Ghostbusters? – Happy Halloween

In honor of Halloween, TV during the month of October has been overrun with Halloween themed films. One needs only to flip through the channels to encounter movies ranging from sweetly spooky, to family movie night worthy, to downright too scary to watch with the lights off. Mixed in with these films is that genre of comedy horror, showcasing Hocus Pocus and of course, the now almost iconic Ghostbusters, which has held on to its fans and gained numerous new ones since its release in 1984. I will admit, I have seen that film enough times to know most of the dialogue and yet, I will still watch it if it happens to be on TV. This past summer, I did venture out to see the new version: Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, and while my personal opinion of the film was that it was not as humorous as the original, I did notice big improvements in one key area.

In the original film, we had our three key characters, all men with doctorates in Parapsychology and Psychology.  Only one is referred to by the title Dr with any regularity throughout the film.  Their employment when the film opens is prestigious enough; they are researchers and professors at Columbia University. It is only when they are fired from their post, that they begin work as Ghostbusters; prompting New Yorkers everywhere to call upon them to eliminate all their paranormal needs! (See, I know that dialogue all too well!)  Fast forward to 2016 and what progress has been made! Not only are our “heroes” women; that alone is an empowering message- four women who are going to save New York City, but the careers assigned to three of these young Ghostbusters are a fine example of how women have been able to move forward and advance!

In the original film, we saw several minor female characters: a musician, a secretary, a librarian, and a librarian ghost. All good solid careers (well, except for the ghost!) and for movies in the mid 1980’s, not surprising choices to assign female characters in the film.  In 2016, our three key characters are all women, with doctorates as well. However, much to my surprise and pleasure when I watched the film, two were physicists and one was an engineer. These two career choices would not have been showcased in an 80’s film with a primarily female cast.  Why the change? They could have kept the same careers as the men had in 1984 and still been able to carry the plot through well enough. Did anyone really question how Bill Murray and his crew built that ghost storage facility having little knowledge of engineering?

The change, at least in part, I hope, was intentional and meant to acknowledge the changing attitudes toward women and the fields of science and technology that has occurred in the years spanning 1984 to 2016. These are wonderful career choices; women can be engineers, they can study physics, they can even be Ghostbusters if they choose! In 1984, I was dressed as Laura Ingalls for Halloween( another empowered women who I will blog about at some point!) ; I probably would have loved to have  been a Ghostbuster, but sadly, those were boy costumes only. In 2016, any little boy or girl can choose to Answer the Call and announce “I ain’t afraid of no ghost”  thanks to the reboot of a film that gave three women quite a career promotion!  An empowering message from a mediocre movie and I thought it was fitting to share it today, on October 31st! Happy Halloween!

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