The first time I saw Ghostbusters (1984) was two days after I saw the remake in theaters. I had witnessed scenes of the original in passing when I was younger because my little brother would watch it continuously throughout his childhood. I remember seeing Sigourney Weaver thrashing around a bed in an outfit that could be seen on the Victoria Secret runway, I remember Bill Murray telling his secretary her skills would be useful in “food service”, I remember being so underwhelmed with the images I saw that for the multiple years my brother played it on repeat I was never inspired enough to sit down and watch it. When I finally did, 13 years later, I was more unimpressed that I thought I would be. The blatant sexism and the poor execution of the “climatic” ending led me to the conclusion that this was another overrated male movie (See Also: Fight Club, The Godfather, or any other movie called “a classic”.) I even tried to look past my unadulterated love for Jillian Holtzmann to try and appreciate the original Ghostbusters characters. However, I found myself bored with the rather bland, uninspired men of this 1980s film. Maybe it’s my raging feminist ideals, or my adoration for the remake that proves we need more movies starring women, but the old Ghostbusters was the film equivalent of a flatline.
I can understand valid criticism towards the movie, but when the majority of comments about it are “why did they have to remake it with women?” it’s obvious to see that the backlash Ghostbusters receives is not because of it’s content/script/plot line/etc, but because , god forbid, it starred women. A lot of people fail to grasp why remaking a movie like Ghostbusters with women is so important. In a world where women are force-fed misogynistic stereotypes and forced to play the same archaic roles, Ghostbusters is revolutionary when it comes to women-fronted movies. This film stands out against the rest of them because it’s about four brilliant scientists whose main ambitions are to capture ghosts instead of capturing husbands. This movie succeeds where other women-fronted ones have failed, it fleshes out three-dimensional women on screen who focus on themselves instead of men. Even when a movie is supposed to be about a woman, take the film Sylvia for instance, which had the potential to show the genius abilities of poet and author Sylvia Plath, instead squandered her entire life and warped it to be a story revolving around her disgusting husband Ted Hughes.
I recently read a post on Tumblr (by user Gavinbelsons) highlighting the fact that majority of women-fronted comedies are so heavily gendered that it would be impossible to recreate them with men. Ranker.com created a list of “Female Comedy Movies” and had users rank them in order from best to worst. The Top Ten on the list contains titles such as Easy A, Mean Girls, and Bridesmaids. Pretend these movies are remade with men, Easy A would be about a teenage boy being shamed by his whole school for having sex (because, you know, men are always called sluts and whores instead of being applauded for their sexual conquests), or picture Mean Girls starring boys competing for popularity- the idea is so absurd in Hollywood standards that the plotline wouldn’t even translate. However, Bridesmaids brings up an interesting idea about marriage-based films because one could argue that it has a male-equivalent movie- i.e. The Hangover. Women would never get to star in The Hangover though, a film about getting so monumentally fucked up that the stars have to go back and piece their lives together. Wedding movies show the divide in attitudes that Hollywood thinks acceptable for men and women (think Wedding Crashers vs. Bride Wars.) This gender essentialist nonsense reeks of sexist filmmaking and relates back to the point of how completely necessary it is that Ghostbusters was remade with women.
I want to personally thank Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy for making me cry from happiness over representation in a film that once starred bland, sexist men. They give me hope for the future of film and women and I couldn’t be more in love with this movie than I already am.
(P.S. the fact that Kate McKinnon’s character is gay makes my gay heart so happy)
(P.S.S. “fuck you” to all the studio execs who wouldn’t let her LGBT+ status actually be stated)