Friday 30 January 2015

In defense of lady Ghostbusters

A few days ago casting was announced for the all-female Ghostbusters reboot or remake or reimagining (Hollywood really has to start separating out those words again) and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the internet. There seems to be this feeling amongst certain sections of the community that there's something inherently traitorous about the whole idea. I don't really see it myself but there are some interesting things to be untangled from it all so let's start.

The main reason the idea doesn't bother me is it strikes me that if Ghostbusters were a totally new and original idea in 2015 instead of a remake of a classic it might have an all-female cast anyway. Not because of “social justice” or anything like that but because that's the sort of film it would be based off the same way the original was based on the not uncommon comedy trope of a bunch of guys starting a business together and muddling through with (ahem) hilarious consequences. These days all-female or female-led comedies are a staple of the genre doing the same trick with attractive professional women instead of (with all respect to the classic Ghostbusters cast) a bunch of blokes at the more marginally photogenic end of fuck ugly. This new Ghostbusters is the old idea if it were the logical extension of, say, Sex In The City or Ally McBeal with added ghosts.

Then there's the accusation, very common on the internet, that this sort of remake ruins one's childhood. I must admit to having never understood that one. I admit it isn't pleasant to see something you loved in your youth remade badly but the almost-orthodontic experience of watching The Amazing Spider-Man doesn't invalidate or erase the pleasure I got watching Sam Raimi's first two efforts.

I'm tempted to make a point about how both pleasure and pain are of the moment in your memory, but that might be a bit too spiritual for a post headed by a picture of Slimer.

Will they make Slimer female? I hope they use Slimer, I saw the cartoon long before the actual films so as far as I'm concerned he's as much core cast as Egon Spengler. Hard design to feminise so I suppose there'll still be some Guy Power in the old fire station. As a complete aside, there's a Hindu temple here in Reading that looks just like the Ghostbusters fire station.

Disconnected mental meanderings aside I am quietly hopeful for this remake (or whatever) for the simple reason it seems to want to do something different with its core concept. I'm a bit down on the whole remake concept these days: The Amazing Spider-Man missed the point catastrophically; the new Fantastic Four looks incredibly bland; and Star Trek Into Darkness was about nothing, which is a criminal misuse of the Star Trek name. The reboot thing now seems to be just about making more of a popular thing instead of using old ideas to make new statements as with, for instance, the rebooted Battlestar Galactica which took the core concept and extended it out to comment on a whole bunch of political concepts like terrorism, reproductive rights and religious fundamentalism that the original wouldn't have dared touch.

By going all-female and therefore switching out one set of comedy tropes for another, I have some hope these Ghostbusters will be saying something new for themselves and maybe entertainment will happen along the way. 

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