Oceans 8 and Other Feminist Caper Films
Oceans 8 beats Solo: A Star Wars Story this week, garnering $41.5 million in domestic box office, capturing the number one slot. It scored particularly well with audiences of millennials, especially young women. “Ocean's 8 received a ‘B+’ CinemaScore from opening day audiences with exits showing the audience make up as 69% female and 69% aged 25 years or older,” writes BoxOfficeMojo. “That said, the film played quite well to younger audiences, of which 11% were 18 years or younger, and gave the film an ‘A’ CinemaScore.”
But is Oceans 8 a feminist heist film? This is how it has been described, in various media platforms. Let’s look at 2008’s Mad Money, another pioneer of the genre, directed and written by Callie Khourri and starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes. Mad Money, which grossed $20.6 million domestically, was most certainly a feminist crime comedy, but it was not very successful. Oceans 8, written by Olivia Milch and Gary Ross, and starring Sandra Bullock and Rihanna, among others, has already doubled the domestic box office of Mad Money. Further, it has thus far avoided the trolls that killed Ghostbusters. “So far, there hasn't been a prominent ‘downvoting’ campaign on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB to lower the audience score of the film and 4Chan message boards — where many of these causes gain steam — have been mostly indifferent to the title,” Katie Kilkenny for The Hollywood Reporter.
The victory of Oceans 8 is heartening in that it avenges the godawful Ghostbuster remake. That reboot cost about $150 million due to special effects and marketing needs, and ended up losing Sony tens of millions. It was a spectacular failure and a minor setback in the advancement of women leads in Hollywood tent pole productions. It was, we cannot fail to note, also a critical failure. “But if it’s discouraging that some people are so powerfully threatened by minor changes to minor movie franchises, and by four movie roles out of the thousands that are cast every year going to a quartet of very talented women, I’m even more dismayed by the idea that the uproar around ‘Ghostbusters’ has pushed feminists into championing Paul Feig’s remake, an intermittently funny movie that largely wastes a good cast and what ought to have been a much sharper set of concepts,” wrote Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post. The 2016 remake was a particularly sad moment in feminist film history in that alt right trolls had bashed the film online for months before its release and, when it finally came out, it disappeared almost as quickly. Anticlimactic to say the least.
Enter: Oceans 8. Aside from box office success, the feminist caper is getting good online reviews. “Bullock may be Danny Ocean’s sister but she is clearly capable of hatching a plot of her own,” writes Steve Rhodes in The Guardian. “And her team have the skills – forgery, hacking, deception, manipulation – to pull it off. What’s more, their plot is not just about the money; it’s about revenge and the love of the scheme. Oh, and a chance to dress up and go to the Met Gala.” It builds upon Set It Off, another Queen Latifah feminist caper flic that was a moderate success (production budget: $9, domestic total gross $36 million).
The original Oceans 11 film was the ultimate Old Boy’s Club film, lightweight and self-centered, which makes the success of Ocean 8 particularly curious. Oceans 8 was about war buddies teaming up to rob a Las Vegas casino; Oceans 11 is about the newly paroled sister of George Clooney’s character in the Soderberg films lifting diamonds from the Met Gala. How could a feminist remake of a macho 1960s film win the domestic box office race? The 1960 film presented men in the foreground, dressed to the nines, and women only at the periphery, as window dressing. Suave arrogance is the prevailing mood. It starred Frank Sinatra in the lead and his “rat pack” as backup with Angie Dickinson occasionally thrown in for eye candy. Sammy Davis Junior suffers a racial slur. And the banter among the men was loose, and on-screen chemistry was crisp (they were all drinking buddies in real life).
Finally, the fact that Oceans 8 did so well with millennials – not just women -- begs the question: Is the twentysomething demographic the most feminist ever? Generation Y – those born between 1980 and the 1990s – have been saddled with debt and unemployment. There is not much love for the previous Establishment and the way the patriarchy has managed the economy. “Sexual harassment laws are on the books,” notes San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge to USA Today. “Women outnumber men in colleges. Women are accustomed to seeing female doctors and lawyers or, even more formative, seeing women playing doctors and lawyers on TV.”
We’ve come a long way, baby.
Cover photo via USA Today
Bisi Silva, one of the most influential international contemporary art curators and the founder of the Lagos-based Centre for Contemporary Arts, passed away on February 12 at age 57. It is a profound loss for West Africa, and for the art scene worldwide.
In a time when celebrities, comedians, and pretty much everyone but the government is held accountable for everything said and done, it is surprising that someone from the industry didn’t consider the implications of a virtual black model. Some have even said that Shudu is a way for the artist to indulge in his interest in black women without having to interact with them.
As a first time curator, I had no clue where to start, but I knew I wanted the art show to be meaningful and representative of the fight I had undertaken as the founder at Openletr, shedding light onto women, creating equal representation, inclusion and diversity. So, I started looking for inspiration within my own space, and stumbled upon a poem I had shared on December 24th 2015.
A few months ago, I spontaneously chopped my relaxed hair off, but prior the chop, I kept wishing I had enough guts to own my African roots. And I have to admit the emotional courage it takes to be vulnerable. For the first time, I realized how much pressure black women undergo in their quests to create equal representation even when the choice promotes a healthy lifestyle.
As with many of everyday life-happenings, the ‘self-care’ trope has been adopted by the world of social media. A hashtag or youtube search yields hundreds of pictures and videos of beautifully groomed young women narrating their self-care routines and providing techniques. Activities range from physical grooming, self-reflective, and mindfulness practices to tips to prepare for times of emotional stress. The commodification of this phenomenon is a clear trend.
Indira reviewed more than 600 pieces, but settled on a few dozen high quality works. More than 50 emerging artists in the show explore issues ranging across the spectrum of gender identity and progressive feminist narratives to activism. According to the Untitled Space FB page, "DEFINING FORM group show investigates progressive themes in sculpture, including contemporary feminism, gender identity and political art, as well as new technologies in digital sculpture, with an emphasis on originality and innovative usage of materials.”
News stories break daily about girls being sent home from school for breaking the dress code. Girls are forced to leave prom, leave class, or wear sweatshirts in hot weather, as school boards prioritize girls' portrayal to educating boys on how to treat their female counterpart. Not only is this a sexist behavior, but is misleading to young women.
HBO has quite a history of building its prestige brand on excessive female nudity, catering almost entirely to the male gaze. Westworld’s nudity clause waiver, when reported on in 2015, was met with skepticism from feminists. Was Westworld going to be another Game of Thrones, created by straight white males, greenlighted and shepherded by straight white male cable executives, and will things ever change?
“But if it’s discouraging that some people are so powerfully threatened by minor changes to minor movie franchises, and by four movie roles out of the thousands that are cast every year going to a quartet of very talented women, I’m even more dismayed by the idea that the uproar around ‘Ghostbusters’ has pushed feminists into championing Paul Feig’s remake, an intermittently funny movie that largely wastes a good cast and what ought to have been a much sharper set of concepts.”
Ethiopia’s rise is not just an economic phenomenon and, to be sustained, it will need to involve a greater integration of men and women. The governments ruling coalition, Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is suggesting that they are open to multiparty elections, which is a good beginning to greater integration between the sexes and diverse governmental coalitions that are at present voiceless.
If you are a freelancer or independent contractor, you must be familiar with how hard it can sometimes be to get paid. But what if the normal ways to invoice and charge clients are off-limits to you? People employed in the adult industry have to get creative in order to be compensated for their efforts.
Many of us have suspected the way the mainstream media handled Donald Trump and got him elected. Back when he was campaigning, his outrageousness guaranteed him more print and air time than any other candidate. He mowed over his opponents and moderators during debates, which meant he got more air time then as well. He was magical in that way — no one could touch him, and few even tried. Mainstream media began by feasting on the show Trump was putting on, both for the purpose of personal entertainment and also for ratings, assuming the common sense of the nation would keep him from winning.