I saw Ghostbusters last week. I had read some of the hype, knew my lady friends who had seen it had loved it. Figured I’d enjoy it, but mostly was going because my response to men crying on the internet about female protagonists is to go with gusto to support it and flip them the bird.
The ads never looked great to me. I hadn’t seen the original. How much could I like this?
So much, my dudes. So. Fucking. Much.
Let’s do the quick rundown:
- Four, FOUR, female protagonists
- Four (FOUR!) non-sexualized female protagonists
- Female friendship
- Kate McKinnon
- A queer weirdo scientist/inventor who slays ghosts (see above)
- Overt objectification of Chris Hemsworth to flip the trope of the helpless eye-candy lady who needs to be saved by the big strong men
- Four strong, capable women who each bring their own strengths
- Women being the heroes
How many times did I cry? Oh, at least three. It was honestly overwhelming to see four women (hell even one woman) being the heroes. It was so clear to me, in that moment, how lack of representation is a form of violence. How never seeing yourself on screens except as bumbling, helpless sex objects limits the scope of what you see as possible. How having to contort yourself to identify with white male protagonists skews what we think of as normal, acceptable behaviour. How the only representation we get a lot of the time would fail to pass the Sexy Lamp Test.
And, on the other side of things, it was clear to me how having the vast majority of characters look like you is a form of poison. How having male protagonists 75% of the time bolsters the idea that the (straight, cis) white male experience is the norm. The default. The “regular” way to experience life and everybody else falls into special interest and thus the 12% of protagonists that are women are pandering rather than failing abysmally to represent real life. (And let’s be clear, where women are cast they still fail abjectly to represent any kind of reality, from race where white women make up 76% of women cast and you’re almost as likely to see a literal female alien than an Asian or Latina woman cast; to age where the majority of women cast are in their 20s and–let’s assume early–30s; to body shape, ability, and queerness where diversity essentially doesn’t exist in casting.)
And when the vast majority of characters look like you, when that routine casting decision upholds centuries of privileging the straight white male experience, attempting–and failing–at parity feels like an affront. An overabundance of ladyness.
But beyond the politics and frankly revelatory nature of four female protagonists, it’s just a good movie. It’s funny and exciting and touching and Holtzmann is the gift we’ve all been waiting for.
So I will likely go back at least once, maybe more to see it in theatres and I hope you will too. Because I am here for retroactively ruining as many fragile white dudes’ childhoods as possible by spending $12.99 on a movie ticket.