Why all the fuss over Schumer in the role of the iconic toy? Its a winning situation for the actor, her fans, Sony Pictures and Mattel. The only losers are the misogynists
There is a certain perspective on the current wave of female-led movies the recent Ghostbusters remake and the similarly pitched forthcoming reworking of Oceans Eleven that well call, for simplicity, the Ernie Hudson rule. It suggests that these movies really ought not to exist at all, but if they must exist, let them feature gorgeous young women primed to appeal to male filmgoers base instincts.
Hudson, who played Winston Zeddemore in the original 1984 Ghostbusters, typified such thinking when he told the Telegraph in 2014 that the new version of the classic supernatural comedy, then just an apple in director Paul Feigs eye, was a bad idea. I love females. I hope that if they go that way at least theyll be funny, and if theyre not funny at least hopefully itll be sexy.
The Ghostbusters remake was pretty sexy, in its own way. But most of the movies va-va-voom came from Kristen Wiigs hilarious meta-infused objectification of Chris Hemsworths Kevin the receptionist and Kate McKinnons inoffensive flirting. Charlies Angels with proton packs it certainly was not. And why would anyone expect it to be? The original Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Zeddemore and Harold Ramis did not take down Gozer and his minions while wearing skimpy, tight-fitting clothing. So where did sexy come from for the all-female rejig?
Hudsons comment was stereotypical of a Hollywood system that values male stars for their charisma, charm and screen presence, while continuing to define women by their youth and vital statistics. Hence the barrage of criticism greeting the appointment of Gal Gadot as the new Wonder Woman, and now the disgruntlement in certain darker corners of the internet and Twittersphere over the reported casting of Amy Schumer as Barbie in a new live-action movie about the famously hourglass-figured doll. Presumably the mens rights types who got themselves in a tizzy over Charlize Therons supposed upstaging of Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road, would have been less upset if the South African actor had been in full glossy, demure and polished Dior mode, rather than appearing as a one-armed skinhead.
One can only imagine the rigid world view that inspires such anger. Clearly a Hollywood where Ghostbusters and Oceans Eleven movies feature all-male casts and Wonder Woman and Barbie are played by buxom 20-somethings with tiny waists is the only thing holding some people back from apoplexies of outrage. Who knew that upon such curious details were built so many filmgoers sense that everything is right in the world?
The good news is that there is no bad news, for Schumers casting means we might just be getting a Barbie movie that rises above the toys rather naff roots. One can only imagine that the executives at Mattel saw the fabulously affectionate job Pixar did with the sartorially obsessed doll in the Toy Story movies and decided to take an even bigger risk with their brand. And why not? The Lego Movie has done nothing but favours for the Danish toy-maker.
Schumer brings with her a veneer of spiky feminist cool, not to mention a singular mode of warm-hearted yet hard-hitting satire. She challenged attitudes towards female promiscuity with the fiercely honest and surprisingly joyful Trainwreck, but no one should expect a Schumer-led Barbie film to veer into such obviously adult territory because it doesnt need to. Even without her trademark ribald humour, the comics involvement on a creative level (she has been given permission to polish the script in her own image) transforms a project that would surely have struggled at the box office Barbie movies have previously been TV-only affairs into one with serious buzz.
Moreover, Schumer embodies the kind of healthy female empowerment that Mattel increasingly seems to wants to tap into, if the companys introduction of a new fuller-figured doll earlier this year is anything to go by. And the American actor gets to introduce herself to a younger audience that might not have been aware of her work. Everybody wins.
Except, perhaps, those who would rather see an actor with more over-the-top proportions playing the doll. But unless Im much mistaken, these are hardly genuine Barbie fans who have been crying themselves to sleep at night over the prospect of Schumers appointment. There are no childhoods being ruined here, only the possibility that a much-loved plaything might soon be better known for being played by the hottest kick-ass comic in Hollywood right now, rather than for having enormous bosoms.