Well, I can’t put this post off anymore. It’s been sitting on my computer in bits and pieces pretty much since the new Ghostbusters movie was officially announced and garnered instant-hate. And to be honest, I was kind of one of the haters. Something about it felt exploitative. Like, there was nothing wrong with the original Ghostbusters. Sure, it was a product of its time, but it held up okay. Rebooting it — now with female ghostbusters, what a twist! — seemed like pandering, blatant attempt to catch the social justice wave. Like the movie was being made not because it was needed, not because it was wanted, just because it could be.
And for a while, that didn’t sit well with me. And when images of the new costumes started being released – costumes that looked more befitting of a I don’t even know what – I doubled down on my ire.
Since then, I’ve heard the raging criticism — from “Ugh, WOMEN as
Ghostbusters” on one side to “Ugh! STERETYPED women!” on the other and some truly ridiculous stuff in between. But I’ve kind of reached the point where anytime somebody feels like they have to legit rage about a movie, it’s time to get their priorities in order. By this time I’d settled into a complacent “Well, this is happening. Doesn’t mean I have to watch it,” mindset. But there was one argument that made me rethink my stance.
One of my childhood friends on Facebook made a post about how the new Ghostbusters – while it might be funny, and it might even be good – would never really be Ghostbusters. And the sheer illogic of it sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts (some of which got lost in the bits and pieces of computer existence). Because are they busting ghosts? Yes? Then it’s Ghostbusters. Goodness and funniness to be determined.
But the argument continued: Because Ghostbusters possessed a masculine humor that made it what it was, it just won’t be the same with feminine humor.
And honestly, I’ve spent so much time trying to suss out the mysterious men-only humor, that I probably could have rewatched at least one of the films by now. Is it Egon collecting “snot”? Ray’s ghostly wet dream? Please, somebody tell me the humor that made Ghostbusters what it was is not Ray’s ghostly wet dream.
So I don’t even really know what that argument’s about, other than the entirely inaccurate idea that there’s man-humor and woman-humor and never the twain shall meet. When, in reality, there’s just humor — funniness to be determined by the individual consuming it. And the more I thought about it, the more I started to actually like the idea of this movie.
I grew up on a block full of boys. One across the street (who is the critic of this story but still seems to have grown up to be a wonderful man and father), one next door and one at the corner, and I was friends with all of them. Individually, we’d play catch, fawn over action figures and baseball cards, pretend to be X-Men and dogs (why? I don’t know…) but Ghostbusters was one thing that could draw three or more of us together at a time.
But there was always a controversy. Being the girl of the group, my friends always wanted me to be the Janine, sitting around and telling them where all the ghosts were that they would then go bust. And here’s the thing: While I have specific memories of all the other things we did growing up, I don’t remember anything about actually pretending to be Ghostbusters. Did I relent and be Janine (and was my Janine a secretary or a Ghostbuster)? Did I push, and we all ran around as our own crew of Peter Venkmans (Because everybody wanted to be Peter)? Did we invent original characters to be, or did we give up and play something else instead? I have no idea, because all I remember is the controversy.
And for a person who values stories and creative play, that just seems like a shame.
So maybe it won’t be the Ghostbusters of my childhood or my friends’ childhoods. That’s okay. Because it’ll be a set of Ghostbusters for a new set of children. And my inner child can only hope that it will be a good and worthy successor that doesn’t replace the originals or detract from them, but rather entertains many while opening options for all.
So, that’s why I’ve grown from irritated to apathetic to actually kind of excited for the new movie. But I still think those costumes are dumb.
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