Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
If you haven’t seen it already, the internet has been ablaze with the news of a new, male-driven action-centric Ghostbusters comedy movie. Sony Pictures, looking to expand the entire franchise, has opened itself up to new possibilities. Don’t worry, though—the all-female Ghostbusters movie is on.
You should worry, though, because of the fact that this male-driven Ghostbusters was even being considered. “Pandering” is a term that’s been thrown around a lot. In my experience, the only people that throw around the term are a part of the majority. By definition, pandering means “to gratify or indulge.” When people say this about movies like the all-female Ghostbusters movie, the idea of an African American being cast as Peter Parker, or changing the ethnicity of a white character, they’re using it as a negative. They’re sending the message that it’s bad to pander to an audience and that studios should simply make movies to make movies.
Yet, there are some Ghostbusters fans who were complaining about the all-female team rejoicing over this news and it’s utterly baffling. Stop and consider: wasn’t this announcement pandering to the male audience?
It seems like the only time people complain about reboots or “staying true to the material” is when a new, different group of people attempts to be represented. How many people complained about Batman Begins or The Amazing Spider-Man or Man of Steel? Granted, those are all superhero movies, but is there a reason that people were excited for these new renditions, but have only complaints for the new Fantastic Four movie with Michael B. Jordan? Did people complain about the six remakes of Annie (including the two musicals) before the most recent one in 2014?
There’s a danger to this model, where there’s a response to the majority’s complaints surrounding films that are pushing the boundaries of diversity in film. When the majority calls for representation, in an ideal world it would fall on deaf ears. There are already enough films with male leads and the women-led films aren’t given enough justice. How much more proof do movie studios need that women-led films are amazing and embraced by audiences? The Hunger Games and Divergent both come to mind. The fact that those two movies come to mind also raises a problem: both feature straight, white, able-bodied, cisgender females as the lead.
The entertainment industry as a whole has made leaps and bounds in diversity, but there’s still so much more work to be done. The idea of an all-female Ghostbusters movie was an amazing one, and it was even more amazing to see Paul Feig defend the film after the initial criticism. If we lived in a perfect world, we would see a diverse group of women—diverse in every sense of the word—lead a Ghostbusters film with the only straight, white, able-bodied, cisgender man as the receptionist.
If you’re one of the people who complained about the all-female Ghostbusters but then rejoiced at the news of this additional movie, you’re part of the problem. Raising and celebrating something else other than the majority is a good thing; reinventing and moving forward by making properties more relevant is a good thing.
Stagnancy begets complacency; complacency begets normalcy; and normalcy begets the most dangerous phrase of all, “Well, that’s just how it’s always been done.”