After drawing the short straw, early one Saturday I was up tending to our youngest daughter. First stop the kitchen, where I started the coffee pot and mixed a bottle. I plucked the little one from her crib and fed her in the living room. As on most Saturdays at our home, the television promptly made an appearance. Excited to see an old favorite on my account, I started the original “Ghostbusters.” My four-year-old managed to walk in right as Ray and Egon gave life to Lady Liberty to fight the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
At that point, my morning as spectator morphed into the role of Grand Poobah answering questions almost as efficiently as my daughter could ask. This moment marked an important milestone. It is the first time since she was born where an active interest was ignited, without cajoling, in anything I revere from my childhood. So it is easy to imagine the joy I felt in learning “Ghostbusters” was being rebooted—not with younger, better-looking versions of the original cast, but the roles all being played by comediennes.
As I have written before and most parents know well, children strongly identify with their sex. Being the father of three girls has left me enjoying the nostalgia from younger years late at night when the kids are all in bed. This is certainly a fair trade-off, as lucky fathers know because girls hold a special place for their dads. Still, just once with fingers crossed, is it too much to ask that we skip the latest Disney princess for someone in a mask or jump suit? Alas, I live in a glitter-bombed world with a gaggle of pinkalicious girls.
Bring On the Female Heroines
The Federalist has published several takes on why this particular reboot is likely bad news. Hans Fiene’s take on cultural parasites has been my favorite so far, and I certainly do not disagree with his point. Basically, as I understand his article, if you believe your ideas have commercial appeal then create your own mythology and stop trying to steal the characters that are already established American cornerstones. He applies this idea equally across the board to feminists, LGBT activists, and even Christians.
While I agree with the theme of his article, I am not any less excited at the prospect of taking my daughters, for the first time, to a movie that we are all thrilled to see. Nor do I believe that “Ghostbusters” as a whole has really been a “dudes only” club. The franchise did not just dive head-first into an all-female cast: women have been reasonably well-represented in their comics and cartoons for years. For sure, on the silver screen we are experiencing a first. Still, this case is more complex than dismissing it as another of many examples of parasitic culture.
Observing the independent market shift in comic books alone, there is much to hope for in the future from girl heroes, and if anything Columbia Pictures may very well have its finger on that pulse. As niche markets become more sustainable because of low publication cost and distribution over the Internet, we will see more female heroines, and in theory we will eventually experience more feminine superheroes on the big screen.
Courtney Crumrin has made her entrance into my eleven-year-old’s cycle of books. Even Joss Whedon has thrown his hat in a time or two with well-known hits like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the spin-off “Fray,” both of which are still too mature for my daughters. So, just by virtue of the shifting comic book market, Hollywood is due to test this demographic.
C’mon: Reboots Are Fun
The new “Ghostbusters” seems to be a decent gamble, and there’s much to be optimistic for in this reboot. Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy both have resumes worthy of taking this film into consideration, and that is even before considering brand appeal. If the year of the reboot has proven anything, it is that an old favorite re-packaged for a younger audience can still breathe new life into a franchise, and after establishing the cast and storyline the Ghostbusters have many worthwhile plots in their comics alone for movies to explore. I, for one, think there is plenty good to anticipate from taking “Ghostbusters” in this direction.
With all things considered, this year’s reboot of “Ghostbusters” might very well be an example of feminists taking a page from the Christian movie playbook, or perhaps a low-risk effort to draw in what appears to be a growing demographic for future movie deals. For that matter, it could just as easily be an offering to millennial dads whose cup runneth over with little girls. Since we are craving to bask in the glow of our own nostalgia, Hollywood may realize we are ready to give away all of our money. Undoubtedly, this dad will.