If you need proof that Hollywood has been painfully willing to accept a culture of sexual assault and harassment as the norm for all too long, you need look no further than Ghostbusters. Yes, really.
In real life, Bill Murray is still one of Hollywood’s good guys. No allegations have been levied against him, and here’s hoping it stays that way. But Murray’s slate isn’t perfectly clean. When he starred in Ghostbusters, he played a character who was definitely a sexual predator, and no one ever batted an eyelash at his clearly sleazy on-screen behavior. It was just accepted because that’s how normalized it was.
Cracked pointed this all out in a depressingly poignant article that outlines all the ways we know Murray’s character, Dr. Venkman, was the worst. There’s the way he cons his way into Dana’s apartment, finds out she’s single and lives alone, and then immediately starts in with sexually suggestive jokes. There’s the way he refuses to take no for an answer and uses her disinterest as some kind of encouragement to pursue her even harder.
And then there’s the most damning piece of evidence of all: When he goes to Dana’s apartment and finds her possessed, not having had any prior knowledge she would be the host to a demon spirit, he calls the other Ghostbusters to inform them that he knocked her out with 300 cc’s of Thorazine, which is enough date rape drug to kill multiple women that he just happened to have on him when he went to Dana’s apartment. There is no explanation for this that isn’t horrifying.
As Cracked also points out, Murray’s character does not learn anything or change his ways, but still gets the girl at the end of the movie, reinforcing the belief that sexually predatory behavior is to be expected in men, and women need to overlook it if they want to land themselves a date. This has all been in plain sight since Ghostbusters was released in 1984. It just took today’s landscape of accountability for sexual misconduct to make us sit up and notice it.
If that’s not evidence that change in Hollywood is long, long overdue, I don’t know what is.