Or, Bustin’ [Stereotypes] Makes Me Feel Good
Let’s get a couple things straight:
- I have nothing against people with regular-ass jobs. Neither of my parents attended university. My mom was a nurse and my dad was a general contractor. I spent my formative years covered in drywall dust working alongside my dad.
- I love me some Leslie Jones, since long before she was on Saturday Night Live. I’ve loved her stand up for years. Plus the first time I saw her, she was raising her shirt and flashing her titties to Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” on a VH1 video countdown. In other words, she had me at “hello.”
The fact that I fucks with the working class (Feel the Bern) and I fucks with Leslie Jones (Can a bitch get a beef bowl?), doesn’t mean I have to ignore the elephant in the room. It’s been over 30 years, and the black Ghostbuster is still the only one who isn’t a scientist or an engineer.
I don’t have a problem with one of the Ghostbusters being an employee of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (it was an MTA worker who told me how to get from Manhattan to Flushing, Queens when I was alone in Grand Central Station at 3 a.m. and the 6 train wasn’t running). But can we at least discuss the fact that once again it’s the one Ghostbuster of color who’s a blue collar worker? There’s nothing wrong with blue collar workers. There’s nothing wrong with maids, no non-sense black female judges, sassy black best friends, or even the occasional magical negro. But a trope is a trope and a positive stereotype is still a stereotype. My desire for diversity in film and my desire to see Leslie Jones on the big screen aren’t mutually exclusive from my ability to call ‘em how I see ‘em.
I’m already seeing white people on social media saying that having a black female scientist would be unrealistic. White America: listen to yourself! You’re willing to accept a universe where ghosts are real and ghostbusting is a thing, but a black female scientist? That’s too much suspension of disbelief? I don’t know many scientists. And, if I’m being honest, I don’t know that many black women. But I personally know two black female scientists that I can think of off the top of my head. Meanwhile, I’m 42-years-old and I don’t know a single Ghostbuster. Okay, I know one woman who calls herself a “paranormal investigator” and, no offense Cheryl, but I’m a little bit skeptical about your chosen profession.
Fun Fact: The “Black Ghostbuster” has an Interesting History
Stories floating around Hollywood about the production of the original Ghostbusters differ, but the story I personally believe comes from actor Ernie Hudson who played Winston Zeddmore. Apparently, the part was written with Eddie Murphy in mind and in the draft that Hudson signed on for, Zeddmore had roughly equal screen-time as Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd’s Dr. Raymond Stantz, and Harold Ramis’ Dr, Egon Spengler. Hudson and his agent were ecstatic at what read like it would be Hudson’s breakout role.
It was not until Hudson arrived on set and saw the revised script that he realized how significantly his role had been reduced after Eddie Murphy passed on it. I was coming out of the fourth grade when I saw Ghostbusters, and even as a ten-year-old, I recalled being dissatisfied with the artless way Winston Zeddmore’s character was shoe-horned into the story late in the film. If the writers were trying to make a meta comment on the treatment of black actors in Hollywood, they couldn’t have done much better.
Maybe in the 2035 reboot, we’ll get to have a black Ghostbuster who is a scientist and an original member of the team.