Of Ghosts and Those that Colloquially "Bust" Them
Over the past few weeks there has been pretty constant discussion about the new Ghostbusters movie(s) that is (are) coming out. It started with the buzz over the new, all-female cast of the Ghostbusters (as some have recently taken to calling it, Lady Ghostbusters). For many, the concept of any new film in the franchise is shocking and deplorable, which I can't really argue with. I mean, we've all seen Ghostbusters II, and that was a pretty wretched piece of shit (no matter how memorable a few scenes may have been).
However, those that complained that an all-female cast violated the very concept of Ghostbusters just have their heads shoved up their asses. I find it confusing that people would complain about this, since there's nothing I can see from the plot of the first movie that would indicate the busting of ghosts is a male-exclusive job. As I remember it:
Three professors (and their token, not nearly as educated, black friend which is a whole other conversation we should be having instead) devise a way to fight ghosts while, at the same time, rebelling against the U.S. EPA.
That's the plot, and nothing about the core description would indicate the need for men or women to play those roles. You could do a shot-for-shot remake of the original movie with just a distaff cast and everything would seamlessly work the same. No role in the original movie needs to be played by a man or a woman in a theoretical remake.
Now, sure, if we re-staged the film to different setting maybe we could justify a case for an all-male lead cast. Certainly if we set it early enough in the last century we could state "women just wouldn't be as likely to have the educational background professional connections to play these roles", although that's more a reflection of the time we're talking about and not the abilities of the women themselves (lady scientists have been around for a long, long time, so it's more the fact that early 20th century America sucks that would cause this casting issue). Of course, if we set the movie in the 1940s around World War II then women would once again take over the duties inherent in the busting of ghosts since the menfolk would be over seas fighting Nazi ghosts.
Simply put, women can fight ghosts as well as men and whether it's an all-male cast, all-female, or some mix thereof, there is nothing about the concept of fighting ghosts that dictates gender.
Having said that, I will fully admit I wasn't all that enthused about the third Ghostbusters movie before the online furor started up, but this was down to to the casting -- none of the ladies chosen have thrilled me on screen before, but we all have our own tastes. If they'd cast different women in the lead roles I probably would have been paying attention earlier and would be more excited about Lady Ghostbusters than I am.
But, as I noted, there was a big online to-do about it. All kind of people (men, mostly) came out of the woodwork talking about how this new, distaff film would ruin their memories of the older movies (as if Ghostbusters II hadn't already done a good job of that). Sony, the company behind the films, eventually "caved" (at least, that's how other online commenters stated it) and have gone on the record that the new Ghostbusters movie is just one of two films in the franchise they're working on -- they're also doing a "traditional" all-male Ghostbusters.
Now, building a new franchise with multiple casts in the same world could be a good move. I certainly don't think every franchise coming out needs to be built upon interlinked cinematic universes. Certainly right now only Marvel has managed to do a cinematic universe that works well, so it's hard to gauge how good an idea this is.
I will say I like one of the actors attached to the film, Channing Tatum, and that's a hard thing for me to admit. Back when I first saw the dude in films he didn't seem like he could act. However, as his career has gone on, he's proven to have a deft eye for roles as well as solid comedic timing. While I wouldn't have associated Tatum with the likes of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, and I certainly don't think he'd make a convincing nuclear scientist/college professor, I could certainly see him in a scene stealing role akin to the to his parts in the 21 Jump Street movies. He could be the token dumb guy hanging out with his scientist friends.
Come to think of it, after Lady Ghostbusters, let's make that movie: a racially inverted Ghostbusters with three black scientists and their token, under-educated, white friend. I would watch that movie in a heartbeat (and it wouldn't even need to be a blaxploitation riff to get my money, although I do love those flicks).
As far as the Men and Women dueling films are concerned, I hope they both make money -- if they're good, let's have them both be successful. Then they can cross over, mix up their casts, add n the all-black team I talked about, and then eventually all of them can work together to fight Blacula.
Because, at the end of the day, what I really want is another Blacula movie. Let's make that happen, people!