In one tweet, Paul Feig made the Internet very happy this week when he announced the new, all-female cast of Ghostbusters. The premiere (July 22, 2016) can't come quickly enough for people eager to see this team of women bust some ghosts. The announcement has also effectively breathed new life into the franchise, now over 30 years old, prompting many on Twitter to respond with simply incomprehensible outbursts of glee.
Not surprisingly, however, not everyone was quite so jubilant. Indeed, it took only a few hours for the backlash to begin as men across America protested that most insidious of movie evils, casting diversity.
Today, fearful cries of "reverse sexism" are saturating social media — despite the fact that sexism is and historically has been the systemic oppression of women. It's been undeniably well-documented in Hollywood especially: In 2013, a film study found that "females comprised 15% of protagonists, 29% of major characters and 30% of all speaking characters."
Such statistics have done little to stem the tide of patriarchal complaining, however. How is it OK to let Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone make a thousand versions of the same action movie, yet accuse these four women of ruining your childhood?
These critics not only miss the point, they prove it. What has been completely lost amid the misogynistic moaning and groaning is just how talented this cast really is. Plus, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon all have backgrounds in comedy, and a strong connection to Saturday Night Live, just like the original cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.
This casting therefore reinforces the fact that women can be funny, but it also should be celebrated for the remarkably diverse sampling of the four co-stars themselves — McKinnon is a lesbian, Jones is black and McCarthy's body type is a refreshing departure from Hollywood's stick-thin standards. Equally significant, especially in light of Hollywood's ageism problem for women, is the fact that three of the four women are over the age of 40.
And not one of them is angling to play a ghostbusting ingenue — hear that, Russell Crowe?
Ultimately, this backlash is proof that a female-led Ghostbusters is exactly what we need right now. Hollywood is in a position to start changing the sexist culture that it has both perpetuated and profited from throughout the last century. The recent success of films like Bridesmaids showed Hollywood executives that funny films for women and by women can be lucrative. Now women have the opportunity to show they can do the same with a legendary franchise.