Feminist Flicks

Ghostbusters (2016)

Ain't No Bitches Gonna Hunt No Ghosts

Cast of Ghostbusters (2016)
Ghostbusters (2016) starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Image from IMDB.

Anyone who has talked to me for more than five minutes in the past two months has heard my thoughts on Ghostbusters (2016). I have described it as “life changing”, “revolutionary” and “the best movie I’ve ever seen”, because I’m not one to like things a normal amount. As hyperbolic as my personal opinions may be, Ghostbusters is exactly what it should be, a fun action comedy that stars hilarious women and telling relatable stories about those women.

Some background on the movie directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy). Ghostbusters tells the story of Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), a defamed physicist, as her and the rest of the Ghostbusters, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), try to save New York City from an jaded misogynist who is amplifying paranormal activity. The team are faced not only with ghosts but also with sexism, much like their real-life counterparts. The anatagonist, Rowan, being reminiscent of the hordes of men that have attacked this film since it's inception.

But how does Ghostbusters stand up on a feminist front? With the entire story revolving around women, Ghostbusters destroys the Bechdel Test. Absolutely obliterates it in a way that no other movie I've ever see. If anything, it doesn't pass a reverse Bechdel Test where two male characters have a conversation about something other than a woman. Again, Ghostbusters blows the Mako Mori Test out of the water. The plot revolves around women and their relationships with each other. There is no time for any of them to be supporting a man's story since they all have scientific research to do and a city to save.

The original Ghostbusters film, while fun, has an inability to give it's female characters depth. A massive waste of Sigourney Weaver's talent, if you ask me. But this film allows the women to make mistakes, learn and interact with each other in a multi-dimensional way. Erin is shown to be a brilliant scientist, but also impulsive when she is tested. Holtzmann is cool as can be, but she is reckless and lacks an understanding of social situations. In movies, strong female characters are too often Mary-Sues with no faults, but Ghostbusters gets that a woman can make mistakes and still be a good role model and an even better character.

Not only did Ghostbusters cast fantastic women, but it's production was filled with them too. Melissa McCarthy tweeted an image showing all the women on set and their jobs ranged from stunts to script supervisors to costumers. In an industry that is overwhelmingly run by men (77% of film crew members were men from 1994 - 2013), it is a welcome change to have so many women working on one movie.

Ghostbusters isn't without it's flaws however, mostly relating to Leslie Jone's character Patty. Patty is awesome, a badass with an impressive, almost encyclopedic knowledge of New York City who responds to a room full of mannequins in a more realistic way than any movie character ever. However, at times her role within the movie feels token. She is the only Person of Colour in the main cast and she is also the only non-scientist, having quit her job at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to join the Ghostbusters. In real life, Leslie Jones has been attacked so viciously for this role, that it would have been nice for her character to have been less of a stereotype.

Another flaw is Holtzmann's "ambigious" sexuality. I only say ambigious because Sony won't let Holtzmann be out and proud. Despite casting openly gay actress, Kate McKinnon to protray the lovable engineer, Sony has forced everyone within the production to remain hush on the issue. This did not stop McKinnon's character from shamelessly flirting with Erin Gilbert or not so subtly throwing out lesbian salutes.

Overall, Ghostbusters is a fantastic story of women in STEM fields that I'm sure will inspire young girls in the way the 80s film inspired young boys. It was never meant to be a cerebral film or even a great film, but it is overwhelmingly successful at making a fun, feminist movie that can be enjoyed by the entire family.