In the summer of 1984—the dawn of the equinox of the eighties—Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray made a movie that no one has ever disliked. Eight-year-olds love it for exactly the same reason 50-year-olds love it: it’s fun, it’s simple, it’s compelling, it’s inventive, and it has that holiest of holy grails—it does not take itself too seriously (well, except for the fun).
That movie was Ghostbusters.
There was also a cartoon series: it ran for 147 episodes and it was awesome. There were Ghostbusters toys, cheap plastic money-grabbers, but no one cared because an idea that doesn’t take itself too seriously is fun.
In the late nineties, the Ghostbusters returned with a cartoon called Extreme Ghostbusters, in which the new Ghostbusters were all of college age. One was a woman, one was a black guy, one was a dude in a wheelchair, and one was a lazy, ill-tempered, straight, white cisgendered male.
But that was not PC enough. Not for the future of fun. “What if they were all women?” asked someone at Sony. And apparently no one could think of a reason not to do this.
The Office writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg supplied the original script. On board to direct is Paul Feig, director of Bridesmaids (one of the only high-grossing films of the past decade that wasn’t a sequel, a remake, or an adaptation).
So if we grant that what we have here is a team that can take left-wing Hollywood women and make them as funny and memorable as Bill Murray, what we are still left with is the question of why.
And indeed, why not.
And why “why” is losing and why “why not” is winning. Why not remake The Craft with boys? Why not remake Backdoor Bitches 1 through 76 with an all-male cast?
And will women ever understand what it is about wearing one-piece earth-tone boiler suits that makes them so damn sexy?
The Dude Abides
by Rachel Edwards
Sometimes there’s a man who is simply “the man” for his time and place. That’s “the Dude” in a nutshell. He is only a part of the comedy of errors that is The Big Lebowski. On the surface, the movie is about a case of mistaken identity that leads to the death of a friend. Lurking beneath the surface is a movie about men and the state of masculinity preceding second wave feminism. A world in which gender roles have changed for women, but the expectations for men have remained the same. It is about how this inequity has emasculated men and taken everything from them.
You have Walter Sobchak, who is a divorced veteran clinging to anything still tying him to his ex-wife. You have Jeffrey Lebowski the millionaire, who has been metaphorically castrated by the loss of his ability to walk after serving in Korea and has nothing left but the appearance of power. Women rule his life in the form of a trophy wife (Bunny), who spends all his money and causes him nothing but trouble, and a daughter (Maude), a feminist artist who gives him an allowance to live on.
These men are ruled by their need for female approval and have lived their lives trying to meet the unrealistic expectations placed on men and masculinity. In contrast, you have the Dude, who is the anti-thesis of these characters. He has few expectations and lives life in the way that makes sense to him. He only pursues money as needed and values his relationships with other people over power and status. He is fine just existing.
If there is a message in this film, it is that even when the Dude loses, he wins, because he is not governed by the expectations that other men play into. His expectations are so low that as long as he has a place to stay and no one is trying to hurt him, he considers everything to be fine.
In fact, most of the negative events unfolding in this story come not from him but from people motivated by greed and power. These people have a standard of what makes a man, and what one must do to be a man, whereas the Dude feels that a man need only identify as a male to be a man.
The Dude is fine with having nothing, so the only threat that can be thrown at him is castration. The only thing that can scare him is the realization of his own mortality. However, these corrupt individuals cannot castrate the Dude, physically or metaphorically, because he doesn’t play by their rules. They cannot shame him into submission or force him to be what he isn’t. Because he doesn’t play the game.
The differences between men and women in this movie are best displayed by the dream sequences. Even in the midst of a fantasy where the Dude can be anyone or anything, he dreams not of fame or fortune but of being able to approach a powerful goddess as a sex god in the form of a porn star. But then his vision goes sour almost as a punishment for his admiration of the female body, which comes as the fear of castration by nihilists with large pairs of scissors.
In short, Bunny and Maude have been elevated to the status of powerful goddesses. But the men are left to deal with a society that expects them to fill certain roles while at the same time being told that they are no longer needed in this capacity. These men are powerless to the women’s whims and can only lay back and tolerate what these women dish out.
The man who survives his encounters with these goddesses is the Dude. Because the Dude abides. He is a survivor and readily accepts that he cannot defeat these people, and instead decides not to play these games of power and ego. You cannot shame or emasculate a man who derives his identity from non-traditional criteria. He is man whether or not you accept him, and he takes everything as it comes. He is neither hero nor villain, and better than both. He is the Dude, no more and no less. A man for all time.
A (partial and shitty) review of Ancillary Justice
by Alison Tieman
The protagonist finds an unconscious person that the author is quick to establish as male. (I know from Cliff Notes that this individual is supposed to be incompetent.)
The male character spends the rest of at least the next few chapters being incoherent and annoying. He’s apparently a drug addict.
The protagonist doesn’t like him yet takes great pains to keep him alive. I don’t really understand why.
I know from the Cliff Notes that he is important somehow. And that he’s also annoying.
For an author challenging the idea of using gendered pronouns, she’s certainly invested in making sure we know who is male or female.
I guess it’s hard to rely on lazy stereotypes without gendered pronouns. The tension between her desire to rely on said lazy stereotypes about men and her desire to keep up her gimmick is just about the only tension in this book so far.
Apparently the protagonist is a hive mind and also a ship.
The ship describes vacuums as “bitter cold.” Vacuum is an insulator so it wouldn’t feel “bitter cold,” more like uncomfortably stuffy.
There’s a kid playing a song and some walking around a town. Also the uniforms of this galactic empire are uncomfortable; you would think that a galactic empire could fix something like that.
I literally do not know what else happens in this chapter. I read it a few days ago and I’ve forgotten it. I’m guessing not much.
The protagonist rents a vehicle. The vehicle is stranded. She shoots four people who come after her to rob and/or kill her.
The author was careful to establish earlier that these four people were male so we don’t have to care.
She has succeeded. I don’t care. Perhaps she has succeeded too much because I don’t care at all.
Although one question burns in my mind. How does snow become “moss-streaked?” Is there a form of snow-eating moss in this world?
Still no sign of a plot.
Feel exhausted and confused and itchy.
Lots of characters in chapter but no relationships. Author explicitly says there are relationships—enmities, friendships, etc., but these elements do not seem to affect the actions of the characters; like myths these emotion connections are only spoken of, never directly witnessed.
Lots of bureaucratic negotiations, rituals, talk of fishing rights, and the best place to dig up tubers. Also there were some guns found underwater. The talk of guns inspires a brief spark of interest in me, which is quickly doused by excessive descriptions of tea, social graces, and relish.
Relish. Always the relish.
…. no sign of a plot … and I don’t care about these characters because they don’t seem to care about anything …
… how did this win awards?…