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The concept alone invited immediate scrutiny on social media. But skepticism was inflamed by a fairly common Hollywood story: The film about girls will be written and directed by two men, Scott McGehee and David Siegel.
Using girls “might help people see the story anew,” Mr. McGehee said.
What remains to be seen is whether the new “Lord of the Flies” will offer largely a mirror image of the novel, subbing in girls without changing the central plot points and behavior of the characters, or if it will wrestle with how girls would approach their fate differently.
“It could be problematic if all they’re doing is switching out girls for boys and saying, ‘Well, girls would do this too,’” said Pamela Davis-Kean, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who studies children and families.
Though many differences between boys and girls tend to be overstated, boys do tend to be more physically aggressive, she said. Some of the novel’s scenes of physical violence probably wouldn’t align with how girls would settle their issues, especially in the era of the book, she said.
The depth of collaboration could be another departure, she said. While the boys in the book did try to set up effective communication methods, like only speaking when holding a conch shell, they largely ended up deferring to leaders. Girls would be more likely to hear more ideas and deliberate, Ms. Davis-Kean said.
“My guess would be a lot more time in the shell circle trying to figure out what to do,” she said.