Ghostbusters received what I suppose is a reboot, long-delayed sequel or something of the sort. Here’s the trailer so you can draw your own initial conclusions… Then we’ll discuss.
Honestly, I am not surprised or bothered by the fact that we have a completely new gang of ghostbusters. Even the trailer points out that the original film was over 30 years ago. Harold Ramis is gone, Bill Murray, Dan Akyrod, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Rick Moranis are old. I would not be surprised to see those actors appear in small roles or cameos throughout, but their time has passed. It really does work to have fresh blood, without losing continuity.
What a good cast we have though; Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Melissa McCarthy are talented women working with other talented women. Paul Feig is not a bad director and knows how to utilize this cast. Whether the film betrays the Ghostbusters franchise and continuity or not, the film still has potential to be entertaining. But…. While we are on this cast.
GHOSTBUSTERS’ SEXUAL POLITICS
Such a thing as gender politics and political correctness were not really a hot topic issue in 1984. They are today though, and it’s those exact politics that sort of inoculate Ghostbusters from criticism. For a movie to take a brand like Ghostbusters and completely reverse the genders is a very bold move. Something like that, it would appear, could be a statement about gender disparity in Hollywood, or the tracking of women into typically non-gendered careers, or any of the other gender politics you see argued today. However, nobody involved with Ghostbusters has made a statement like that – the audience has drawn those conclusions. What this creates is a straw man to defend the movie. Since so many people have already accepted that there are gender issues at play in this all-female cast, if you hate Ghostbusters for absolutely any reason, then you hate women and their struggle.
“That’s too farfetched,” you may think. Trust me, this is ALL about gender. The popular Uber-Feminist blog, The Mary Sue, has been wetting its panties over this movie for months now. Here is an article from January 2015 about how girls can be Ghostbusters too. Here’s another Mary Sue article from December 2015 as they just cream over a cast photo because “Yay! Womyn!” Finally, here is MarySue’s simple announcement of “Here is trailer” from earlier today, which has a fascinating comments section; people hesitantly want to dislike the movie for objective reasons and are jumped upon for “hating women and contributing to rape culture.”
But Mary Sue is a feminist site… of course THEY would bring up gender. Perhaps more examples are needed? From The Daily Dot on January 29, 2016: “The Ghostbusters Reboot is Already Generating Sexist Backlash.” From fusion.net on March 3, 2016: “Angry Baby-Men Hate the New Ghostbusters Trailer.” From Salon.com: “Back Off Men: They’re Scientists! New Ghostbusters Trailer is Slimed by Sexist Trolls,” Now, what those three articles have in common is that they have quote mined the internet to find a few people that said some sexist things about the cast and then used those various comments to represent a “Look at the HUGE society of men that hate women.” To evidence their misconception of sexism, some of those articles have padded out the sexism with quotes from twitter and facebook. At the time of writing this, the official Ghostbusters trailer on YouTube has almost 25,000. Out of a pool of 25k possible comments, you actually had to pull from twitter because your case was that weak? Go look at the current comment thread on YouTube…. You gotta scroll quite a ways before someone even mentions that the cast is women.
So, since sexism really can’t work to straw man with…. What else is there?
More racist than the original you say? You mean… even the 1984 Ghostbusters was racist? Well, don’t take my cisprivileged white-guy opinion on racism… let’s ask an actual black person if it was racist. In August of 2014, Ernie Hudson conducted this interview for Daily Mail where he addressed the “racism” of Ghostbusters.
You know Ghostbusters was a lot of fun. The guys were a lot of fun to work with and we laughed a lot,’ he said.
‘When you’re a black guy you can blame everything on racism,’ he said.
‘But I don’t go there. I think there are a lot of reason why things happen and race is often the least likely reason.
‘When fans come up to me and suggest that race is an issue in the movie I always say at least they included me in the film – they didn’t have to do that.
This new Ghostbusters gives us, in the words of one very opinionated critic, three white women as scientists and one “Sapphire stereotype,” as a street-smart black woman, played by comedian Leslie Jones. This idea, that the new Ghostbusters is racist by promoting a stereotype is pretty prevalent today.
Is the character a stereotype? Well, I agree that it certainly seems that way. Is the use of stereotypes ALWAYS racist? No… this is a comedy where stereotypes can be used for comedic effect. Why, look at everything Terry Crews has ever acted in, always as a stereotypical black man but to an exaggerated comedic effect that gets nobody’s social justice panties twisted. Stereotypes of any race, whites included, can be an effective comedic device when used correctly. Does Ghostbusters use it correctly? I can’t tell, all I’ve seen is a two-minute trailer and I can’t judge based on that. But what does Leslie Jones have to say about it?
@IWriteILove if they made me a scientist you would be mad at what type of scientist. Seriously it’s a fucking movie get over yourself
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) March 3, 2016
@IWriteILove who gives a fuck dude it’s a movie shut up and go watch omg it’s not science actually. You guys bitch about nothing.
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) March 3, 2016
Well… obviously she doesn’t find the role demeaning or racist, and I would rather take her word on this matter than random folk on the internet.
AN OBJECTIVE PARAGRAPH GHOSTBUSTERS
After all of this, I haven’t said if the movie actually looks good or not. Well, there is a HEAVY use of CG that irks me a little bit, but that’s the norm for film production these days and I’m not going to be a Luddite about it. While the original 2 films made amazing use of practical effects, they visually don’t hold up in comparison to the easiness of today’s CG, giving this film a look that’s too updated when compared to the original. There are too many ghosts, however. So many different kinds of ghosts running everywhere that instead of looking like a Ghostbusters movie, this looks a helluva lot like Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (which was a terrible movie). Another problem with the trailer is bringing up key plot points that give away its story: “Someone is using a device to amplify supernatural activity!” Oh, so we have a human supervillain, instead of an actual supernatural nemesis for these heroes to conquer. Then there is the bit about these ghosts taking on human form which may be a great plot point in the film, but was it really needed in the trailer? It would make me think that the film is lacking in it’s own marketability that it needs to resort to plot point specific jokes in order to make the trailer funny. In my opinion, a good comedy has enough jokes that can work out of context for a trailer, jokes that don’t need the set-up of the film’s story in order to convince people it might be a funny movie. So… race and gender aside, they movie may be entertaining, but I don’t really think it’ll be entertaining in a way that I enjoy.
However, the movie still doesn’t come out for a few months. Will Ghostbusters (why didn’t they just make it part 3) live up to or surpass its predecessors? Will Ghostbusters be a horrible piece of shit we’ll talk about for years alongside Battlefield Earth? Is Ghostbusters indeed racist and sexist garbage? I can’t answers these questions, and people should stop trying to. We’ll find out this summer… just be patient. Or, as Leslie Jones said, “Seriously it’s a fucking movie get over yourself”