Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Now I was thinking recently (dangerous habit I know) on feminism theory and the representation of woman in media. Now more often than not you see arguments about how women should be better represented, given more roles, etc. But all this got me thinking: What if we did gender swap some famous stories around? Would they get better or worse? Well lets find out.
6)Frozen: To be honest I could put any of the Disney princesses films on this list, but lets focus on this one in particular due to its particularly strong female characters. If we made Elsa and Anna male, and Hans and Kristoff female, what would we have left? Well we’d have the story of two brothers, one of whom meets a manipulative evil princess and a hardy ice seller. Elsa and Anna would be male… but how much would their relationship change? I mean brotherly love can work, the TV show Supernatural proved that (and if there isn’t a fanfic about that yet there soon will be). Even the Thor/Loki relationship can be seen as something similar (and there is a fanfic about that, that’s pretty much certain at this point). But what would people think of the two new female characters? Well there’s probably be the standard ‘virgin vs slut’ problem (aka women in fiction can either be pure virgins or ethically horrible sluts), with the female Hans being seen as a standard character in fiction. Maybe the female Kristoff might be seen as a good girl, breaking stereotypes, but unlikely. So Frozen works well as a woman-led film since if it was male-led it probably wouldn’t have been as good.
5)Beauty and the Beast: More on a broad level than just one specific version, the story of Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time. Beautiful woman falls in love with hideous man, makes him better by association, happily ever after. Classic fairytale… but what if we reversed it? What if we made the woman the beast and the man the beauty? Well we might run into a few interesting problems. If we make the woman ugly, a beast even, does the subtext of the Beauty being captured start to come off a bit like Misery? If a man was being held hostage, would we be able to sympathy with the woman? Beauty and the Beast is essentially the story of a woman giving up her power for a man, and reforming that man due to her loving kindness. Could it work the other way? It’d be interesting to say the least, hence why it’s number five.
4)Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: Okay spoilers, but in a brilliant twist it turns out that Dr. Jekyll was Mr. Hyde the entire time. And when it first came out it was a twist, regardless of how it’s been spoiled terribly nowadays. It’s also notable in that the original story had no real female characters, save for a woman who gets murdered (and even then I might be misremembering it). So what if we swapped all the genders around, not just the main ones? Well, if we kept it during the same time period (presuming that women are allowed to be doctors and whatnot), then Miss Hyde will be written off as a hysterical woman. She wouldn’t be treated the same way Mr Hyde was treated. But what about the present day? Well Miss Hyde would be hideous, as was Mr Hyde, but would the theme change? Would they now have a story where the woman is presented as being hysterical, perhaps once a month? I’d honestly be interested to see where this sort of story goes.
3)Doctor Who: The question of whether the Doctor will be played by a woman is not one of ‘if’, but ‘when’. It’s gonna happen eventually, when a producer comes along who knows just the right woman to play the role of the Doctor. And while I’ve seen many, many, many bad suggestions for women who could play the Doctor (seriously, just because she’s a woman, that doesn’t automatically mean she can perform the role. Casting based on looks alone is stupid regardless of who is cast/casting), the one I’d pick is Audrey Hepburn. I mean think about it: She’s just the right level of strangeness and kookiness to pull of playing a Time Lord, but also sort of comprehensible on some level. Not totally alien. Admittedly this paragraph was nothing more than to point out that you’d need someone like Audrey Hepburn to play the Doctor, rather than just someone without a Y chromosome, but that’d be my pick at least.
2)Robin Hood: The story of a noble person who is stripped of their title and forced into a life of crime to protect the unprotected is very much a feminist story. Put a woman in the role and the tale suddenly becomes a modern day allegory to feminism. And, honestly, I’d dig a female Robin Hood. It’s such an interesting concept: Would being a woman fundamentally change the character of Robin Hood. I’d argue no, Robin Hood would still be Robin Hood. She’d still be boastful, cocky, self-confident. She’d still be the best archer in the land. By making her a woman all you’re really adding is a slight meta-textual commentary, but that’s about it really. I really would like to see this come about.
1)Frankenstein: Now on some levels this wouldn’t work. I mean the story of Frankenstein is a man’s attempt to doing a woman’s job and creating an abomination. It’s all about how a man can’t create life the same way women can, and by trying to do so it goes against the very natural order of things. But we always presume the monster is male, even if it’s never specified that Frankenstein was trying to make it male. But what if we made the monster female? Suddenly a lot of the story is changed, especially if we go by the original text. It becomes a far more interesting piece of text, since it explores themes of womanhood along with the abandonment. Would the monster still be the monster if it had a female body? Would it see the world a different way by being female? What could this say about our modern society? Honestly if I could only make one play in my life, it’d be a female version of Frankenstein, with the monster being a woman. Not changing any of the dialogue or story, mind you, just putting a woman in the role. It’d be fascinating to see what the result of it all was.
So there you have it. My pick for the top six stories that’d be interesting if we swapped the genders. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.