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Oprah giving Ghostbusters
via @BillDixonish on Twitter

Why an all-male Ghostbusters is perpetuating gender problems

The announcement of an all-male ‘counterpart’ is diminishing the value of an all-female reboot

In January it was announced that Ghostbusters would be remade with an all-female cast. The film would star funny women Kristen Wiig, Emma Stone and Melissa McCarthy. We were graciously given two entire months to revel in conservative Hollywood's progressive small step for womankind. That is, until it was pilloried by the recent fan-boy catering announcement of an all-male Ghostbusters 'counterpart', produced by original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman and Dan Akroyd.

“I completely understand (Ivan's) decision to not direct a third Ghostbusters,” director Jason Reitman said of his dad's initial decision late last year, while everyone was speculating who would take a seat in the folding chair. “He has already made what will always be the best Ghostbusters movie.” The argument of bothering to reboot the franchise at all is moot, but why undermine the one novel idea Hollywood has squeezed out in the past couple years at all?

This, and many more questions, flooded Twitter after the announcement:

If this isn't a vote of no confidence for women in film, I don't know what is. Let's revisit the stats: only 7% of Hollywood directors in 2014 were women; in 1998 that figure was 9%, meaning that female directors were making more films 17 years ago than they are now. 93% of last year's most successful movies – that's 230 films – were manhandled by men. So why add another male-directed, male-starring, male-targeted flick to the canon? Someone at Sony must have shit the bed when they realised they had a commercially-viable, surefire seat filler in a female-driven franchise reboot and justifiably thought, “What about the guys? And the EXPLOSIONS?!”

We've been there, done that. There are countless testosterone-boosting movies already featuring all-male casts: The ThingReservoir Dogs, Lord of the Flies. And who can forget the one female speaking part in Full Metal Jacket? “Me so horny… Me love you long time.” Tallying up all-female flicks there's, erm, Cracks (2009). And 1939's The Women. And the 2008 remake of that film.Of 172 top films surveyed in 2011 by UCLA, women only scored 25.6% of lead roles. After five Expendables films with a putty-faced Sylvester Stallone, they've finally smarted and are planning The ExpendaBelles – ringing an all-female death knell potentially starring Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz and Milla Jovovich. All-female casts, like it or not, are #trending. What's the reason to diminish a blockbuster film that could potentially push society in the right direction?

There's something in Hollywood called a four-quadrant movie. That's a film that appeals to both male and female, over and under age 25. It sounds simple enough, but it's hard to tick all those boxes. They did it once already with the decade-straddling original: a kooky cast of out-and-out male geeks, a strong-headed female in Sigourney Weaver – it was novel for its time. This half-assed “more conventional” refresh, however, is the wrong answer.

If you're not going to stick to your guns (to use a macho phrase), then don't even bother. Don't waste our time, our money. Hollywood, if you promise audiences an all-female remake, then deliver – don't add a clause to the signed contract. By slotting in men where they simply don't need to be, you're perpetuating conventional gender norms, turning down the volume on deserved female voices. It's a question of worth, and one that demands a thought out answer. Vent your frustration and replace 'power grid' in this memorable Ghostbusters quote with 'genre-pushing female comedy' or 'female-empowering reboot': “Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.”