Today in Did You Even Read That Book news, filmmaking duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel, the directors behind What Maisie Knew and The Deep End, have closed a deal to write and direct an adaptation of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies but with a TWIST!, and the TWIST! is that this time it’s all girls stranded on the island. They’re making an all-girl Lord of the Flies, a story explicitly about toxic masculinity and male violence. Bruh, did you even read that book?
Also, there already is a female-centric Lord of the Flies and it’s called Mean Girls. No, they’re not stranded on an island but it is about a closed society run by a woman and how women wield power and capitalize on weakness to retain that power. The essential themes are the same, but what Tina Fey understands is that Lord of the Flies, as told by Golding, doesn’t work with women. I’m not saying women can’t be violent or that a matriarchal society can’t descend into violence, but to take Lord of the Flies as is and make it about women is to miss the entire point of Lord of the Flies.
Speaking to Deadline, David Siegel said: “It is a timeless story that is especially relevant today, with the interpersonal conflicts and bullying, and the idea of children forming a society and replicating the behavior they saw in grownups before they were marooned.” It IS timeless and it IS relevant today, with the way we’re seeing fragile masculinity and toxic masculinity play out in the real world, and with everything “snowflakes” and “beta males” and “cucks”. Now would be a GREAT time to remake Lord of the Flies and emphasize the “I learned it from you!” brand of toxic masculinity that is doing so much damage in our world right now.
But flipping it and making it about girls explicitly prohibits us from re-examining the role of aggressive masculinity in society. To be an “alpha male” is still seen as a positive in society, and traits of aggression, dominance, and patriarchal control are still assumed to be ideal and even beneficial. Lord of the Flies is a takedown of those assumptions and a warning to find a better way lest society collapse into utter chaos.
Making it about women, though, means no longer punching up to unsettle the dominant power structure, but punching down to a group of people who are being victimized by those structures they still don’t control. To show a subjugated class isolated and replicating the power structure that subjugates them only reinforces that very power being used against them. To literally interpret Lord of the Flies with women is to ignore that perhaps women, on their own, would build a very different society—not utopian, but different. An all-girl Lord of the Flies is as misguided as Confederate. It misses the point of the original fiction entirely, and it has great potential to actively harm the community it’s portraying.