My Problem With Ghostbusters and the All-Female Reboot

GhostBusters Movie Man Repeller Carousel

When Deadline Hollywood broke the news last week that Warner Bros was working on the next Ocean’s Eleven movie, but this time the entire principal cast would be female, I understood that, as with the recent all-female Ghostbusters reboot, I was meant to be excited. I was fairly confident the people at Warner Bros (and the director named Gary and the producer named Steven) hoped us womenfolk would feel empowered by the idea that they believed A-list vaginas could break into vaults just as stealthily as A-list penises. Because that’d be amazing PR — ahem, I mean — amazing for feminism.

Instead I felt pandered to. Like Hollywood execs just gave me a noogie on the scalp and said, “Look at you, girl! The big leagues!”

I’m not livid (look at these lowercase letters!) and I’m not calling it a step backward, necessarily, but it doesn’t feel like leap forward, either. Results currently inconclusive on whether it’s a dainty step or a ladylike heel click. I do know one thing: a lot of men are going to make a lot of money and sleep like koala babies wrapped in blankets of synthetic altruism. Meanwhile, after my eyeballs scrape the back of my skull, I’ll try to get to sleep by counting our eight Ocean’s lady-stars like sheep while I try to find the humor in the fact that anyone who understands counting knows we should have gotten 13.

The casts (or rumored casts) of both remakes, by the way, are undeniably phenomenal. My low-humming noogie resentment has nothing to do with them or even the movies themselves. I’m frustrated by the subtext communicated by their making: that female ensemble movies are too financially risky without the security of a previously tested all-male one.

Maybe that’s unfair; I don’t want to dole out righteous indignation for the sake of it. Maybe there is a large subset of the population dying to see male-driven movies remade with women. Maybe Hollywood is just continuing to reboot and sequence the shit out of everything in lieu of original scripts and, occasionally, during the casting process, gender is being progressively disregarded the way race was when Noma Dumezweni’s was casted as Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or the founder fathers were in Hamilton.

But those felt different. They weren’t remakes with a new representation angle unilaterally applied and marketed, a gimmick that’s hard for me to swallow regardless of the group swapped in. I can’t shake the feeling that these reboots are sloppy seconds, plain and simple. That the driving force behind them is patronizing and rooted in money while parading as feminist liberation.

Let’s write new stories.

Feature photographs by Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures. 


Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman

Haley Nahman is the Features Director at Man Repeller.

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