Feminism

Ghostbusters Just Fulfilled a Bit of My Childhood

Me: “Oh my god oh my god 5-year-old me would have lost her MIND if she saw this Ghostbusters movie with ladies in it!”

Him: “Well, 30-something-year-old you did just lose her mind.”

Summer 1984.

A young woman in New York is very pregnant and looking to escape the heat. She’d like a good laugh while she’s at it. So she goes to see this little movie called “Ghostbusters.” She laughs so hard she wonders if she’s about to give birth to the big ass baby inside her. She doesn’t, at least not for a few more weeks.

Summer 1989.

That big ass baby isn’t that big after all. She’s a tiny little squirt and she is in LOVE with The Real Ghostbusters. She wants to be a Ghostbuster. Her imaginary friends are Ghostbusters, and they go on all kinds of adventures saving New York City (okay really just Staten Island) from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and his ilk. She’s heard it’s a thing for boys, but she likes it anyway.

Someone gets that little girl a few ghost-busting toys of her own.

kid opening ghostbusters toy

BEST BIRTHDAY EVAR

The five year old little girl loses her shit.

No ghost is safe from her amazing aim and her fast acting trap. She likes to think she’s most like Peter but she’s probably more of an Egon, let’s be honest. She’s powered by little juice boxes full of Ecto Cooler.

kid with toy proton pack

PEW PEW

Alright. If you haven’t already figured it out, that little squirt was me. It would be a while before I actually saw the Ghostbusters movie, aside from hearing it in utero. But I watched the HECK out of my The Real Ghostbusters VHS tapes. Sure, I had a pink room and lots of Barbies, like most girls. But I adored the Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I got frustrated at all the talk of how they were “boy” things. I had two little brothers eventually, and they got LOTS of boy things, but as you can see, I still did alright for myself. I spent HOURS of my young life trapping ghosts that the grownups couldn’t see.

kids with ghostbusters toys

My little brother helps. Back when he was actually smaller than me.

Fall came around and I started kindergarten. When it was time to pick Halloween costumes, I knew exactly who I wanted to be. I was going to be a Ghostbuster. This wasn’t a typical costume for a little girl to wear, and I honestly can’t remember if I got any pushback for it. But Halloween came around and there I was, strutting my stuff as a REAL Ghostbuster! I couldn’t bring all my gear to school, but you get the picture.

kid in Ghostbusters costume

Faces blurred to protect the innocent. No one should be judged for what they wore in the 80s.

I’m still amused at what passed for Halloween costumes in the 80s. In my memory, it was a real jumpsuit with a collar and everything. So when my mom dug out the photos recently in celebration of the new Ghostbusters movie release, I couldn’t help but laugh. I guess I’m going to have to do better next time…

kid with ghost trap toy

Ghosts can’t handle me

Fast forward to 2016 and all the hype, fanfare, and griping about the new Ghostbusters movie featuring an all-woman cast. I REALLY wanted to see it with my mom, but sadly we’re not in the same town. (We did re-watch the original and shared some belly laughs together.)

I don’t want to spoil the movie and I’m not even going to review it. But I can tell you that I came home feeling more energized and pumped and happy than I have after consuming any kind of media in a long time. There is just something so nice about seeing someone like you up on that screen doing all that sweet ghostbustin’ action you mimicked as a kid. For every guy complaining that the reboot ruined their childhood, I’m pretty sure there is a another woman out there that feels that a little bit of her childhood is fulfilled by it.

Ghostbusters isn’t the world’s best movie, and it’s only one tiny step in a much larger movement to make true diversity onscreen a reality. But just being able to escape the real world for a couple of hours and enjoy some bad ass bitches kicking ghost-ass, that’s worth the price of a movie ticket.

Now I have to busy myself reading cosplay forums and deciding if I’m really a Holtz (I make Faraday cages out of pasta strainers TOO) or an Erin (because tenure-track physics professor though thankfully my department chair isn’t Tywin Lannister).

ghostbusters, then and now

With many thanks to Mom for digging out those old pictures. Oh, and for encouraging your little girl to be whatever she wanted to be!

Nicole

Nicole

Nicole is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at a small liberal arts college. Her home on the internet can be found at One Astronomer's Noise.

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5 Comments

  1. July 19, 2016 at 7:30 am —

    Yeah, I think you were going to be some sort of scientist regardless. #nerd

  2. July 19, 2016 at 9:24 am —

    I’m a bit older than you are Nicole. I was working a Toys ‘R’ Us when The Real Ghostbusters (and The Original Ghostbusters for that matter) were a thing. None of what I’m going to write here is directed at you, rather at exactly the people who will never read it here (I’m a genius at targeted marketing), namely the crybabies who don’t want no one touching their wubbies.

    I haven’t seen the new one yet (going this weekend with my daughter) but I have pretty high hopes.

    But let’s remember a couple of things.

    Ghostbusters was not a cinematic masterpiece. Oh sure, we all have fond memories of it but let’s not forget that most of that movie’s charm came from the chemistry of it’s stars because the story lagged at times and quite a few of the jokes fall flat.

    It’s a good movie, don’t get me wrong, but it is like most of Bill Murray’s early works, buoyed by Murray’s charming goofball shtick (with lots of help in this one, to be fair) but if you take out Murray the movie would fall apart. I know that seems unfair, but be honest, who else could you replace him with in 1984? Tom Hanks? Eddie Murphy? (who Winston Zeddemore was written for BTW) Val Kilmer? Michael Keaton? Steve Martin?

    All terrific in their own rights, but not as disarmingly charming as Murray at his comedic heights. Just to demonstrate how “lightning in a bottle” the original movie was I would like you to consider two other Murray movies.

    The Razor’s Edge (also from 1984) and Ghostbusters II.

    If you have seen the Somerset Maugham adaptation (and if you haven’t, you’re not alone) you will know that Murray was trying very, VERY hard to break from his likable goofus persona. It’s not the worst movie, but it was above Murray’s abilities at that time.

    The second Ghostbusters movie is, to be quite honest, a mess. It has it’s moments but they are few and few between, so what happened? Well, same guys with the same chemistry which doesn’t work as well with the much weaker material. Dan Akroyd was not reigned in as much (Bill Murray has said Danny thought these movies were documentaries), there was little plot to hang the shenanigans on, and the resulting goofiness seemed forced leaving a bloated mess that Peter McNichol was able to steal with a silly accent.

    tl:dr Ghostbusters the first was fun and truly a classic but it is hardly Citizen Cane. Besides, nobody is going around taping over all of the original copies (oxymoron) with the new ‘girly’ version. Just relax, you childhood is safe.

  3. July 19, 2016 at 11:31 am —

    I was 20 when the first Ghostbusters movie came out. That makes me 52 now. I had as much fun with the lady parts version as I did with the penis-enhanced version. Maybe more, ’cause there were plenty of call backs to the old film to add to it. I loved it! Can’t wait for a new – and good, this time – Ghostbusters II!

  4. July 20, 2016 at 10:15 am —

    Loved the new movie, and this piece. :)

  5. July 21, 2016 at 1:37 am —

    I was worried when I heard about it because remakes have consistently disappointed me. I find it hard to think of counter-examples. The All-Woman thing pleased me, but I was worried that it’d be more of a gimmick than a real move.

    Neither of those turned out to be the case, though, and I’m really glad I went to see it. It was really quite fun.

    An interesting tidbit? The characters were women, but their being women was never really part of the plot. No “but I was denied tenure because my chair is sexist!” (which is a real thing, mind). Yeah, Erin flirts adorably awkwardly with Mighty Thor, their sexy receptionist, but I don’t really see that as a gendered thing here. They were women doing things that wasn’t about BEING women, it was just being themselves.
    I think that’s as important a step as having an all-women cast, where our attention isn’t being forcibly drawn to their sex, it’s just a minor part of their greater characters.

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