Published on March 14th, 2016 | by Brando Quiring0
Thinkin’ Bout That New Ghostbusters
Should The Ghostbusters have been a reboot or a sequel? Who ya gonna call when things aren’t as inclusive as they want us to believe?
Ghostbusters needs to be a sequel and not a remake.
Hollywood has been uncreative with a lot of its stuff lately, with streams of remakes and sequels bursting forth like sewage into the St. Lawrence. It has become tiresome, and even insulting, as the big studios rely on the previous success of virtually any property to mop up easy dollars.
But it shouldn’t be allowed to be happy with the new rebooted Ghostbusters movie.
A full reboot will mean another retelling of an origin story, forty minutes of meeting characters before you glimpse your first Ghostbuster jumpsuit. It will mean more inexperienced main characters bumbling through their first few encounters with the supernatural before finally getting on with the main story, which will inevitably involve some manner of ancient entity raising all manner of ghosts to terrorize New York.
It will mean a reset to one of the most progressive and inclusive cartoon properties of its era, and that is not okay.
The Ghostbusters’ original series and film had a cast of main characters who were not typical at the time and aren’t really typical now: a goofy, wannabe ladies man, a dorky fat guy, a highbrow science wiz, and just some dude that walks in off the street. They make up the core characters in a franchise that never lent itself to negative stereotypes.
Winston wasn’t ‘the black guy’; he was the grounded everyman that the audience was meant to identify with. He was the ghost-fighting equivalent to Sherlock Holmes’ Watson, not some ethnic slur on legs thrown in for cheap laughs. He was also my favourite character on the show when I was young, until the network suits turned him in to ‘the driver’ and stopped giving him lines. That rotten treatment carried over in to Ghostbusters 2, where Winston has virtually no lines and offers nothing in the way of solving problems unless it is bashing open a door.
Egon, the egghead of the group, was also the love interest of Janine, the main female character in the show. They went on dates and had a lot of on screen chemistry. Granted, it was animated and never really went anywhere but it was still there. How often in the 80s did the weird looking, skinny nerd get the girl?
Janine herself was a solid character as well. She didn’t take any sass from anyone and even picked up the proton pack on occasion to go out and save the boys from danger. She wasn’t a damsel in distress or a nurturing mother-like figure; she was a likable, fiery New York chick that didn’t take no crap! She was turned into a shell of her previous self by network goons as well, which also showed up in Ghostbusters 2. Based on the trailer, she might not even be in the new movie, but the point is that she was an example of a kick ass female character who got shit done.
Peter and Ray might not have been as revolutionary but Ray was a little fat, which was an on screen rarity at the time. Peter was sort of a Jon Arbuckle sort of character when it came to his game with the ladies, but they were still solid and likeable, which is still important.
Fast forward to 2016, and the new Ghostbusters flick is primed for release. It has hyped itself as an exercise in inclusivity (unless you’re Middle Eastern, First Nations, Asian, disabled, gay, or a man) that could reshape the way we view movie heroes. This isn’t a bad thing. But it would even be easier to sell to an audience on the new team if one of the characters turned out to be Egon and Janine’s daughter. Maybe Ray’s niece? The offspring of Peter and Dana? Winston’s step-daughter following a marriage to a big time Hollywood star? Doing it like that would get old fans of the series instantly and would set up lots of throwback humour.
They could still be picking pink slime out of stuff after the events in Ghostbusters 2, and there could be some cameos from the old stars as they stop by to see their protégés at the office. It also saves us from the cop out origin story and would get us in to the action right away. They could show us how the new characters have made improvements to the old equipment to nix the tired, “don’t cross the streams, okay let’s cross the streams” ending. Obviously, we haven’t seen the movie yet, so it’s hard to know what angle they’ll take. But given Hollywood’s current lazy state I get the feeling that they are just going to retell the original story but with women in order to pander to the social justice audience, rather than just have females characters incidentally while they move ahead with a celebrated mythos.
Given the press surrounding the new film, and the reasons for the gender swapping of the characters, this film should be a sequel or it turns its female empowerment gimmick into just a lazy publicity stunt meant to get attention focused on yet another crappy remake. It will cheapen the efforts of movies who’ve done kick ass female heroes properly. On the other hand, if it is a sequel, it gives a reason for the gender swap and will allow the movie to simply continue to tell a fun story.
This has nothing to do with the movie being a sequel or a remake, but the handling of the black character in this new film is a prime example of the embedded racism in Hollywood. The trailers portray her as token character and smacks of the writers throwing two fingers up to the audience because they were forced to include a black person. All of her lines make her sound like the standard street smart, not book smart black sidekick. “You might know all ‘at science stuff, but I know New Yo’k?”
Are you kidding me? If this is how they handle inclusion, maybe we’ll see the sexy one licking a gun? Or maybe they could have a Mexican house keeper and a flaming gay secretary? This kind of rampant stereotyping needs to stop and it needs to stop soon. It is insulting to the audience on a deeper level that just bolloxing up a great series.
I am not saying I am correct on everything I have said here, but I have history on my side and if the 2016 Oscars taught us anything, it is that racism is everywhere and it ruins everything it touches. I watched the Ghostbusters go directly to the seventh circle of Hell once because of meddling, I would very much prefer to not have to watch that again.