By Allyson Vaughan
The new Ghostbusters film caused quite a bit of angst and outcry when it was first announced that not only would there be a reboot of the acclaimed 1980s film, but it would be featuring a nearly all female cast. The film premiered at the beginning of July, starring Kristin Wiig as Erin Gilbert, Melissa McCarthy as Abby Yates, Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann, and Leslie Jones as Patty Tolan. Together, they make up the new Ghostbusters team, and the women all do phenomenal jobs. All four women are seasoned comics, Jones, Wiig, and Holtzman all coming from a SNL background. And Melissa McCarthy and Wiig worked together in another all female, ground breaking comedy some of you may know Bridesmaids. The original Ghostbusters even came back for the film, backing it entirely, with Dan Ackroyd and the late Harold Ramis even assisting in writing the script. On paper, there shouldn’t have been an outcry beyond the “oh brothers” we all echo out whenever Hollywood decides to redo a classic film. The cast has an incredible record for comedic power, every last one of them more than qualified to do justice to the redo, and yet the internet’s major problem wasn’t that it was being remade. It was that it was being remade with women.
A lot of people might be tired of hearing about people complaining about the casting. And so am I, but we shouldn’t be complicit just because it’s been talked about too much. Because it’s being talked about in the wrong way. It’s being talked about without any issues being addressed. Because here’s how it is, we still live in a world where an all female cast is viewed as a problem. We live in a world where people can sit on their couches and tweet out their hate without having to look anyone in the eye. It’s like a bunch of middle school kids talking smack about their math teacher and exchanging gum under the bleachers during Gym. It’s just a lot of people twiddling their thumbs, filled with hate for something that threatens them. We all know there’s a long-held stigma that women can’t be funny (Who says? I don’t have time to list them. And I don’t know who started it. Just Google “World’ First Dumbass” and you’ll probably get your answer). To deny there is a problem with our culture, and the level to which we propagate negative attitudes towards gender roles, is like looking up at a burning building and asking a fireman if they can just throw a blanket on it.
So we know there’s a problem. That’s clear. Some of you may be wondering why it’s such a big deal to people that the film has an all female cast. And as someone who has seen the film, seen how each cast member kills it on-screen, all I can say is I really don’t know. Except that it seems to threaten this old sensibility that women can’t be funny, that females are somehow immune to the desire to get in front of an audience and entertain and not have to exploit themselves to do it. If it feels strange to hear that’s an issue, it should. Because females have been crushing it in comedy for years. Look to Carol Burnett if you want an example from the past, and then turn yourself back to now. Amy Schumer, Ali Wong, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (Comedy Goddesses, mind you), Leslie Jones + the rest of the Ghostbusters cast and so many others are as funny as any other comedian out there. Because that’s their job, that’s their talent. How much longer do women have to keep saying “I can be funny” before everyone is just like, “Yeah, I know.” There should be no justification, there should have to be no conversation like that. But there is.
It doesn’t matter if the new film did the original justice, or if you’re on board with the remake at all. That’s not been the center of the outcry, the all female cast has. I’d love to lock all those people complaing in a theatre and make them watch the film, daring them not to laugh as Kate McKinnon’s facial expressions play out. If they can make it through without laughing, they’re probably dead inside, so that really sucks for them. On one hand though, the outcry sheds some light on the power this remake is having. It’s highlighting that there are still prevalent problems regarding how women are viewed as comedians, as actors, and as human beings. Those kind of issues don’t just go away, they have to be worked on by each generation after the next. And the new film is showing the next generation of little boys and girls how normal equality can look. Because the issues here extend beyond Hollywood. They extend to every job a girl is told she can’t do; let’s be real here, if that fireman is a woman, and she’s pulling you from a burning building, are you really going to stop and be like, “Are you sure you can do this?” You wouldn’t stop a woman from saving your life. So why would you fear one making you laugh?