Hollywood is currently suffering from gender-swap fever. It started with Ghostbusters, and then moved on to the Ocean’s 8 franchise. Suddenly, we have not just a lady Dr. Who, but producers and writers scrambling to figure out what classically, dudely productions should get a womanly spin. We’re getting a woman Dorian Gray, a woman James Bond, and a woman-led High Fidelity, for some reason.
Frankly, all the gender-bending of movies originally starring men, while it may seem progressive on the surface, seems like a distraction from the more deep-rooted problems regarding sexism in the movie and TV industry. Even though I can get excited for a movie like Ocean’s 8 (because, god, have you seen the on-set photos of Cate Blanchett???), at the end of the day it still seems to signify that women’s movies still need some sort of male appeal to get made. A gender-swapped movie implies that women aren’t important enough to get their own, original stories, and thus must piggy-back on franchises helmed by men that have already proven to be successful.
All of that said, nobody has actually made the one movie I want to be gender-swapped: Weird Science.
Weird Science, in case you don’t remember or you haven’t seen it, is the deeply horny John Hughes movie in which two, nerdy teen boys, decide to create their dream woman through a complicated and completely unexplained combination of robotics, code, a Barbie doll strapped to a shit ton of wires, and bras for headwear. That woman ends up being a somewhat emasculating, manic-pixie-dream-bot model Kelly LeBrock, who is a walking wet dream for the film’s two leads, and wreaks havoc on their lives all while getting them to find the confidence to ask out their high school crushes. Reportedly there was a reboot in the works around 2013, but nothing has come of it since.
Weird Science is dated in nearly every way but mostly for its gender politics. It’s a movie built for bros who think the world owes them hot girlfriends and its gaze is strictly that of a 15-year-old boy. But the skeleton of its weird plot, that two technically savvy teenagers would be driven to cure their insatiable horniness using computers, feels pretty relevant in 2018. And thus, I can’t get it out of my head that a movie about two nerdy teenage girls 3D-printing their own Channing Tatum (or maybe it’s Michael B. Jordan, or KJ Apa, or Chris Evans?) to be their personal butler-slash-eternal sex object would be a very good idea in 2018.
Besides the fact that it could potentially be funny, a Weird Science with magical boy bot would stand against a long sci-fi tradition of femme bots. Is it a tiny bit sexist to imply that technologically savvy teen girls would, if they had the resources, spend all their time building a man? Perhaps. But we’ve also been watching men create docile, sexy women on screen since Metropolis. From Ex Machina to Bladerunner to Westworld, when it comes to the people who get to code and build new life from the ground up it’s almost always lonely men in lab coats. Why can’t it, for once, be some lispy 16-year-old girl who wears her hot pink retainer during the day because she’s that paranoid about her teeth moving?
When we do get on-screen representations of women in tech, they’re brilliant, punk hackers the likes of Lisbeth Salander or Cameron Howe in Halt in Catch Fire. Or, they’re historical depictions of scientific greatness the way of Hidden Figures. None of it reflects the ways in which young people so often use the Internet today, which are mostly dumb. And what the girls would do with their hot magic man when he arrives in a puff of smoke, I’m not entirely sure. Does he mansplain to them that the boys they have crushes on are actually idiots? Do the girls treat him like their sex slave and have them beat up their bullies? Do they have him simply buy them beer? Who knows! But I’d watch that horny reboot for sure.