Trends: Updating Classic Films to Be More Inclusive

Emma Watson as Belle in 'Beauty and the Beast' (The Leaky Cauldron)

Emma Watson as Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (The Leaky Cauldron)

Within the last few years, many films have been updates to classic films. While it’s no secret that Hollywood likes to recycle its own ideas, there’s now a push to make the films more inclusive.

The 2016 release of “Ghostbusters” brought one change to the classic film: the ghostbusters were all played by women (the very funny Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones). While some butthurt fanboys cried that the reboot  killed their childhood (actually, they usually used a much more brutal, assault-y verb for it), the movie brought in $46M+ on its opening weekend, and grossed $229M+ over its theatrical run.

“Ocean’s 8,” which will be released in (wait for it…) 2018, will also feature all female leads in its remake-of-a-remake. (Seriously, the first version involved Frank Sinatra and his boys’ club Rat Pack and was released in 1960.) But “Ocean’s 8” does one better than “Ghostbusters” in that it’s more diverse. In addition to Anne Hathaway and Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and rapper Awkwakfina will also star in the ensemble. And that first cast photo looks lit.

This weekend, Disney is releasing a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” This movie has a lot going for it: For starters, Emma Watson as the titular character gives it some feminist cred. Watson had a lot of input on the character, and  Belle doesn’t wear a corset and is an inventor. (Remember, in the original 1991 film, Belle’s father was the inventor with the wacky contraptions.)

Updating the characters to reflect modern times also extends to the supporting cast. Le Fou, muscle man Gaston’s main lackey, is now going to be gay. And in love with Gaston. Which puts a lot of things into perspective, actually. Though Le Fou will be the first openly gay character, he’s far from the only gay character that Disney has created.

The movie will also feature the first two interracial kisses in a Disney movie: one between wardrobe Madame de Garderobe (Audra McDonald) and harpsichord Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), and the other between candlestick Lumiere (Ewan McGregor) and feather duster Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). And Disney is here for it.

I can’t wait to see how Disney movies continue to grow and evolve in terms of representation in the future.

 

 

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Trends: All-Female Reboots

"Ghostbusters," 2016 (Geek.com)

“Ghostbusters,” 2016 (Geek.com)

The 2011 movie “Bridesmaids” was very funny, no doubt about that. The film, which starred a cadre of funny women led by Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, centered on the escapades of the titular group as they helped their friend (played by Rudolph) on the way to getting hitched. The movie was well-liked by audiences, and that showed in the revenue. At the end of the year, “Bridesmaids” ranked #14 at the domestic box office with $169M+ in revenue, and #20 in the worldwide box office with $289M+ in revenue.

But it also had an effect on movies that we’re still feeling: “Bridesmaids” convinced studios that audiences (both women and men, shocker) would see a movie with an all-woman cast. Well…duh. And now studios have sat up and taken notice.

The waves from “Bridesmaids” have hit an interesting formula: to remake a beloved movie with an all-female cast. The rationale goes that if the men liked the original, then the women will love the remake! (And there’s the assumption that the men will be dragged to the movie from their ladies, but it’s OK because it’s a nostalgic property.)

One high-profile all-female remake has already come out: this year’s “Ghostbusters.” The reboot has Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones investigate paranormal happenings in New York. The movie has a strong “Saturday Night Live” heritage: In addition to Wiig, McKinnon and Jones logging time on the show, the movie also featured current cast member Cecily Strong in a notable part. “Ghostbusters” debuted at #2 on opening weekend, and as thus far grossed $124M+ domestically and $208M+ worldwide.

Another all-female project announced recently was a reboot of the 2001 heist movie “Ocean’s 11” (which itself is a remake of the 1960 movie of the same name). Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Nora Lum (better known by her rap name Awkwafina) will make up the ensemble. No release date yet, but I know I’ll be seeing it in the theatre because I vote with my dollars.

It’s great to see so many movies getting made with all-female ensembles, but I can’t wait to get to the point where it’s not noteworthy anymore, but unremarkable and accepted.

 

 

Female/POC Video of the Year Winners at the MTV VMAs: By The Numbers

Singer Rihanna performs "Umbrella" at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas September 9, 2007. Rihanna won the award for Monster Single of the Year for the song. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)

Singer Rihanna performs “Umbrella” at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas September 9, 2007. Rihanna won the award for Monster Single of the Year for the song. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES)

When the nominees for MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs) were announced earlier this summer, acclaimed rapper Nicki Minaj pointed out the glaring absence of women of color in the Video of the Year category. She had a point: The video for her song “Anaconda” broke VEVO viewing records, racking up 19.6M+ views in 24 hours, and propelled a huge cultural impact. (I know you know of at least one person who dressed in one of Nicki’s outfits for Halloween.) To have Minaj’s video snubbed ignores all of those not-insignificant achievements.

I had a sneaking suspicion that the numbers were pretty dismal, not just for women performers of color, but also for women performers in general. I wanted to see exactly how skewed the numbers were, so I looked up the data.

First, some context:

31: Years the Video of the Year Award has been presented (this year will be the 32nd)

69: Number of solo musicians who’ve been nominated

16: Number of solo musicians who’ve won

67: Number of groups who’ve been nominated (including feature artists, not counting 2015 nominees)

15: Number of groups who’ve won (including feature artists)

 

Let’s look at the stats of the women:

13: years where women solo artists or groups won

0: years after the award began that the first woman artist was nominated (Cyndi Lauper in 1984, nominated during the Award’s first year)

6: years after the Award began that the first woman artist won (Sinead O’Connor in 1990)

4: times Madonna has been nominated

1: time Madonna has won (1998)

 

And the stats of women of color:

9: years after the Award began that a female group of color was nominated (En Vogue in 1993)

11: years after the Award began that a female group of color won (TLC in 1995)

1: times a women of color group won (TLC in 1995)

  • If you counted the “Lady Marmalade” group who won in 2001, which had Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, and Mya, the number goes up to 2.

1: time Missy Elliott has been a double-nominee in the category (2001)

2: winners that have won twice (Missy Elliott in 2001 and 2003, Rihanna in 2007 and 2012)

1: time that Beyoncé has won (2009)

2: times that Beyoncé has been nominated, not counting her 2015 nomination (2007 and 2009)

 

You don’t have to be a math genius to see that Minaj was correct about the institutional bias in the music industry with regards to awards, and that this should not be tolerated.

This year’s VMAs will air on Sunday, Aug. 30th.

Thursday Trends: Young Women and #GrannyHair

Rihanna (Her Interest)

Rihanna (Her Interest)

Kylie Jenner did it. So did Rihanna and Kelly Osbourne. Of course, Lady Gaga, trendsetter that she is, rocked it back in 2010.

Grey hair.

Once upon a time, it was unseemly for women to go out sporting anything other than a full mane of brown, black, red or blonde hair. Grey was seen as unnatural and, at the same time, a little too natural. It was shoved to the side, to the back of the mind, ignoring the tell-tale side of aging.

Right now, women are embracing the color whole-heartedly, and running towards the grey instead of away from it. A recent BuzzFeed post shows how young women are riding the trend, especially seen on Instgram with the hashtag #GrannyHair.

But why now? Why is this grey hair’s big moment?

We seem to be in the midst of a “revering our elders” moment. (Real talk, though: that needs to happen every day. Call your grandparents, people!) The fashion world has been pioneering this lately. French fashion house Céline tapped 80-year-old essayist Joan Didion to be their latest model, and Saint Laurent is using 71-year-old Joni Mitchell. The major beauty players are doing the same, with 64-year-old Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs and 69-year-old Helen Mirren for L’Oreal Paris. In this year’s Milan Fashion Week, trends skewed towards something your grandmother might don for a social event.

This makes total sense in terms of how current demographics are shifting. The baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are turning officially “old” at a rapid clip. As of 2011, they numbered 77M+ and are “the largest generation in American history.” Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and won’t stop until the end of 2029.

Here’s how CNN puts this demographic’s strength in numbers in terms of future projected growth:

The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050.

With this projected growth will come a lot of societal changes (I’ve always said that this isn’t a generation that’ll age quietly). We’re beginning to see initial impacts with how we view that generation and the ones before. For example, It used to be that you couldn’t be seen as a sexual being after a certain age, that you were out of the running in the race to make babies. And while that second part might be true, the first has been proven false by many women over “a certain age.” Case in point: see every instance where a late-night talk show host jokes about Helen Mirren. They’re always saying she’s hot (and she is!). Society has long seen older men with grey hair as sexy, and is now (finally!) coming around to the idea that older women are hot too.

Young women coloring their hair grey even has a historical precedent. In her book “Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love” author Betsy Prioleau mentions that young women in the French court used to powder their hair grey to emulate their elders. (If you’ve seen Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” the director subtly includes this detail, noticeable in some shots.)

Overall, this trend really points to a shift in how we’re seeing aging. People seem to be more open to the fact that life doesn’t stop after a certain age. And young women are celebrating their elders with their grey hair, natural or not.

Black Stars on “Vogue” Covers in 2014: By The Numbers

Lupita Nyong'o, 'Vogue' Magazine Jul. 2014 (IB Times)

Lupita Nyong’o, ‘Vogue’ Magazine Jul. 2014 (IB Times)

A recent “Daily Mail” article points out that (American) “Vogue” had more black cover stars during 2014 than during any previous year.

While this still isn’t ideal in terms of diversity, it seems the magazine is on the right path in including equal representation, both on the cover and within its pages. Let’s just hope things keep progressing upwards.

Here’s how the numbers break down:

Number of “Vogue” issues in 2014: 12

Number of cover stars in 2014: 15

Number of black cover stars: 4 (26%+)

Number of black models: 1 (Joan Smalls, who shared the cover with Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss)

Number of black actresses: 1 (Lupita Nyong’o)

– Number of black musicians: 2 (Rihanna and Kanye West)

 

Number of black cover stars in recent years:

– 2013: 2 (Michelle Obama and Beyoncé)

– 2012: 1 (Serena Williams)

– 2011: 1 (Rihanna)

 

Most recent time the September issue featured a black star: 2010 (Halle Berry)

Previous to 2010, the last time the September issue featured a black star: 1989, 21 years previously (Naomi Campbell)

 

Number of “Vogue” publications that did not use any black/people of color cover stars in 2014: 5 (“Vogue UK,” “Vogue Paris,” “Vogue Ukraine,” “Vogue Netherlands,” “Vogue Russia”)