Welcome to Girls on Film, a feature in which SIAC’s Marlo and Jen go see a movie separately, and then have a G-chat about it. Discussed in this inaugural installment: GHOSTBUSTERS. Warning: minor spoilage throughout.
M: Who you gonna G-chat with about the new Ghostbusters reboot…? YOUR FAVE FEMINIST BFF!
J: YES. Before we chat about the actual movie, I wanna talk about all the a bloo bloo bloos beforehand.
M: I feel we should note that I for one felt compelled to see it. Feminist blogger duty.
J: I agree. Although, I have been v. excited about it since it was first announced. I couldn’t believe the pushback — OH WAIT, I COULD.
M: I KNOW. It seems like so long ago now. So many, many months of so many many rants and tweets filled with anger and sadness and betrayal. It is interesting that this movie came with such wild expectations, as if the future of all-female casts DEPENDED on its success. That, itself, is bullshit. See also: Hunger Games. CAN A FEMALE LEAD HOLD A FRANCHISE?!!!!!!! Like, PLENTY of movies with all-male casts are just OK or worse. AND YET SUCH MOVIES CONTINUE TO BE MADE.
J: The week it opened, I made a joke on Facebook about how all VHS copies of the 1984 movie would spontaneously disintegrate and vanish, and that the WORLD WOULD END on the Friday it opened. And then what actually happened a few days later was so gross. We need to talk about the horrific bullshit Leslie Jones was subjected to.
M: On a scale of 1 to 10 bullshittery, I give that whole situation a 10.
J: The racism, the misogyny, the targeted harassment campaign.
M: And also: so you don’t like the movie. That is actually OK! There are many things I dislike in this world. I don’t need to launch a campaign of hate against a participant of said things.
J: To quote her character Patty, “A ROOM FULL OF NIGHTMARES.”
M: EXACTLY! #art imitating life imitating art. It also speaks to how full of shit the early haters of the movie were. I HATE THIS MOVIE I HAVEN’T SEEN ONLY BECAUSE IT SULLIES THE CANON OF THE FRANCHISE. *proceeds to lob vile racism and misogyny at one of the lead actors. Like, um, dude? Your slip is showing. (Also: is that an old-timey saying? I feel it is.)
J: I hope it is! Of course, it’s not about hating a movie. It’s about hating women.
M: (typing at the same time) Clearly, the most vocal haters hate because they hate women. The movie is inconsequential.
M: Haters gonna hate.
J: Also, ABOUT FUCKING TIME TWITTER. Thanks for coming out and doing something for once. Not that it will actually change much. It’ll be that one time. (Note: a certain notorious harasser was banned from Twitter but still has a platform, so.)
M: I suppose but whyyyyy does it have to take such an egregious shitstorm to prompt action? WE LOVE YOU LESLIE!
J: OMG YES. ALL THE LOVE TO LESLIE ALWAYS. Ok, SEGUE. What I loved about Ghostbusters was that it actually seemed like an allegory of online harassment.
M: I NOTICED THAT TOO.
J: I AM SURE WE ARE NOT ALONE! The disbelieving of women, as when Erin (Kristen Wiig) talks about seeing a ghost as a child.
M: …the “don’t read the comments” jokes. The “poo-poo ladies can’t do things” criticisms. The acknowledgement that advancement requires ass-kissing and dressing “appropriately” (whatever that means.)
J: The “Women as Frauds.” And then of course, THE VILLAIN WHO IS LITERALLY AN MRA.
M: I got more of a “Nice Guy” TM vibe from Rowan (Neil Casey). “WHYYYY DOESN’T ANYONE LIKE ME I WILL MAKE YOU ALL PAY.”
J: Totally. The entitlement! His character was uncomfortably accurate.
M: Bill Murray’s character, too. So. Much. Entitlement. And yet. I didn’t love the movie. I liked it but didn’t love it. Where did you come in?
J: I liked it, too. But actually, the more I think about it, the more I love it. It’s an Important Movie.
M: It should be noted that I also liked, but didn’t love, the original Ghostbusters.
J: Same. That’s also why I found the members of the self-appointed The Ghostbusters Canonical Legacy Protection Agency ridiculous. Like, it’s Ghostbusters.
M: TOTALLY. Here’s what I liked about the reboot: 1. HOLTZMANN (Kate McKinnion). 2. The fact that the characters weren’t sexualized. 3. The running wonton soup gag.
Also: The theme song really held up for me.
J: Here’s a small list of things I liked: 1. HOLTZMANN. 2. The fact that it was a movie about four friends getting shit done. They weren’t in competition with each other. They weren’t in, like, a bride war — there was no romantic subplot. They had each other’s backs.
M: Can we talk about Kate McKinnon’s swagger? Because she has a lot of it.
J: Here for that.
M: I found her character sexy without being sexualized. So refreshing! That fight scene. Ahem. In fairness tho I’ve always had a thing for coveralls. Domo gas jockeys. UPS delivery folk. Etc.
J: I’ve loved Kate on SNL for the last few seasons and I AM SO HAPPY SHE’S BELOVED. Holtzmann has emerged as a real icon for many queer folks — which also speaks to representation. Some have said her sexuality is coy, probably because of the absence of a very explicit “coming out” storyline. But IDK, I think it’s pretty clear she’s gay? I agree with Aiofe O’Riordan, who explores this very subject here. She writes: “Holtzmann’s queerness isn’t there for straight people. Holtzmann’s queerness — which she makes obvious from her the first words we see her say — is there to make women weak at the knees.” YES x 1000.
This movie frequently made me quite emotional, tbh.
J: There were so many moments where I was like, ‘This is why this matters.”
M: It fucking aced the Bechtel test. There was so much less male gaze. I find many films, even if they have — gasp! — more than two female characters, still tend to have that.
What were your thoughts on Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) the incompetent receptionist? Because I have some thoughts. My initial thoughts were that I didn’t like how they made his character such a dumdum. Like, I don’t remember Annie Potts’ receptionist (Janine) being so overtly stupid.
J: Loved her cameo, BTW. No, Janine definitely wasn’t.
M: And I thought having Kevin be so dumb and yet so stereotypically good looking cheapened Kristen Wiig’s character, Erin. Like, really? You’re a brilliant researcher and you are basically drooling and being gross and inappropriate with your staff?
M: Erin was my least fave character and that whole hiring scene (and really all scenes trying to make a funny about Erin’s attraction to Kevin) I found very off-putting. BUT THEN I realized that maybe this, too, was some sort of social commentary:
J: OH GOOD POINT. Back to our theory about this being an allegory.
M: I WAS (MAYBE) MANIPULATED BY THIS FILM AND I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT.
J: Let’s talk Patty.
M: I liked Patty but felt her character was underused.
J: I love Leslie Jones, and she made me laugh the most, along with Holtzmann. HOWEVER, I did not love the fact that she wasn’t a scientist, and I felt like her knowledge of New York — a major asset she brought to the group — was also underused.
M: I didn’t mind that she wasn’t a scientist. Ghost busting, as a profession, seems more about being able to point and shoot, really. Co-sign on the not using her knowledge of New York, however. I did appreciate the restraint in not making Patty the “sassy Black sidekick.” Her best lines were just funny, not because they relied on dumb stereotypes.
Abby’s earnestness cracked me up.
J: Melissa McCarthy is one of my favourite humans. I liked the friendship between Abby and Patty.
M: Final thoughts: 1. I am happy that I went and supported this film because I would like to see similar films made in the future. 2. This movie will not change your life, it’s just OK. 3. All the “Ew girl cooties touched my nostalgia” whining was, is, and will always remain stupid. 4. The theme song is damn catchy.
J: 1. I think this movie, while not perfect, was important and I’m glad it got made. 2. I am happy that a generation of young girls has this movie in their lives. 3. I also want to see more movies like this made in the future.
Holtzmann illustration by Nicholas Friesen