I’m So Torn Over the New Ghostbusters

B and I spent our Monday afternoon watching the movie fake geek boys love to hate. And I am seriously torn. Because I really, really would like to see this movie as a child. But then I’d have missed out on all of the delicious adult subtext, plus the overturning of cultural norms. But the special effects would’ve blown my young mind. Oh, dilemmas.

So, my dear friend and fellow Orbit blogger Aoife has already told you what’s best about Holtzmann. She absolutely steals the show. She is 100% not there for the straight male gaze. I love that. I love that the only somewhat sexualized woman was for women. And I’m so sad I’m almost completely straight, because being Holtzmann is now my new life goal, and I just don’t think almost completely straight people can even come close to managing that.

What else did I love? I loved that women unapologetically took up space without even giving a shit about catering to the male gaze. They were there to live their lives. They were there to hunt ghosts, and save the city, and maybe eventually get their secretary to properly answer the phone. I love that there was no need to shovel a romance in.

I love that men did not swoop in to save the day. No, the ladies were quite capable of this themselves, thanks ever so much.

Image is an action shot from the movie. All four Ghostbusters are in front of a rock concert stage, grimaces on their faces and leaning back as they fire their proton packs.
These women have got this.

I love that no one made jokes at Abby’s expense or even so much as mentioned her weight. I love that no one slut-shamed Erin for lusting after the pretty boy secretary, and how she was brilliant and ambitious without apology. I love that they chose Leslie Jones as Patty, and that she had as much of a hand in saving the day as anyone. I love that she got what is probably the classic line: “The power of Patty compels you!” Unless, of course, the classic line is actually, “I guess he’s going to Queens – he’s going to be the third scariest thing on that train.” Or maybe it’s “It smells like burnt baloney and regrets down here.” She got some damn fine lines, is what I’m saying.

I loved that the movie didn’t make these women into honorary guys. They did the womanly things, like having their nails painted, or wearing feminine clothes, but most critically, they related to others the way women do. There wasn’t rivalry and reluctant teamwork. Everyone was all in for each other. Everyone was allowed to care for each other and the people around them, to nurture but also still kick ass. It’s a subtle thing I noticed, and it brought me nearly to tears, because we don’t usually allow our women action heroes to act like anything but one of the boys (when she isn’t being presented as something for the hero to fuck).

I loved that no one was treated as less than the others.

I loved that there were no “Sexy Ghostbusters” outfits. I adored the fact these women were allowed to wear shapeless overalls and get dirty and not have to look beautiful or show skin doing it. And yet, the movie wasn’t completely without sex appeal – we got Kevin for the straight ladies, the gay men, and the bi and pan everyone. We got Holtzmann for the queer women. And, as a sop to the straight men, we got a little bit of conventionally-attractive sexy woman in Jennifer Lynch, the Mayor’s assistant.

I loved that the Mayor was a man who would have completely failed without the strong women around him.

I loved the cameo with Janine. I loved what happened to Bill Murray’s character. I loved the callbacks and shout-outs to the original.

I adored the design and colors of the new Ghostbusters car.

I loved that the villain was 100% creepy and also instantly recognizable to anyone who’s had to deal with a super-entitled creepy white dude online.

And there was a lot more that I loved, but talking about it will have to wait until more people have had a chance to see it.

There were some imperfections. I could’ve done without the casual ableism and ableist slurs. I’m so done with those. It’s 2016: surely we can do better.

I missed the shit out of Janine. I wish Kevin had been just a bit more like Janine. But then, there’s probably no one like Janine.

The pizza was inauthentic as hell.

And… well, honestly, I could’ve done with a bit more shirtless Chris Hemsworth. Ladies, if we are going to turn the tables and objectify the menfolk, we need to do this thing properly and thoroughly, okay?

I’ll admit something: I didn’t love this one as much as I loved Spy. And I think it’s because my expectations were sky-high. I went into Spy expecting to be disappointed and was blown away by it being feminist as fuck. I knew going into this that the new Ghostbusters was magnificent, passing every test. So there wasn’t much room for surprise, although in many places, it did surprise me.

I seriously do wish, though, that I could experience it again as my 9 year-old self, then report back. Because I have a feeling that would unlock whole new levels of awesome. I still have a lot of nostalgia for the first one, since I haven’t seen it since childhood and haven’t looked at it with eyes that can see its flaws. I think that’s the only reason this one didn’t blow the original completely away for me. When it comes to Netflix, I’ll be running a test, watching them both back-to-back to see what my adult self thinks.

If you’re looking for a bit of summer afternoon fun that won’t leave you grinding your teeth in frustration at the way women are treated, this is the movie to see. It’s funny, fast-paced, and exciting as shit, with outstanding special effects, and not a bit of sexist bullshit. Get to the theatre before it’s gone!

And whatever you do, do NOT leave the theatre until the credits are completely over. Trust me.

I already can’t wait for the next one!

Promotional poster from the movie showing the four Ghostbuster women and Kevin. The women are firing their proton packs. Holtzmann especially is into it, holding the nozzle at her hip, leaned back and yelling. Beside her, Kevin is standing with his fingers making a pistol held pointed up. Abby is at the center, with Erin and Patty beside her. They're standing against an artsy Times Square background.

I’m So Torn Over the New Ghostbusters

2 thoughts on “I’m So Torn Over the New Ghostbusters

  1. AMM

    I (finally!) saw this last weekend, with my son (who had seen it already.)

    I loved it. I was going to say “I seriously loved it,” but I don’t think “serious” and “Ghostbusters” belong in the same sentence. Heck, not even in the same paragraph.

    My son felt a certain feminist vibe, which he seemed to see as a flaw. Me, I loved it, maybe because I’ve been a feminist all my life. I tried to explain: for women, sexism and misogyny are an ever-present part of their lives, and since good comedy is based on the comedian’s experiences, a female comedian’s humor is going to make fun of sexism and misogyny, which makes it sound pretty feminist. He also thought Rowan (the villain) wasn’t very interesting, whereas my immediate thought was: Elliot Rodger. He doesn’t buy that.

    I couldn’t help connecting the way the ghostbusters’ accomplishments were minimized and dismissed with the way women’s contributions are minimized and dismissed and, if they can’t be completely dismissed, are credited to men.

    I’d been hearing about Melissa McCarthy, but this is the first time I’ve seen her in a movie. I’d heard about how her weight was supposed to be this big issue, but when I saw her, it didn’t even occur to me. She was just so Abby — part crackpot, part genius, part PITA, but, like Jillian and Patty, just so much herself. I didn’t think about this while watching the movie, but seeing the stills in Aoife’s post I thought — hey, she’s kinda cute, too. (That smile…)

    I loved Kevin as a sex-swapped send-up of the dumb (female) blond trope. It must have been fun playing that part — so vain, so Dunning-Kruger, so groundlessly convinced of just how great he is — much like too many guys I’ve known.

    I totally did not get that Holtzmann was supposed to be gay, probably because I have no clue about much of anything, but I liked her, especially how uninhibited she was about being whatever she felt like being.

    I wasn’t entirely happy with Erin’s role. She seemed to be playing the straight (w0-)man role, which meant I didn’t get to see her really do comedy. Erin simply didn’t come across to me as a person as much as the others. She did get a chance to bust out early on, when she starts dancing (or whatever it was) while getting her class prepared. I’d have liked to have seen her do more cutting loose.

    (As for Jennifer Lynch — she might have been there for the straight male gaze, but all I could think of when I saw her was: I wish I could be her. Standard trans feminine trope, I know….)

    I’d heard so much bad about this film, even before it opened, but I’ve got to say, I thought it was at least as good as the first Ghostbusters movie. And more satisfying (because feminism.)

  2. 2

    I saw it opening weekend (to help get those ticket sales up) and loved it too. Holtzmann was awesome. I think she’d be a cool person to hang out with. As a straight cis male I can still want to be her friend right?

    I too noticed they didn’t do any jokes about Abbie’s size. The running gag with the wanton soup illustrated it perfectly. “I want an even ratio between wanton and soup!”

    There were some flaws in the movie, but I don’t attribute it to the stars. The villain’s motivation was lame and needed to be fleshed (pun intended) out more. I thought his plan was creative, but the “let me tell you why” fell flat. I think there was a scene missing after the mayor’s office where Erin has a falling out with Abbie and leaves. Why else would she be in a hotel room alone? The movie is supposed to be about the characters and they left out a key part of it there.

    I may be alone, but I thought Akkroyd’s cameo was a bit long. He must have been paid by the word.

    And just where did Holtzmann get the money/parts for all those wonderful toys?

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