Female-Driven Ghostbusters Shatters Hollywood Clichés

Written by Charlotte Okeefe Stralka


The long awaited, much debated Ghostbusters reboot has finally arrived. Director Paul Feig (who has helmed amazing projects his whole career, from 1999’s Freaks and Geeks to 2011’s Bridesmaids) was attached to the Ghostbusters remake from the beginning.

When he cryptically announced the cast in a tweet last year, the internet went wild, expressing both very positive and extremely negative reactions to the fact that the main characters would all be women, instead of all men like in the beloved Ghostbusters of old.

Frequent Feig collaborators Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy play former friends and research partners who bonded over a shared passion for the paranormal.

While Wiig’s character Erin, a strait-laced professor hoping to make tenure at a prestigious college, has tried her best to leave the paranormal behind, McCarthy’s character Abby, the more eccentric of the two, still fully embraces the frowned-upon career of ghost hunting. Abby’s new research assistant Jillian, who goes by her last name Holtzman, is played by the hilarious Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast member Kate McKinnon. Estranged from each other now, Erin and Abby are forced back into each other’s lives when they catch news of a violent haunting that occurs at the beginning of the film.

The final actress making up the team of four is none other than the charismatic Leslie Jones, another SNL member cast member.

The new Ghostbusters exists in the same world as the original, but does not function as a prequel or  sequel to the original Ghostbusters. The set itself also echoes this throwback feel with its Chinese restaurant science lab and wacky vehicles.

Many fans of the original were immediately up in arms following the announcement of a remake starring four diverse women.

My guess is folks who hadn’t even thought about the 1984 Ghostbusters in years were amongst the irate as well, simply in reaction to the casting of women who don’t fit the usual Hollywood mold.

Just as women are admonished for breaking the rules in the real world, fictional women are also viewed with contempt for crossing any lines and upsetting societal expectations.

In this case, the real-world women were berated for the very fictional women they were portraying. Leslie Jones carried the brunt of the hatred in the form of virulently racist social media messages and the exposure of her personal information online. The misogynistic and racist backlash surrounding this new lady-led reboot begs the question: was the original Ghostbusters really as good as it’s been cracked up to be over the decades since it’s release?

The new Ghostbusters isn’t as well done or funny as Feig’s other recent movies.

However, it is a more entertaining comedy than the clunky, boring mess that is the first Ghostbusters.

Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon and Jones would be delightful and gut-busting (pun very much intended) doing anything at all together, but this movie doesn’t fully utilize their amazing chemistry.

From Wiig’s character’s square nerd vibe to McKinnon’s casual science geek outbursts, this Ghostbusters delivers the laughs but falls short of real genius. The action drags on too long during the “busting” climax and wears on the audience’s nerves with a laser tag sort of shoot-‘em-up montage. The movie would be better served  with more screen time spent on hysterical dynamic between these solid comedic actors.

Ghostbusters deserves attention because it is incredibly rare to watch a comedy that inverts so many of the gender stereotypes that are rampant within the genre that often define women to a submissive role.

It is often the case in comedies that the men get to be weird, silly, awkward, and gross humans, while the women are simply things of beauty, or the ever popular nagging wife/ girlfriend trope, perpeuating stereotypes onscreen.

This version of Ghostbusters successfully destroys these tired gender cliches, something the media should attempt to accomplish more often than every couple of years.