A little while ago, I tweeted this:
Has anyone considered not giving a shit about the new Ghostbusters movie?
— Andrew J. Patrick (@ajpwriter) May 29, 2016
Apparently no one else has considered this. Because apparently this film sits across the cultural divide like the fulcrum on a teeter-totter, and everyone’s pushing it one way or another.
A comedy film is good if its funny. If it makes you laugh, you account it good. If it doesn’t, you do the opposite. Laughter – and film appreciation in general — cannot be forced. I speak as someone who worked really hard to like The Phantom Menace back in the day. In the end, I couldn’t.
So the Ghostbusters remake will either be a funny film in which some comedic actresses amuse us, or it will be one of those movies that you keep waiting to be funny and never is (I’m looking at you, The Devil Wears Prada).
This has nothing to do with gender. Women are funny. I know this because women have made me laugh. An all-female Ghostbusters reboot? Whatever, why not?
I watched a lot of Ghostbusters as a kid. It was one of the first movies that my folks videotaped on the VCR off of HBO (That’s how it was done in the old days). I know it basically by heart. It’s eminently quotable. But I’m not emotionally attached to it. Yes, its lame that Hollywood won’t stop rebooting old properties. I hadn’t made any plans to see this one in the theater. But that doesn’t mean I was devoted to it failing. I just didn’t care. I’ll catch it on Netflix, probably.
I saw the trailer, and I laughed – not big laughs, but amusement – a few times. Which doesn’t mean anything. But one thing did bother me about it, and that was how Leslie Jones seemed to be doing a caricature of Things Black Characters Say.
You see what I’m talking about? “It’s a Cadillac!” “Aw, Hell NO!” and screaming at the top of her lungs. And maybe I’m only noticing it because in the original film, Winston didn’t seem like the Black Stereotype. Ghostbusters has as its heroes a snarky hustler, a nerd who doesn’t like talking to people, and a nerd who won’t shut up. Winston provided a necessary leavening of this dorkitude, but his role on the film is to be the Regular Joe, not the Black Guy. He has moments where yes, the blackness is more obvious (telling the Mayor “I have seen shit that’ll turn you white” one of my favorite lines, and the Mayor’s reaction is great), but overall, his deadpan responses highlight the audience’s own bemusement at the proceedings, allowing us to recognize and take part in the absurdity of analogizing paranormal activity as a big Twinkie. He wasn’t all Corn Bread and Street Wisdom, is my point. And maybe Jones does that too, just in a different way. Like I said, I’m not committed to this. But according to this guy who saw it, I’m not alone in that impression.
The reviews are coming in, and I’m only seeing bad ones so far. Which may mean this film fails as comedy. If it does, so be it. If it makes money, so be it. But watching people flail over it like it Means Something is exhausting. Oh, what an exciting concept! Female heroes and a male director regurgitating a 30-year-old movie! THE REVOLUTION HAS COME
BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
A culture that reboots “Ghostbusters” is a decadent culture. A culture that erupts in controversy over a reboot of “Ghostbusters” is a dead culture.