What The Craft remake should get right that the Ghostbusters reboot could never do
Responses to the upcoming reboot of the 1996 classic witchy movie The Craft have been, well, about as mixed as you might expect. Some fans are excited to see a new cast take on the iconic roles and look towards the Sabrina reboot as a prime example of how it could be done well.
Others are less than thrilled and cite poorly-received reboots like Ghostbusters as a bad omen for what The Craft could become.
While there's no way to know how good or disappointing the reboot will be, there are a few ways in which The Craft is already set up to be better than the aforementioned disaster.
One of the main criticisms levied at Ghostbusters: Answer The Call before the film even came out was that it was pandering to a feminist audience by employing the gimmick of casting all women in the lead roles.
First, this is absurd. Second, a poor critical and commercial outcome shouldn't mean more movies with women at their core shouldn't be made. Third, this is absurd.
However, what The Craft has that Ghostbusters didn't is a firm foothold in the feminist zeitgeist – then and now. The story is about young women struggling with trauma, fitting in, depression and alienation, all while wielding witchy superpowers. Ghostbusters (1986) was a film about dudes.
The reboot will also be directed, this time, by a woman: Hollywood newcomer Zoe Lister-Jones (who will also write and executive produce the reboot).
No shade against Paul Feig – his woman-fronted films like Bridesmaids and A Simple Favour have been rightly heralded. But when a man steps into a movie about men, by men, and sticks women in it, it can come off (as it did) as gimmicky, whether he meant it to or not (and for the record we don't think he did).
The Craft is also evolving to represent the world we live in. One of the four new witches is played by trans actress Zoe Luna (of Pose fame). Her three coven-mates are Cailee Spaeny (On The Basis of Sex), Gideon Adlon (Blockers), and Lovie Simone (Greenleaf).
[screams in trans witch]https://t.co/xU9oWx8jVb
— National Center for Transgender Equality (@TransEquality) September 23, 2019
What The Craft proved back in the '90s, and what we know to be true, is that movies by women about women aren't just for women.
The critical success of Booksmart and the commercial success of Wonder Woman are just the latest proof of this truism.
What lesson can be gleaned? Write roles for women! For trans women, for women of colour, for working-class women, for superhero women and witchy women and all kinds of women. Because if you write, cast, shoot, produce, and screen movies with women, people (all types of people!) will turn out to see them.
The Craft has its coven! The movie, written, directed and produced by @ZoeListerJones, has cast Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone and Zoey Luna to join the witchy, wonderful reimagining of the iconic ‘90s film. pic.twitter.com/qa4JxYGtyL
— Blumhouse (@blumhouse) September 19, 2019
Women should, of course, go for roles that have no gender assigned to them (which are generally assumed as male because, you know, the patriarchy) or were initially written for a man. This kind of castings gave us Ripley in Alien, for Pete's sake!
Our firm, binary lines of gender are rightly shifting, and movies must shift with them.
Gender swapping of roles can throw light on outdated stereotypes, can challenge an audience, and bring new meaning to stories we love. But the context of the work has to afford that, has to lend itself (whether through irony or sincerity) to that.
And of course, the audience has to be willing to let go of their possessiveness of the franchise to see it, something many Ghostbusters fans could not do.
Paul Feig was accused of 'ruining childhoods'. Only time will tell if Lister-Jones will be tarred with the same brush, but if she is, at least no one will be able to say that women just aren't watchable.
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