If you’re not a reader of online social media, you may be happily unaware of a toxic strain of male ‘geek’ known as a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA). MRAs see themselves as the final line of defence between the patriarchy and what they perceive as aggressive feminist persecution in popular culture.
A recent example of one of these online hate campaigns was the virulent rage expressed over Charlize Theron’s ‘Furiosa’, a powerful woman who drives the action in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road.
The latest site of outrage for these outspoken misogynists is director Paul Feig’s (The Heat) all-female remake of 1984’s Ghostbusters.
The original, directed by Ivan Reitman, starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. It was a generally amusing horror comedy which, seemingly, has now taken on the status of sacred text to men of a certain age.
In response to the 2016 remake, these ‘fans’ have launched a full-scale hate campaign against this, a family film they perceive as an affront to a backwards ideal.
Happily, Feig and his SPY co-writer Katie Dippold (who both received online abuse, sadly physically threatening in Dippold’s case), have crafted an empowering, feel good affirmation of inclusivity, in direct opposition to the hate speech directed at it.
The excellent cast, which includes Saturday Night Live alumni Kristen Wiig (Welcome To Me), Kate McKinnon (Sisters) and Leslie Jones (Top Five), with Feig regular Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), bring a contemporary dynamic to this tale of Ghostbusting scientists.
Australia’s own Chris Hemsworth (Thor) plays Kevin, the team’s secretary. The villain is found in the put-upon form of Neil Casey’s Rowan, a vengeful ‘geek’ archetype.
Loner Rowan, who is convinced of his innate superiority, exercises his juvenile power fantasies in a plot to overrun the world with ghosts, thus dispensing with those who don’t share his sick worldview.
Of course, this leads to many spectacular, hilarious spectral encounters, and one, featuring stand-out star Kate McKinnon, which is utterly empowering.
Returning to the online sphere, we find a happy rebuttal to the MRAs’ bitter campaign in photos from the new film’s red carpet, in which enraptured girls in Ghostbusters costumes beam up in awe at their new idols.
With fan-pleasing cameos from the original cast, and a new generation team with world-class comedic powers, Ghostbusters is a jubilant experience that reinforces the need for positive role models and representation for all.
This review appears in the August edition of crosslight.org.au