Since the initial reports of production in 2014, the dialogue surrounding the new Ghostbusters film has been anything but positive. Never in all my years have I witnessed so much backlash and distress over a simple comedy film.
In 2014, Paul Feig, creator of the original 1984 blockbuster of the same name, announced he wanted to remake his classic film, but with women playing the leads. People were immediately angry. The film pushed forward, and, over the past year, the new Ghostbusters was created despite angry comments from men who didn’t want to see their original favorite film tarnished by female actresses.
I am hyperbolizing, but you get the picture.
Ghostbusters stars big-name female comedians like Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy, as well as current Saturday Night Live cast members Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. In this way, it follows its predecessor, which starred Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, both of whom also hail from SNL.
And yet, this comedic link does not seem to be enough for some people.
When the first official trailer appeared on March 6, Ghostbusters was thrust back into the public eye as it once again became the victim of serious online criticism. On the actual YouTube video , the like to dislike ratio is astronomically different, something not often seen.
Unsurprisingly, the dislikes reign supreme. The comments section below the video is also a minefield of unprompted sexist commentary that I wouldn’t recommend perusing.
However, another issue rose to prominence after the release of the trailer. The three white actresses play scientists, while Leslie Jones, a black actress and comedian, appears to be playing an MTA worker. Suddenly, Ghostbusters found itself under fire once again, this time for very different reasons.
Jones, however, was not pleased by this response. In a series of tweets, she explained that she had no problem playing a regular person, and she liked being able to represent everyday people who do so much for society.
She pointed out, “You guys are the racists by labeling her a lowly MTA worker.”
While perhaps this wording is not ideal, her argument is valid. There is nothing to be gained by belittling jobs that many people perform every day. Considering an MTA worker as somehow below someone else based on their job is a problematic way to view the situation.
It is certainly important to point out the discrepancy in roles given to people based on race, especially when the trailer does portray Jones’ character as a separate entity from the other women. However, I am choosing to trust Jones’ judgement on this. It is important that the capability of people of color to make their own informed decisions is not forgotten by getting so carried away in pointing fingers.
After this ongoing media spectacle, I expect the film itself will not be well received at its release, and the pervasive sexism that has followed this film from its inception will stunt its box office success.
I hope the assumed racism of the film turns out not to be true. However, all of this is just conjecture. And, after all, who am I to doom this film before its release when so many angry internet commenters have already taken care of that for me?
Featured Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Thoth God of Knowledge’s Flickr Account.
Julie Kearney is a senior English major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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