Can I just applaud whoever first considered remaking Ghostbusters with an all-female cast? We are so used to these classic images in entertainment and don’t even consider what it might be like to switch things up.
As if you couldn’t tell already, I am a feminist. I believe in equality for every single person on this planet. So I will proudly support any effort that uplifts those who typically get the short end of the stick in society. And when these efforts are ones that are very visible, ones that we can all see and admire, that makes it even better.
As a young girl, I personally never really had strong females going against patriarchal norms. Most often, I’d actually choose to focus on male characters because they were portrayed as much stronger and more important than the minor female characters just present as an eventual love interest for somebody. Even if she did get involved in some action, the man would still seem to overshadow her.
I was probably too young to watch them, but I did watch James Bond movies (I swear, I never knew what they were doing in the bedroom), and again, he was a character who I thought was so cool. I didn’t necessarily focus on the fact that he was a man, but whenever I was pretending I was a cool spy, I never imagined any feminine qualities having a place in that imaginary role. Even watching all of the Indiana Jones movies further convinced me that leading epic adventures was a man’s job.
No matter how subtle these instances may be, they still play a huge impact on how kids grow up viewing the roles of gender in society. Many parents have stereotypes in their head of what to expect in their little boy or girl, what they might like and what is acceptable. When I look back on my own childhood, I feel like I was in an awkward middle ground of acknowledging that I was, in fact, a girl, but definitely exhibiting tomboy-like qualities. I never liked wearing dresses, the color pink, or makeup (and I would run away before anybody could braid my hair), I always preferred animals over baby dolls, and I could play with my brother for hours, even if it was just watching him play video games. Yet I still had a box of Barbies I occasionally touched and a dollhouse in my room. Femininity almost felt like something foreign, that embracing it meant I couldn’t enjoy my favorite things or be who I wanted to be.
Obviously I am a proud, strong woman today who enjoys the feminine things in life, but it took it a long time for me to realize that there is not just one correct way to be feminine. That qualities of stronger and more demure nature could coexist. The books we read and the media we watch are crucial ways to demonstrate how this is in fact possible.
I think it’s very interesting when we do break traditional molds because we often hold very low expectations of these “remakes,” that they will never live up to the original versions. But then every success is just that more noteworthy. Take for example the latest Star Wars saga. (Side note: when the first note of the theme rang out in that dark theatre, I definitely started crying. But anyway.) I, like so many others, was blown away by Rey. She embodies the ideal female character for me that I want other young girls to look up to: a woman who is strong, confident, doesn’t need a love interest to accomplish her goals, and doesn’t let her femininity slow her down in any way. Even the tough Katniss Everdeen still finds herself stuck in a love triangle, and Herminone Granger still tends to hold a lesser role to Harry Potter’s shenanigans.
And why limit challenging stereotypes to just women roles? Let’s see more various races and sexualities in major roles for society to admire, too. The entertainment industry, whether it means to or not, becomes a way for people to try to understand how to play our own roles and characters in everyday life. Fiction becomes inspiration.
I think it would be the coolest thing to see a female James Bond or Indiana Jones. We picture these certain images in our heads, whether we’re visualizing a book or just thinking of a movie, of what we expect from our favorite characters, and doubt ways of shifting those perspectives. When we connect with these imaginary people on emotional levels, letting go of that can be as tragic as abandoning your child. But once we give creators the necessary space to renovate our mindsets into ones more accustomed to embracing diversity. We’ve already made huge progress, but I see much more to come.
So when trouble is in our midst, we don’t always long for a typical white male to save the day. Strong figures, adventurers and superheroes can come in many different packages.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie