Posted on Friday, July 15th, 2016 by Angie Han
This summer has served up all sorts of expensive, extravagant spectacles. We’ve traveled to far-flung fantasy realms, battled ghouls and ghosts of every stripe, witnessed multiple animals endangering human lives by driving trucks, and cheered on more superhero-on-superhero pileups than you can shake a supernaturally powered scepter at. One thing we haven’t gotten a lot of, though? LGBTQ characters. Instead, what we have seen are a number of characters like Ghostbusters‘ Jillian Holtzmann, who slink right up to the edge, but then stop just short of coming out.
“Whatever You Want Them to Be”
2016’s latest maybe-gay character comes in Ghostbusters, and more specifically in the form of Jillian Holtzmann, played by Kate McKinnon. Her very first dialogue in the movie is a pickup line (“Come here often?”) directed at Kristen Wiig‘s character, and she spends much of the movie making flirty eyes at Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Many of the early critical reactions have noted McKinnon’s magnetism.
Ladies, if you're even a one on the Kinsey scale, you'll leave Ghostbusters with a massive crush on Kate McKinnon.
— Jenni Miller (@msjennimiller) July 10, 2016
But the movie stops just short of confirming her orientation either way. And in a recent interview with Jen Yamato for The Daily Beast, Feig did the same.
I ask Feig: Is Holtzmann gay?
He pauses, smiling. “What do you think?”
I’d like to think yes, I say. He offers a grinning, silent nod. “I hate to be coy about it,” he offers. “But when you’re dealing with the studios and that kind of thing…” He shrugs apologetically.
“You know, Kate is who she is and I love the relationship between Kate and Melissa’s characters,” he says. “I think it’s a very interesting, close relationship. If you know Kate at all she’s this kind of pansexual beast where it’s just like everybody who’s around her falls in love with her and she’s so loving to everybody she’s around. I wanted to let that come out in this character.”
Like the movie itself, Feig tiptoes just up to the edge of confirming Holtzmann is gay, but won’t actually cross that line. “What do you think?” is a non-answer, not very unlike the one Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton and producer Lindsay Collins gave when asked about Finding Dory‘s possibly lesbian moms:
“They can be whatever you want them to be,” said Stanton. “There’s no right or wrong answer.”
“We never asked them,” added producer Lindsey Collins.
“We have not asked that of any of the couples in any of our shots in any of our movies,” Stanton said.
Even when we did get an actual, confirmed gay couple this summer in Independence Day: Resurgence, their presentation was so subtle that personally, I did not realize they were a couple until the very end of the movie. Up until that point, it was obvious the characters had some kind of affection for one another but wasn’t sure if they were colleagues or relatives or friends or what. Your mileage may vary; I’ve spoken with people who were unsure or unaware of the same-sex relationship in the film, as well as some others who said they picked up on it from its introduction. (If you were in the former group and are still scratching your head, I’m referring to Dr. Okun and Dr. Isaac.)
Regardless, what is clear is that this romance is played much more subtly than the many unmistakably, unambiguously hetero pairings in the movie. Jake and Patricia talk openly about their engagement, and are seen kissing and embracing. Charlie talks repeatedly about his crush on Rain and later asks her out on a date. Levinson and Catherine reference a past tryst and eventually find their way back toward each other. It’s nice that Okun and Isaac have one of the more fully developed relationships in the film, but it’d be even nicer if the film didn’t seem so timid about the nature of said relationship.