Image via Flickr user Greyloch
The announcement has been handed down: Paul Fieg, who directed Bridesmaids and The Heat, is hereby empowered by the movie industry gods to reboot the Ghostbusters franchise with women in the lead roles. Everyone who was still, for whatever reason, holding out for the remainder of the now-geriatric original team to reprise their roles, your hopes are dashed. Your hopes are also dashed if you, for whatever reason, felt like the made-up profession of busting ghosts could only be carried out by men.
People are already speculating about who will make up the cast, but what else should we expect as the production gears up and the movie eventually comes out?
With their National Lampoon roots, the team behind the original Ghostbusters included some of the architects of Boomer Humor. Today's dads are the people who loved the slobs vs. snobs movie dynamic on display in Animal House and Caddyshack, and vowed to never become The Man. But then they decided they loved Reagan even more. Consequently, Ghostbusters is an overtly Reaganite movie, with its contempt for whiny liberals in government and in the academic ivory tower.
The dad jokes have already begun, and if you're not careful you might mistake them for some kind of dangerous misogyny and not what they actually are: The death rattle of a nearly-extinct point-of-view. Ghostbusters was a beacon of conservative thinking in the mostly leftist Hollywood landscape. Its fans are, over the next few weeks, going to say a bunch of things. And the fans with a lot of Twitter followers may well spark some Twitter outrage.
Measurements of hotness
I love females. I hope that if they go that way at least they'll be funny, and if they're not funny at least hopefully it'll be sexy.
Obviously sex is used to great effect in series like Underworld and Resident Evil, where a sexy protagonist is almost the entire draw of the movie. But people are just as likely to focus on boobs and implausibly tight costumes even when a movie isn't overt about its sexiness.
Bad Girls was a movie from 1994, pitched to audiences as "Young Guns with girls." It was a relatively straightforward Western with a limited amount of sex-related content. It wasn't great, but it had a lot going for it, like comedy and gunplay. Still, the reviews largely focused on sex. In the Washington Post review, the word "sexy" was in the second sentence. Another refers to the "beautiful" cast being wasted on such a lousy script.
For what it's worth, Paul Feig made a solid effort to bypass all this when he made The Heat. Sandra Bullock's FBI agent character was old enough to be experienced at her job. Melissa McCarthy weighed a good deal more than the average leading lady. But if you actually watched the movie, her belligerence and obscenity were much more noticeable than whether or not she would make a good Playboy centerfold. Conversations about sex and attractiveness were played for comedy, and the film received much deserved praise for that.
Sexists will go to the movie
...all-female I think would be a bad idea. I don't think the fans want to see that.
On one hand, there's no denying that movie fanboys-and-fangirls still fawn over a lot of dude-centric movies, many of which don't deserve so much praise. The highest-rated movie on the IMDB Top 100 with a female protagonist is The Silence of the Lambs at number 24, and only ten films on the entire list have female leads. The New York Times dubbed 2012 the "Year of Heroine Worship," but that same year the University of Southern California surveyed the top 100 films and only 28.4 percent of characters were women. You can try to look at it optimistically and point out that Ripley from the Alien series is one of the most beloved action heroes ever, but she's the exception that proves the rule.
Approached in a different way, the rare instances in which women replace men seem to go over pretty well among fans.
The remake of the Battlestar Galactica series replaced a main male character with a female version when it swapped Dirk Benedict for Katee Sackhoff in the role of Starbuck. Just like Benedict's Starbuck, Sackhoff was a hotshot pilot who chomped cigars, slept around, and generally didn't give a fuck. Sure, Benedict was mad about it, writing on his blog that "The war against masculinity has been won," but fans love Sackhoff's Starbuck, masculine or not. The show was a massive hit and fans line up to this day to get her autograph.
A female-sung theme song
If the producers take the path of least resistance, the new theme song will be a version of the original song featuring the original singer and songwriter, Ray Parker Jr. on guitar and—just throwing this out there—probably Nicki Minaj, or her 2015 equivalent, on vocals. This isn't my fantasy, just a pretty safe bet.
That said, I'm on the fence about whether Ray will still sing the line: "Bustin' makes me feel good," at the end.
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