Wednesday, July 13, 2016
My problem with one particular ghostbuster
I have not jumped into the Ghostbusters fray on this blog.
"The internet" (of which I frequently dislike to count myself a part) has gone all hater on the fact that the Ghostbusters reboot features female ghostbusters, not male. When this sentiment is not being put forth overtly, it's being encoded deeper into the bedrock of something somebody says. But more often than not it's been put forth overtly. "The internet" rarely feels any shame over being sexist.
When the first trailers for Ghostbusters were considered to be awful, "the internet" rejoiced at how correct it was that women cannot make a good Ghostbusters movie.
I don't know whether this is a good Ghostbusters movie or not, and I certainly don't think whether it's women or men has anything to do with it. I can't envision it being that much more enlightened with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum donning ghostbuster suits.
But I do know it has one strike against it:
I can't stand this woman.
When McKinnon first appeared on Saturday Night Live a couple years ago, it was about four episodes before Kristen Wiig (who also appears in Ghostbusters) left the show. As they bore something of a physical similarity and a definite similarity in their types of comedy, I figured they had tabbed her as Wiig's heir apparent, and I felt okay about that. If SNL definitely needed a Wiig type, McKinnon seemed more than capable of filling that niche.
But the more I watched her, the more she grated on me.
There's something about her comedy that is just so "loud." She can't play a character without PLAYING A CHARACTER. There's a lot of sneering and winking and blinking and bugging out her eyes and twisting her face into all shorts of shapes and sizes. Goofy voices are a given.
This kind of thing can be funny. Examples abound. But McKinnon's method of delivering it is less like a real version of that hammy acting style than someone ironically imitating a hammy acting style. So the winking was not just actual, but metaphorical. Her bigness was like a parody of bigness. Just give me actual bigness.
I say "was" because my wife and I stopped watching SNL just one year into McKinnon's residency. The show did not survive the move to Australia. Every once in a while I'd wonder what I was missing, which actors I was not now familiar with by not watching the show (and Ghostbusters' Leslie Jones is one), and I'd regret that we'd walked away from a show we watched consistently for our first eight years together. But then I'd see a viral clip with McKinnon contorting her body and face into some perverse version of broad comedy and I'd be just as glad I was no longer being exposed to that stuff.
But McKinnon did enter my viewing schedule in other ways. Although I have somehow managed to miss each of the six features she has appeared in since debuting on SNL -- finally breaking that streak with Finding Dory, though I didn't identify her contribution -- I did see her in the otherwise very funny The Spoils Before Dying. While the point of that show is to be a satire of melodramatic miniseries, and therefore a certain amount of going over the top is par for the course, her role as some kind of jazz floozy just screamed. Screamed what? Exactly. It screamed.
What I don't understand, both in regard to The Spoils Before Dying and to Ghostbusters, is why you bother to cast McKinnon if you've already got the real thing. If McKinnon is a poor man's Kristen Wiig, she need hardly be cast when you've already got Kristen Wiig. And Wiig does/did indeed already appear in both of these. That seems especially problematic when you have just four main characters and you want a diversity of personality types represented. Thankfully, Wiig seems to be playing a straight woman in Ghostbusters by comparison to this deranged loon.
Kate McKinnon may not actualy be a deranged loon, but she does play one on TV.