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The Ghostbusters remake, premiering in New Zealand on July 14, has been accused of being a money-grab for making the female-led cast the selling point of the film. With a star studded cast including Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig, who’s to deny that these female comedy heavy-weights won’t pull a big audience?
But for me, this film isn’t just about casting female leads in traditionally ‘male’ roles or an attempt at making more money. The point is that you’re reimagining the film in some ways—otherwise why bother making it? It’s brilliant to see a more contemporary recreation of Ghostbusters that is underpinned by some of the issues women have faced, and are still facing, in Hollywood cinema.
The lack of female representation in cinema has become an issue that has gained traction over the past decade, due to the activism and willingness of women actresses, as well as their producers, directors, and audiences. Now we see mainstream discussions about the need for female-led superhero films (Marvel fans wanting a Black Widow film), and protests over the side-lining of female characters for the sake of a male-driven plot, not to mention the disproportionate pay-packet of male versus female leads (Gillian Anderson spoke out about this recently in regards to The X-Files). But we must also acknowledge that the so-called ‘accidental’ advances, made perhaps with profit in mind rather than representation, are just as important. And that having an all-female lead film, placing women at the forefront of a plot not driven by romance, placing them in positions of authority and in fields that are traditionally (and currently still) male-dominated, is a huge landmark in terms of Hollywood cinema.
I would also like to point out a relevant statement that Ghostbusters director Paul Feig made in a NY Times interview: “Everything ever made in Hollywood since the beginning of time is a cash grab. That’s why the original Ghostbusters existed.” Moreover, his comments to the media have included what seems to be a genuine desire to see more gender diversity and parity in cinema, regarding it as “ridiculous” and “want[ing] it to be the new normal, where it doesn’t matter anymore.”
At the end of the day, the representation and importance of females in cinema is still a point of contention, whereas male presence is assured. Ghostbusters was a bold move, and I can only hope that it is a funny and brilliant remake that does the original justice and incites other directors to include more female protagonists in their films.