“Safety Lights are for Men” (Ghostbusters 2016)

Ghostbusters 2016 Poster.jpg
I still think “They’re here to save the world” is a better tagline.

I, on the whole, am against remakes, or reboots, or any such jazz. Spider-Man 4? Should have happened. Man of Steel? Goddammit. Sometimes, they’re good. See The Dark Knight Trilogy, picking up the dead weight of Batman and Robin. But for the most part, they’re not done well. Reboots are usually useless, and remakes are usually just disrespectful cash-grabs. I don’t see many movies that really break the mold these days, in this age where every goddamn movie needs to be re-somethinged.

Ghostbusters is the exception to the rule.

I was honestly pretty hopeful for this movie. It’s got a great cast, a great director, and a high concept idea. But, of course, it caused a massive controversy when the trailers hit the internet, and I started to wonder if a silly little comedy about ghost busting was really worth all of it. I mean, this isn’t the kind of movie that should be taken too seriously at all, and it seemed like it was being used as a sort of rallying point for both sides of an argument that didn’t really have much to do with the movie anyway. (More on that later.)

To be honest, I didn’t really like the trailers. I can say that they weren’t very good, and a whole lot of people criticizing the movie at that point were being completely reasonable in saying that it didn’t look funny enough, and were unfairly thrown into the pile of misogynists who didn’t like the movie because it had women in it. I was characteristically optimistic, but no matter what happens with Ghostbusters itself, this silly little movie is destined to be extremely important for women, Hollywood, and gender stereotypes everywhere. If Ghostbusters bombs, then misogynists and their lot will use it as proof (misguided, in my opinion) that female led movies don’t sell for as long as they can get away with it, and if it succeeds, then the opposite will be done by feminists.

The Team.jpg
Here they are, those goddamn women.

But that was never the point of Ghostbusters. This movie should not have been saddled with all of that weight, because it’s really not supposed to carry it. I’m glad it was asked to, because I think it succeeded, but it shouldn’t have had to in the first place.

Back in 1984, Ghostbusters was the new kid on the block, and it made sure everyone understood. From the first minute of the film, it established itself as different from any other movie of it’s kind. Now, I’m not going to go off and say that it was cinematic art, or a masterpiece of Hollywood, but it’s easily understood anarchist attitude as to what a movie should be made it gleefully enjoyable to watch. It was, to use a crude term I made up while thinking about this way too much, an anti-movie.

That was one of the reasons that Ghostbusters II wasn’t as good as the original, because Ghostbusters was, in and of itself, it’s own thing. And in order to be a sequel, by definition, a movie cannot be it’s own thing. It’s incredibly hard to make a sequel to an anti-movie, because sequels usually follow a pattern decreed by Hollywood itself. It’s the reason why the best sequels ever made are the ones that seemed so different from everything else. Think about it. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The sequels that are the best are the ones that break all of the rules, but unfortunately, most sequels don’t break the mold. Ghostbusters II didn’t, and thus failed at being a good sequel. But my point is, it’s all a trap. It’s basically impossible to make a true sequel to an anti-movie, and anyone even trying is going to remain in our hopes and dreams until the Deadpool sequel comes out. If any anti-movie could succeed, it’s that one.

Stealing the Show
Pictured: stealing the show.

In the same way, rebooting Ghostbusters poses the same problem, because a reboot cannot be it’s own thing, silly, it’s a reboot. It was because of this that Ghostbusters (the 2016 one) didn’t really feel as earned. There were a lot of things in the movie that the audience was just expected to take, whereas Ghostbusters (the original) would have dared them to question it with a gag that would set them off for a few straight minutes. But that’s OK! I never expected it to break the anti-movie sequel curse (gesundheit), and I still had a fantastic time.

Ghostbusters feels weird at first. When the movie started, I was kind of dazed. When the first joke hit, I thought to myself something along the lines of: “Oh, yeah, this is a funny movie.” I didn’t really think about it at first, and was in for a rude awakening. I was watching this Ghostbusters. This is the one that called up all of the controversy, and I quickly found out none of it mattered. I just sat back and watched, and found myself doubled over laughing pretty goddamn quickly.

Toasty Chick (Ghostbusters '84).gif
Not really.

And how does Ghostbusters do with the weight of being an accidental feminist movie? Well, it leans into it, for lack of a better term. It’s why the big finale sees the Ghostbusters going toe to toe with a pouty man-baby who’s transformed himself into a distorted version of the Ghostbusters’ logo, and has started smashing stuff. What do the Ghostbusters do? They aim their proton packs for his balls, and squeeze the trigger. Yeah, Ghostbusters is back.

In short, I’m not going to sit here and fumble around trying to tell you which Ghostbusters movie is better, or worse, or funnier, or more irreverent. That’s not the point. The new Ghostbusters film was incredibly respectful to the originals, while also retaining an air of freshness that comes with an all star cast of fantastically funny women. But the best part? It was damn funny, and that was really all it was about anyway.

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