The upcoming film, with the working title Ocean’s Ocho, is reportedly the brainchild of director Gary Ross, who brought the idea to director Steven Soderbergh, IndieWire reports. What we know so far is that Ross intends to direct while screenwriter Olivia Milch will pen the script — and it looks set to be full of A-list actresses, including Sandra Bullock.
This is great news. Or is it?
While it’s unclear just how much this new film will be leaning on the storyline of the Ocean’s trilogy and its male characters, it does highlight a much bigger problem in Hollywood: Simply swapping actors with actresses for roles which were originally written for males is demeaning.
Sure, the male narrative of films like the all-female Ghostbusters reboot or Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange have been changed, and yes, female characters are increasingly taking on roles that were originally written for men, but is this the equality that we want? Or is it only distracting from the real problem at hand?
I think it’s the latter.
We lack diversity in Hollywood, but we also lack great roles for actresses: Hollywood is simply recycling roles instead of actually writing new ones, roles that could be empowering, roles that could explore the female narrative, and roles that could actually make a difference in the industry.
The second issue? Money. Films are big money, and if we’re frank, this is all that producers and media executives are concerned with these days, not great (or even good) writing and exceptional acting. But the problem is also a reflection of society as a whole. A recent study on the diversity of film characters found very little change with regards to representation for gender, race and sexuality over the last decade.
According to The Guardian, researchers at the University of Southern California studied the 100 top-grossing films of each year in the United States between 2007 and 2014 (excluding 2011), and what they found was disappointing: Out of the 30,885 characters that appeared on screen, only 30.2 percent were female.
Plus, movies are still being sold on the basis of a star’s sex appeal, with the research showing that in 2014, more women showed nudity in films than men (26.4 percent of female characters opposed to just 9.1 percent of men).
Will money, sex and power dominate the entertainment industry forever? We can’t simply hope not; we must act by supporting writers, directors and films that seek to change the landscape of cinema for the better. And who knows? Maybe one day our kids will grow up watching movies that don’t skew their perception of the real world to such an extent as they do today.