Let's Gender-Neutralize How We Talk About the New 'Ghostbusters' Movies So Everyone Can Shut Up
By Jamie Frevele | Think Pieces | March 12, 2015 |
By Jamie Frevele | Think Pieces | March 12, 2015 |
Ghostbusters fans are having a bit of a week and it hasn’t been a good one. Let’s get over the fact, once and for all, that our beloved paranormal comedy franchise is being revisited with a new crew. Reboots are a way of life now. It’s the way it is and it isn’t going to change. But even once we get past this, a certain faction of Ghostbusters fans are upset about how there is now a “girls’ Ghostbusters movie” and a “guys’ Ghostbusters movie.” I’m here to propose a radical idea: let’s cross the streams.
We should cross the streams. Let’s take the outrage over the “girls’ movie” and the latest outrage over the “guys’ movie,” somehow contain that outrage into separate proton packs, fire it out of their respective particle throwers… and cancel it all out.
Let’s start referring to all the new Ghostbusters movies as just “the new Ghostbusters movies.” No more “girl-centric,” “guy-centric,” “lady ‘busters,” “all-female,” “female-led,” etc. How about we just talk about the new Ghostbusters movies as if people were starring in them? If the new movies were about people? As a woman, I’ve always thought of myself as a person. So has George R. R. Martin. So has Joss Whedon. Why can’t I watch a movie with people in it, find some common ground with the characters, and not label that movie or those characters based on their gender, especially when the themes are universally human?
When I was a kid, I watched what most would consider to be “boys’” stuff — ThunderCats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man (and She-Ra), Transformers, etc. I played with the toys, sharing and playing with my brother. No one ever questioned it. He had the Purple Pie Man from Strawberry Shortcake as well as Murky and Lurky from Rainbow Brite. We both were the official, legal caretakers of our huge collection of Ghostbusters toys. We played together. It was totally cool.
So when I, as an adult, walk into the Disney Store to check out all their awesome Marvel merch, I’m a little pissed when I see a sign that says “boys’ toys” nearby and a “girls’ toys” by the princesses. That’s some straight-up infuriating bullshit. But that’s exactly what we’re doing to these Ghostbusters movies.
It’s juvenile, really. Maybe it’s stupid to give credence to any of those whiny guys who complained about Ghostbusters being a “guys” movie that was being taken away from them by a bunch of girls. That’s just another day in the internet cesspool and I couldn’t give a flowering crap about it. No one should. But it was such a loud uproar over something so petty that watching these guys wretch gives me actual emotional joy. Finally, I was seeing myself in that jumpsuit and it finally had long pants and closed all the way to the top.
And then the “guys” movie was announced, and it sure as hell looked like it was a last-minute response to that aforementioned temper tantrum. Then we women had our own uproar. I felt invalidated, like I was being told that I’d been playing with boys’ toys this whole time and I wasn’t really allowed to. And then it was reported that this wasn’t the case at all — a whole new Ghostbusters universe was being planned and the “girls’ movie” and “guys’ movie” were both in their early stages at the same time. And everything about the “guys’ movie” being a “guys’ movie” was said to be false.
So, why are these movies being identified by gender? The original Ghostbusters movies were made by two friends with comedy backgrounds who wanted to make a movie together. It was not a movie for a male audience — it was a movie for everyone who wanted it. While it might take some time to get used to it, maybe it’s time we stop treating Paul Feig’s movie like it’s something extraordinary. It pains me a little bit to say that because it is a big deal that someone thought to cast all female humans in a movie that previously featured only male humans in those roles. But since I never gave my own gender a second thought while dreaming about being a Ghostbuster, why should anyone else? Ghostbusters be ghostbustin’ and that’s all there is to it.
What we’re being sold here is a new series of Ghostbusters movies. Aykroyd, Reitman and Co. don’t want one gender or another showing up to see it — they want everyone’s money. Did Dan Aykroyd make a mistake after the first new movie’s cast was announced by not mentioning that there still might be a more “conventional” movie in the works, making it look like convention conventionally has a penis? Maybe, unless he was referring to something that involved himself and Bill Murray, the original Ghostbusters, like a proper sequel to Ghostbusters 2. But if we truly want this new Ghostbusters movie to get the respect it deserves, it can’t be sold in the tampon aisle. We need to stop referring to the cast’s gender whenever we talk about it. There is no reason to do that when they’re playing Ghostbusters because Ghostbusters can be anyone.
So, everyone shut up now and accept that this is happening.