Once upon a time there were these two movies about a group of really smart scientists turned exterminators when they learn how to harness the power of capturing paranormal entities. It was a great plot written by two brilliantly funny men. It was even more great because they didn't use the film as a political platform for their personal views. It was just a fun story centered around something that writer/star Dan Aykroyd loved very much: the paranormal.
What a groundbreaking idea? Take something that everyone is terrified of in ghosts, and make it into a comedy starring some of the funniest people around. Bill Murray, Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis as the original three busters, Sigourney Weaver as your leading lady, Rick Moranis and Annie Potts as the hilarious supporting side characters. Ernie Hudson as the serious guy who "for the money you're paying (him), will believe in anything you tell (him)". It was a great cast, dare I say a team, who put together a fun, one of a kind experience for their audience.
I think it is important to remember the first two films, and remember the love for them, because today in 2015, if you make any comment about the Ghostbuster franchise, the conversation automatically becomes one of sexism. You can thank the new Director for that. Every interview that comes out, every promotion that Director/Co-Writer Paul Feig gives, the conversation is centered around women and how hollywood is sexist and it is time for the 'funny women' to get their platform. I completely agree, but great films you had nothing to do with are NOT your campaign trail for your political platform in Hollywood.
Now before it starts, again, and I get the flood of women calling me misogynistic because of my comments, let me remind you that this isn't about not wanting women to be in the Ghostbusters film, at all. I have no issue with anyone on this project except for Feig and like minded producers. It should never have been an issue, period. You write a damn good, funny script, you cast your characters, and you make a movie worthy of the franchise. Simple as that. (Well, not simple because making a film is gut wrenching, but you see where I am coming from..) Who cares who's in it as long as you cast good, funny actors/actresses? Man, woman, white, black, human, animal...I don't care. I just want to see a worthy 3rd film.
When Feig was awarded with Ghostbusters (and it is a fucking privilege to touch that franchise) it should have been about giving back to the fans. Instead he IMMEDIATELY made it about HIM. HIS CAREER as the MAN that gives WOMEN their place. Go ahead, go read some of his interviews, this article isn't going anywhere. He literally discusses it in EVERY-SINGLE-INTERVIEW. As a matter of fact, HERE. That's just one of the latest ones where he talks of his crusade. "I need to keep doing more movies, and more people have to hire these people, and don’t leave it to me, because I can only do so many movies." (Really Feig? What do you mean, "these people"?)
It's always about what he is doing. Sure he gives some head nods to his ladies, but I'm starting to think this is a little less about women in film, and more about Feig green-lighting himself for future jobs. The more interviews he does the less I know about the actual movie. The more it becomes a 'movie about women for women' the less the fans want to see it...because that wasn't what Ghostbusters was about. Maybe we would change our mind if you'd let us hear from some of the women involved.
Kristen Wiig is hilarious. Chances are that if she is in a movie, I'll give it a shot just based on that. Melissa McCarthy is also a very funny woman, although I find it humorous that Feig uses her as his token thick girl while preaching women's equality. I love Kate McKinnon. Like, I want to marry Kate McKinnon and be her stay at home writer/husband. I'm really excited that she's a part of this. Katie Dippold (The Heat/Parks and Rec.) is a writer that, even though I don't relate to her work, I have a huge amount of respect for. There are great women involved in this project, let them sell it to us. I'm done listening to Feig go on and on about how one sided his projects are.
I also think it is interesting that Feig keeps saying he will keep the things he liked about the original film...like that classic formula of one black person. (Leslie Jones stands alone.) For someone who beats the dead horse over giving everyone their dues, he sure doesn't seem to like men, and his films are heavily white-washed. If he wants to make his statements political, hell, let us get political then shall we?
The fact that all the Ghostbusters were men had to do with nothing more than the fact that Aykroyd wrote parts for his friends. Venkamn was originally Belushi, who Aykroyd loved. Bill Murray stepped in to fill the shoes after his passing and did an amazing job. There was no side stepping thought of, "let's keep the women out of this guys." It just ended up how it ended up. If Aykroyd would have had a closer relationship with females, or had the script been written by a women, chances are her friends would have been more women than men and that she would write from her perspective as a female...and I would still love that shit because of the concept.
I'm not saying it wasn't a different time back then. Gilda Radner (bless her heart) and Jane Curtain should have had much bigger careers. They were both genuinely hilarious women from SNL and they were shut out of the brightest lights in the shadows of men. However I think it is important to note that I don't know if we will ever have that many iconic funny men together ever again. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Belushi...jesus what a class the 70's gave us.
THE READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYERS:
That being said, the stigma of thinking that women are not as funny as men is dying and I think that is clearly evident in SNL 40 years in. In my personal opinion there are only 4 prime time players worthy of that stage and 3 of them are women.
In that order as well. Taran Killam, to me, comes off as a talent better suited for Mad TV (RIP). Bobby and Keenan Thompson...you guys are just getting by. Pete and Micheal Che will more than likely be replacing 2 of the 3. The bottom line though, the only reason I watch SNL is for the 4 comics I pointed out. The reason I put Cecily Strong at the top of my list is because even when they give her badly written scripts, she makes it funny. She's one of those few actresses that you can't stop watching because you can't wait to see what she'll come up with next.
The original Ghostbusters was pretty much some of the brightest talents from SNL. Given that they should only recruit the best SNL has to offer, I think it is only logical that there be more women than men in this film. But that is based off of their talent. NOT JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN. Would it really have been that hard to just cast those great actresses and make the movie? Even if you want to play up the women, do you have to use this franchise to stand on a soap box and push an ALL female cast? Not even just a female heavy film, Feig has been very, very clear that he doesn't want a male as a lead. And that's where the script starts to take a hit and the Hollywood Effect starts to kick in.
WHO IS PAUL FEIG? : WHEN ART SUFFERS THE POLITICS OF MONEY
Here you have a dream coming true to millions of people around the world. Not just America. The planet. This franchise is a global power house and it only took 2 films to get there. It's been 26 years since GB2 was released in theatres and still, the love is just as intense as ever before. No one can deny that this entire process is a team effort from the makers to the actors to the fans that will PAY to see it. Pay...money...and that's what is happening here.
Statistic repeatedly prove that women are showing up in higher numbers than men. The percentage right now is small, but compared to 20 years ago, it's a big change. If you don't think Hollywood decisions are based upon sales statistics, you're wrong. They keep close stats on tickets sales. You can see it all right here. They don't try to hide it. It's public. Have you ever notice the over abundance of white actors/actresses in cinema? Look at page 12 in the report. African Americans and Asians only account for 20% of all sales. Meanwhile Caucasians made up 63% of the profit. 52% of all profit was made from Caucasian/Latina female movie goers.
Hollywood executives have seen this spike, hence Feig's career taking off over the last couple years. If you cruise the internet and read the countless approvals from all these executives about Feig, one might even go as far as to say they may credit him with bringing women back to the movies. The Ghostbusters franchise hasn't been up for grabs in years and already has hundreds of millions of fans who would show up to see the film regardless....enter Paul Feig and a beautifully hand crafted soap box.
Mind you Feig was around before the boom of Bridesmaids and The Heat. He gave us Freaks and Geeks. Judd Apatow and a slue of actors became icons off of that series, but Feig created it. Yet as a writer, he didn't really get any recognition. Mainly because he's not a very strong writer. (That's why Dippold is the main pen on this.) Even Bridesmaids and The Heat were other people's ideas. For the most part, Feig made his career off bit parts in T.V. shows and Directing every now and then.
Even then, he's only directed 22 projects and that's including upcoming. All of his following came from movies centered around women. He likes to give himself little parts in the films as well because he fancies himself on the level of the genius mind such as Tarentino, which he most certainly isn't. He has literally made his name off of feminism. I find it disgusting, while so many women praise him without realizing what he is actually doing...taking all the focus off of Dippold and the women.
I'm not blindsided though. These are the same people/audience who attempted an internet lynching of Joss Whedon, a writer who has time and time again given us powerful women full of soul and heart. Here you have an actual talent in Whedon and he's ran off for some poor writing decisions in a Super Hero film...(God help us all when a Super Hero film is taken too seriously.) Point being, Whedon messes up once after a history of greatness and everyone wants his head on a stick. Paul Feig has a thick history of mediocrity and is selfishly turning a franchise into his own political march and no one seems to give a shit. And anyone who does have an issue is a sexist....well fuck that and here is why...
Movies ARE A Political Platform...BUT and it is a HUGE But:
Films are art. They are a way to send a message. When you sit down to write a film, you are saying something. You characters are little pieces of you and everyone you know. Every original thought has a deep inner meaning. Sometimes we writers are the only ones who really get it, and that's okay. Some films are meant to entertain (DieHard), some are meant to make you laugh (National Lampoons), and some are political as hell (American History X). Ghostbusters decided what they were 30 years ago...and it had nothing to do with sexism.
What Feig has been doing with Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy...it's great. He's putting a spotlight on women in film. Funny women in film, which is even better. But he consistently turns the focus back to him and what he is doing for them. Now he's signed on to direct a franchise that means so much to so many, and the first thing he does is announce that he's making it ALL women. He put enfaces on that right out of the gate. Screw you Feig. You don't get to take something we've loved since before you ever stumbled into Hollywood, and then make a platform for your self righteous march so that if you fuck up you can say that it's because the viewer has an issue with the all woman cast.
OF COURSE THEY DO!!! All ANYTHING sucks! Segregation of ANY KIND sucks. You ever made a cake with ALL flour? Fuck no you haven't because it doesn;t work. It takes multiple ingredients. All women is no better than all men is no better than all white is no better than all black....do you get it? How can you decide something that crucial before you even write the script!? Now the story takes a beating so that you can have it your way.
Why can't it be mainly women and an Asian guy? How about one of the women is in a wheelchair? Two women, a Black guy and a monkey who drinks a lot and likes to get laid? For the animal lovers of course. Do you see how ridiculous it gets when you try and fit a standard for your audience before you even construct a story? Write the characters, hold the auditions and be blown away.
Ripley in Alien was originally a man. Dan O'Bannon has stated it several times. But Weaver blew everyone away. She made that part her own and the rest is history. Well, she was late and let her nerves propel her into an audition that stuck, but still. History. The all or nothing mentality has never been welcome in art...that's just crazy.
I use to say that I didn't want anything to do with the new film, but I was wrong. Just because this man is selfish doesn't mean I should punish myself as a fan, or the hilarious women involved by boycotting the film. There is still a chance. I say this because I firmly believe that no one man holds enough power to completely destroy a franchise....unless bitten by Michael Bay.
I think we can all assume that Feig has been taught that there is a time and place for everything. There is so much he could have done with opportunity and he has been clear in every interview what kind of statement he wants to make with this film. This just isn;t the film to make that kind of statement. I'm all for the crusade. I just don't believe in the crusader.
For women, I think it is awesome that you ladies finally get some female busters and the ladies involved definitely have earned the right to hold a proton pack. For Ghostbuster fans all I can say is I hope it is good and we don;t cry ourselves to sleep afterward...and to Miss Sam my college roommate, it looks like the girls finally get to do a little busting...you should turn in your resume stat. You were born for this.