According to Deadline, Disney will be rebooting the classic 2000 romantic comedy High Fidelity as a gender-swapped TV series that will take on a more optimistic tone than the movie and its source material, the 1995 novel of the same name by Nick Hornby.
The idea of a woman playing the role of Rob Gordon, a jaded record store owner in Chicago who talks directly to the camera while recounting his top five breakups, had some corners of the internet pretty upset, including the original film's star, John Cusack.
I think that was the point of it. He was a mess. And an upbeat version of it, is basically a misreading of what High Fidelity is. It’s like a PG Punisher movie. Or a funny The Bell Jar.— This is my burner account (@azulgris27) April 7, 2018
And, to be honest, I understand some of the backlash. Instead of rebooting old movies with gender swapped roles (yes, this applies to you too, Steven Spielberg), why not greenlight original movies with original women characters as the lead? Movies like Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, the Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids, and the Tracy Oliver-penned Girls Trip prove it is possible to gain critical and commercial success when making original women characters the centre of a film, and not simply the girlfriend or wife of the male protagonist.
But what I can’t understand is why people don’t want to see record owner and music expert Rob Gordon as Roberta Gordon. Someone who has the same interests and same smarts but with maybe just a little less self-loathing and cynicism in their heart? What would be the harm in positioning a woman as an expert in something as life-defining and ubiquitous as music, the soundtrack to our lives? Despite what most pop culture portrayals of nerds would have you think, some of the best music experts are women. Some of my favourites are Spotify’s Jessica Hopper, who worked at the Chicago Reader, Pitchfork, and MTV News, and Chicago-based writer Britt Julious, who has also written for the Chicago Tribune, Vice, and Vogue.
Unfortunately, I think the reason why people don’t want to see a woman touted as a music expert is because sexism is so ingrained in our society that any kind of expert, whether it’s regarding news, art, food, or music, is automatically assumed to be a man. And when anything comes along to buck that trend, even if it’s of a fictional character, it brings up that knee-jerk reaction of, “That’s not the way it’s supposed to be!”
In the 90-plus year history of Hollywood cinema, men have had the luxury of playing any and everything: heroes, villains, swashbuckling lotharios, lovelorn nerds who still end up finding companionship at the end of the movie. It’s been time for women to have the same opportunities to play those kind of wide-ranging roles.
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