25 Aug Why the New Ghostbusters is an Important Film for Women

Comedy is a vehicle for change. Shrouded in laughter, comedians have moved social change with wit and humor. Like many professions, men have been the majority voice and for so long women comedians have been pigeonholed into a certain “acceptable” type of comedy. For those that did break through they forged ahead with a unique voice and tenacity. Women like Paula Poundstone, Janeane Garofalo, and Whoopi Goldberg – just three that had a particular influence on me. At 14 years old, I remember staying up late and sitting only mere inches from the TV so I could hear Paula’s first stand up on HBO, the volume at it’s lowest setting so to not wake my parents.

To this day I love comedy. SNL has promoted many influential women comedians. Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon who shot to fame while at SNL are joined by the oh-so-wonderful Melissa McCartney in the new Ghostbusters film. The film itself isn’t going to win any academy awards (I’m pretty sure that isn’t the goal), but it is lots of fun, an important film for women in comedy, and women over all.

The Fearless Leader: Melissa McCartney – Melissa is beyond a doubt one of the best comedians  of our time. Who knew from her days on the Gilmore Girls she would become such a force. In this film, as with Spy, she continues to break stereotypes of bigger women and action films. In Ghost Busters, Melissa leads with women leadership traits and is a positive female role model as a team lead. She is her team’s ally, encourages acceptance, and has a strong voice. She is relentless in her quest, dedicated, and loving. She exemplifies all the elements of building a successful team: high emotional intelligence, clear direction and communication, and trust in her team’s individual talents.

The Mad Scientist: Kate McKinnon. Women in general, are expected to be relational. There is an undercurrent of our societal training that we must strive not to disrupt.  When we push that norm, we are subject to scrutiny and met  with consequences in the form of derogatory words to urgently squash this behavior (dare I say, sometimes in the form of physical violence). That’s what makes Kate’s character so important. She is a brilliant scientist that is over the top and wonderful in her comedic purity. She is unapologetic and a highly skilled physical comic. Kate screams “I am wonderful just the way I am, and so are you!” As a self-professed nerd and weirdo, I truly connected to Kate’s character.

The Underestimated Hero: Leslie Jones – Leslie’s character is first introduced with her in a glass box in the underground. I might be overthinking it – but that in itself is a commentary. Leslie is a tall and striking woman whose opinions come at you with precise comedic timing and wonderful exuberance. She is so entertaining I seek out every performance and interview I can find online and love reading her on Twitter (@lesdoggg). Tall and becoming, she is delightfully friendly, smart, and loving, while being unapologetically honest and direct – her character is so needed and accepted in the team without suggestions on how to “right” her behavior to better fit in. As icing to the cake, like her male counterpart in the ’84 Ghostbusters (who makes his appearance as her uncle), she also brings a “realness” to the situation. Yes, that’s a ghost, and yes, it should be super freaky.

The Reluctant Hero: Kristin Wiig – This character represents what many of us women face (albeit a bit exaggerated) – fear and anxiety about breaking the rules or not being accepted. Or worst of all, not being recognized because our character might get in the way. Kristin’s character viscerally reacts to the conflict between following her passion and towing the line. While trying to reach tenure at a prestigious institution she is held up to unachievable high standards (in regard to recommendations “better than Princeton?”). This is punctuated by tiny micro-oppressions that show up during the film like when her boss comments on her clothes, or later slight comment about wearing high heels “they hurt.” Kristin’s character has a hard choice, and ultimately, she chooses to take the risk and come into her greatness. Ultimately it pays off, despite some failures, Kristin’s character is valiant in her comeback, and of course, saves the day. My hope is that is a true for all women that decide to on take such risks.

The receptionist – Chris Hemsworth – Oh Kevin, such a brilliant character. Clearly a commentary on the typical role a women would play in such a film. There as an object of affection, Chris’s character is over the top dumb (even shielding his eyes when things are loud), perfectly handsome, and showing his comedic prowess. I want to thank Chis H. for taking on the role and going with it. To me he represents an ally in the woman’s movement to obtain the same privilege as our male comedian counterparts. To be funny in any way we want.

So I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone that made this movie happen. And thank you to the women stars of the film. And to the fathers, brothers, and partners, please support this film. Be an ally in your own right by taking your age-appropriate daughters and avoiding snide comments about the remake.

This delightfully corky film is another step toward breaking stereotypes and stepping into our own as women. To Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and all the other female comedians out there breaking the mold, you are truly our crusaders through humor.