Remember the offensively bad 2015 remake of Fantastic Four? The worst has yet to come.
Sometimes a remake is a gift of nostalgia, and sometimes it's a scourge against fans who deserve better.
Among 2019's onslaught of comic book movies, documentaries, and movies for nerds sans superheroes in tights, many studios are standing firm in their boycott of original ideas. Disney is launching a blitz attack on the American public with live action remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King (albeit the later is forgivable as long as it's precious), while MGM is animating a fan favorite, The Addams Family (which is forgivable as long as it's creepy).
Here are 10 Do's and Don'ts to survive this year's storm of reboots:
DON'T: What Men Want (February 8, 2019)
Nobody asked for a remake of this 2000 Mel Gibson film except the devil. Taraji P. Henson stars as the female version of Gibson's character, a sports agent who's overlooked for her male coworkers. Controversial singer Erykah Badu plays a fortune teller for some reason, and she gives Henson's character the ability to hear what men think. With an early 2.9/10 rating on IMDB, people want to watch this movie even less than they want to hear men's thoughts.
DO: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31)
Bring on the CGI circle jerk of gratuitous violence and melodramatic monster tropes! Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga star in this gladiatorial face off between Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and all three heads of King Ghidorah. A "crypto-zoological agency" (totally a real thing) called Monarch has to save humanity when all these monsters rise.
DON'T: Aladdin (May 24)
Disney recruited Guy Ritchie to recreate the 1992 classic. With Egyptian-born actor Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Power Rangers' Naomi Scott as Jasmine, and Will Smith boggling minds as the Genie, it looks just as strange as the live action Dumbo and Lion King remakes being released this year. Except it seems more wrong.
DO: Shaft (June 14)
Little White Lies
What's more appropriate for the third Shaft film than to include not one, but three Shafts?! Richard Roundtree and Samuel L. Jackson return as John Shaft and John Shaft II, but the new addition is Jessie T. Usher (Independence Day: Resurgence) as the very unique John Shaft Jr.. Described as "a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT," Junior enlists his father's (Jackson) help "to uncover the truth behind his best friend's untimely death." Yes, with three separate Shafts, this movie promises to be confusing, but it looks super fun.
DON'T: Men in Black: International (June 14)
With the Men in Black franchise already stretched thin, this could go terribly wrong. But the quirky chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok restored our faith in the Thor franchise, so there's a chance they're worthwhile as Agent M and Agent H. Both agents "tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization," and hopefully Hemsworth and Thompson will bring some of the irreverence and offbeat humor they managed in Ragnarok.
DO: Child's Play (June 21)
The worst birthday gift a mother could give her son is being brought back by the producers of It. Aubrey Plaza will play against type as the unwitting mother who commits child abuse by giving her son a Chucky doll. Plaza seems the type who would do that because it's funny.
DON'T: Grudge (June 21)
It's a 2019 remake of the 2004 remake of the 2004 Japanese original, Ju-On. While this version will include John Cho, who's an eternal delight, the film will also feature an attractive American woman (Andrea Riseborough) entering a haunted house before an entity tries to kill her. Again.
MAYBE: The Lion King (July 19)
Reasons to not outright pan this film as a bastardization of your childhood include: Jon Favreau directs, Hans Zimmer scores, Donald Glover is the voice of Simba, Seth Rogan is Pumbaa, James Earl Jones is Mufasa, and Beyoncé is Nala. Not to mention, John Oliver is the perfect voice of Zuzu, while Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor voices Scar.
DO: The Addams Family (October 18)
Den of Geek
After this animated feature premieres in time for Halloween, the Addams will be the creepiest family since the Lohans. While the live action cast remains iconic, this remake features Burton-esque artwork and an all-star cast of Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday, and Oscar Isaac as Gomez.
DON'T: Charlie's Angels (November 1, 2019)
At first, this seems promising, with Charlie played by Elizabeth Banks, who also directs; but who are the newest, coolest angels? Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott. and Ella Balinska, for some reason. Remember the offensively bad 2015 remake of Fantastic Four? Me either. Hopefully, we'll forget this reboot just as quickly.
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Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.