Be Ready To Believe Us
I have loved Ghostbusters for literally as long as I can remember. I watched it at the end of every birthday party I had for the majority of my childhood and countless times in between. The only part of my tour of NYU’s campus that I actually remember was when the guide pointed to a building off of Washington Square and said “That’s the apartment building from Ghostbusters.” It was obscured by trees and wasn’t the right building anyway, but just the suggestion that I would be THAT CLOSE to anything from the Ghostbusters was enough to sign me up for moving across the country and putting myself and my parents into more or less endless student loan debt.
I did not have the most realistic grasp of the future.
But I did fucking love the Ghostbusters and if that story doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.
I also spent a lot of my childhood pretending to be “James Bond, but a girl” and “Indiana Jones, but a girl” and “One of The Monkees, but a girl.” I don’t remember doing this with Ghostbusters because I think, even then, it seemed too perfect to mess with by inserting my own Mary Sue. Even that young, I knew the Indiana Jones and James Bond were more genres that I could insert myself into than well fleshed out characters (I’d never actually seen a bond movie) But the Ghostbusters were actual, individual, people and none of them were really at all like me. I definitely fantasized about hanging out with these people, but I don’t remember trying to be one of them. That said, if they had done a movie or cartoon with even one female Ghostbuster I probably would have exploded with joy. Representation matters, yall.
So that’s why, when I watched the trailer for the new one and it wasn’t very good, I cried a little. That is a very embarrassing reason to cry. But little six year old me wanted SO BADLY for it to be GREAT, that mediocrity actually hurt.
I’m probably still going to see it. Grown up me knows that it might still be good. It might even be as good as the second movie, which I maintain is a actually a good movie. But the odds of it being as good as the first one are low. Because the best thing about the first Ghostbusters was how unique it was. That’s just not a thing you can repeat. Like, by definition.
The truth is, an all female Ghostbusters is a child’s solution to the problem of representation. It’s too small and simple to really fix the problem. Grown up me, doesn’t want Ghostbusters, but with girls. Grown up me wants a new movie, an original movie, created by women as talented as Harold Ramis and as weird as Dan Akroyd, and as charming as Bill Murray. I want a movie that is that fresh and weird and surprising and well crafted, written and directed and performed by women with their own unique humor and point of view.
But that would take risk. Studios would have to hire someone new. They’d have to convince people to see a movie that isn’t based on something they already like, which no one seems to have any interest in. And they’d have to give money to women, which seems to still be a terrifying prospect to a lot of people.
So instead we get lady Ghostbusters, which will hopefully be good. And we hope that the amazing female comedians out there keep working, and keep pushing, and we hope that some day that alchemy of talent, and weirdness, and charm, forms together again and actually gets some funding. We hope that something else comes out that’s smart and inspiring enough to make some other little girl move across the country, just so she can be closer to it.