Women in Ghostbusting

I’m definitely seeing the new Ghostbusters in theatres.  Hands down.  No question.  I may have to use my Scene points, but hey, I’m part of a generation who has no disposable income for entertainment.  The fact is, I’m willing to put on pants and go share a room with strangers, many of whom have no sense of, or care for, theatre etiquette, so I can go support this film.

You’d think that this single-mindedness comes from a connection to the original Ghostbusters, perhaps introduced to me by a parent or friend many Hallowe’ens ago and my eyes were opened to a new world of supernatural comedy! Nope.  I saw the originals.  They’re great! Love ‘em! But they hold no sentimental value for me.  

Perhaps I’ve seen interviews with cast and crew, featurettes and tv spots that have stoked the fire to get my ass in a theatre seat? Again, nope! I have seen maybe one or two interviews with Kristen Wiig and an article surrounding Leslie Jone’s red carpet dress situation, but I have not seen much beyond a trailer. Then why, would I be willing to spend my time and money on a film about which I know so little?

It’s got women in it.  

Okay, so it’d be kind of reductive for me to leave it at that, I suppose. I’m also going to see it because it makes misogynists angry.  The last time I decided to see a film because it had women and pissed off men was Mad Max: Fury Road.  The more I heard about MRA’s crying into their neckbeards about how this previously male-centric franchise had been overtaken by women like a Team Valor gym in Mystic territory, the more I wanted to throw my money at the film.  I wasn’t disappointed.    

Not pictured: Me crying like a child

As the credits rolled, I sat in my seat with tears running down my face.  (If you haven’t seen it, I don’t think this was the desired response by the filmmakers).  My partner asked me “Are you okay??”  And I told them that I had been waiting a long time for a movie like this.  And once the Academy Awards were doled out, my hope that this would be a continuing trend was bolstered.

Then I heard two words put together that I never thought I’d hear – “Women Ghostbusters.”  Instantly I knew there would be backlash because the original Ghostbusters is apparently on some unwritten list of films touted among men as classic and untouchable.  While most moviegoers my age were not even alive with the original was released, there is some enduring mindset that Ghostbusters is essential viewing in the journey to manhood.  

I feel that a lot of this seems to coast on the Cult of Bill Murray.  Considering they left out all of Ernie’s backstory to give him more screen-time, he’s clearly the keystone of the group.  From an interview with EW Magazine in Jan, 2015, Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) spoke about receiving his script to see how severely his scenes  had been cut, stating

The character was gone. Instead of coming in at the very beginning of the movie, like page 8, the character came in on page 68 after the Ghostbusters were established. His elaborate background was all gone, replaced by me walking in and saying, “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.” So that was pretty devastating …The next morning, I rush to the set and plead my case. And Ivan basically says, “The studio felt that they had Bill Murray, so they wanted to give him more stuff to do.” I go, “Okay, I understand that, but can I even be there when they’re established?” And of course, he said no, there’s nothing to do about it. It was kind of awkward, and it became sort of the elephant in the room.
Entertainment Weekly’s EW.com

Clearly Bill Murray is meant to be the centre point of the group.  Out of the four Ghostbusters, who else are men watching the movie going to want to relate to? The sexless nerds Spengler and Ray? Ernie is barely in the movie (and black so he is not as relatable to the target demographic), so naturally the audience favourite falls to the sardonic, “charming” Peter Venkman.  Bill Murray paints a picture of a harmless clown who doesn’t play by the rules, and who better for young men to empathize with – a smart, funny, nice guy who just needs to be given a chance?

Now here we are, 32 years later, despite allegations of severe domestic abuse, adultery and talk that he doesn’t respect people’s personal space, Murray is still thought of as the clever, contemporary Pagliacci-esque epitome of cool; idolized to the extent there are lists telling  you how every man should be more like him.  

While rumours of a third instalment in the series were batted around even by Murray himself, the announcement of the reboot was overshadowed by the mass tears of MRA’s everywhere; like Obi-Wan Kenobi sensing the destruction of Alderaan, a great cry was heard throughout the galaxy of “WHAT ABOUT THE MEEEN!?”  It’s possible that they would have been satisfied by a Bill Murray cameo, being that he’s old af, but to have no men at all must have been quite a blow to the men of the world.  

But wait, with women Ghostbusters, is there an opportunity for everyone’s favourite – objectificaton?!  

I ain't 'fraid of no clothes!
I ain’t ‘fraid of no clothes!

I haven’t seen the film, but from the marketing, it doesn’t seem effing likely that we’ll be seeing gratuitous slow motion shower scenes.  Knowing both Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, there will be more gags showing women to be just as flawed, nerdy and disgusting as men.  The four look like a ragtag bunch, similar to the original, with the biggest sex symbol being Kate McKinnon who is openly gay and openly sexy.

Butts on seats. Gay butts. Lesbutts.
Butts on seats. Gay butts. Lesbutts.

I don’t know how men feel about her, and to be honest, I don’t care and I doubt she does either.  If the actor being gay makes the character unlikable to male audiences, they’re not trying to relate to her, they’re trying to f*ck her.  Same goes for Leslie Jones.  Here we have a black woman, part of the most marginalized group of people in America, taking on the mantle of Ghostbuster when so many voices are going to tell her she doesn’t belong there.  It’s already happened; she was told that she didn’t belong on the red carpet when designers refused to provide her with a dress due to her size.  (Luckily designer Christian Siriano stepped up after Jones vocalized her frustrations on Twitter).  Melissa McCarthy also faces constant critique for her weight and choices of films, despite her success and talent as an actor.

I want to see this film because of all these reasons.  Because I want to see women who support other women, women who are flawed, women who make bad choices, black women, fat women, women who are on screen to tell their stories in their words.  I don’t need another smooth taking creep, because let’s be honest, Venkman was a creep, that in real life I’d probably block on social media.  

We’ve had enough movies for and about men.  It’s about time that women get to star in sci-fi blockbusters, shoot off laser guns and be smoothing talking idiots.  The men who are hating this movie (and already rating it 1/5 stars on IMdB.com despite this fact), are mad for this very reason.  They don’t like it that a movie was made without having their interests in mind; they feel like they won’t be able to relate to the movie because it is impossible to relate to women, because they’re above women.

Sorry guys.  You get bodily autonomy and Viagra.  We’re taking your franchises.  Ready yourselves, next thing you know we’ll be seeing a black disabled trans man playing James Bond.  Who knows? You may have to even start empathizing with these people and actually seeing them as people rather than fifth business in the lives of straight, white men.

This isn’t about you anymore, it’s about this:

Women in Ghostbusting
Image via National Post
Rachel Little

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