TV&MOVIES

The New ‘Ghostbusters’ Isn’t As Progressive As You Think

New movie, same black stereotypes

Mar 03, 2016 at 7:18 PM ET

The first trailer for the all-female, Paul Fieg-directed Ghostbusters reboot hit the internet today, and predictably, it has been lavished with praise. But it’s worth tempering some of that excitement, because for all of the movie’s paradigm shifting with a strong female ghostbusting crew, it still falls victim to some lazy and bad casting techniques with its treatment of the movie’s sole black character.

In the movie, you have three badass lady scientists and…a transit worker. The characters played by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon—all white, mind you—are scientists with backgrounds in the paranormal and years of experience. Leslie Jones, the only black character of the bunch, is left to play the sassy, streetwise transit worker. What should have been a moment of unflinching praise has now been undermined by an awkward caveat.

A brief check of the Twitter reaction to the trailer shows that it was largely positive, but there was a small corner talking about the movie’s big casting flaw with Jones’ role:

When you look at it that way, the movie only goes half way. It’s only dipping its toes in the water of Hollywood-related identity politics. The filmmakers can go as far as to make the crew all women, but thinking of the one black character as a scientist was somehow too inconceivable. While one movie can’t fix all of Hollywood’s issues, the minds behind the reboot are clearly sending out an overt message about representation with the all-girl cast. Would have been so hard to make the token character a little less conspicuous? (Spoiler: nope.) So yes, the excitement over the new Ghostbusters is understandable–it’s always good to see a traditionally-male franchise fronted by all women–but it’s also still worth remembering that this is only part of a much bigger picture.