While I don’t always have the time to read KG’s Movie Reviews (they’re very in-depth), when I do find the time I generally enjoy the work he does. He recently brought on a guest blogger, Wendell from Dell On Movies, who wrote the piece “Why we need Ghostbusters to be a hit“.
I had mixed feelings towards it.
Wendell argues that there’s a distinct lack of representation when it comes to female role models on the big screen (specifically the heroic kind). He continues his piece noting that while there is an increase of female representation, it is often second fiddle to men, and that even big companies like Disney, who appear to to be pushing for more central female characters, then ignore females when it comes to representation in toy lines and other merchandise (although sometimes they apparently have “good” reason to -ed).
Wendell then settles on the idea that rather than the new Ghostbusters becoming a massive smash hit, we need it to not bomb at the box office. Otherwise it will get thrown into the bargain bin with the likes of Catwoman and Elektra as yet another example of why female driven action/hero stories don’t sell. Wendell essentially concludes his argument highlighting the importance of female representation in film as being necessary towards for building an inclusive society, and that he hopes Leslie Jones’ character is more complex than the stereotype she seems to be in the trailers, before briefly discussing his and his family’s expectations for the film.
On one hand, I agree with his argument: I would like to see the film do well so that studios are encouraged to make films that cater for a more diverse audience (even if Hollywood is slowly moving towards this anyway, more successful films will undoubtedly speed this process up). As a non-white Marvel movie fan, I was beaming from ear to ear when Black Panther made his appearance in Civil War (he came across as a leading central figure, unlike War Machine who has always appeared to be second fiddle to Iron Man), so I understand the importance of having role models that you can look up to.
However, part of me also cannot deny that, from what I’ve seen in the trailers, this new Ghostbusters reboot seems to reek of sloppy, lazy film making that appears to simply jump on the inclusivity bandwagon. From what we’ve seen so far, it seems to be almost note for note, a gender-swap of the original film. Three smart scientists with an interest in the paranormal are joined by an average Joe (Joelene?) to form a supernatural ghost fighting team. They even show scenes that are simply recreations of scenes from the original Ghostbusters film. Why not try to do more with the source material than simply swap penises for vaginas?
Be that as it may, they might be saving some of the story for the actual film instead of giving it away entirely in the trailer. What this story might be is currently confusing as hell, as they begin the trailers with the idea that this story exists in the same universe as the original film, but then it’s pretty clear from the trailer than no-one knows or remembers the original Ghostbusters. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some kind of weird multi-verse shenanigans going on considering the main characters from the original series are credited on IMDB, excluding Harold Ramis (RIP).
Another thing that really bothers me about this film, and again ties into the fact that they seem to be sticking so closely to the original, is that Leslie Jones’ character is basically a complete Hollywood stereotype of Black women. On top of that, it actually seems like a step backwards from Ernie Hudson’s character, Winston, in the original film. While Winston does claim to be religious in the original series, it’s undoubtedly there to balance the very non-religious views of the other team members. We have yet to see if this is the case for Jone’s character Patty, who at this point comes across as loud and brash, obviously has a fervent religious background, and also happens to be the least educated person in the team since she works as a subway employee (not the sandwich company). Why the writers didn’t make Leslie Jones’ character one of the smart ones and give Kate McKinnon the loud, brash, New Yorker role, we’ll never know. All I know is this doesn’t gel so well with the idea that the film is trying to be progressive.
In conclusion, my thoughts are based entirely on what we’ve seen from the trailers, and at the end of the day, might be completely wrong. As it stands now, the new Ghostbusters reboot has done little to get me excited, and while they have been pushing certain ideas regarding representation, they have ignored other groups that need representation and this has actually put me off seeing the film to a certain degree. The new Ghostbusters movie would have to be very good to get me to pay for a ticket at this point.