Hello, everyone! What a year for women in pop-culture, huh? We have a new, all-female Ghostbusters AND a movie starring Wonder Woman
and Superman and Batman who the movie is actually about . It’s like women in pop-culture didn’t even exist until 2016. Boy, I’m shocked. I thought that I’d been watching movies and television with fantastic, classy actresses who gave the boys a run for their money. But I guess I’ve just been watching lame-asses who don’t understand female representation.
My Google News has been overrun by Ghostbusters and Gal Gadot madness. According to various entertainment sites, Gal Gadot has saved women…
And Ghostbusters has busted up that comedy boy’s club…
And all us womenfolk can say is
But seriously, I think I missed the memo where female representation in pop-culture started defining actual female power. I, for one, have never watched a dumb superhero movie and thought to myself “you know what would make this silly popcorn blockbuster less of a silly popcorn blockbuster? Adding a female superhero! Then women will matter!” It’s a really silly thing to do. Here we have women earning more bachelor degrees than men, two female presidential candidates (yes, Carly counts), a female attorney general, a female ambassador to the UN, four female cabinet members, and 20 % of Congress made up of women. And yeah, except for the bachelor’s degrees, women are still the minority, but opportunities for women are a hell of a lot better than they’ve ever been
There’s this alternative school of thought, however, that claims that these famous, powerful, successful women have done nothing to empower women. Being a a cabinet member is great and all, but little girls won’t know that they’re important unless they see Wonder Woman on the big screen, in her own movie (that happens to actually be about Superman and Batman, but let’s not split hairs).
I’m all for Gal Gadot as Hollywood’s next star. She’s Israeli, which is awesome, she’s beautiful, she’s fit, she’s athletic, and hopefully a good actress. But her being Wonder Woman is not a revolutionary achievement. Wonder Woman is only a superhero, with all the static character development that implies. Superhero movies are really, really serious, but superheroes are still just a way for moviegoers to watch pretty buff people bash in the heads of vaguely foreign thugs. Wonder Woman is a female superhero, but she isn’t a beacon of female empowerment.
Feminists say that we need Wonder Woman because little girls need female role models who can show them that they’re equal to men in all respects. But here’s my problem with representation: it comes with a catch. Suddenly, Wonder Woman isn’t a character, she’s a symbol. There’s no call for Wonder Woman because she might have an interesting back story. We only want her for representation, which is an extremely shallow reason to include a character in a story. The story is about Batman and Superman! Gal Gadot is in five seconds of the trailer. People shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that her character is more than pandering.
The new Ghostbusters suffers from a similar problem. America didn’t need a new Ghostbusters. The original movie was a irreverent, goofball classic and very of its time. The script is funny, but the film wouldn’t be so hilarious without the Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis trifecta. But when Paul Feig and other creators decided to reboot
remake Ghostbusters, they didn’t consider any of the qualities that made the original so great.
Women can be just as funny as men. No rational person would doubt that, since comedy is a personal characteristic, not a gender-specific trait. Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kristen Wiig are all funny comedians (well, maybe not Leslie Jones, but that’s just a personal opinion). We’ve seen their comedic prowess in Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live, the many movies of Melissa McCarthy, etc., so their presence in the movie isn’t the reason that it’s not funny. The problem is the movie itself.
The trailer isn’t funny. It’s so unfunny that even HuffPo, bastion of groupthink, backtracked on their pro-Ghostbusters opinion.
The movie isn’t unfunny because of Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy. It’s not funny because it’s a bad movie. Simple as that. Most comedies are shit and this shit comedy happens to be a super high profile movie that has somehow become the be-all end-all for female-driven comedies.
People be like “why do men judge female-driven movies so harshly? Why don’t they get the same second chances as male-driven movies?” Well, it’s partly your own damn fault! If you put these movies on Mount Everest-sized pedestals and basically equate their success to that of the female gender, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Wonder Woman is just a character. The new Ghostbusters is just a movie. They don’t mean anything for women, who by the way, were doing completely fine without them. Women do not need pop-culture to tell them that they are powerful. All they need to do is walk the fuck outside to see that.
Furthermore, why the hell are we teaching little girls that the only way they can be a doctor or a lawyer or a superhero is if they see it on TV? You can bet no little girl thinks of that until their parent says it to them, until their parent limits them. Pop-culture is a-changing, but not as fast as that little girl is growing. You want her to think that she can be a superhero? Well, Captain America is right there. So is Jessica Jones, and Catwoman, and Black Widow, and Electra, and Storm, and Rogue, and Kitty Pride, and Mystique, and every other female superhero in the universe. But making girls think that they absolutely can’t be a superhero until there’s a female superhero (of which, goddamn, there are plenty) is ridiculous. It’s basically saying that they can’t do what the boy superheroes are doing. They can only be a superhero when the girl superhero shows up. That’s equally as limiting as the thought that male characters only represent male audience members. Since when is that true? There are plenty of women who identify with Daredevil, just as there are plenty of men who identify with Jessica Jones. They’re identifying with characters, not genders.
To recap: 1) Wonder Woman doesn’t matter. There have been many female superheroes before her, and many female superheroes after. The success of the female gender does not rest on whether she’s badass or not. 2) The new Ghostbusters doesn’t look funny, but not because it’s starring women. It just doesn’t look funny! 3) This type of representation is shallow and mostly pandering. Awesome female characters have been around since Hollywood’s creation and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 4) Little girls don’t need pop-culture to tell them they can do something. If they have supportive parents, they’ll already know that.
Speaking of remakes that didn’t need to be made…WTF Ben-Hur?! WTF?! The last Ben-Hur was made in 1959. So now, I guess, we need a new one…for reasons? At least they waited longer than Spiderman did.
This just looks like 300, Prince of Persia, The Fast and the Furious, and Gladiator mixed into one. We definitely needed this movie.