Skip to main content

And Gina Torres as Indiana Jones





A female Doctor. A black James Bond. Four female ghostbusters. And Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones.

One of these things is not like the other. Also, the first two haven’t happened yet. 

The last one is both a surprise and not a surprise. Remaking or rebooting Indiana Jones seems like a no-win situation; people love those movies and still watch them. Do they really need to capture a new audience when the films are already 80s action adventure pastiches of 30s movie serials?

Casting everyone’s new movie boyfriend, Chris Pratt, is probably the most obvious – and dull – choice that could have been made. His character of Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy is very Han Solo-esque, just a bit of a dick. And he’s just about to star in Jurassic World, another Spielberg franchise. It’s predictble and it’s probably the smartest and safest choice.

That’s what makes me excited about the new line-up for the next Ghostbusters film. If you’re going to remake something, go all the way. If you can’t get the originals back for a long-wondered-about third installment, start again. Be bold. Cast women.

But the Doctor has always been a man. But James Bond has always been white.

But the characters who fight ghosts with proton packs in New York City, they... see? Why not?

And you think the director of Bridesmaids teaming up with Melissa McCarthy for the third time and bringing along three Saturday Night Live alumni isn’t a really smart way to honour the original?

Theatre-makers both locally and internationally talk about gender and racial diversity on our stages. We talk about it a lot. We talk about systemic bias. We talk about colour-blind casting. We talk about casting white guys as the King of Siam.
 
We talk. A lot.

I don’t think the discussion happens in film as much. I certainly don’t see things changing on film very quickly. I think American television is getting much better at telling diverse stories. When Orange is the New Black won for Best Ensemble at the SAG awards this week, more non-white women took home SAG trophies in that one night than in the entire history of the awards before.

I think Australian television needs to look beyond its various shades of white, something we kept in mind during casting for Sonnigsburg.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was criticised recently for it’s entirely white line-up for each of the four acting categories. Someone pointed out that the 1939 Oscars were more racially diverse, given Hattie McDaniel’s win for Gone with the Wind. 76 years later, we can still have years that seem like  throwback to a century ago.

Right now, it’s too early to tell what the new Ghostbusters is going to be like. There’s no point overthinking it. Bad enough judging a film by its trailer, let alone its casting announcement. Except, of course, that in comparison to Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones, four female ghostbusters is kind of revolutionary.

Film studios are very protective of their properties. They don’t like to take risks and there isn’t a lot of opportunity to mix it up when it comes to their big name franchises. There have been more men step foot on the moon than have played James Bond. In comparison, there have been more men play the Doctor than have been on the moon. Still, though – all white guys.

Stage gets to be a bit more daring. Indigenous Lear. Female Glengarry Glen Ross. Black, male Witch in Into the Woods. Because there’s always another chance to have a go. And yet, with all the productions of Hamlet I’ve ever seen – I still have yet to see a woman in the role.

Tom Baker joked about a female Doctor when he left the role in 1981, but only recently has it seemed like a possibility. The co-chair of Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal, is on record as wanting Idris Elba in the role ofJames Bond. And as I keep saying, these are your new “Ghostbusters”.


If Hollywood must keep mining their back catalogues and rebooting their franchises. If Bond gets to live to fight another day, if the Doctor regenerates forever, why not take a chance on who plays them next? If stage actors all want to play Hamlet, why not let all film actors strive to be James Bond?

And why not let Gina Torres play Indiana Jones? It's a gender-neutral name, after all.


* thanks for Jill Weinberger for the suggestion of Gina Torres as Indiana Jones. Follow Jill on Twitter.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

My Favourite Theatre of 2019

This year I saw some amazing theatre in Melbourne, as always, and I was lucky enough to visit London for the first time, where I saw some wonderful West End theatre and some really inventive off-West End and independent theatre.
The thing about the theatre in London is that is really seems to be working toward the ideal of diverse casting, even if behind-the-scenes (writers, directors) are still male-dominated. And it’s not just in reinventions of shows like Death of a Salesman, which was a mostly black cast; a lot of shows I saw there were female-focused with racially diverse casts.
That said, I did see a show that was ostensibly about race, which was all white.
I saw some shows again this year, which were as great as when I originally saw them, but they have been on previous year-end lists, so sorry to Hamilton, Muriel’s Wedding and Cock – you’re not on my list again this year.
The lists are in alphabetical order and links in titles to review where available.
TOP TEN 

All About Eve –…

You are far away: Agent Cooper and his troubling return to Twin Peaks

“What year is this?” Dale Cooper asks in the final scene of Twin Peaks: The Return, the last of many unanswered questions left as the 18-part feature film concluded a week ago.
It’s far from the first time we’ve seen someone who looks like Dale Cooper lost for answers over recent months. But it might be the first time we have definitive proof that he’s in over his head.
Mr C, Dale Cooper’s doppelganger, who was first seen in the original series’ finale back in 1991, returned to the town of Twin Peaks with a goal in mind. Mr C was flexible, though. He had to be; he’d set so many things in motion over twenty-five years, if he’d remained fixated, he would never have come as far as he did.
Dougie, Dale Cooper’s tulpa – created by and from Mr C, wandered aimlessly through life, but slowly made every life he touched better. Plans change and Dougie changed with them. Slowly but surely, Dougie pieced together Cooper’s past life and became richer for it.
Agent Cooper, the third part of this T…

Melbourne Comedy Festival – Garry Starr Conquers Troy

Last year, Garry Starr explored every genre of theatre in order to try to save it. Now that he’s saved theatre, he wants to make sure actors out there know how to be the best skilled actor (or, skactor) they can be. Garry has written a book called “An Actor Pretends” about the history of pretendism.
Chapter by chapter, Garry’s vast knowledge of being a triple threat is explored on stage in front of our very eyes. He explains how to audition for a director when you’re waiting on them in a restaurant. He tells us how to act when we inevitably move to Hollywood and get botox and we can’t move our face. And then there’s his unconventional method for learning lines by osmosis.
Rubber-faced actor and comedian Damien Warren-Smith is so damn charismatic that he’ll have you on his side within minutes – and have some of you up on stage as part of Team Garry, if you dare. If you don’t want to participate, don’t sit in the front row like I did; though my moment in the spotlight only consisted of…

A Thing Isn’t Beautiful Because It Lasts: Avengers in the AGE OF ULTRON

The latest film in the Marvel Universe series feels like nothing so much as a season finale. And since Joss Whedon was once the master of creating season finales that were both emotionally satisfying and thematically resonant, it’s good to have him in charge for the second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron.
I’d like to compare it to the epic scope of Buffy’s “The Gift” but it feels more like Angel, if anything. Things change, the world moves on – and the best you can do is keep fighting. And embrace change.
Tony Stark has always been flawed, but by the third film in his own trilogy, he seemed to have found an emotional peace. But with that peace comes the idea that he can use his technology – his faith in machines being his tragic flaw – to create a replacement for the Avengers. He births an army of robots to calm the populace and fight alien foes.
Robert Downey Jnr’s Stark is such a towering figure in the Marvel Universe films – and to make him partly the villain of this new film is a s…

REVIEW: Disinhibition by Christopher Bryant

Flick, known on Instagram as Flick.Eats, and George, known on Tumblr as Boyance, are social media influencers. Flick.Eats posts FODMAP recipes and Boyance is living his best gay life online, but both are lies – constructions of the kind of personalities that get likes and shares and re-blogs. When Microsoft releases a new artificial intelligence bot onto Twitter – Tay, whose followers are #TaysTeam – the world of fake online personas gets trickier to navigate.
Who are Flick and George, really? Do they even know anymore?
Disinhibition plunges the audience right into the internet, the opening scene a perfect recreation of a Twitter interaction: someone posts a photo of their cute dog, lots of other users retweet it and someone @s the original poster, telling them their dog is prettier than they are. All social niceties are gone; people will say anything to each other online.
Presented by Monash University Student Theatre (MUST) and directed with a sure hand and clear intent by Artistic …

REVIEW: Solaris by David Greig (based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem)

Arriving on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris, Kris Kelvin (Leeanna Walsman) is confronted by beings who are almost human, while digging through the digital archives of Dr Gibarian (Hugo Weaving), who recently died. She must try to understand what these creatures are and what other mysteries lie on the planet below, under the roiling oceans that cover its surface.

Like the Malthouse’s other current production, Wake in Fright, David Grieg’s new play is based on a novel that has also previously been a film. In fact, Stanislaw Lem’s book has been adapted into two films, several operas and a play or two before this. It’s no surprise that it would inspire great filmmakers and playwrights to bring their own versions to life; alien entities, memory and lost loved ones are all rich elements with which to explore the themes of loneliness and otherness.
Designer Hyemi Shin creates a cool, minimalist environment that’s efficiently modular; its swiftly moving doors and sliding panels e…

REVIEW: Control by Keziah Warner – Red Stitch

The crew of a space ship, dressed in bold primary colours, rock from left to right in front of us, as they try to keep control of their craft. The group is racially diverse but it’s the white guy, a larrakin Aussie from Melbourne, who boldly steps forward to save the day. “It’s something I have to do.”

Keziah Warner’s Control, a science fiction triptych, begins with a scene of broad comedy, a nod to Star Trek and then jumps back in time to see how this crew ended up in such a dramatic situation. Starting a story in media res can be a pretty tired trope, but here Keziah uses it as a dramaturgical sleight-of-hand; this story is much more complicated than it first appears to be.
A pregnant woman, a puppeteer, a singer and a detective have been hand-picked to be on this space ship, leave Earth and strive to survive in “Fifteen Minutes on Mars” – a Big Brother-type reality show that is manoeuvring this ensemble toward interstellar cabin fever.
Twenty years later, in a library that promises…

REVIEW: Muriel’s Wedding – The Musical by P.J. Hogan, Music & Lyrics by Kate-Miller Heidke & Keir Nuttall

Muriel Heslop’s life in the Queensland town of Porpoise Spit is one humiliation after another. She didn’t finish high school, she didn’t come out of secretarial school with any marketable skills and the friends she has don’t treat her very well. In the age of social media, nothing she does gets any likes.

To escape from her friends and family, she disappears into her bedroom and listens to ABBA songs and dreams of the perfect white wedding, proof – in her mind – that she has achieved greatness.
Based on the 1994 film by P.J. Hogan, the stage musical version, which premiered in Sydney in 2017, has been reworked a little since its premiere season and has just opened in Melbourne.
I have fond memories of the original film starring Toni Colette and Rachel Griffiths in their break-out roles of Muriel and Rhonda. Underneath the joyous ABBA songs and the upbeat ending, though, Muriel’s Wedding is quite a sad film; Muriel may suffer from some kind of depression and her mother, Betty, has been…

REVIEW: Mr Burns – A Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn

How well do remember the episode of The Simpsons where Sideshow Bob gets out of jail and tries to murder Bart? If you needed to tell the story, could you? Do you remember any of the jokes or set-pieces? How about the film references contained within?


In the first act of Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play, a group of survivors in a post-Apocalyptic America gather together around a fire, trying to remember the details of “Cape Feare”, the second episode of the fifth season of The Simpsons, which first aired in 1993 and has been replayed thousands of times since.
The grid is offline, nuclear power-plants have melted down, and in the weeks and months after this world-wide disaster, people are telling stories to pass the time and to connect with each other. This is and isn’t people telling ghost stories around a fire; the details are important, and this TV show is haunting them.
Telling stories and passing them on is a recurring trope in fiction about the end of the world. Beyond survival, pe…

My Favourite Theatre of 2018

It’s that time of year again, when I look back over everything I saw on stage and put together a list of my favourite shows. I saw over 100 shows this year, mostly in Melbourne and a small number on one visit to Sydney.

I will link to reviews if I wrote one.
TOP TEN (alphabetical order)
The Almighty Sometimes – Griffin Theatre, Sydney
Kendall Feaver’s extraordinary debut play is about Anna, dealing with mood disorders and medication and the complicated relationship she has with the treatments and her mother. Superb cast and beautifully directed by Lee Lewis
Blackie Blackie Brown – Malthouse Theatre
Nakkiah Lui’s work is always amazing but this production, directed by Declan Green, was another step up for her – the satire sharper and bleaker and more hilarious than ever before.
Blasted – Malthouse Theatre
Sarah Kane’s debut play from 1990s London is a tricky beast tackling difficult subjects but Anne-Louise Sarks nailed it with a superb production.
The Bleeding Tree – Arts Centre Melbourne