Queer Eye For The SciFi

If you’re white, straight and male you’ve probably never stopped to think about diversity in genre entertainment; but if you don’t fit into that very specific box it can be a very important subject indeed. Peter MacKenzie examines representation and depiction of alternative cultures in geek entertainment, highlighting when it goes right and explaining why it’s a problem when it goes wrong…

I wasn’t going to touch the whole Ghostbusters thing with a ten foot bargepole. If you need to be told that it really doesn’t matter that four women can headline a movie, you’re probably not reading this in the first place. And, quite frankly, I found that I couldn’t even think about the subject without getting wound up and wanting to throw things.

As a society, are we really still so misogynistic that a movie can’t be headlined by four women?

Like most of the people complaining, I haven’t yet seen Ghostbusters. Apparently this gives me carte blanche to say what the hell I like and then bleat away that “NO-ONE UNDERSTANDS ME!” and “PEOPLE ON TWITTER ARE MEAN. WAAAAAAH!

Apparently, it’s absolutely fine for people to diss the whole movie based on a couple of trailers and their own sad little preconceived ideas. And also they can start harassing the poor stars based on nothing other than their own primitive worldview, which is primarily based on eight post-school years commuting between their mother’s basement and their really cool job in a Taco Bell. Hey, I bet all those free out-of-date nachos make it worthwhile.

Unless, of course, they’re the sort of people who think that a Twitter account and a glorified right wing blog means that you’re a journalist. You probably know which self-hating non-entity I’m talking about.

So here it is. My Ghostbusters review based purely on two trailers, my own life experience and knowledge, and some clickbait I looked at on Facebook.

It looks good.

Come on. What’s not to like? It’s Ghostbusters for Pete’s sake. The special effects look great, they’ve kept the logo and they’re using the classic Ray Parker Jr theme.

As an aside I have heard the Fall Out Boy/Missy Elliott update of the tune. Now the hatred for that, that I can understand.

But back to the film. I loved Ghostbusters as a kid and I still do. The whole cast is great, including Ernie Hudson. Who’s, er, black. Incidentally.

I also liked Ghostbusters 2 and I have a real soft spot for The Real Ghostbusters... a series, by the way, that featured Janine suiting up many times to become a Ghostbuster. Who’s a – shock, horror – woman.

Female Ghostbusters. Black Ghostbusters. In the 80s. In canon. All before a single clapperboard clapped on the new movie. Just saying.

Trailers and memories of the originals aside, what else could be sticking in the throat of the keyboard warriors?

Is it possible they just don’t like films with strong female lead characters? I can’t see that either. Did these people not like Bridesmaids? The Heat? Spy? All of which, incidentally, were directed by Paul Feig. I mean, really... who didn’t piss themselves at the sight of Melissa McCarthy in a bridesmaid’s dress shitting herself in a bridal dress shop’s bathroom sink?

Is it the apparent recasting of male roles as females? Like Starbuck and Boomer in Battlestar Galactica? Or Watson in Elementary? ‘M’ in Bond? The Master? All of which have been universally praised. I recently had a discussion, following a wrong answer on Pointless, on whether Helen Mirren had ever played Hamlet. I don’t think she has but, me being me, I did some research. Hamlet has actually been played by a woman many times, dating back as far as noted gender-fluid actor Charlotte Charke in the 18th century, and more recently by Frances de la Tour and Maxine Peake.

Which brings me to another little aside. Why is it that remakes/reimaginings are ok for plays, but not films? Stage shows from Abigail’s Party to Joseph, from Shakespeare to Pinter and Miller have all been very successfully “remade” and updated. In fact, new versions of stage plays are actually expected. Why not cinema? Just a thought.

So, to sum Ghostbusters up, it looks like a decently funny film, based on a favourite 80s classic, with concepts already explored within the canon, written and directed by a good director with a great track record for comedy and starring some of the funniest actors around at the moment.

And that’s still before I’ve seen a single frame of the full movie.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

These are plainly the same people who spewed their wrath at a black stormtrooper in The Force Awakens or having a gay (actually two and counting) character in the entire new canon.

I must admit to getting a bit apoplectic at the whole situation. Take Star Trek. I’ve championed for years for the introduction of a gay character and now it’s been announced that Hikaru Sulu is gay in the rebooted film series. And, incidentally, there’s nothing in the TV/movie Prime canon that contradicts this.

My first reaction was actually quite ungrateful. We’ve waited 50 years for a canonical gay character. I think my exact tweet said “What, are we supposed to be grateful?

You can hopefully understand why. I keep mistaking today’s society for an all-accepting one and think that, at the end of the day, gender, sexuality, race, whatever should not generally matter.

But try telling that to Leslie Jones.