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Gender Bender movies - badlands - April 1st, 2020

What do you think of movie reboots that change the gender of main characters like Ghostbusters.

RE: Gender Bender movies - Michael - April 1st, 2020

It annoys me that someone thinks a character's gender must change in order to make a story more relevant to a contemporary audience. It feels like a gratuitous change.

And it annoys me that people get upset and make a big fuss over changing a character's gender.

In many cases, especially with tales told in science fiction and fantasy, the deeds and motivations of protagonists and antagonists could be given to characters of either gender. If someone wanted to retell "Hamlet" with a female lead, why could she be named Shauna, princess of Ireland?

Some writers do take classic old stories and retell them from another gender's perspective, but without changing the gender of the original character.

And this question is equally applicable to stories (and movies or TV shows) where ethnicity is strongly associated with certain characters. In the Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (I think), one of the actors is black. A lot of people were upset about the ethnicity change.

On the one hand, you should be able to retell any traditional or popular story with a cast whose ethnicity differs from the originating cast's ethnicities.

On the other hand, unless the change is intended to create an artistic interpretation that is unique to that social experience, it feels gratuitous to many people. It often feels gratuitous to me.

I don't see why Cinderella can't be African or Asian (and the original story was supposedly Chinese anyway). But should she be a lone African or Asian girl among Europeans or should she be cast with other actors of similar ethnicity?

Disney's The Lion King is a great example. It retells Shakespeare's story by changing the species (and featuring the voices of African-American actors). I think most people loved the adaptation. It was an adaptation and not an attempt to be an all-inclusive part of a larger franchise.

When one of the James Bond movies cast an African-American actor as CIA agent Felix Leiter a lot of people freaked and made fun of the change. In the context of that movie it worked. But when you looked at other Bond movies from the same period where Felix was typical white guy, the change felt gratuitous because it created an incongruity in the character and the world of James Bond.

It's a perfectly acceptable thing to do, but I think it works better (at least, is better received), when the audience is not required to accept the sudden, jarring change that conflicts with the context of the larger story universe.