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Dear Hollywood, Screw your opportunistic, all-female Ghostbusters

The new Ghostbusters cast... Good luck.


This is a rant about Hollywood, equal opportunity, the cinematic portrayal of women... oh, and Ghostbusters.

I first heard about an all-female Ghostbusters several months ago, so I've had a lot of time to think about the reboot and here's why this makes me facepalm so hard, that my hand is about to emerge from the rear of my skull.

This is not the empowerment of women, this is not even an attempt at fighting for gender equality or raising awareness of gender issues, it is not an attempt at providing women with new opportunities though I'm sure it will be very deliberately marketed in all those ways.

This is taking one of the most beloved franchises ever and re-skinning it as a vaginally bolstered cash-cow, and here's why that sucks...

If you're not into gender debate and just a fan of the Ghostbusters franchise, odds are you tuned out the second you found out Bill Murray wasn't in the movie (EDIT: Apparently now he is).  There was a rumor that he would play a mentor role in the movie but that seems to no longer be happening.  Bill has pointed out repeatedly that a third movie is a bad idea because no one wants to see a bunch of old men fight ghosts (I'm paraphrasing) but he did give the nod to an all-female reboot as a decent idea.

If you are into gender debate, prepare for everyone on every side of the discussion to be pissed.

MRAs will probably see this as a perfect example of men being further oppressed by taking a classic guy movie and turning it into what will arguably become a chick-flick.  Is that a reasonable position?  How would you feel about an all male-reboot of something iconic like the Golden Girls?

Middle of the road people are going to point out that gender equality would be creating an even split between male and female characters and having them work together as a team, not ejecting all the male ones.

As for feminists...

One of two things will happen.  Either the movie will do well and some feminists will yell very loudly that this is proof that audiences are eager for female driven entertainment... or it will bomb terribly and they will yell that the women were set up for failure because no one could possibly follow on from the originals.

Even if it does well you're still going to have conservative feminists complain that this is a perfect example of the misogyny of the film industry.  Why? Because the only time women are given a chance to be central in a movie is when they are put into something that already has a proven marketable track record, rather than give women opportunities based on potential success.

They also wouldn't be wrong.

For example, Scarlett Johansson keeps getting shots at action roles because she's already proven via The Avengers series that she's popular, but they used male stars and the male dominated Marvel franchise to cement her popularity before giving her a shot at an action film of her own. In short they marketed a woman specifically to men, rather than just a character to people.

How do I feel about all of this?

I'm sick-to-death of token vagina's. Before you call me a misogynist, understand what I'm saying and why I'm saying it.

I would love to see a female driven action, or horror, or comedy or freaking kids-movie.  I would like to see any female driven movie that wasn't about dating, love or the challenges of being a goddamn woman.  Because the only time we seem to put women front and centre in movies is when we are specifically trying to pander to female audiences, rather than just write a  movie where the main character happens - just happens - to have a vagina.

Ask yourself, how many movies have you seen that revolve around the fact that the main character is specifically a man and is struggling with the difficulties of being a man (if you think there are no challenges attached to being a man, it's time to check your genderism)... rather than they are just an interesting person, who happens to have a penis?

Women are now in the same camp as blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Jews, homosexuals and pretty much everyone else that's not a white man in movies. We put them in cinema because someone somewhere said "Oh... and we need a woman..."

To me, our political correctness now feels like a step backwards because women seem to be in movies more and more because it needs to include women or we want to include sex appeal.  What do I mean by that?

In 1979 Sigourney Weaver portrayed Ellen Ripley in the movie Alien.  Her character happens to be female, she happens to be (non-stereo-typical) beautiful, she even does a scene in her underwear... At no point does Alien feel like its about women or sex appeal.  When was the last time you saw a movie with a female lead and got that feeling?

In short, I'd love to see movies with interesting female leads, that are leads because they are interesting, not just because they are female... and throwing a bunch of women into an existing franchise like Ghostbusters to make it more marketable, it reeks of equal-opportunity-isms, instead of just providing great actors who just happen to be female, with an opportunity.

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  1. It's hard to respond to this positively or negatively or at all to this because you are a bit all over the place. You make so many generalizations and accusations that it is hard to track or know where to start. But my general commentary is that a lot of what could be a genuine critique of Hollywood's tendency to recycle brand recognition for a profit gets eaten up by a misguided anger towards political correctness and feminism.

    For example, you make the accusation that stories about men just happen to be stories about interesting people who happen to be men, while stories about women always happen to be about them being women. There are a few problems there, mostly centering on how you choose to categorize stories, such as:
    a.) Being male is your default setting, and a huge cultural bias, and so you don't notice when stories feature maleness as central element. Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, No Country for Old Men, True Detective, Mad Men, all feature masculinity as a central theme, but we don't consider them guy movies or guy shows.
    It's kind of like how if 90% of characters in a movie are black, it's a "black people movie." But if 90% of the characters are white, it's just a movie.
    b.) There are more movies starring men that don't focus on the challenges of being a man because there are more stories about men period. But there are movies about female main characters that aren't about the challenges of being female. Prometheus or Fargo for example. There should be a lot more I agree, but I don't think the lack of that is the fault of feminism, I think it's cultural bias. But it's hard for me to understand what you mean when you say you are looking for something where the character being female isn't important. Because this actually happens all the time, it's just that Hollywood often can't help but sexualize women because money, and society in general tends to label a female main character as a female main character regardless of whether it was important to the story.
    c.) Men have privilege. I'm not saying there are no male or white male specific challenges in our society, just that being white or being male affords one the luxury of one's whiteness or maleness to be an issue far less often.

    Lastly I'd like to say that I think you should back off this Ghostbusters movie for now. You don't know yet that the plot is going to revolve around them being women, and if it does necessarily mean it won't be good nor does that take away from the potential for there to be other movies starring women that do not highlight their femaleness as a central theme. I think that for someone who has to defend themself by reminding us that you are not a misogynist, you are actually pretty close to being a feminist. Which is great I think. You just have to step back for a moment and realize that your real problem isn't with this Ghost Busters movie starring women, but with bad or trite writing in all it's forms and with Hollywood's sexism in casting all incidental characters as white men.

    1. fair call, thanks for your thoughts :)

    2. "Being male is your default setting, and a huge cultural bias ECT"
      there is also other reasons like there are rules that scriptwriters use in regards to how to handle female deaths.*

      I have to say I really dislike this part of the article
      "MRAs will probably see this as a perfect example of men being further oppressed by taking a classic guy movie and turning it into what will arguably become a chick-flick"
      What I dislike is the word 'oppressed' its not even close to right every thing other then this is fine but 'oppressed' is very strong word that should only be reserved for very specific and rare circumstances


  2. I agree with your sentiment on use of the word 'oppressed' Adrian. In that sentence I'm essentially using language handed to me be a Red Pill MRA I met recently. I personally don't think men are oppressed, Red Pill's do, I should have made a point of separating them from the greater Men's Rights Movement.

    1. ok fair enough
      I will say this did make me think Off all the times They changed a fictional characters change race or sex ...
      Out of all the times it has been done I can only think of one time it has been at all successful .This would be Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica and to say that was a success is an understatement because she is a bajillion times more interesting then the original

    2. Starbuck is the single greatest gender flipped character in history :) But personally I believe that is linked to the fact that Ronald D Moore is one of the greatest creative minds in history.

  3. "In 1979 Sigourney Weaver portrayed Ellen Ripley in the movie Alien. Her character happens to be female, she happens to be (non-stereo-typical) beautiful, she even does a scene in her underwear... At no point does Alien feel like its about women or sex appeal. When was the last time you saw a movie with a female lead and got that feeling?"

    More of this please! Fantastic stories about people, sometimes the lead is female, sometimes the lead is male/transgender/black/white/Asian/midget...

  4. In the franchise the Hunger Games the main hero was Katniss Everdeen, in Titanic the story was told through the eyes of Rose. There was a movie that had the Bone word in it was a police investigation from the support and lead doubling up with a woman and minority in it. In the Rocky franchise Adrian, while being a support role, influenced Rocky's state of mind to where the outcome of Rocky's success based around Adrian. There are some great movies throughout history where a woman or someone from a minority has played the lead role. I think it's great for that, but this downgrades a very popular franchise to exactly basing the heroes because they are women. Nice thoughts here.

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