The Ghostbusters Issue; Women can be heroes too.

A true reflection on the past months at the reaction of the new Ghostbusters (2016) film is one to really diagnose, however this article will not look into the heated cauldron of fan rage. It is a topic that has been heavily discussed and anything I mention would just be a faint echo in the millions of voices in the deep bottomless pit of the internet. This article will discuss the impact of this film that introduces the fierce movement to force women as the film hero. Now I use the word force sparingly and endearingly. Whether you disagree with it, the facts are there, in film, men have been the hero, women have been the damsel in distress. Even in contemporary Hollywood, there are few examples of female heroes, and the ones that are, we must celebrate on a heighten pillar of society; because of the rarity of them.

Ghostbusters has continued this ongoing push towards female roles in contemporary cinema. I was taken back by how powerful of a statement this holds in the push for female cinematic heroism. These four women that lead this film, are not just heroes, but they are four independent, not overtly sexualised, single, intelligent women. They are also by far not perfect. In the 80’s, if the woman was an action hero she had to endorse male traits of machoism, for example the character of Ripley in Aliens (1986) and Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 (1991). It has been argued female heroes in the 90’s became hyper sexualised, female heroes had become, ‘fighting fuck toys.’ (Hagelin, p11, 2013) An object for men to look at and sexually enjoy. Women wearing tight leather suits and revealing clothing that would be trivial and entirely impractical in combat. Now I implore a new type of female hero, a long overdue type; the ‘real female hero’.

The real female hero must look at the realistic interpretation of female roles. Female heroes need to be complex, to have another dimension then just one. Females can not just be eye candy or a macho male. Just like the male counterparts, good heroes holds numerous complexities that creates good character development. The four Ghostbusters are not the perfect example, I will agree, however, the film applies a more in depth look into the motive of these women of becoming ghostbusters. These are career driven women that are not held back by traditional gender responsibilities. This film reflects the reemergence of feminism, some assert a fourth wave of feminism, that stems from technology and that of which feminist writer, Laura Bates (Cochrane, 2013) claims that, ‘modern feminism is defined by pragmatism, inclusion and humour.’  Doesn’t this film fit these criteria? Pragmatism, inclusion and humour, this film is kind of funny. This new female hero has the potential to scare the film market, as I mentioned earlier that this film was met with a heavy backlash of male fans enraged at there beloved franchise being stained by the inclusion of four females.  This backlash of male anger could be argued to be exaggerated.

We only have to look at the most recent Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). This film also stars a female leading role, Rey, that is not held back by traditional gender roles, but still holds a feminine quality. She is not distracted by  a man or any other trivial quest but she is, in a way, career driven, even if it is to become a Jedi. The framework of the new female hero is there and successful. The new Ghostbusters is another example of an exciting new female hero. There is hope that this is the start of a new female movement in Hollywood cinema. One hopes for new, original female lead concepts and if Ghostbusters is successful, that would be a progressive move towards gender equality in cinema. One example of this of which I was much impressed was a new fancy dress outfit that was released to tie in with the film. Before the film the only female fitting Ghostbusters outfit widely available was the ‘female sexy ghostbuster’ of which comes with a skirt and high stockings. Now I’m not declaring that women cannot be attractive but this was the only choice, till now. You can now buy a film replica of the costume exclusively for females. No skirt, no attempt to be some sort of sexual dress. Ghostbusters is a step in the right direction in what is a glaringly and alarmingly gender issue for contemporary American cinema. When will people realise that women can be heroes too?


By Jason Blight



Cochrane, K., 2013. The Fourth Wave of Feminism: Meet the Rebel Women. The Guardian Online.

Hagelin, S., 2013. Reel Vulnerability: Power, Pain and Gender in Contemporary American Cinema. London: Rutgers University Press


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