great character although I’ve yet to watch the film.

THESE are roles that should be representing women within the entertainment industry. Original characters, original storylines and all of whom are strong and powerful characters: many of whom demonstrate the ability to overcome genuine issues faced by women today. Isn’t THAT what feminism should be promoting? Instead of these disgusting reboots of remakes where the female cast are simply stepping into the shoes of men?

 

Final Remarks

So hopefully you understand my point of view. I’m not against films like Ghostbusters and Ocean’s 8 because it’s a female cast. I’m against them because as films they suck ass (just predicting Ocean’s 8 here) but also as someone who completely supports equal rights (I’m not a feminist because I believe the movement has become toxic, a conversation for another time perhaps), I believe that films like this don’t give power to women or demonstrate powerful female characters. I think it’s simply an attempt to show that women can do what men can do…except that it’s based on films that don’t need to be rebooted and were better suited to a male cast. Bill fucking Murray, man!

 

As always, I appreciate being followed both here and on Twitter! I welcome any and all comments or criticisms and if you think that something I’ve said in this article is wrong or unfair, by all means let me know.

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2 comments

  1. Nikki Thomas · 26 Days Ago

    wow. so much to process. so many things you say i agree with (plenty of female actors and characters that dont get attention they deserve, why remake a film instead of just making new ones) however your strong hate of a movie simply because it is a remake is what i struggle with. (also your comment about not being feminist -but as u say that is a separate conversation)
    while I want Hollywood to be more creative than just remaking movies there are a lot of movies that as always were made with men for men Hythe male gaze and why not reimagine those films with gay, female or non white cast. theatre productions are redone in new ways every so many years. I personally loved the oceans films both the original frank sinatra film and george clooney version. i like heist films and i love the idea of a female heist film. Yes i would prefer an original but i am still excited about this film.

    Like

    • Ranting & Raving · 26 Days Ago

      Thanks for the response! I can understand that my hate towards the film probably does seem a little over the top. Just for the record, I too loved the original and the remake and for that reason, part of me does hope that this 2018 version is a success. I would be incredibly happy to see another successful heist film. My issue with remakes is that over that last decade or so, 99% of the reboots, remakes, unnecessary sequels, ETC have been incredibly disappointing to me and in many cases have somewhat drained the enjoyment I get out of watching the previous versions.

      Like

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