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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Ghostbusters Trailer

I just saw the trailer for the new Ghostbusters yesterday. First of all, I have no strong opinions on the trailer; I did not particularly like it or dislike it, I cannot judge whether the movie itself will be much good or not.

But let's talk about the elephant in the room. The big thing about this movie, the first thing everyone heard and the main talking point, is of course the fact that it stars an all-female team.

Now, I've traditionally not been fond of new writers taking excessive liberties with characters that I love. This stems largely from some of the abysmal movies made from various non-movie properties of which I was a fan, where the movie displayed no respect or understanding of the characters it was milking for profit. So when I first heard of the gender-swap, my knee-jerk reaction was to shake my head and sigh.

However, in the last few years I've grown more tolerant to writers having a new take on existing stories and characters, as long as they respect the source material and there's a good reason for their changes. So thinking more about the female Ghostbusters, I decided that a lot of it came down to the question of whether being male was an important character trait of the originals or not.

If being male is an important aspect of their characters, then swapping their genders is either a bold new take that could breath new life into the old stories, or a disrespectful abuse of our beloved characters.

If being male is not an important aspect, then swapping genders is either a hollow gesture to try to look edgy, or just not very important and nobody should care either way.

Not exactly an iron-clad conclusion there, but the point is that it wasn't inherently a bad idea; I thought casting Lucy Liu as Watson worked out quite well, for example. That said, I still wouldn't have been happy if they had made such a big change to the characters that I know and love. Which is why the trailer made me happy for one big reason: it wasn't changing their genders.

As far as I can tell, this new movie is actually more of a sequel than a reboot, as it follows an entirely new group of characters. It's not retconning the old ones, just expanding the cast.

So what does it mean then that there's an all-new group of Ghostbusters who are all female? Is it a good thing? Well, while the all-male team was arguably sexist in an almost unconscious way, this new all-female team could be seen as being sexist in a more conscious way. If we're ultimately aiming for true equality, then wouldn't it be better not to be all-male OR all-female? Well, in theory yes, but I would say that an all-female team is fine here because it's kind of balancing the previous all-male team, nevermind the overwhelmingly all-male action hero bias of most popular entertainment.

So yeah, I don't have a problem with the team being all-female; you know, as long as it's well done. What I do have a bit of a problem with, however, is the team being all-white. Except, of course, for the token minority inclusion. Yes, that was true of the original, but that was 30 years ago, and instead of getting better about it, the trailer makes this movie look even worse; the white girls are all scientists and engineers and stuff, while the black lady "has street-smarts" or something. It all seems a bit cliched is all, in a bad way.

Well, I guess that's enough speculation. Overall I'm slightly more optimistic about this movie than I was before, but I'm still not expecting it to be anything more than mildly entertaining at best, and a disappointment at worst. Of course I'd be happy to be wrong.