Did you hear the big Hollywood news? Warner Brothers is planning to do another version of Lord of the Flies but this time using an all girl cast rather than boys.
For the record, I sat at my keyboard for easily five minutes after typing those two sentences because I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Why? I get that it’s all about female empowerment and standing up to the white, heterosexual patriarchy and all that, but what is this supposed to accomplish? My sense of confusion and gloom over this proposal seemed to be matched by Ron Charles at the Washington Post.
Even if I were trapped on a desert island, you couldn’t get me to watch an all-female remake of “Lord of the Flies.”
But that’s the high-concept film that Scott McGehee and David Siegel plan to write and direct for Warner Bros.
Deadline.com, which broke the news Thursday night, calls it “an intriguing take,” which says something about the level of intrigue in Hollywood.
Twitter reacted by chasing down the idea and stabbing it with sharpened sticks.
Charles goes on to describe the finished product as being something along the lines of, “Mean Girls with pork.”
Even in an industry which has demonstrably run out of original ideas for movies, who actually thought this was a good idea? Have they read the book or even seen the earlier versions of the movie? If you’re looking for a new vehicle to portray females as strong, independent creatures in a world notoriously run by men, this isn’t the place to do it unless you plan on rewriting huge portions of the script.
Lord of the Flies didn’t create any heroes or paint humanity in a noble light. I first had to read it as a school assignment. I think it was in seventh grade or so, back in the day when schools actually forced you to read books. I will confess with no hesitation that I had nightmares for weeks. It’s a terribly story which breaks down the boys into victims and monsters, with some jumping back and forth across that line. It paints the darkest picture possible of the inherent nature of humanity, showing how quickly the thin veneer of civilization washes away at the first sign of adversity and a breakdown of the social order. Its only redeeming virtue is in being accurate, a fact all too easily demonstrated by fallible humans around the globe in places plagued by crisis.
If you put the girls into that scenario and are even marginally faithful to the original tale you’re going to make them look just as awful as the boys, if not worse. (I am regularly assured by female friends that nobody can be mean to a girl quite like another girl.) If anything, they’ll probably just figure out even more insidious ways to torture the weakest girls in the tribe. If you flip the script and turn them into courageous and creative survivors you’ve basically written a new book.
The truly sad part is that if they actually do produce this looming disaster I’ll probably go see it, if only to write a review here. And then I’ll have nightmares for another week yet again.