Who are you going to call?
Late as usual, I finally saw Ghostbusters 2016 on Saturday. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Tumblr had loved it, but then Tumblr loves Jupiter Ascending and Pacific Rim vastly more than I do for things that I’m not really seeing in either.
On the other hand, when I first saw the promo material come out, I couldn’t believe it was true. I could not believe anyone would make a big budget mainstream comedy/sci-fi film, the reboot of a beloved cult franchise, and have every single one of the heroes be women. I spent a lot of time reblogging trailers and promo material while commenting “I don’t believe this is actually happening.”
Throughout the history of movies and TV, it’s been so prevalent to have all male lineups, maybe with a token female character who gets to be the love interest, that we’ve forgotten that it could ever be another way. Things have been slowly improving to the degree that in a lineup of – how many Avengers now? Seven? – there are two female characters. (But one of them gets to sit the film out because she’s too unstable.)
There are better franchises, of course. Suicide Squad has three women to five men (if my hasty count of the poster is to be believed.) And Mad Max had six women to two men, and Mad Max blew my mind by doing that. But it was still unthinkable to me, even in 2016, to have a film in which there wasn’t a male hero at all – all of them were female.
But hell, why not? It’s been a long time coming and there’s a lot of ground still to make up.
Anyway. It was almost total disbelief that they were even doing this at all that made me determined to go and see it, if only to show my support.
I’m so glad I did! It’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in ages. For someone who expected to be knocked off my feet by the fact that all the leads were female, I actually forgot about that the moment it started, because I was just caught up in the fact that these were people. It’s quite rare, in fact, for women to be written as people in mainstream media. They’re usually written as women first and individuals after. Which usually means I find it almost impossible to connect with them on any level.
These women though, with their scientific curiosity and fear and glee and indomitability were instantly understandable. Holtzmann’s awkward, honest speech at the end made me feel so much “emotionally repressed nerd tries to be open about her feelings,” sympathy. I know how that feels from the inside. Abby’s insistence on the perfect ratio of wonton to soup is not only something I would do myself, but was a great running joke that culminated in me laughing silently until my muscles hurt. What a joy it was to see Patti’s knowledge of history be as vital to the team as the science. And I wanted to cheer when she backed out of the room full of mannequins. You know you would have too. I certainly would!
I even loved Kevin, though he was a pointed bit of social commentary. Why not? We’re probably owed it. And anyway, who couldn’t love a man who called his dog Mike Hat?
I did totally rejoice in seeing the girls kick ghost ass and be gloriously good and competent at it, but by that time I had forgotten about other films in which that wouldn’t have happened. DH came with me, and I wondered what he made of a film where all the leads were women. He said he thought it was a better film than the first Ghostbusters, because it was funnier and it didn’t take itself too seriously.
I completely agree. I would also say how much better it was for not having a gratuitous ‘love story’ forced in there as ‘something for the women in the audience.’ I didn’t even notice there wasn’t one. The ‘something for the women in the audience’ was the whole film. For once, Erin, a woman, was allowed to be the everyman. That’s actually quite revolutionary and long overdue.