It was only a matter of time. For a society obsessively preoccupied with all things sex-and gender-related, the announcement of an all-female film remake of Lord of the Flies should come as no surprise.
What was surprising was the fervent backlash Warner Brothers received upon breaking the news last week. Social media was instantly ablaze with men and women alike united in opposition to Hollywood getting its claws on this classic story and inevitably butchering the beloved book about boys.
Leave it to literature to bring people together.
For everyone who’s forgotten, William Golding’s 1954 novel tells the story of a group of young boys, stranded on an island, trying to survive without killing each other. Of course, what it’s really about is the innate struggle between the civilized and savage forces that duel within every human soul and thus within society at large. The book endures precisely because it tackles timeless, universal, and indeed genderless topics like human nature, morality, and the battle between good and evil.
But it never would have worked had Golding written it about girls.
The boys in his book are in elementary school, between the ages of six and twelve; they are no longer animalistic children, and yet they are also not yet tamed, socialized adults. They exist in that awkward space between savage childhood and civilized adulthood, making their ages an important extension of the novel’s central conflict.
But it is precisely within this age range that the dramatic differences between boys and girls are perhaps most on display.
Everyone who’s ever been a child knows that elementary school-aged girls and boys are practically different species. Even Golding understood that there might as well be an ocean between the two. Only boys could behave in the ways that form the book’s plot; only boys could make Lord of the Flies.
Consider, for example, the source of the novel’s title and its most important symbol—the fly-covered pig’s head. Only boys would ever let that nightmare-inducing thing come to life. Most third-grade girls would probably sooner die than romp off on a bloodthirsty pig-killing spree, single out a sleeping sow suckling newborn piglets, maniacally butcher it, mercilessly chop off its head, slam it onto a sharpened spear, stake it into the ground and then chant, “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in.”
Sorry, but no way.
Instead, little girls would probably host beachside tea parties, turn all those bananas and coconuts into pies, and make dresses out of flowers and leaves. Maybe they’d adopt a little pet piglet and make their own symbol like . . . Lady of the Butterflies?
Little girls behave very differently than little boys. That’s not sexism, that’s reality.
And that’s a problem for Warner Brothers. They can’t possibly remake the movie in a way that reflects that reality because the mere suggestion that males and females are different is currently one of our politically correct culture’s gravest sins.
So long as everyone else is busy eliminating gender labels on kids’ clothing and making sure children have gender-neutral classrooms free from the threat of Legos, Hollywood can’t be caught making a movie that deliberately and blatantly highlights the profound, differences between girls and boys.
That leaves Warner Brothers with only one option: to retell the story with girls in a way that’s true to the book rather than true to life. But that would mean painting a picture of girls as, at best, hysterical, weak, self-destructing victims, or, at worst, vicious villains and murdering monsters responsible for death, destruction, and setting the metaphorical world on fire.
And because that doesn’t exactly smell like feminism or female empowerment, surely Hollywood won’t take that route and make a movie which gives even the slightest suggestion that girls are the root of all evil.
Hollywood, it appears, is trapped on a little burning island of its own.
Warner Brothers has one remaining rescue flare: they can jump ship now, abandon this uniquely awful idea, avoid committing one gender-based cultural crime or another, and simply honor a classic work of literature it as it was written—boys, bloody pigs, and all.
Thankfully, the rest of America has already done just that. After all, there is no better way to collectively honor Lord of the Flies than by chasing down a proposal to remake it with fiery fury, and stabbing the idea to death on social media with sharpened sticks.
Image: Lord of the Flies – 1963 – Two Arts Ltd.