Ghostbusters Reboot: Appeasement not Boundary Pushing

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(Ghostbusters, 2016)

Ghostbusters perfectly displays Hollywood’s lack of confidence in anything that isn’t dominated by white men.

By Connor Windslow

 

Thursday saw the release of the first trailer of the highly anticipated, all-female reboot of Ghostbusters (1984). Directed by Paul Feig, the new Ghostbusters (2016) hopes to breath new life, and more diversity, into Hollywood. It’s a shame, then, that it falls short.

As refreshing as it is to see a female driven action film, it cannot be ignored that the film is yet another example of Hollywood’s laziness, its lack of originality. It is no secret that the studios have a heightened aversion to risk, somewhat understandable considering the cost of a tent-pole production. However this fear is crippling cinema, causing it to become stale. Over a hundred reboots are estimated to be in the works, many of which, like Ghostbusters, are remakes of already successful films. But how do they give an already successful film a new edge to justify its existence? The answer; give it an all female cast.

Of course this could be taken as a step in the right direction for Hollywood’s diversity issue and if it succeeds it may just well lead to more female driven films. The studios follow trends; Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) inspired a wave of action-comedy films, Deadpool (2016) is having a similar effect in regards to R rated violence. Therefore it is easy to assume that if Ghostbusters is a success we will see an influx of female-led films. It is also just as easy to assume that these films will only be reboot’s of already established franchises, as we can see with the development of an all female Ocean’s Eleven (2001). Though this would mean more leading women in cinema it still relegates women below men. Should the film be a commercial disaster it may well prevent the studios from putting their weight behind female driven films altogether.

As an aside, it is remarkable and depressing to see that films are still portraying a black character as less successful and less educated than her white counterparts. A black character should not have to be ‘street’ to be funny, perhaps in the full film Leslie Jones’ character will be somewhat more three dimensional. As a film that seems to present itself as progressive it would have been compelling to see Leslie Jones’ character as, say, a quantum physicist or engineer instead of a racial stereotype.

Hollywood is changing. Women, people of races other than Caucasian and the LGBT community are beginning to find their voice, however the change is slow. Too slow. Hollywood’s problem isn’t just with diversity; it is with originality. If the studios were willing to risk the production of more original ideas instead of relying on reboots and adaptations with already established audiences, diversity in Hollywood would surely flourish. The studios are just too timid.

With this in mind Ghostbusters perfectly displays Hollywood’s lack of confidence in anything that isn’t dominated by white men. The studios simply do not trust women to pull off a financially successful original production. The film is the studios way of saying ‘yes we recognise there is a problem but we don’t care enough to do something meaningful about it.’ It is appeasement not boundary pushing. All we can hope for is that the Hollywood and the studios move away from their risk-aversion. Only then will we begin to see truly diverse filmmaking.

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