Not to be a buzzkill, and I understand that pretty much everyone I know is popping boners for the new lady Ghostbusters movie trailer that just dropped, but as a whole it honestly does nothing for me. I’m actually a little repelled. Why is that exactly?
Nostalgia doesn’t do a hell of a lot for me, truth be told. Never has. The re-hashing of Ghostbusters seems to have lost what made the original so great; that movie had heart, subtle humour, and a good core science fiction story. It seems like they missed what made that first movie great; the same phenomenon happened with Jurassic World.
I know this is just a trailer, but comedy today has really lost something with this current generation of writers and comedians. I feel as if I no longer understand the path they’re choosing with comedy specifically.
Get off my lawn.
Modern comedy seems to have devolved into some sort of smug neo-SNL ‘THAT’S THE JOKE’ pointedly awkward mess. I haven’t genuinely enjoyed a comedy in years, and that’s really a shame. Sometimes the comedy aspect will work for a good chunk of the movie, but completely fall the fuck apart in the second or third act.
Trainwreck was on its way to being an enjoyable feminist fairytale of a foul-mouthed party girl who has it all; the career, the apartment, a shameless proud sex life, and perhaps a guy who could share it all with her if she so desired. I was on board, I was into it!
And then they sent it straight to hell towards the end of the second act where the protagonist has an emotional breakdown because, basically, women aren’t “supposed” to be that way, and she has to Settle Down(TM) like her bland-ass sister and OH MY GOD IT TURNS OUT THAT’S WHAT SHE’S BEEN YEARNING FOR ALL THIS TIME BUT FELT TOO UNDESERVING OF IT AND HAS LOW SELF ESTEEM AND THAT’S WHY SHE’S THAT WAY IN THE FIRST PLACE. Woof.
File footage of me in the theatre when that happened. image courtesy of Reddit
And I get it, I really do. People change, people move forward with their lives, that’s how shit works; but you don’t have to denounce what you were doing in the past or who you once were to get there. For Christ’s sake, own that shit; it makes you who you are.
Am I totally mortified at the nonsense I used to do and say? Abso-fucking-lutely. But I would not be who I am today if I was not that vague garbageperson yesterday.
Can’t she just be her damn self and be different and embrace it? I identified heavily with her character in the first half of the movie, truth be told. I was really rooting for Trainwreck to be about how you can be a different and unironic woman, still enjoy yourself in ways that feel true to you, and actually find someone to share that with who won’t think you’re a shell of a person because you’re not The Norm. Too bad it blew up into Romantical Garbage territory and immediately caught on fire. Why does the fact that this lady is different automatically make her Bad?
I look back on the comedies of yore, and I guess the difference is that they’re consistently written well, they’re simple, and have heart. Ace Ventura isn’t trying to serve some greater idea of people-dom, it’s simply a well put together story about a passionate maniac who loves animals, yelling, and solving mysteries. Uncle Buck offers some great insight into being proud of where you come from, and that being different or weird isn’t bad, you need to own it. Tommy Boy tells the story of a goodhearted (though dumb) character who has been told all his life that he’ll only ever be the funny fat party guy, but it turns out he can really accomplish things and defy the odds if he set his mind to it.
The fact that the protagonists of these movies are all men isn’t lost on me either, by the way. To me, the point of those comedies is universal. They didn’t have to be women in order to really speak to me.
Somewhere along the line, I guess that idea got lost. The times are changing, and I’m in no way saying that’s a bad thing; I think we aren’t quite there writing-wise yet. They’re still searching for ways to make female characters who are different have some sort of ~tragic backstory~ or some shit to explain why they are that way instead of just .. being themselves as characters, like they fucking write men. It’s especially confusing when the writers of some of these female characters are women. How the hell does that happen?
I agree that the representation of women in film is extremely important, and it’s always great to see ladies kicking ass, but I disagree that these more recent movies should be seen as AUTO-FANTASTIC because of #women. Mad Max: Fury Road is a good example of that. Sort of a misfire plot-wise, but everyone collectively shit their pants because WOMEN. When I tried to look a little deeper at that movie, I came up empty-handed and sort of confused at the Tumblr fanaticism surrounding it. I agree that it’s incredibly well-crafted and envisioned, but it fell flat to me.
There’s so many other, better places to find female characters who aren’t awful.
Bridesmaids was, for all intents and purposes, intolerable. It exemplified everything I can’t stand about comedy today; pointing at a joke that was just made to make sure the audience got it, gratuitous gross-out stuff, try-hard writing crystallized into catchphrases specifically for t-shirts and memes.. the list goes on. Yet everyone lauded this movie for its’ fresh take and all female cast! MESS. I felt like I was taking fucking crazy pills.
Mean Girls, on the other hand, works perfectly. Good storytelling with emphasis on being yourself, and what that means as a teenage girl. It’s not tryhard or over the top, it’s actually funny, and has a good message. Alright.
Kill Bill is an example of a fantastic female character. (..though not necessarily a comedy depending on how you look at Tarantino..) Beatrix Kiddo has agency. She’s wild, strong, and kicks several asses, but she has a softer side as well; and she’s not ashamed of who she is. Her journey as a character is relatable, even though she’s an assassin.
The core reason that the Ghostbusters trailer/idea doesn’t speak to me is that I grew up in a house where there were no limits as to what I could be or wanted to do. I was never told “no” to something because I was a lady.
Yeah yeah, I know some of you are gonna shriek PRIVILEGE here, but that’s my truth. I feel really lucky and #blessed to have grown up that way. My mother was an extremely positive role model for me, and she always encouraged me to follow my dreams and be completely unashamed of who I am no matter what other people said. Feminism wasn’t something that we ever spoke about explicitly, it was just understood. It was/is life.
The first time I distinctly remember my mom changing my life, I was 7. I was having some issues with a friend being a jerk to me, and was truly upset about it and felt badly about myself as a result.
My mom’s response? “Eh, to hell with her.” She spoke to me as a peer. Totally changed my perspective on the issue at hand, and she reinforced that so long as I wasn’t being hurtful, I was a good person and should always be proud of who I am. There will always be people who don’t dig you, but focus on the ones who do. Truth bombs.
On the other hand, I completely understand why this movie needs to exist. There are so many women of all ages who didn’t grow up the way that I did, and look to pop culture for female role models. So that’s definitely positive. I’ve done the same at times, and I can’t hate on that. Admittedly I am still searching for a female character I can entirely relate to, without the plot twist of that lady being a deeply unhappy garbageperson with low self esteem who needs to change in order to be ‘acceptable’. Fuck that shit.
I gotta say though.. all these fuckboys wailing about the lady Ghostbusters are giving me a little bit of life. Fragile Man Feelings(TM) are the silver lining here.