Ladies, Go See Ghostbusters and Take Your Daughters

Ghostbusters

I live in a house full of nerdy men which means over the years I’ve had quite the education in all things superhero, science fiction, and fantasy. It wasn’t something I was exposed to growing up since my mum thought science fiction was stupid – I think that’s a direct quote – and my dad never seemed to watch anything but news, boxing, and Police Academy movies.

As I’ve raised my boys I have begun to realize that maybe there was a nerd inside me all along just waiting to get out. Wonder Woman? LOVED HER!! We would run around the school yard mimicking Linda Carter’s moves with her magic bracelets and lasso. Star Trek? Who didn’t grow up watching it in reruns every single day and crushing a bit on Captain Kirk?

Then, in my teens, there was Ghostbusters. I didn’t really think of it as a nerd movie at the time. It was a huge summer blockbuster and everybody went to see it. There were special effects and familiar actors and a funny premise. And truthfully, I had no idea that it had become an iconic nerd film where people went to conventions dressed up and made their own proton packs.

My kids saw the original Ghostbusters about 4 years ago and Monkey went on a big kick with it, even insisting on a homemade costume for Halloween a few years ago. I’m not really sure I saw the appeal of the movie… until now. Because when you replace the snarky, chain-smoking balding guys with strong, funny, competent women, magic happens.

I was fully expecting to be mildly disappointed by the movie. Remakes are always sketchy and the reviews had been so mixed. I wasn’t expecting to come out of it excited and eagerly anticipating a sequel but that’s exactly what happened, and here’s why:

Ghostbusters licking gunGhostbusters gives us the imperfect female superheroes so many of us have been craving. They’re tall and short and thin and curvy, they wear glasses, and don’t fit in. They have unique ideas and interests that are frowned upon by those around them but they persevere. Their uniform is a baggy jumpsuit, not skin hugging spandex. They are genius level smart and bitingly funny and a bit crazy. They are tough, determined, and loyal to each other. They take on evil and absolutely kick its ass. What on earth is there not to love?

They are the kind of female superheroes that I wish I could have grown up with. The kind of female superheroes I wish my boys could grow up with. Instead, I grew up with spandex and low-cut tops, big boobs and high-heeled boots and secondary characters. Guess what? Not much has changed.

Nerd culture is still a man’s domain, although that is slowly changing. The nerds in my life are feminists, because I would have nothing to do with them if they weren’t, but there’s still a lot of misogyny out there in nerd land. And if you have any doubts, the Washington Post just published a break-down of the reviews for Ghostbusters.

 

“A closer look revealed men rated the film, on average, a 3.6 out of 10. Women, on the other hand, rated it 7.7 out of 10. Additionally, nearly five times as many men had rated the movie — 7,547 men as opposed to 1,564 women.”

Those numbers are enough to piss me off. What is it that men aren’t liking about the movie? Are they so completely unused to seeing female heroes unless they look like Katniss or Black Widow that they just can’t wrap their heads around realistic looking women getting the job done? And what a sad reflection is that on how our society views women?

So ladies, go see Ghostbusters. Do it for the little girl in you who never got a chance to see a hero on the screen who looked like you or liked science like you did or wasn’t afraid of goo and dirt. And take the girls in your life so they can experience it too.

 

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The Nerdiest Time of the Year

Fan Expo has once again come to Toronto. If you wander around downtown near the convention centre, you are going to see scads of people dressed as super heroes, science fiction characters, and Doctor Who (because he deserves a category all on his own.). Muppet and Monkey went off this morning with a skip in their step. Mini Me, true introvert that he is, didn’t want to face the crowds. That may change when he earns more appreciation for the girls in skin-tight Harley Quinn outfits. But, I digress.

In our house, we lovingly embrace the words nerd and geek. Muppet is a geek of long-standing – a true blooded Dungeons and Dragons playing, science fiction reading nerd who somehow convinced me to hang a mounted movie poster of the Matrix above our living room couch in our first apartment. It has now been relegated to the basement man cave along with the video games and Nightmare Before Christmas collectibles.

How did I, a woman who always swore she couldn’t stand science fiction, get tangled up in this geeky web? Turns out I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

I grew up on the original Star Trek series and I loved it. I think I had a little girl crush on Captain Kirk. When Muppet and I were first dating, we watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer together and I was hooked. The pretty girl chasing the monsters for a change? Sign me up! Then came Doctor Who and Christopher Eccleston and Rose and… Well, that was that. I earned my nerd membership later in life than many, but the Dalek sitting on my desk as i write this speaks volumes.

The kids were exposed to all things nerdy pretty much from the womb. Muppet read Lord of the Rings to Mini Me while he kicked away happily inside me. His first toys were Star Wars action figures. Monkey’s favourite stuffed animal as a baby was a promo toy from a video game.

Now that Mini Me is 13, he joins his dad and all of his friends for their Nerd Nights – role playing games that are taken very seriously and played while consuming Twizzlers and Cream Soda (blech!). It gives them something to bond over and all of Muppet’s friends welcomed into their fold with patience and love. Monkey is not there yet, but as a kid with ADHD, the patience it takes for the games just escapes him by about 7pm. He will get there, though.

Being a nerd is different now than it was when I was younger. Nerds fully let their flags fly and the internet means you can always find somebody who shares your likes/obsessions/hobbies. You don’t have to feel alone. Better yet, there are more nerd girls than ever before. Nerd love is possible. I’ve seen it.

I may have been a late-comer to this whole nerdy geeky world, but I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it now. Nerds and geeks are some of the most kindhearted, accepting, open-minded people you could ever meet and there are much worse things that I would hope for my kids than to be a part of that world.