The New Ghostbusters Is Full of Missed Opportunities
The first trailer for Paul Feig’s new Ghostbusters reboot quickly became the most downvoted movie trailer ever to appear on YouTube. Given those sorts of expectations, the actual film comes as a pleasant surprise—a likeable, competent re-imagining of the classic comedy from 1984. But writer Carol Pinchefksy thinks the film really missed the mark by spending so much time on male side characters like Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) rather than focusing on its female leads.
“There were so many missed opportunities,” Pinchefsky says in Episode 213 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It could have been a story about four women, but oh no, don’t intimidate men or exclude men here. So it could have actually been this great opportunity for storytelling, but it just kind of failed.”
Writer Carmen Maria Machado was captivated by the character of Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), but was frustrated that the character’s sexual orientation was left deliberately vague. In interviews, Paul Feig has been reticent to address the issue, citing studio pressure.
“It’s weird to me that he had to have that wink-nod conversation with an interviewer about her being queer, when she was coding really queer, and clearly was,” Machado says. “I’m like, it’s 2016, you know?”
WIRED culture editor Angela Watercutter agrees that the movie should have spent more time developing characters like Holtzmann and Leslie Jones’ Patty Tolan. “I do want to see a two-and-a-half hour director’s cut,” Watercutter says. “Because I feel like there was probably more fleshing out of relationships, there was probably more establishing who Patty was and who Holtz was, and maybe not just having them be jokes the whole time.”
Writer Jennifer Cross hopes to see a sequel that dispenses with the stereotypes and that strongly emphasizes representation and diversity.
“I would love to see a queer woman of color with a disability who’s a Ghostbuster,” she says. “I have at least three friends who can look up there and start crying and say, ‘That’s me. That’s my story.’”
Listen to our complete interview with Carol Pinchefsky, Carmen Maria Machado, Angela Watercutter, and Jennifer Cross in Episode 213 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Angela Watercutter on expectations:
“There’s almost too much expectation on a movie like this to please everybody. I mean, you’re never going to please the people who are just like ‘girls can’t be Ghostbusters.’ That entire section of the Internet was never going to have its mind changed by this. And no matter what, it was just always going in with this baggage of nostalgia that we have about the original. You can’t divorce it from the other thing that you saw in 1984. I’ve already seen reviews where people are like, ‘It’s trying too hard to be the old one’ or ‘It’s not trying hard enough to be the old one.’ … It’s a lot to put on one movie that’s sole purpose is pretty much just to make you laugh.”
Carmen Maria Machado on Ghostbusters as a sacred text:
“I do think it’s really interesting, this idea that a movie made in 1984 is a sacred text that cannot be reinterpreted, or rethought, or recast, or rebooted. That idea is just so strange to me. It just seems so against art and how art works, that a text is a fixed, immovable thing that can never be reimagined in any way. I find that idea so strange, and I think it’s really interesting that this is a hill that certain kinds of men, that’s the hill they want to die on, that Ghostbusters in 1984 is a perfectly flawless, fixed text that can never be reinterpreted ever again. And it’s like, all right, if that’s the hill you want to die on, that’s fine, but it’s very weird.”
Carmen Maria Machado on reboots:
“They seem determined to reboot every single franchise, board game, comic book, and novel ever created. I feel like we’re heading in that direction, so if they’re going to do that—if they’re determined to do it—why not do it with gender or race swapping, or any of those things. Why not do it in an interesting way? While of course, like Jennifer said, taking into account what it means to be various folks. I’m sort of just like, queer the text, you know? And I mean ‘queer’ in more of a universal sense. Like, take the text, and if you’re going to redo it, just mess with it and add new things. Think about it in some new and interesting way, instead of just rebooting it.”
Jennifer Cross on comedy:
“There was that chemistry of all the different comedy styles that you saw in the first movie. … Harold Ramis had the very dry, very intellectual comedy going, Bill Murray had very much the dry, sarcastic comedy going—a little wacky—and then Dan Aykroyd was very upbeat and almost childish in that beautiful, naive way. And I didn’t really see that sort of chemistry of different comedic styles in the new Ghostbusters. … The ladies don’t seem to spend as much time together as the original Ghostbusters did not ghostbuster-ing. … So I didn’t feel a group chemistry develop. … And I think it wasn’t funny because that chemistry hadn’t been established.”
See the article here: