There was a commentary piece bouncing around Tumblr in the last couple of weeks that I haven’t had a chance to address, but now I have an opening. As of this commentary I have yet to see the gender-switched reboot of Ghostbusters but from the reviews I’ve seen the movie is not good but not necessarily terrible. Some of the jokes fall flat on their face but the movie and “Real” versions were less comedies and more horror with lighthearted elements that worked because the people involved knew how to mix the two. (The original Filmation live-action series and its cartoon spin-off were more comedy with little to no horror.) I might still see it, but probably on TV given my current situation. (Upcoming surgery + lack of income = not going to see a movie in the theaters anytime soon.)
However, there was that Tumblr piece. I don’t know how to find it this far out, so if somebody points me to it this will be the link for context. The essence was that women should support the new Ghostbusters because there aren’t enough female-driven action stories in the movies. I agree with that last part. While television has many female heroes in both live-action and animated dating back to at least the 1960s (women served as either a much-needed ally to male heroes or saved the day themselves, sometimes with a male assistant, and in some cases a husband-wife team of equal day saving), there has been a lack of them in the movies. At best you have a screaming woman in a stalker thriller who finds just enough inner strength to save herself from the killer because the men aren’t around at the time and she’s the lead. Even the famed Buffy the Vampire Slayer was only badass on television, while the movie version suffered from studio meddling. Joss Whedon finally got his original vision on TV because a relatively new network needed shows and had to take chances to stand out from the other networks. And that’s why the “support the female Ghostbusters to get more female led stories in movies” plan will not work. Because you’re still talking to Hollywood.
Think about black characters for a minute. On occasion you get Will Smith or Wesley Snipes as action heroes that didn’t need to be black but just needed the right actor, which they got. Some specifics were made for race, but that’s it, which women should get while swapping “race” for “gender”. Although for different reasons neither of them are the big name they were thanks to Smith’s poor choices in movies (Wild Wild West and After Earth most notably) and Snipes choices in tax preparation causing him to take a lot of time away. In prison. But what are most black movies? They’re usually about how hard it is to be black, growing up with a strong family, trying to survive the dating scene (women), or being thugs in the city (men). Black cops are (ironically given the current culture) badasses who want to be the black Dirty Harry or secretly working with the gangs in more pictures I’ve heard of then not. Whose the big black action star nowadays? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Maybe. I’ve been out of it most of this year.
The problem is Hollywood is based on two things: charts and bias. They look at charts and focus groups and from there decide what movies to make or not. The only reason Ghostbusters got made is the concept worked before. With men. Otherwise, a movie of four butt-kicking women that wasn’t supposed to be supersexy might unfortunately not fly out of the studio unless it’s an indie studio, which means not as many people would know it exists thanks to a smaller advertising budget. Bad Girls, for example, had the girls come out of a bordello before doing whatever it is they did. I’m not really into Westerns.
In other words, the only message the studios will get from a movie like Ghostbusters if it does well enough is “hey, the concept works, let’s try it with men again”. And remember, an all-male reboot was also announced at one point. I’ve even heard conspiracy theories that pitting the women who feel ignored by the movie industry (and I can’t say their wrong, but it’s the angry side they want according to this theory) against the sexist men (with those of us who just want a good movie forced to pick a side or be thrown in with the extremists) was part of the plan. If you go against this movie, you’re a misogynist if you’re a man and a traitor if you’re a woman. On the other hand, ignoring the sexist idiots and you have the purists who still think they can get a third movie with the original cast even though Harold Ramis is dead and if you can’t have that let the franchise end. I’ve already discussed what they should have done. Is it possible that they pushed this gender war to push more people into the movie? After the creators of the Jem movie screwed their fans over by tricking them into promoting what turned out to be nothing like the show (or unlike the lady Ghostbusters, anything resembling a watchable movie) they’re fans of–speaking of strong female characters in animated TV– I believe anything.
If you want more good female leads you don’t support the bad movies. That tells the studios you’ll watch any piece of garbage with a strong woman in it so they don’t need to add any effort to get non-women or non-horny dudes to watch. If that worked Cynthia Rothrock wouldn’t need Obscurus Lupa to tell you she made action movies as the butt-kicking lead. (Face it, her movies were only enjoyable if you like low-budget schlock. She didn’t get the breaks Scarlet Johansson is getting.) So what do you do? Support the GOOD ones. There’s an upcoming movie for Marvel’s current version of Captain Marvel while fans keep pushing for a Black Widow movie. (I’m still trying to figure out what story they could do with her, but I understand the reasons why; both from women who want to see her kicking butt and men who want to see her butt.) In the meantime, Johansson is working on the upcoming Americanization of Ghost In The Shell, which ticks off Japanophiles and interests actual Japanese people, so judge as you will. The Wonder Woman movie, while not a good version of Diana, looks like it might be a good movie. If these ARE good movies, support them. Maybe you’ll get one not based on a comic, if Hollywood can trust an original idea now and then. Don’t hold your breath.
Also support those shows on TV and internet originals that give women or girls the top spot and do something with it. Right now these are reduced to cop shows, medical dramas, and comic properties like Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, and Supergirl, but you can buy older shows on home video or streaming services. Rowdy C offered up 10 good ones and I listed a few in my Morning Article Link to that video. Start with them and look up others. You show Hollywood what you want to see by supporting the GOOD properties…and hope the marketing “geniuses” read the chart the right way and just say “but can we do it with a man or make the woman sexier?”, which you know they will. Not (just) because they’re sexist but because they aren’t open to new ideas.
But if you honestly like the new Ghostbusters regardless of their gender, then go ahead and support it. Always support the stories you like, not the gender ration. THAT’S how you get a good movie instead of mediocre or garbage movies.