The new Ghostbusters movie got its UK release this week and if I could have convinced my boss it was a good idea, I would have skipped work to camp out and be the first in line to see it.
I finally got to see it on Thursday (July 14) - and I loved it. I started off a little bit in love with Melissa McCarthy (see this blog post) and Kristen Wiig, and I am officially now also a little bit in love with Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.
It wasn't perfect - I'm willing to admit that. The script was a bit ropey in places and it was way too expositional (here is the bad guy. He will now proceed to verbalise his entire evil plan). Also, the Bill Murray character made very little sense. But all that is beside the point.
It was also extremely funny, perfectly cast, and there was a never any sense that these were women shoehorned into men's roles. Importantly, it easily stacked up against the originals. It's a dream come true for every nerdy girl on the planet. I know. I am one of those nerdy girls. Always have been, and, I suspect, always will be.
Here's the thing: I grew up in the 1990s surrounded by science fiction, fantasy and comic book heroes marketed more or less exclusively to boys.
I liked it all just as much as my brothers did - I watched the Ghostbusters cartoon religiously, I saw all the Star Wars re-releases and all the prequels (yes, even Phantom Menace) in the cinema, I loved (still love - I can't wait for the new one) Star Trek, and yet the world was telling me none of that was meant for me. I was a hanger-on - an imposter.
The closest I came to a strong female fantasy role model was when Buffy came along, but even she had her drawbacks. A lot of the marketing, sadly, focused all too predictably on her sexiness, and she had to have a father-type figure watching over her the whole time.
Then there were Eowyn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings, but they most definitely took a backseat to the boys, and again, when it came down to it, their roles were more about being beautiful than they were about being badass.
In Star Wars, Padme Amidala did her best, too, but how did she die? Of a bloody broken heart. What did that say to little girls? Your man treats you wrong. You lie down and die.
These days, we have Black Widow and Scarlet Witch in The Avengers movies, but yet again, they trade on their beauty as much as their badassery. If either of them ever do get their own movies, furthermore, I can just picture the billboards now - sexily pouting, clad in cat suits, bedroom eyes peering out at the world.
I still can't help nerding out over a good comic book movie and I have always been a huge fan of the Ghostbusters franchise - heck, I even liked Ghostbusters II when I saw it on VHS as a kid.
But now, here's something little girls can watch and think, "this is for me". They won't have to pinch their brothers' action figures or proton packs. Finally, we're telling them they can be smart and heroic and funny all at the same time. They don't have to be the secretary or the possessed girlfriend. They get to do the ghostbusting - and all with nary a cat suit in sight.
Personally, I think this was an extremely savvy move: the affection for the franchise is already there. Now there's a whole new audience for it. Obviously, I would love it if someone, somewhere could originate a brand-new one, fronted by strong female characters, but that is tough to do, and it costs money - money studios probably aren't willing to risk. This is a big step in the right direction and I hope it leads to more - I'm only sorry it didn't come along sooner.
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