Monday, 19 September 2016

I ain't afraid of no trolls.

I'll be honest, I'm coming to this whole debate a little late, but you never know, it may add a bit of perspective.

The recent arguments about the new Ghostbusters movie really riled me on a variety of levels. It all started when a friend of mine said "I can't believe they're remaking Ghostbusters. They're going to ruin my childhood. And it's got women in it. It'll be awful".

My first thought was along the lines of "well don't watch it then". This seemed a pretty sensible solution to me, as when faced with things I don't like I try and make a conscious choice about what my reaction will be and whether I want to spend my time engaging with it or not. But it was when I started thinking about the specifics of the above statement that I started getting really annoyed. And guess what, I'm going to tell you why.

"I can't believe they're remaking Ghostbusters"

Well I can. Sorry about this, but remakes/reboots/reinterpretations is what Hollywood is all about. And it has been for years. It's not a new thing. They've been remaking foreign language movies for ages (because, you know, no-one likes subtitles), and they've done the same with countless others. And don't even start me on franchise reboots, there's a whole other blog post on that one.

And another thing, there's never been a decent remake in film history. Ever. Period. Apart from John Carpenter's The Thing. Or The Magnificent Seven (with Yul Brynner, I haven't seen the new one yet). Or The Fly. Or even The Departed. But apart from them, there's no evidence that a remake is a good idea. Nope, none at all.

"They're going to ruin my childhood"

In the wise words of a good friend of mine: "man up princess". Tough luck. you're not a child anymore. You're a forty year old man (or thereabouts). Yes, I am a firm believer that your early experiences shape your character and worldview, but no-one's taking that away from you as far as I can tell. Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd were great in the original Ghostbusters, and now, in the face of the remake being in the world, that's still the case. No-one has come round your house and wiped the original from your memory, or stamped on your DVD's. And more to the point, there is a generation that will get to see a modern, whizz-bang interpretation of that movie for the first time which may shape their childhood in the same way yours did all those years ago.

"And it's got women in it"

Yep, this is the big one. Girls. In a film. That originally had boys in it. You just can't do that. Well you know what, you really can. I, and many of my friends, come from a pretty privileged position: that of white, male, middle-class. Most things in the world are shaped to our world-view and we should maybe realise just how lucky we are to have been born that way. We got the sweet end of the deal when you take a moment to look around the world. Oppression, racism, sexism, most forms of "ism" have barely touched us. And this has really struck me since becoming a father to a daughter, there is a huge imbalance in gender equality in movies. I'd recommend anyone to read up on Laura Mulvey's "The Male Gaze" and then consider how cinema has approached women in film.

I want my daughter to grow up watching movies that puts positive female roles front and centre. And just as importantly, I want films to be full of great characters that are well thought out, richly portrayed and meaningful irrespective of gender, race or anything else. I have been appalled to see the base level of abuse online just because Ghostbusters dared to have female leads. And don't start me on trolls. The fact that we even have a collective name for this bunch of socially clueless bullies (because that's what they are) is worrying enough. At what point does a person think that abuse on social media (or anything else) is ever justifiable? It's deplorable.

I grew up in a mostly female house (mother, sisters, great aunt) so maybe I have a different view on this but the idea that there is a feminist agenda taking over Hollywood is laughable. And even it was true, maybe it's about time. We men have had it all to ourselves for the best part of a century. I'm with George Miller on this one, there's nothing wrong with putting strong female characters in films (I'll resist the urge to try and quote him, but i think we're on the same page in this instance).

"It'll be awful"

Yep, it may be. And you know what? That's okay. You'll always have the original. And you never know, not everyone may share your view. But suck it up next time you're about to rant on a film, the person you're talking to may disagree with you. And that's okay too. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing, it's just how we go about it.

Hey, here's a doodle!

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