The Ghostbusters and Me

When I was a kid, I adored the Ghostbusters Saturday morning cartoon. My favorite character was mad scientist Egon Spengler. Over and over, I imagined that I was the Ghostbusters’ secretary, like Janine in the cartoon. I imagined myself dating Egon and helping the Ghostbusters, in a behind-the-scenes, support-staff role.

Yesterday, I saw the new Ghostbusters movie. Afterward, memories of my old Ghostbusters pretend games flooded back. I wondered: if I’d seen this Ghostbusters when I was a kid, would I have imagined myself as Dr. Jillian Holtzmann instead of as Janine? Would I have imagined myself being a heroic mad scientist, rather than dating one? I think I would have.

I’m sure that somewhere in the 1980s, some girls did imagine themselves being Ghostbusters, but I never did. Yes, some children can identify with a fictional role model who doesn’t look like them, but my memories have viscerally reminded me that some children won’t. Representation matters, and this is why.

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