All-Female Lord of the Flies? Someone Failed English Lit
Reboots and remakes are common in Hollywood, and at the moment, they feel more prevalent than ever. Some of them, like the current universe created by Rise of the Planet of the Apes, have taken the essence of the source material and gone in a new (better?) direction. Then there are some like the newly-announced all-female Lord of the Flies remake, which seem to completely miss the point of the source material.
Gender-swapping casts is kind of a thing right now. Last year’s all-female Ghostbusters was an incredibly divisive film before the first trailer came out, and it’s still a hot button issue, with many people complaining that any criticism of it makes you sexist. (This is not true. Sexist criticism of the film makes you sexist.) There doesn’t seem to be as much backlash about the upcoming all-female Ocean’s 8, but give it time. I’m sure internet trolls will come out of the woodwork as soon as we get a trailer.
The point of those two examples, though, is that their original stories are not inherently male stories. There is nothing about the original Ghostbusters or Ocean’s 11 films that scream “men only”. They’re stories that could work with anyone, and the originals just happened to be men. Taking those ideas and going, “Hey, what if they were women?” is not meant to take anything away from the originals, but to give a new perspective (and more roles to women). For every internet troll that fake cried over his “ruined childhood” with the new Ghostbusters, there was a little girl watching a story about women saving the day.
This new, all-female Lord of the Flies, however, has the potential to be extremely harmful. The point of the book, written by William Golding and published in 1954, was to emphasize the dangers of toxic masculinity, nationalism, and elitism in how young boys are raised, particularly in the British Empire. This is still a thing; in fact, doing a straight remake, at this point in our society, would probably be insightful and appropriate. Generally, boys are raised differently than girls; girls are often encouraged to be quiet and accommodating, whereas boys are expected to be more aggressive and stand up for themselves. Lord of the Flies was meant to show how dangerous that attitude is.
The Lord of the Flies movie feels like a studio had a big jar of “Make with Chicks?” ideas & just picked the one that made the least sense.
— Sam (@unegrandefemme) August 31, 2017
imagine having such little interest in seeking out original stories about girlhood by women that you remake LORD OF THE FLIES with girls
— JamesHurleyVEVO (@soalexgoes) August 30, 2017
i bet the “all-female Lord of the Flies remake” guys would get on well with the “Heathers, but the bullies are all oppressed minorities” guy
— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) August 30, 2017
Um, having taught Lord of the Flies a few times, and reading Golding’s reasoning behind it… an all-female remake misses the point.
— joe. (@unequalized) August 30, 2017
To make matters worse, this adaptation doesn’t yet have any women attached to it. Scott McGehee and David Siegel are set to both direct and write the script. McGehee and Siegel’s past films have included Bee Season and What Maisie Knew, which both feature female protagonists, but the difference is, they were directing scripts written by women.
We’re literally living an all-male “Lord of the Flies” right now, but sure, let’s see two male writers describe how women would be worse.
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) August 31, 2017
I’m not saying that an all-girl society can’t go to hell in a handbasket like the all-boy society did in Lord of the Flies. Women have the same capacity for evil and violence that men do; it’s human nature. I don’t trust two adult men to give me any insight into the psyche of a teenage girl, though. This movie, the way it is right now, appears to be two guys going, “Girls can totally be like that, too, I’m going to prove it,” without consulting any women in the process. Oh, yeah. I totally believe these guys have any idea what a group of young girls would do if stranded on island, what with all of their experience of not being teenage girls.
I am all for more female stories in Hollywood. I am all for gender-flipping films when it makes sense to do so. I am totally on board with the Splash remake featuring Channing Tatum as a merperson. But this all-female Lord of the Flies has “disaster” written all over it. There are already stories and films about teen girl culture: Mean Girls, Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye… If you want to do a movie about teen girls stranded on an island, have at it. May I suggest adapting Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, which is about…teen girls stranded on an island.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from THE Ohio State University. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, and conventions in the NYC area.
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