Let’s Be Honest: You Don’t Have a Problem With the New ‘Ghostbusters,’ You Have a Problem With Women

GameStop, Inc.


This weekend over at San Diego Comic-Con, the attendees of Hall H were greeted with glimpses of the eighth Batman movie since 1989, the eighth and ninth X-Men films since 2000, and, of course, everyone is waiting for word on the sixth Spider-Man movie since 2002. There’s a certain stagnation within the geek culture that lends itself to embracing the familiarity, shunning ideas that may be considered bold or different. No other place is this more apparent than the online reaction to the first official photo from Paul Feig’s new Ghostbusters movie. Within moments of the image appearing online, a swarm of comments alternating between dismissive and pure vitriolic are flung in the direction of the movie. But why? Simply, it’s because the new Ghostbusters are women.

Now I know that if you’re disagreeing with me early on, you’re likely thinking, “I don’t like the new Ghostbusters and it has nothing to do with women, I just love it from my childhood.” Which is, frankly, bullshit. First of all, people played videogames as children and I’ve seen no impassioned pleas that Pixels will somehow denigrate their beloved video game icons. And more to that point, Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, and Kevin James have nowhere near the record of quality films as Melissa McCarthy or Kristen Wiig. Also, we’ve seen the trailers for Pixels and, well, it looks awful. Meanwhile, the anger sparked by the new Ghostbusters is based off a couple of photos. A few more photos and we’d have a whole second of footage! While the costumes look like good ol’ Ghostbusters garb, that one glaring difference draws the ire of a vocal minority – their gender. You don’t have to be an internet sleuth to find casual uses of “cunts” and “bitches” in relation to these new Ghostbusters. But tell me again how it has nothing to do with gender.

While the internet has turned upon the four women now donning the canvas jumpsuits, they’re quick to forgive the men behind some of the most pedestrian and middling superhero cinema to date. Zack Snyder, who I call Michael Bay 2.0, has only made one movie that wasn’t based on some preexisting property – the borderline incomprehensible Sucker Punch. Snyder is a great stylist, but he’s not an adequate storyteller, yet fandom extends him seemingly limitless goodwill. Or what about Bryan Singer? Working on his fourth X-Men film, Singer once again took over the franchise after it was injected with life once again following Matthew Vaughn’s First Class and returned to the same drab style that he brought nearly a decade prior. And still people are looking forward to Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Going even further, what about Ryan Reynolds? The actor is enthusiastic, and I can fully respect that, but it’s not like he’s a leading man with this lengthy roster of memorable roles. He’s already played Deadpool once in the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and though Deadpool does look really promising, the lack of skepticism surrounding a character that’s already been screwed up once and being handled by a first-time director says a lot.

All of this placed in contrast to the reaction toward the new Ghostbusters is stunning. Director Paul Feig, who is co-writing the film with The Heat writer Katie Dippold, has an incredible résumé. He directed the wonderful Bridesmaids and Spy , and created the great series Freaks and Geeks. As far as the cast is concerned, I’m not too familiar with Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, but my lack of familiarity doesn’t mean that it’ll be awful – sometimes saying “I don’t know” is much more effective than a blind opinion. Both Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have proven themselves to be phenomenal comedic and dramatic actresses. The sci-fi comedy Paul, which Wiig co-starred in, is a better geek film than anything featuring Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, R.I.P.D., X-Men Origins). McCarthy and Feig’s collaboration from earlier this year, Spy, is better than any superhero film I’ve seen all year.

What gets lost in the perpetual outrage cycle is the modern era studio filmmaking. There was always going to be another Ghostbusters, it was just a matter of what and when. For years, Dan Aykroyd desperately tried to get Ghostbusters 3 off the ground, not even deterred when Harold Ramis died and Bill Murray was vocally opposed. Following the underwhelming Ghostbusters 2, which jumps through hoops to basically get the characters to where they were at the start of the first film, do we really need to go back there again? Even as Aykroyd’s intentions for a third film faded, Sony was going to do something with a property that they owned. Instead of making a tired rehash, they hired a smart director with a great track record of directing funny women in smart, nuanced roles – it’s a different, bold, and exciting direction. Or would you rather have Brett Ratner’s Ghostbusters starring Jai Courtney?

Most importantly, just because you consumed a piece of culture in your youth doesn’t make it sacred. Youth is an important time in our lives and shapes who we are, but we grow older and endless attempts to recapture a moment long gone is a tragic exercise in futility. Asking artists to make their work fit within a narrow, personal definition isn’t merely irrational, it’s entirely impossible. No matter what interpretations of beloved characters follow, they can’t change your connection with the original. There’s no need to feel threatened by different takes on favorite characters. But while you may object to the modern nature of studio filmmaking, where everything old is new again, you can’t say that the open revulsion towards this new Ghostbusters has nothing to do with sexism. What is inherently male about Ghostbusters? Nothing. Unless you like to think of those brave macho warriors who run away, arms flailing, screaming when they first encounter a ghost. Put the fifth guy in the Batsuit in 27 years and there’s a collective cheer. Give four women some proton packs for the first time ever – freak out. Though we all get wrapped up in trailers, casting news, and set photos, we can’t ever truly judge a movie until, you know, we actually see it. Crazy, I know, but writing a movie off based on a picture is even crazier.

Anytime Costumes


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