Before we start, let me introduce myself a little bit. I’m a feminist. I believe in the equality of men and women. Equal pay, equal rights, equal standing and so on, but I’m going to explain why the remake of Ghostbusters was a mistake and why it’s a step backwards for women in the film industry.
I was brought up by my parents to respect both sexes, people of all faiths, and people from all walks of life. Sure, I’ve grown up and I’ve made up my mind on what I like and dislike in terms of taste and my own personal philosophy to health, drugs, education etc, but when it comes to men and women – everything should be equal.
I’ve encountered so much sexism around the world from men against women, or women against men, that sometimes it’s like banging your head against a brick wall until a bright young buck in Canada reminds everyone that it’s actually the 21st century and that’s the way it should bloody be!
Anyway. Ghostbusters. A missed opportunity me thinks.
There has been much ado about nothing in terms of new rehash/reboot of Ghostbusters and unfortunately, if it’s the best Hollywood can muster to pursue equality of sex and race then, frankly, people have to try harder.
In recent years Hollywood has had to look itself in the mirror. Awash with rich old white men, films tend to reflect this demographic more than other groups and it has become a fight for all races to be represented at the Oscars, let alone only black actors, as most of the debate seemed to centre on, ignoring that Asians and Latinos were also grossly under-represented, but that’s a slightly different problem for a slightly different time.
One problem with the new Ghostbusters is the furore that it has created. Fanboys and diehards are agog with the new creation, slamming it without hesitation that it goes against the original and how it should more closely resemble the original cast, not just the similar plot, but also taking aim at women in general, creating more stupid comments than Kanye West’s twitter feed.
The abuse is disappointing from a fan’s point of view and the derogative comments have no place in a civilised society and are rightly condemned. Nobody should be judged on their sex and told they can’t do something based on gender.
However, my disappoint has two main points. One, if the cast of the new film didn’t want it to be compared to the original, then why so many similarities and nods to its predecessor? Two, if you’re going to champion something as a sign of equality, then please do it properly.
Melissa McCarthy stated she didn’t want it in any way judged against the first two. So, why the exact same car, same Slimer sidekick, cameos from the original casts, the near-to-as-possible plot? Just, why?
If the aim was to ride on the back of a popular franchise, but to reboot it with a gimmick that all the leading characters are reversed in gender terms just to sell a few extra seats then it’s poor, lazy, writing.
But even worse, it begs the question; is this really the best attempt by Hollywood at showing that women can do anything just as good as men?
Paul Feig, the director clearly thinks so, but in terms of pushing the agenda for women, then I’m sorry but it’s more ‘gimmick’, than ‘break-through’. Feig directed the hit Bridesmaids; a standalone comedy about women having fun, being strong, getting married and having their arseholes bleached. It was a justified hit. So why take a movie that was made successful by an all male cast and simply switch it out?
In comparison to Bridesmaids, then the new Ghostbusters typifies a step backwards at worst and a hesitant wobble at best.
Has Hollywood got no interesting ideas up their sleeves to do something original, that just so happens to have a female cast, than to produce something so retrograde that the backlash was expected from the start?
It’s also important to point out that there are always backlashes when there are new reboots or remakes. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing, Conan the Barbarian et al all had a fair amount of abuse directed their way pre- and post-production.
By Feig holding it up as a beacon that women can do anything just as good as men is false, because it still relies on the huge fan-base that the originals accumulated and it’s easy fodder for the cynics/trolls to attack. If you wanted to create a film to show the talent of women and original with little in comparison, then why not just make a film, which just so happens to have a female cast, and let it be successful in its own right without all the extra focus centred upon it.
Hence Bridesmaids being laugh out loud funny and endearing simultaneously, with none of the negative publicity or questionable intentions attached to it.
Regrettably, gender is not the only bastion of gimmickry in the film. Look too towards another overhang from the previous films and the role of Winston being cast as the fourth, less seen, worse educated Ghostbuster. See any comparison with the new minority role taken up by Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones?
Of course you do. Poorly educated compared to her white counterparts, Patty is fast talking, loud, urban and everything you would expect of a black woman in the eyes of a stereotypical aging Hollywood casting agency.
My hope is that this film is a stepping stone on the way to a stronger presence and state of equality for women in Hollywood and mainstream films and not just the start of straightforward, lazy counterfeits, based on doing something clever like role reversal whereby the idea is that women have to fit in to an already developed and established framework.
History of compels us to question decisions by Hollywood and to accept anything at such face value would be derisive to the hard work done to get this far. If we accept this as any normal film, then we accept everything that comes with it, including the acceptance women still rely on men to make successful films or that black women are expected to be at the back of the queue altogether.
For example, if people had accepted the short film Kannibal Kapers (1935) as the norm then what would that have said for society in the future? It would grow stale and comfortable with this inherent racism and sexism.
For the actors and director, and as a middle finger to the trolls and idiots who have made it their business to slurry the film, I hope the films a success.
But, please, Hollywood, you must do better.