Image from Sony Pictures
I was babysitting my young nephews one rainy day about a year ago. We’d done all the important indoor stuff. Board games. ABC Kids. Cat chasing. Snacks. Giggling at Claudia Rowe’s Bum Magic (a kid-delighting riff off that old picture book fave, Possum Magic). It was time for…YouTube karaoke! The elder nephew came up with the idea. God knows who put him onto it. But, never one to back away from a bad singalong, I dragged out my laptop and cleared my vocal chords. “Auntie Mel,” nephew number one began – backed up by the piping voice of his younger sibling. “We should do the Ghostbusters song... Y’know, I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.” A few keystrokes later, a video complete with lyrical track was located.
After about the third consecutive go around, I pulled the ripcord – pleading with my tiny ghost-wranglers to pick something else. Anything else. I mean, how did a seven and five-year-old even KNOW the bloody song? Although it hadn’t haunted movie screens for three decades, shades of the Dan Aykroyd film – and Ray Parker Jnr tune – had hung around to such an extent that my 21st century nephews could torture me with them. Surely, it was just a matter of time before Hollywood decided to cash in on the new generation of would‑be ghost-ka-teers?
A year later, here we are. On the eve of that threatened revival. Ghostbusters is back, hitting cinemas locally on 14 July. With a cast of some of the most bark-laughingly hilarious comedians 2016 has to offer. All, like the original line-up, alumni of the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.
But, while Aykroyd’s team of paranormal investigators was a certified man-fest, the current crop of leads are women: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. And the really scary twist for modern audiences seems to be that while technology has moved on in leaps and bounds over the past three decades, blatantly sexist attitudes seem to have remained hermetically sealed – waiting to leap out and slime us all. The vitriolic backlash that followed the release of the Ghostbusters official trailer saw a legion of trolls smacking their objectionable views onto comments threads. But, lost amid the misogyny, there may have been some valid criticism. As writer Anthony Morris asks in this edition’s cover story (‘Who You Gonna…Recall’, p14), do audiences really need another remake of an old classic? Should we give reboots the boot, unless they have something to add to modern discourse?
While we’re on the topic of renewal, observant readers of this magazine will have noticed some subtle changes creeping in over the past few editions. Veteran columnist Helen Razer has bowed out, her upfront slot beside Ricky French ably filled by another much-loved Big Issue stalwart, Fiona Scott-Norman (p13). Your Say has migrated to the prized back page of the magazine (p46). The author of the Letter of the Fortnight now not only wins a prize from our reviews pages, their missive is published with an illustration by Michael Weldon – who now also pens and illustrates a new quiz (‘Just the Facts…and One Lie’, p44). The Media section (p10) has moved up in the world, following on from the newsy Hearsay column. It now covers a single topic, further illuminated by the freshly recruited cartooning talent of Zev Landes. And for some editions now, former Television columnist Lorin Clarke has stretched out to occupy a full page – where she will regularly offer up her meditations on all things podcast, theatre and comedy (Casting Off, p43). And…after this edition, there will be one further shift. A big one. For me. And, for the magazine. After nine years with The Big Issue, I’ll be moving on. A new editor, Amy Hetherington, will take up where other editors have left off. But, as much as it will be under new stewardship, the aim of this publication remains the same: to make a difference. One magazine at a time.
Melissa Cranenburgh, Acting Editor