Ghostbusters: The Fantasy of Escaping Male Gaze
Well, it's a week later and not much has changed. 10 year olds are still in prison in WA, Australians are still pretty racist, The Bachelor has started.
Last night we went to see Ghostbusters. For a quick review, the first half is amazing, the second half kind of sucks, but for a deeper look, it was a very strange feeling to go into a movie, to watch the minutes passing by and to keep being reminded of a very strange thing: no woman's going to have unwanted sexual things happen to her, none of the women are going to get more and more undressed, none of the women are going to get turned into bombshells or sexy ladies. This was a weird and a wonderful feeling.
How could this be a revolutionary feeling? To go to the movies and to gradually, weirdly relax that you're not going to have to steel yourself against some general threat? This is a feeling that not everyone can understand, unless they try SO HARD to put themselves into your shoes, and then they might just get a little glimpse, and maybe it will change their brain.
Well, I'm going to do something in the next few days, and that's imagine what it's like for some other people. Of course you can't really get in there, into another's brain, history, feeling, but you can try and the trying is worth it. Imagine if you're someone who never ever gets represented as a strong, unfettered-by-race character in movies or tv or the news? Like, if you're not an aboriginal Australian, try get into that feeling of never ever ever being just a character in a story as a straight up human, but always waiting for the moment when you have to deal with racism in the script or in your character's life. Imagine if one day someone just makes a movie where the actor is aboriginal and that's all. They get to live a normal life of a human without someone else having written in the racism all around them and into them.
See, Ghostbusters is a fantasy on many levels. Ghosts are real of course, even if they don't slime people, so it's not crazy to represent them in film, but it's crazy and wonderful to represent females pretty much not being patronised either inside the script's logic, or undressed from outside the script's logic, or gazed upon in that way.
Imagine being a young aboriginal Australian and seeing a tv show where there's aboriginal kids as the protagonists but they're not shown as "ABORIGINAL KIDS AS THE PROTAGONISTS", and it's a tv show where nothing too bad happens to them, and FOR ONCE you get a break from the pressures that, being a human, you just don't necessarily have to suffer, but you just suffer because of what form you were born in. Or, imagine being a young aboriginal Australian who doesn't have to deal with racism every moment, irl. This is fantasy. But making this fantasy gives us a taste of what is possible. Like, if you're a standard dressing whitish man, imagine having to imagine walking down the street without hunching your mind against the ever-present eventuality of someone yelling at you sexually from a car. If you're not a middle-eastern looking woman in a headscarf in Australia, imagine being a middle-eastern woman in a headscarf and having a day where no-one looks at you differently because of it.
Thanks Ghostbusters, for giving me half a movie's worth of luxurious break from the male gaze (which can come from males, females, ourselves, everywhere of course). If I'm going to be picky I'd say try harder next time in the second half of the film to fill in city scenes with people, to be more careful with lighting when you're blue-screening and CGIing, and to only use Sigourney Weaver if you're going to let her develop a real character and not just deliver some throw-away feministy fluff.
I hope everyone gets a break from their miniature or major oppressions this week, or gives someone else a break by trying harder to understand these oppressions are real.
Also, if you're at the movies with a date, don't forget to kiss them. ~Hot tip~