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The low budget Michelle Rodriguez movie The Assignment involves a plot where a killer is punished by a mad surgeon by being given a male to female sex change.

It is not a great movie and was not well received critically (but no movie with Sigourney Weaver can be that bad, surely).

But the original title "The Assignment" gives seems bland to the point of anonymity and gives nothing away about the bizarre plot. But this was changed for some international markets (like the UK) to "Tomboy" which at least hints at the key element of the plot.

Why was such a bland title originally chosen and why was it changed for international release?

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    Sounds like it was meant to be a clever play on gender assignment surgery. – Ben Jackson Jul 7 at 20:44
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Summary

  1. The original title was Tom Boy: Revenger’s Tale and then changed to The Assignment.
  2. It was changed for commercial reasons beyond Hill's control, but he notes that Tomboy is not considered politically correct, e. g. in America.

Walter Hill shed some light on it in a 2017 interview with Ryan T. Cusick for iHorror.com:

RTC: I read that the name of the film was originally Tom Boy: Revenger’s Tale before it became The Assignment. Do you believe that is going to have an adverse effect on your film?

WH: Changing the title?

RTC: Yeah.

WH: Well I don’t know. That is kind of unknowable, isn’t it? If you ask me did I prefer the original title?, I did, but these are commercial things that have to do with distribution, etc. The movie in England is called Tomboy, in France, it is called The Revenger, the graphic novel in France is called Body and Soul. I don’t know about other countries, so it is a film right now with many titles. It was made under the title Tomboy: Revenger’s Tale so in my head, it is still kind of that. But they seemed very pleased with The Assignment, so “you role [sic] with the punches” and you…what is the other one since I am dealing with clichés here?

and later

WH: Well I am not going to try and run away from it, it’s not my style. You know the word Tomboy is felt to be politically incorrect in certain circles I think that is pretty limiting. At the same time, you don’t want a title that is going to go out there and offend people.

and

WH: In the time between when the script was written, and the film was shot, and now, somehow the word [Tomboy] had slipped into disrepute in America, it is not in England. [...]


An explanation of why Tomboy may no longer be considered politically correct from Elizabeth King's 2017 A Short History of the Tomboy in The Atlantic:

Today, the increasing visibility of genderqueer and trans people—along with the increasingly flexible nature of gender presentation and discourse about it more generally—further complicates the idea of tomboys. Some feel that “tomboy” is no longer a useful term, given that girls and women are progressively more free to explore their gender expression beyond traditional femininity. If culture’s understanding of girlhood is not exclusive to being “girly,” is a tomboy a tomboy anymore, or just one way of being a kid?

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    Maybe it is just because I'm British and don't get what Americans find offensive, but what the hell is non-politically correct about "tomboy"? – matt_black Jul 7 at 13:57
  • "you role [sic] with the punches"! The original has that mistake, and it should be marked as such. – CJ Dennis Jul 8 at 2:54
  • @matt_black I'm British too, but it's obvious. unlike most of the countries, america has a vast number of words that are considered offensive and/or politically incorrect form. that includes words that use to imply racism, sexuality, mental status, skin colour, place of origin etc.... it's different from state to state, county to county and it's not easy to understand in whole – Vishwa Jul 8 at 3:43
  • @matt_black As an American I've never heard it considered "offensive" even by the perpetually offended types, although it can be used in a derogatory way like any descriptor of abnormality. – IllusiveBrian Jul 8 at 3:53

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