Thursday, December 19, 2019


So, awhile back, when I was still trying to figure out what this little entertainment blog of mine should be, I didn't an experiment blogpost with another blogger, one who, last I heard, doesn't write anymore, called "Fantasy Filmmaking". The link to that post is below if you're curious, and even though I'm kinda done with the idea, some people actually did like it a lot.

Basically though, it was a hypothetical filmmaking situation that I gave another blogger, and he had to figure what he would do in that situation. Now, he ended picking the "Entourage"-inspired scenario, where he woud figure out what he would do if he were to being produce a James Cameron directed adaptation of "Aquaman". Figure out the story, the writer, the main cast, etc. etc.

The experiment never really worked, it might kinda work if I had, perhaps a vlog format, eh, I don't really think so though, but anyway, the reason that I'm bringing it up is that I actually gave this other blogger the option of three different scenarios to pick from. I don't remember what the other one was offhand, but I definitely remember that the third one was the "Charlie's Angel"-reboot scenario that I concocted. Basically, it's what you'd think it would be, figure out how to do a modern "Charlie's Angels" film.

So, I've basically been thinking about "Charlie's Angels" being rebooted for awhile. And recently, Elizabeth Banks of all people decided, apparently to take me up on that challenge, quite literally and recently the newest filmed adaptation of "Charlie's Angels" made it to theaters.

Well, not entirely literally; I had a caveat in my scenario that no matter what, you had to use Drew Barrymore in this newest film. If you're wondering why, my reasoning was that she was a producer on the two movies they made at the turn of the century, and somebody can correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I'm fairly certain her production company helped make the movie, so I kinda figured that if they were going to make another one, that somehow she would have to be involved,...- but other than that, it almost seems like this movie, was literally a response to my original challenge scenario.

So, is it any good? (Shrugs) I don't know, I haven't seen it. That's not unusual for me, 'cause I never see anything on time or in theaters anymore, but apparently nobody else saw it either, 'cause the movie bombed. Hard.

In a very short time,  the movie, which was an advertising behemoath complete with a prerequisite chart-topping song that didn't top the charts for very long and several pieces of noteworthy advertisements, including it's main star Kristin Stewart hosting "SNL", became one of the biggest and most noteworthy Hollywood bombs in a long time. Actually, as this IndieWire article points out, there's actually been several bombs this year; it's not a good year for Hollwyood, but this one still feels particularly noteworthy. You don't normally see bombs with huge franchise reboots, especially ones that had successful ones before in film and television form.

There's a lot of blame to go around here, Sony is probably to blame, but most of it has gone to writer/director and one of the stars of the film, Elizabeth Banks, and some of the statements that she's said in response to the movie's lackluster box office, drew the ire of certain fans and critics. Yes, the FB film groups and Twitter were all aflutter when she claimed, first that the movie has to succeed, or else it proves to Hollywood that "men don't go to see women do action movies." 

Naturally, the superhero fans got upset, especially since some of the biggest recent blockbusters were female-led action movies, "Wonder Woman" and "Captain Marvel", but she also heard that backlash, and she responded, rather interestingly.

"They'll go and see a comic book movie with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel because that's a male genre... So even though those are movies about women, they pet them in the context of feeding the larger comic book world, so it's all about, yes, you're watching a Wonder Woman movie, but we're setting up three other characters or we're setting up 'Justice League'.... "We need more women's voices supported with money because that's the power. The power is in the money." 

She also said, in regards to some of the online trolls who lambasted the film for being a female-led action franchise:

"Charlie's Angels has always been about women, and the DNA of it is about women working together on this team. We are not treading in a male space. I think that's one big difference between these two things. I don't know, I'm less concerned about that. Of course, those trolls are horrifying, but you know, I challenge them to get up and make a fucking movie action movie. I welcome any of them into my realm." 

She also mentions, about how,

"You've had 37 Spider-Man movies and you're not complaining! I think women are allowed to have one or two action franchises every 17 years-- I feel totally fine with that." 

And that appears to be the moment most of the internet flipped their shot, because that got reinterpreted, not unfairly so I might add that she's blaming superheroes for the failure of "Charlie's Angels" at the box office.

I saw a lot of posts when this happened, and you know, there is a way to go about bashing the current Hollywood trend of the big-budget superhero films, but this particular attack seemed to, um, yeah, it really felt like a lot like sour grapes to people. Like, "So her film failed, and now she's blaming superhero movies," and to be fair, yeah that does seem like how it's sounds. There were a lot of articles making that connection, and it doesn't help that this is one of the most colossal bombs of a year of colassal bombs of anything that doesn't involve superheroes or comic books at the box office.

I mean, we've already got Scorsese not calling comic book movies cinema, which, I get what he's saying, but yeah, I totally get why that's definitely not accurate, anymore, but at least his movies are successful and usually very good. Elizabeth Banks is the host of "Press Your Luck" right now, and has "Pitch Perfect 2" and "Movie 43" on her directing credits.

And worst than that, you can't blame an entire genre of movies for your own movie's failure, I mean, I'm not a superhero movie guy necessarily but I find that a bit far-fetched and absurd. So, yeah, going after her for this, yeah, I can see why this is entirely justified.

Except I don't.

Actually, am I the only who doesn't think she's entirely off-base here?

For one thing, most of those articles giving her blame for the movie's failure, are taking an interview she did before the movie was a bomb so most of those articles are taking her words out of context.They're just superhero fanboys looking for their villain-of-the-week to hate, and personally, thank god it was her, 'cause I was sick and tired of it being Scorsese or Ken Loach or whomever. I guess with this article I'm gonna be up next now, but yeah, she's not entirely wrong here.... Well, for the most part, she's not wrong....

See, there's two things going on here, that I kinda want to explore a bit more because this isn't just the fact that she's attacking Hollywood's barage of superhero movies, I mean, I do that nearly every day, but she's giving them, a gender.

She's specifically describing superhero movies as male and using "Charlie's Angels" as an example of "female". Now, consciously I know that this is kinda bullshit. No genre is specifically for one gender or another, men can and do like a lot of things that we would describe in traditional feminine terms and vice-versa.

Except, she's completely right, superheroes are a masculine genre. They are male, and they are movies that are intended for the male audience over a female audience. And so is the entire comic book industry for that matter.

Anyway, I didn't respond to any of the discourse on those Facebook posts at the time, 'cause I wanted to look more into this, and one of the things I did was that I posted on personal Facebook page for my Comic Book friends to tell me what were the biggest female comic book superheroes that were also created by women. I didn't get many responses, the best of the bunch was Kamala Khan, who is one of the many interpretations of Ms. Marvel.

That was the best answer I got, but I still didn't love the answer, 'cause Ms. Marvel is a male creation. In fact, I was hoping for a character who wasn't inside any of the major male-created superhero universes either, but I immediately got explained that that just can't happen, since most everything about the major comic book superheroes and their universes were originally conceived by men; the most you probably get is a female character created by another female within a version of a universe that was conceived of by men.

Frankly, that's kinda what I expected to see as an answer; men lead the way for most of these, and that's why so much of the genre is male-based, even when the main characters are women. I don't know if that was intentional necessarily, but implicitly it was, and that certainly was in the majority of the classic marketing as well.

So, is she right about "Charlie's Angels" flopping because of these abundance o"Spider-Man" films and whatnot? Well, a little bit. When the first movie adaptations were released, we certainly didn't see as many superhero movies in theaters and it was easier for straight up action movies to become big, and that seemed to help those "Charlie's Angels" movies get big, and they were big by the way. We laugh at them now, 'cause they were awful, but they both were pretty big hits and had a major impact on the pop culture at the time.

However, even if I dismiss all that history and still decide that superheroes are a gender-neutral genre that's becoming more and more infiltrated by women, which it is, I still can't completely do that because, well...-

Okay, the idea of superheroes are originally inspired by male gods is very true. Superman is modern-day Hercules; I'm sure you've heard that one before, but it's really true. Superheroes are characters that have super abilities and traits that allow them to do things that others beings don't. Feats of strengths and abilities to overcome, those are traditional masculine tales. Pretty much of western fairy tales are pretty much separated into male coming-of-age narratives and female coming-of-age narratives and the male one would always be about how they accomplished a major goal, often using a feat of strength, succeeding against all odds to do so, etc. etc., while female coming-of-age were always about, well, the female, losing their virginity, usually through rape, but not always. (But usually....) So, yeah, superhero stories are traditionally masculine; she's not wrong here about this.

Hollywood is a promotion machine and they micromanage what demographics appeals to what movies; I'm certain, "Men want superheroes films, men pay more money to see superhero films then women will pay for whatever the female story equivalent of that is, let's make more superhero movies," is a common acceptance there. I'm certain that's also why comic books are like that too, probably moreso than the fact that most every major comic book character you can think, the common person, can think of, was originally created by a man in it's original form, or at least exist in comic book universes that trace their origin to being from a man. I mean, Hercules's most famous story, is about performing a bunch of tasks in order for him to be accepted amongst the Gods, it's a masculine tale. You don't see too many superhero characters based around Lida getting assaulted by Zeus when he's in swan form, do ya?

Also, they came right before and at the beginning of this era of non-stop Superhero, right around the time of the first "Spider-Man" movie, which is when personally I started complaining about their being too many "Spider-Man" movies, so she's definitely wrong about that....

So, is this correlation or is this a connection? Umm...- well, I will say that, after being bombarded by a bunch of superheroes so regularly over the last two decades or so, I can see how, a rare traditional action movie blockbuster could seem uninteresting to most. I'd be hard-pressed to call it a distinct connection, post hoc/propter hoc logic, doesn't quite add up, but I still don't think we should dismiss this outright right away. There's tons tentpole films that have probably either not gotten made because of superhero films being more of a priority to make over the years and that means similar genre films with less sure-fire moneymaking statuses have probably been left out over the years, including from other successful franchises.

And I can definitely see how a major popular franchise that's more female-centric like "Charlie's Angels" can get left out in that entertainment landscape.

However, there's one other problem here. One bigger issue with her statement that I actually do have to knock her off for.

She picked "Charlie's Angels"....

(Long pause, deep sighing breaths)

Look, I haven't seen the movie; it's actually gotten decent reviews, better reviews than those other two movies did, but here's the problem with her argument, "Charlie's Angels" was also created by men.

See, just because I'm bashing comic books for not being more feminine-focused in their stories and marketing, doesn't mean television or movies were any better; it was across the board. We are constantly struggling to overcome this gender conflict within all art and media. Men, and mostly white men at that; I should note, were regularly the decision-makers on what stories got told and what didn't and what art got more popular and what didn't, and even as best we can try to incorporate and include the other gender into this world, male is going to remain the default for all art forever. Is there a female entertainer, of any kind and of any note who has not been asked the question, "What's is like being a female in this industry?" I don't know how they manage to keep answering that question.

In fact, why did Elizabeth Banks have to give that interview defending this? I mean, sure, it's media, and she's promoting the movie, but still, she has to talk about all these superhero films, instead of just saying, "Go see, "Charlie's Angels"; it's good!" That's not fair either. Can't she just produce a female-led action movie franchise and just, have it exist?!

But god dammit, "Charlie's Angels", girl!?

I mean, I get why, but...-

Look, there's no way, to ease into this, but first of all, "Charlie's Angels" was originally created by men. It's creators were Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts who are most famous for movies like "White Heat" and TV detective shows like "Mannix", and the show was famously executive produced by Aaron Spelling, one of the biggest television producers of all-time, and who's mileau was very male-centric, even the stuff that's mostly female-based or led, a lot of it existed mainly for tittlation purposes.

None of this is terribly shocking; I just literally explained how hard it is to come up with female-created comic book heroines earlier, so naturally, television had a similar problems for most of it's existence, but more then that even, "Charlie's Angels" is a fucking weird franchise. That's part of why, I used to always try to challenge people with the idea of how they would reboot it, 'cause "Charlie's Angels" if you think about it for more a minute, you realize that it's got a bizarre place in our entertainment landscape.

I actually haven't seen a lot of it; I think I watched one of the original movies, although I've blocked most of it out of my head, but I do remember watching one episode of the original television series. Very distinctly watching it I might add, 'cause I watched a lot of classic television growing up, and I seeked a lot of it out. I'm not gonna say all of it was good, but "Charlie's Angels" was the first time I distinctly remember watching that was indisputably noteworthy for being classic and important television from the past, that at age 8 or 9, or so, that I remember realizing that it, really sucked.

The strange thing was that it wasn't like a really bad episode or anything, I remember thinking that it actually didn't seem that different from watching most other '70s procedural dramas of that era; it felt like I was watching "Vega$" which was a show I always liked, but this was clearly bad and worst, and I couldn't exactly explain why at the time, or even now, necessarily. I'd seen and recognized bad TV before; I was four-year-old when I realized that "Scooby-Doo" was too stupid to exist, but even the bad stuff I could usually find some justification for it. Something that would allow me to not simply dismiss it but keep exploring it, but I never felt that urge with "Charlie's Angels". I watched one episode; I think I tried watching one or two others, but I just couldn't. I basically got enough to understand all the parodies I'd seen of it over the years, my favorite one at the time was this one:

Um, sorry it's in Spanish; I couldn't find a decent clip of the English language version. but yeah, "Charlie's Angels" was this weird contrast where you have these, essentially these strong, independent, former cops who became investigators that worked for a mysterious male figure who they never saw and never met, all the while, often wearing some of the slinkiest of clothing and put in some very sexualized positions.

Which makes sense, the '70s were a big era of the Women's rights movement and the workplace and doing the jobs that were typically male was a major symbolic symbol of the time, but the time period was also an era where beautiful women were sexualize. The most famous actress from that show, also had the most famous swimsuit poster in kid's bedrooms, ever, and that poster was big because of how erect Farrah Fawcett's nipple are erect in it, (Also, she had really nice hair. They all had really good hair, actually.) and Fawcett was only on the show for like, one season. 1 and a 1/2 maybe.

This weird dichotomy just infiltrates every aspect of this franchise. The original two movies played up how sexualized these characters were; this new movie seems to be playing it down but, basically, this whole franchise is the scene from every James Bond movie where the supposedly intelligent smart Bond girl strips off her labcoat and glasses and is in a swimsuit. She smart, confident, but mostly she's eye candy for the male gaze.

Basically you could argue that Banks rebooting "Charlie's Angels" was just a terrible idea and that's the real reason it bombed, not because of their being too many superhero movies now; every idea of "Charlie's Angels" is just too outdated to exist in today's landscape. And I agree with that, hell, I thought it was stupid and outdated with the first movies, but what else did she have to choose from? Women have had so little imput on how their portrayed in this genre that I don't really know what she could've done instead, especially if her goal was to take a major female-based action franchise and then try to reinterpret that for a modern audience. Eh, "Police Woman" at that time, that was big, but it wasn't "Charlie's Angels" big, and you know, Angie Dickinson as a cop was novel then, but now; it'd be more interesting and radical if she was a rabbit? (In fact, I'm pretty sure that was "Zootopia".)
There's "Cagney & Lacey", I guess, but actually that show was really progressive in it's time to begin with; they were already kind of the unsexualized version of "Charlie's Angels", and again, they were just female cops, who were very good friends and very good cops. (I mean, there's symbolic lesbian undertones to that, but eh, stil...) I guess she could make a remake of "Foxy Brown" or some other Pam Grier film of that era, but a white girl doing that is gonna bring up a lot of other issues. Um, "Xena: Warrior Princess" maybe; it's a little later, and speaking of lesbian undertones..., but, even that was a spinoff of "Hercules: The Legendary Journey" another male-based franchise, so yeah, we're stuck with all this. I mean, my instincts is to tell Ms. Banks, to instead come up with something new entirely, but who are we kidding, it wouldn't get made that way, certainly not by a major Hollywood studio! So yeah, unless you want to dive into things that were stupider than "Charlier's Angels" like "Bionic Woman" or something, her choices are kinda limited.

It's a tough needle to thread, to take an indisputably male genre, but change the gender, especially for a reboot or remake of another genre, but it's essential to do, you gotta break the cycle sometime. I mean, it's a double-standard too, 'cause god knows, there's been, way, way, way, too many movies about boys losing their virginity, and they're mostly stupid, mainly cause they're mostly told like a male fairy tale story, where losing a virginity is treated an test of strength or another goal that's been achieved. Anyway, this whole male-female tales thing is stupid, there's no reason that should be an issue with a female-led action movie, but the problem is when you try to take that aspect out of "Charlie's Angels", you don't have much left.

If these girls were still so independent and strong and not needed for eye candy tittlation, then, I don't know, why don't they dump Charlie and form their own detective agency? Actually, I don't know what the actual plot of the movie is, but that should've been the plot. Or, at least make Charlie a woman. I know Elizabeth Banks plays Bosley so that's one gender recasting; Charlie could be short for Charlene.

There, I just solved the problem. They're three kick-ass independent women, who work for another woman, who goes and tells them where to go and what to do,- god, every way I twist this scenario to make sense, I feel like I'm talking about hookers working at brothel. This is why "Charlie's Angels" has always sucked, it is both this easy and simple to change, and yet it's also this difficult to do and still keep true to the franchise and their tropes. To do that, and still get the audience that it had in the past.

I don't know, maybe Banks should've just avoided this whole thing and tried to create an original female-based action narrative. Honestly, I kinda feel the same way about "Charlie's Angels" as I do with anybody that insists we need the next James Bond to be a black guy or a woman or an alien, or whoever they want James Bond to be this week; it's not that I care one way or another who race or gender James Bond is, but why take over a character and franchise that's an iconic and outdated image of white masculinty and power, when you can probably just create a better character and franchise instead.


Maybe we are doing that, "Dolemite is My Name" is one of the biggest movies out right now, and that's a reboot based on a famous Blaxploitation action character. People watched that, why aren't they even watching "Charlie's Angels".

That said, that also feels wrong, just creating a different gender version of a masculine genre like action films, just makes it seem like, well, a masculine genre where they changed the sex of the main character. I think that's what I'm waiting for, enough of this revisiting of a past that's frankly not-as-glamorous as people like to pretend it is. Like, is this what progress is, black men and women and everybody else can do what white males do too?! NO! Create something new, that's your own. Create something better! Something original!?


I don't know maybe originality's overrated too. I don't know how to judge this entirely, but, whatever it is, I'm fairly certain that despite the franchise she picked to reboot undermining everything that she's supposedly trying to do, I'm more on the side of defending Elizabeth Banks here. She's trying to do something different then what Hollywood has been spewing out for what seems like forever now and I'd rather stand with someone trying to change and is willing to square off what's popular and has been overwhelming us for decades then somebody just defending the status quo, especially if that status is a bunch of superhero movies, that frankly I am sick and tired of and have been for years, and they perhaps have altered the audience in terms of action films in ways that we don't realize.

I actually wonder if we're becoming so used to them that they're gonna end up like, the way we look at early 20th Century westerns in the future. A few really good ones, but most of the them, overrated crap that highlighted a fictional iconic image of goodness in a world and time period that mostly didn't actually exist the way it's glorified in those movies, but they kept making them because they were guaranteed moneymakers. Okay, and in the case of westerns, they were also relatively cheap to make, 'cause the wild west had just ended right around the time movies came around, but other than that, they're actually really similar. Eventually we got rid of the western, despite several occasional attempts at reinventing it over-the-years, successful and not, and even if that didn't happen, we essentially just ran out of western stories, and at some point we're gonna do the same with comic book superhero films. I mean, we've already remade "Spider-Man" 37 times and that one sucked to begin with, so yeah, we're heading inevitably towards that direction. And, yeah,  I do feel like defending her here is the right thing to do. She didn't make the points as clearly as she wanted to, and for the most part, she's right, and frankly she emphasizes a lot of really troubling undercurrents in Hollywood about action movies, superhero movies, and in their fans and fandoms. Why shouldn't somebody who's into a female Captain Marvel not be just as interested in a franchise that was always centered around female characters to begin with?

And that's just troubling. I wish her movie was more successful, not because I liked it or anything, again, I haven't seen it, but because it failed, it essentially proved her right and I don't want that for her. She shouldn't be right about this, but she is. Men didn't go and see her movie, and frankly neither did women or anyone else either. She gambled, she pressed her luck, but she hit a whammy.

Yeah, I know the feeling.

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