Ghosts, Gals, & Damn Big Guns | Why Ghostbusters is Important No Matter What You Thought of it

I’m going to start this by saying right now that if you don’t understand why people are raving about Ghostbusters, if you were underwhelmed by the movie and you don’t see why it’s such a big deal, then I’ll take a wild guess and say that you’ve probably spent your whole life watching awesome movies where you were the main character.

Let’s get real for a second. I am sick of reboots. I’m sick of remakes, adaptations, origin stories, prequels and sequels. It seems like only one in ten movies these days is an original idea, with no source material to cloud its passage into movie format. Yet here I am, filled with giddy excitement because of the new Ghostbusters reboot.

Let’s get even more real. Ignoring everything else, did I think the plot of this movie was as good as the original? I’m going to have to say no. The original Ghostbusters films had a coy darkness that this one lacks. The Ghostbusters reboot is very Summer Family Blockbuster – a little more Disney’s Haunted House than Lord of the Sebouillia, and nothing highlights that more than a comparison between Sigourney Weaver’s possession scene (which legitimately scared the jib jabs out of me as a child) and Melissa McCarthy’s, which is played for laughs and laughs only.

But is it, all alone and without all the stringy hang-ons of a legacy to maintain, a good movie?

Goddamn yes.

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Listen – I can’t speak for all women, but I can say that there can be things about a film that make me dislike it which have nothing to do with the plot. Those things mainly revolve around how the (generally only) female character is treated. Forced love interests, impractical clothing, lingering camera shots on disconnected body parts. No matter how “great” your movie is, if you make me sit there and watch that bull, I will not enjoy it. And frankly, if the film-critic world was not predominantly made up of men, the poor characterisation of women would have as much of an impact on the ratings of a movie as the poor characterisation of men. But it is, and it doesn’t, and that’s just the way of it.

Which pretty much sums up the problem with a lot of movies I watch. I sit down, ready to immerse myself in a fantasy world where anything is possible… And I’m immediately made aware that this movie was not made for me. I’m taken into account, sure, but only as a tossed aside consideration.

This is why, goddamn it, I’m in love with the new Ghostbusters.

It seems like only one in ten movies these days is an original idea, with no source material to cloud its passage into movie format. Yet here I am, filled with giddy excitement because of the new Ghostbusters reboot.

Ghostbusters feels like a love letter written to all the girls out there who wondered why Arwen couldn’t go to Mordor, who cheered when Éowyn pulled off that helmet. It’s a love letter to all of us who gaped as Claire Dearing ran in heels through the entirety of Jurassic World, imagining the blood pumping out of her feet as she did. It’s a love letter to those of us who watched with raised eyebrows as Gamora’s fighting skills in Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to fluctuate depending on how good they wanted Peter Quill to look. It’s a love letter to we who watched The Avengers and asked why on earth Black Widow was wearing wedges. It’s a love letter to fans who watch bitterly as Jupiter Ascending is called plotless nonsense, while Kingsman is “boyish fun” and getting a sequel. This movie is a love letter to all of us who watched and wished we could see ourselves as the point man, the wise guy, the demolitions expert, anything but the goddamn lone squadette who inevitably ends up making out with the lead male even though they spent the movie sniping at each other.

Ghostbusters knows this.

Ghostbusters got you covered babe.

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Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing in Jurassic World, image source

In Ghostbusters, no one wears leather cat-suits or high heels to a fight. The only character wearing heels is Dr. Erin Gilbert at the start, and she’s immediately questioned by Holtzmann “What’s it like to walk around in those shoes all day?” “It’s not fun,” she answers. We soon see her switch to the heavy, ass-kicking boots the rest of the women wear, along with their sensible jumpsuits that have nary a strategically zipped, bust revealing collar line between them.

Ghostbusters feels like a love letter written to all the girls out there who wondered why Arwen couldn’t go to Mordor, who cheered when Éowyn pulled off that helmet.

In Ghostbusters, we have four, FOUR women, all who look completely different, coming together and saving New York City. There is no love interest, no ‘cattiness.’ There is not one single moment where any of them give a damn about their appearance. There is a scene where all of them chow the hell down on pizza and absolutely no one mentions ‘ruining their diet.’ The amazing Melissa McCarthy gets to do what she does best, and no one makes any ‘fat chick’ jokes. The entrance of the wonderful Patty Tolan, historian and general badass, demonstrates the ease with which women can, and do, become friends.

Anyone who doesn’t understand why these seemingly minor details are a big deal have never had ‘chick flick’ after ‘chick flick’ pushed at them, as movie studios insist that this is what women want.

Nah son. Women want real friendship, fight scenes, explosions, and to catch some goddamn ghosts.

Ghostbusters - HeadStuff.org
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And Holtzmann. Oh Holtzmann. My darling, my darling, my love and my light. Holtzmann of the wacky hair, orange goggles and multi-coloured socks. Holtzmann, rocking out in the lab with blow-torches and continuing to dance when something goes on fire. Holtzmann who takes nothing seriously, who laughs in the face of safety lights, and who really, really likes making things that explode.

I have a crush. Can you tell?

The implications of the casting of this film really hit home for me near the end of the movie. I had seen a lot of women saying that Ghostbusters made them realise what it must have been like to grow up seeing themselves save the day, and while I was watching it and enjoying it, I wasn’t quite there.

Then it happened.

Whenever I watch an ensemble movie, I always have a favourite. The nut-job, the madcap genius, the weirdo with the wild plans and the propensity to blow things up. The character trope is known as the demolitions expert, and it is almost always, without fail, a man.

In Ghostbusters, we have four, FOUR women, all who look completely different, coming together and saving New York City. There is no love interest, no ‘cattiness’.

Enter Holtzmann and her new toys.

Holtzmann gets the madcap moment in this movie that the wacky inventor dude always gets, because Holtzmann is the wacky inventor dude. Holtzmann whips out her new toys, powers ‘em up and in a glorious, glorious slow motion fight scene, Kate McKinnon gets that moment. She unleashes pure mayhem, using her inventions to blast the bad guys to smithereens, in move after painfully badass move.

It was the scene I had always wanted, and never before been given. The scene where the demolitions guy, the mad genius, the crazy science motherfucker was a woman. It was there, right there on the screen. The scene I had always wanted, rendered lovingly and perfectly just for me. No coy winks and skin-tight suits, no impractical shoes, no body twisting ass shots during the fight, no “well, I have five brothers.” Not one single compromise made to make my glorious demolitions expert more palatable to the male gaze.

And by god, did my honey wreak havoc.

“You just got Holtzmanned baby!” she yelled when it was over, and I literally leaned forward in my seat and whispered Jesus Christ.

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Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann, image source

Even if this movie was the most average movie to ever average, the fact that it was made at all is a huge step towards women characters who aren’t just tokens to placate the female fans, who boast more characteristics than their gender.

Maybe you were really underwhelmed. But maybe that’s because you’ve never once had to wonder where you fit into any of the films out there. Maybe you’ve never had that moment where you looked at a screen and thought holy shit, that could be me because maybe you’ve had that all your life.

Look buddy. If, after all this, you’re still asking yourself “what’s the big deal?” it’s because you’ve always had something that we’re only just realising we should be allowed to have. So regardless of whether you liked it, regardless of whether it bests the originals, regardless of whether it’s a good film full stopGhostbusters?

A big friggin’ deal.

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