It kills me sometimes to know that, at any given moment, Bill Murray and I could be in the same state, and he just doesn’t know it. Not the same state of mind — although that could be true at times too — but that both of us might be in South Carolina (he has a home on Sullivans Island), such a short car ride (relatively) away from where I am, and I still have yet to meet him. I imagine, when we do meet, it’ll be a bit like this:
Needless to say, Bill Murray is one of my very favorite actors/people, and Ghostbusters is one of my very favorite movies. Actually, put me in front of any movie from the early 1980s featuring Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, or Dan Aykroyd, and I will be so happy.
That being said, I was ecstatic to hear — in the year that marks the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters’s original release date no less — talk of a Ghostbusters reboot, wherein four women would take on the lead roles. Variety announced that Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids and The Heat, is being courted to direct and produce a Ghostbusters comedy reboot. “The movie is a total reboot,” the release says, “most likely with female characters played by comedic actresses in the ghostbusting roles, according to sources.” The movie will not be showcased as a third installment in a trilogy (to follow Ghostbusters 2, which was released in 1989); rather, “the script will be written from scratch.”
Feig has been in conversation with Sony to direct the project, however, no formal negotiations have taken place yet (and Sony declined to comment to Variety). Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (writers for the television show The Office) were hired to revive the Ghostbusters franchise in 2008, and Etan Cohen (Men in Black 3 writer) was brought on board in 2012 to redraft the Ghostbusters 3 (a working title) script.
The interest and work has been put into the project, but it’s unlikely that it will be Feig’s next one. He is currently re-teaming with Melissa McCarthy to direct her latest comedy Spy, set to release Memorial Day 2015. In addition to this, he has several new scripts in development at Fox.
Despite potential setbacks, I met the news with glee. I’m sure, however, there are some who will see this and roll their eyes while saying, “The characters are men, there’s no reason to use actresses for the parts.” (These are probably the same people who protested strongly against the Annie remake when it was announced that Quvenzhané Wallis, an African American girl, would take on the role of the usually pale, freckled, red-headed character.)
But there certainly is a reason to put women in roles typically written for men, and people of color in roles that might go to white actors under “normal” circumstances. Representation matters, all across the board. If you’re one of the people who disputes this, it’s probably because you’re already very well represented in today’s media.
Growing up, I learned from media outlets that women are typically either beautiful or funny. Since I didn’t believe I was beautiful at the time — you try finding a television show or movie geared toward young girls that features a “beautiful” girl who has freckles and curly, frizzy hair and isn’t waifish-ly thin — I learned how to be funny. I didn’t grow up with a Kristen Wiig or a Rashida Jones or an Aisha Tyler (any of whom I could see donning the classic Ghostbusters jumpsuits). And while women are showing more and more sides to themselves in movies today, women as a whole are getting less screentime than their male counterparts. In the top 500 films from 2007-2012, 30.8% of speaking characters were women, and only 10.7% of movies featured a balanced cast where half of the characters are female. Comedic movies, especially, typically have fewer female lead roles than other film categories.
In his article on Forbes.com titled “Why a Girl-Powered ‘Ghostbusters’ Matters,” Scott Mendelson lists numerous examples of movies released throughout the 1980s and 1990s that illustrate how many more female-centric films in genres across the board there used to be. “It’s not just that the big genres (superhero, animation, bawdy comedy) is or has become dude-centric,” he says, “but also that we don’t make as many of the kind of films that once might have been periodically female-centric. Hollywood makes fewer smaller-scale releases for multiplex audiences, and the conventional wisdom is that the expensive films need white male leads to maximize worldwide box office potential.” This is very telling, and has the potential to leave viewers wanting when we consider the fact that MPAA data shows that women make up the majority of moviegoers. Melissa Silverstein, author of the linked article containing MPAA data, asks, “If women are going to the movies more than men, why do only 15% of the films star women?”
To see a movie already widely known and loved successfully remade to showcase that women can be (and are) just as funny as men would sky rocket the image of funny women in Hollywood; it would encourage and inspire young girls and women alike to pursue their comedic interests. If there’s anything the world could use, it’s more smiles and laughter. There’s a chance that the script for Ghostbusters 3 (if the script is even finished yet) won’t make it to production. I certainly hope that’s not the case, because I believe that there is a very important spot in Hollywood history for a film such as this. The original became a cult classic; how great would it be to add this film to its legacy?