Crossing The Mainstream

cross3_2016Men who think things like ghostbusting and gaming aren’t for girls are just overgrown toddlers who never learned to share. They’re to be pitied, it’s pointless challenging them.

Most people, including you, dear reader, wouldn’t think twice about calling a Ghostbustress. But lots of grownup men think that everything cool is for them – it’s not just the adult babies. Blame society. They’re calmer about it, but their opinions echo the toddler bible, and don’t bear much close scrutiny. They even think that women who only fancy women are really for men. They think women aren’t interested in vehicles – whether it’s 1959 Cadillacs or speeding hearses with nuclear reactors taped to the roof rack – although it’s accepted that women may enjoy horses and rollercoasters. So is it that women don’t like wheels? Is that related to the innovation thing – women can’t be inventors, like Dr Abby Yates, or engineers, like Dr Jillian Holtzmann (woman fancier Kate McKinnon). They can’t light fires or change lightbulbs, in fact they struggle to comprehend most significant human discoveries. They can turn a vacuum cleaner on, of course, but they can’t build or mend one.

Women don’t like wheels.

We’re often referred to Kim Wallen’s experiment where rhesus monkeys were attracted to “gender-appropriate” toys – but if you look at the actual findings, “played with” expands to cover “glanced at/touched/picked up”. Only a very few monkeys tipped the stats. The females played equally with all toys. A significantly higher number of males played with the plush dog, which you could argue looks more like a baby monkey than a doll does. But nope, males aren’t interested in childcare (in fact any man who claims such an interest is probably a peedo if you ask Andrea Leadsom). The concept of male doctor Janosz Poha nannying Dana Barrett’s baby in GB2 was just an opportunity for a visual gag at the expense of cross dressers. Dig the himbo in the reboot. He looks like a Tom of Finland fantasy in a girlish tight top and pegged jeans – humiliating, ain’t it? A boilersuit on a female Ghostbuster is unlikely to raise a titter, but degrade a man with a feminine look and he’s risible. Who would want to look like a stoopid WOMAN? Some guys on Reddit complained that General Brienne’s armour in “The Force Awakens” (actually based on an early draft of the Kylo Ren armour) didn’t give away her gender. Bros might accidentally think she is a cool character. Bros might be offended that she is a woman who isn’t dressed to please them, a character who might not even particularly value male approval. OOYAH.
Women don’t like wheels. It would be unthinkable for a woman to happily pimp a hearse into an Ecto-1. Men are best at all the cool stuff, whether it’s quantum physics, bantering with Sumerian gods, firing positron colliders or hurling proton grenades. Girls can’t throw unless their dads teach them (so what do they learn from their female games teachers, when they’re given a rounders ball or a javelin? Nothing, I guess, they just all flap around together like rioting Fraggles). “Ain’t no women gonna bust no ghosts”, reads an online comment in the film – if you list the things women are “known” to be best at, they all relate safely to supporting men in admin or housekeeping roles.

I love fart jokes, laboratories, weird clothes and soup

How are you supposed to impress, or be needed by a woman if she is your equal? By playing nice. But “nice” isn’t as easy as it sounds. The main villain in the reboot is a classic “nice guy”. Even though the equations he used to create his machine were stolen from a book written by two of the Ghostbusters, whose earlier careers he must have followed to some extent, he wails right in front of them something along the lines of “Nobody understands what it’s like to be an unrecognised genius”. He’s too self-absorbed to see the irony. At least three of the Ghostbusters are now smarting, but not having had any negotiation training, all they can come up with in response is to suggest tasty soup as a reason for living. The new GB offers some of the bureaucratic satire of the original, but the principal running theme here is the universal search for personal fulfilment, societal acceptance and self-respect.

Having been a fan of the original for over 30 years, let’s look at whether my hopes for the new Ghostbusters have been dashed. In my previous feature I wrote:

“I don’t want to see a geek, a fatty (i.e. a size 12), a cheerleader and a goth. I want to see four interesting and unconventional people.”
Yep, check. Four interesting, weird and funny people. The film overall is a bit lite – it feels as much like the Real Ghostbusters cartoon as it does the original film. But I’m still going to buy the DVD for rainy day rewatching.

“I just hope they are a bit funny looking and not too much younger than me.”
They are all a bit funny looking and three of them are OLDER THAN ME. That’s really fucking old you guys. So happy. I’ve seen one too many casting choices who look like Margaret Keane paintings and who were born way after I got into the Manics.

“I feel possessive about the Ghostbusters too, and it would be cool to relate to the new characters.”
Yep. Like the new Ghostbusters, and like most people no matter what their gender identity, I love fart jokes, laboratories, weird clothes and soup; and I feel like a misunderstood genius.

“Why is it that when a woman gets menaced, it has to be sexual?”
Nope, the one that gets kidnapped and violated is the himbo. Although it’s not overtly sexual, nor is any of the menace shown. Unless you have a giant balloon fetish.

“it’s got to pass the Bechdel and the Mako Mori with flying colours.”
Not the most detailed backstories but yes, all these women have a life, a journey and aren’t there to drive mens’ stories.

“Also funnies”
Some of the humour fell flat for me but not all of it – in fact my first LOL was at the opening line.

“The Ghostbusters need to be practical and rational in the face of the paranormal”
Yup – practical, rational, also gleeful.

“[I hope] Gillian Anderson does get recruited as one of the lead actrixes.”
Well, 7 out of 8 ain’t bad.

I also commented that “The evil [in the original] doesn’t have a human face” – well, it does here. It’s probably no coincidence that the villain seems to represent the vainglorious IRL haters of the reboot. He even *spoiler* tries to appropriate the whole concept by using the logo as an avatar – symbolising the way the franchise is being claimed by a certain noisy minority as their property – angry people with dinkles. This tragic movie villain is so angry that he’s managed to stomp a big, red portal through the ground – and he *spoiler* eventually disappears up his own glowing trans-dimensional arsehole, just as his IRL equivalents will.

Disclaimer: There are billions of male GB fans, gamers and geeks who don’t think twice at sharing their nostalgia, joypads and fandoms with women. I wish they would speak out as often, or at least as loudly, as the toddlers do, though. That would be truly NICE.

P.S. Bustin’ makes me feel good.
P.P.S. Disclaimer: Not saying all Reddit posters are Ghostbros – I’m subscribed to the Fallout 4 subreddit where everyone is lovely to one another, and they either don’t know or don’t find it remarkable that their beloved game is a feminist game.


3 thoughts on “Crossing The Mainstream”

  1. Okay, this has been bugging me (so much so that I’ve been stopping people in the street to discuss). I like Kate McKinnon and I enjoy Holtzmann’s character but doesn’t the rapture with which she’s been embraced feel a little depressing considering that she’s the fantasy figure of the group? She’s a cartoon character bouncing around three fairy normal female characters (who are brilliant). Also – her sexuality, both the actresses and the character’s (implied) makes her the object of desire that male fans wanted from their female Ghostbusters.

    I find how this has gone unquestioned rather depressing.

    1. I don’t find it that depressing. I just think it’s an interesting angle. I like Leslie Jones’ character best.

      1. Oo that IS an interesting angle. I might be including this in the next RW mag so will think about tweaking to address this. I’ll come back here in any case with my thoughts. Thank you TM!

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