Tag Archives: sexual politics

  deathisforsissies

Suppose you wrote Ocean’s Eleven with an all-female gang. How would it change?

Me? Ocean’s Eleven? I wouldn’t change much at all, if anything. Ocean’s Eleven is the kind of movie that’s only a boy’s movie because men are in it, not because their gender is plot critical. You could run the movie’s con almost exactly the same with an all female crew or a mixed gender one.  The only reason why you’d run this with one gender or the other is because it’s a Rat Pack movie. Part of the reason why the George Clooney remake of Ocean’s Eleven ran so well is because it was built off the actors’ friendships. In both the Sinatra version and the Clooney one, your essentially just watching a bunch of buddies mess around on screen. This is the main reason why the film is seen as a quintessential “boys movie” rather than the plot itself. The chemistry between the actors is what both movies run on.

As for the con itself? It isn’t gendered and doesn’t rely on a specific gender to pull off, rather it involves exploiting character motivations and personality.
All I’d need to do is make sure I did my research on the updates to casino security and the tech used for 2017 instead of 2001, which would lead to some minor plot
restructuring.

When it comes to the love triangle surrounding Tess, the motivations are love and jealousy. Danny is exposing Terry so Tess can see the kind of man Terry is, that’s part of distracting Terry in the con but the motivations don’t change when the genders are switched. It’s just a love story involving three lesbians, or a lesbian, a bi woman, and a man, or two bi women and a man, or a woman, a man, and another woman, or whatever you want. Beyond that conflict, none of the specialists parts are gendered from your hacker to your demolitions to your wheelman, the faceman positions like your eccentric high roller can be female just as easily as male and a female bureaucratic functionary is about as annoying (if not more so).

When thief Daniella Ocean is released from prison, she already has her next score planned: a simultaneous robbery of the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand. A plan so big, it’s never been done before. Together with her best friend Rusty Ryan and embittered casino mogul Varvara Tishkova, they put together a team of eight female specialists from card sharks and hackers to frontment in order to pull off the world’s greatest caper.

Their plan run smoothly until Daniella’s second goal comes to light. She’s got a motive other than money. Her ex-wife Tess is firmly ensconced in the arms of the casinos’ owner Terry Benedict, and Daniella intends to win her back. One way or another.

The issue with any kind of story genderswap doesn’t lie in the genders of the characters themselves, but rather on the part of the author or whoever is controlling the story. The question is do you believe a group of women could pull this off with nothing in the script changed except the pronouns? Are there aspects of the Ocean’s Eleven story you feel need to be changed based on the gender of those involved?

When you remember there’s nothing in this story gender specific, then these mix ups can be a great way to test your own gender biases. Those biases will insist the narrative be changed in order to “fit a woman better”, which will mostly involve changing the facemen’s cons into something more appealing. The old woman becomes younger. The bureaucratic functionary becomes sexy and flirty rather than just annoying. Though these changes will undermine the con itself, they’ll happen due to the belief they need to in order for the story to be believable.

This is the problem we face with any character filling in the role of a character who was originally another gender. It doesn’t matter whether your writing about a female action hero, a female conman, or a male librarian. There’s a knee jerk insistence to box them back up into their appropriate roles. Change the story to fit the outside gender roles.

This is an issue of human error and human biases, rather than a problem with female characters fulfilling a male narrative role. It includes a tendency to say certain qualities or approaches are “men only” when they’re not. The idea that a beautiful woman can only ever appear beautiful is silly. As is the idea a woman will always attempt to appeal to a man’s sexual preferences in order to gain access. There are plenty of attractive, annoying bureaucratic functionaries out there which we put up with but just want to go away. The handicap for female spies in a lot of fiction is the “sexy, pretty, beautiful” appeal to men rather than utilizing other traits usually considered negative… like being annoying or forgettable or suffering from hay fever and spewing germs all over the casino.

So, these are what I’d consider important to remember:

1) This is a buddy story, the character interactions and motivations are the all important narrative backbone. The con itself is fun, but flexible based on the emergent personalities combined with whatever research I pull up on Vegas casinos.

2) Remember to keep the character goals at the forefront, remember their different personalities, keep the point of the con front and center rather than have characters automatically run a gender specific approach. (The great thing about having lots of women in a story is you’ve got room to shimmy with a variety of personality types including the Flirt or Sexy Seducer without undermining the core narrative.)

3) Keep watch for specific changes I’d want to make based on my own gender biases that will self-sabotage the con.

4) Re-watch both Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s Eleven to break down their specific cons and character interplay as motivating factors.

If we’re talking about the remake with an all female cast, then I’ve got no idea how they’re going to change it.

-Michi

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