Progressive feminist ideology tanks movie or was it the sexism and racism?

New Ghostbusters movie

New Ghostbusters movie

Both my children are eagerly looking forward to the new Ghostbusters movie.  I really enjoyed the original so went on to YouTube to look at the trailer. One of the main characters is an actress I really like, Melissa McCarthy so I had high hopes that it would be good.



What I soon discovered was that this movie trailer was incredibly unpopular. I have never seen so many dislikes before.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 8.45.24 AM

The comment section also revealed the controversy swirling around the movie. I did some research and discovered that this movie has simultaneously been accused of  sexism and racism at the same time as being accused of being a vehicle for progressive values and feminism. Essentially this movie has the exact same characters it had originally, the only change being that they are now all female caricatures of the originals.

Progressives and feminists have defended the movie and have labelled anyone who has made negative comments about it, misogynistic and sexist.

While it may be true that some lovers of the original are not happy seeing an all-female cast and that may be based to some degree on sexism, it is also true that the sexism and racism of the original movie is also in the new one.

When I watched the original Ghostbusters I didn’t notice sexism or racism but now that the complaints are rolling in about the remake here is the case for the prosecution.

Case for the prosecution:

..Others look to dismiss the female cast as some sort of reverse-sexism, a “marketing gimmick” that diminishes the stars by turning them into tokens. “What offends me about this film isn’t that there’s women in it. Or even that the women are the protagonists. It’s that it’s going backwards 30 years in time and calling itself progressive,” one Cinemassacre commenter wrote. “I think the biggest reason this film will suck is they tried to shoehorn in a PC ideology instead of just telling a good story,”

…I was anxious to see if it would soothe my uneasiness over the casting of three white female leads and one black woman as the sole representation of “diversity” among the eponymous heroes.

Unsurprisingly, the trailer eviscerated my oh-so-low expectations by sinking to the racist low of the 1984 original. Leslie Jones’s character, Patty Tolan, is presented in the film’s first trailer next to three “brilliant” white female scientists as the seemingly intellectually inferior token black woman with street sense and a Cadillac.

Perhaps it’s progress that Jones’s character is afforded the opportunity to be featured in film advertisements at all. In 1984, Ernie Hudson and his character, Winston Zeddemore – also the only team member who wasn’t an academic – was completely excluded from the trailer’s actor credits and character introductions.

…Hudson penned an editorial about his experience with the Ghostbusters franchise. He found himself being negotiated out of his deserved pay, his role later gutted, and was excluded from the marketing.

As a daddy’s girl, I often found myself snuggled up next to my father and laughing at the ridiculous high jinks of the original pair of movies. I had some hope that Columbia Pictures would bring us a reboot that I could enjoy now I’m aware of the racial issues at play. Instead, the studio squandered an opportunity to rebuild characters in a way that provides a more inclusive representation of women than its male-centred films.

With three leading female characters, the film features no Latina, Asian or Indigenous women and simply opts to fulfil its black quota as a nod to the original storyline. Jones’s sassy black character is a transit worker for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, providing her with the skills necessary to track down ghosts across New York. But as the only representation of race and class commentary in the trailer, it ultimately pathologises the working class and blackness by making the two synonymous with a seemingly inept character.

The trailer juxtaposes Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon as three experts in each of their scientific fields, then we cut to Jones. She enters with: “I’m here to join the club. You guys are really smart about this science stuff.” This limits her character to an academically aloof, street savvy black woman who is apparently only allowed in the crew (and in the film) because of her familiarity with New York City.
I wasn’t the only viewer to be offended by the characterisation of the sole black character in the trailer. Jones has since defended her role asking her critics: “Why can’t a regular person be a ghostbuster?” And she is right, a regular person should be able to be a member of the Ghostbusters team. But we have to ask why the only “regular” ghostbuster has to be black.


Personally I don’t think a movie (particularly a comedy) should be about spoon feeding us any kind of ideological message. When I watch this movie I will judge it on whether or not it makes me laugh. I will leave it to others to x-ray it for things that offend them.

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