Back when Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was just about to hit, I had a memorable moment with my daughter. I showed her the commercial, gauging her reaction, half expecting her not to care. She watched, and halfway through when the female protagonist appeared, she asked, “Who’s that?”
“Her name’s Rey.”
She smiled a bit and said, “I’m gonna be Rey.”
It was a cute and very sweet moment, but I realized some time later, that it was kind of profound as well. For the first time, Star Wars had presented a character that could potentially represent her. It didn’t undo anything that had come before, and if they didn't like it, people could be free to ignore this new, more inclusive chapter in the saga. If you'd rather pretend that girls were only princesses in slave costumes or there was only one black guy in the universe, well, go right on ahead.
I’m remembering this now specifically because all the noise surrounding the Ghostbusters reboot has reached a crescendo only to be drowned out by the wave of mostly positive reviews. Currently, it’s near 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is pretty damn good. It might not change the world, but it seems to be a worthy entry into a series that really only features one good flick.
So, for the angry men mostly around my age, what does this actually mean?
Does the existence of penis-less Ghostbusters somehow retroactively ruin your love for the original? Did Melissa McCarthy travel back in time to give you a wedgie as you watched the original in your Egon pajamas? Will Kristen Wiig arrive on your doorstep and hold you hostage via proton pack until you purchase a ticket on Fandago?
The answer to all these is a resounding no. But, consider if you will some questions from the other side of the coin.
Will this movie inspire some young girl to take up the role of quirky scientist at the playground, instead of say, yet another princess? After watching this movie, will half of the adolescent population be able to see themselves as something other than just pretty? Smart perhaps? Could busting ghosts take the place of makeup and nail polish?
I don’t know the answers any more than you do, but I do know this. If an all female Ghostbusters makes you angry on principle, just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and repeat this mantra:
For once in my life, it’s not all about me.