Guess who wants to talk about movies and media again.
I know I talk about this kind of a lot but my world is media. A lot of people’s world is media! We, as a culture, internalize and express ourselves through media. Therefore it is worthy of our attention and reflection and dissection.
Today’s subject: Ghostbusters (2016)
I know how a lot of people feel about remakes. And I know why! There are a few things everyone is mostly in agreement on when it comes to remakes.
- It’s never going to live up to the original.
- It’s just a cash grab.
- Is Hollywood running out of ideas?
- This is the end of culture.
And those points are fair based on the history of remakes we’ve seen in Hollywood. They’re boring, not as good as the originals, wastes of time and money. But there are ways to do film remakes without falling into this pit.
What do a lot of remakes have in common? Ignoring Spider-Man (whose main issue is that studios can’t decide who even owns him as a character), films are generally remade because technology allows for better graphics, right? So the same story is re-hashed with similar actors and a similar premise, just with CGI.
When movies are remade just because modern technology allows for more fancy on-screen tricks, the audience is left feeling disappointed. There was nothing of the film to compel them to invest themselves in it. They don’t care how realistic an explosion looked or how well that CGI character interacted with live actors. Have you seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Literally no movie will ever surpass the brilliance.
So if you want to remake a movie: you’ve got to make it relevant. Make it different. Make people care.
Some attempts have been made recently in this regard: Marvel superheroes have had people of color take up the title in comics, there have been more female protagonists in Star Wars adaptations, it’s been revealed that Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu of the USS Enterprise will have a husband in the newest edition to the Star Trek film remakes: Star Trek: Beyond, and Annie (2014) featured a young black girl as its eponymous character. Granted some of these have been more successful than others (I heard Annie was a flop and I didn’t see it myself but I support it), but it’s definitely more interesting when you give the original source material an upgrade. When you show it through a different lens.
Enter Ghostbusters. They’re here. They ain’t afraid of no ghosts. And they’re women.
Now I know some people are thinking “What does it matter if they’re women?” And let me just tell you: E V E R Y T H I N G.
How often do you see women who are heroes? How often do you see women with stories that don’t revolve around them being women? How often do you see four, complex, diverse women on screen at the same time?
Here’s just a short list of tests the new Ghostbusters passes:
- Bechdel Test: All the women have a lot of conversations about things other than men. Like ghosts, and cadavers, and technobabble.
- Sexy Lamp Test: None of the women can be replaced by a sexy lamp and have the plot remain intact.
- Mako Mori Test: All the women have a narrative arc about busting ghosts and gaining respect, with the separate arc of Erin and Abby re-gaining their friendship, and neither arc supports a man’s story.
- Furiosa Test: The movie makes a lot of manbabies* on the internet angry.**
Not a fat joke was made, these women were allowed to eat on screen, no woman was made to seem unattractive. It’s a low bar but you’d be surprised how little media meets it.
This is a story of women as women. A story as women as scientists. A story of women as heroes.
Says one original Ghostbusters enthusiast and father, after he’d taken his daughter to go see it: “So my daughter asks me the next day if we are gonna see the movie again. I said sure, why did you like it that much? She said yes. She liked that they were girls that were heroes. Honestly up until that point I really didn’t think much of the role genders played in the movie. My daughter looked up to these 4 women and it got to me” (x).
Representation is important. And this movie was funny and entertaining all the way through. I paid homage to the original for sure, but this updated Ghostbusters is something for a new generation of moviegoers to enjoy. And the best part? It’s for everyone.
*I didn’t want to dedicate too much time to this point because it’s exhausting being around so much negativity but I felt it would be disingenuous not to mention it. If the term ‘manbabies’ offends you, allow me to clarify: A manbaby is someone who doesn’t like the movie because it’s ‘ruining their childhood.’ Someone who thinks casting women as the main characters makes this a ‘chick movie.’ Someone who has sent hate messages to any of the actresses on Twitter. And if the hate message was calling Leslie Jones a gorilla, congrats! You’re also racist. A manbaby is someone who says this adaptation looks ‘dumb’ but is pumped to see Dr. Strange in November.
Basically, if you were offended by any of those descriptions and/or are mad about this movie: Congratulations! You’re a manbaby.
**Totally stolen from this tumblr post.