Guess what? I’m excited about the new Ghostbusters movie. I’m very excited about it. I’m even more excited with the release of the movie’s awesome new UK trailer which premiered online this week. Check it out…
— Sony Pictures UK (@SonyPicturesUK) May 20, 2016
I gave a shot-by-shot dissection of the first Ghostbusters trailer back in March, but I’m not doing that this time. This time, I’m asking for all of the trolls out there to wise up. Yes, I agree that there are far too many remakes and reboots out there in film and television. I agree that it would have been great to have seen a third Ghostbusters film with the original cast before Harold Ramis’ passing in 2014. I also agree that the original Ghostbusters film, one of my all time favorites, is a classic that stands on its own. If any of those points and those points alone have you on the fence about this new film, then fine. Fair enough. What I don’t agree with, however, is using any of these points as cover for the deep-seeded misogyny that exists on the internet today.
Why is there a war on Ghostbusters? The first trailer for the film is now the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history. It’s clear to me, as GamerGate is still very much alive and internet trolling continues to relegate women, that this is far more than an issue of preemptive criticism or nostalgic pants-wetting. Had this been an all-male Ghostbusters team I highly doubt that the backlash would come near what it has for Paul Feig’s female team. Misogyny takes on many forms, and oftentimes those responsible don’t even recognize or understand that their criticisms could be coming from a place of sexism. As arguments against traditional gender roles are finally, more publicly coming into focus, and things are slowly becoming less black-and-white, less male-or-female, there is a lot of pushback from those who strongly buy into the ideal of defined roles. The very idea of assigned roles is a form of separation, and that’s something I think we’ve come too far to let persist.
In 2016, I shouldn’t even be writing this. As the father of two daughters, I constantly look at the media landscape and shake my head at how far we still have to go. The debate has gone on and on, from the lack of a female-led superhero film to controversies like the #WheresRey campaign for more Rey toys around the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So now, a studio finally makes the right move and casts a female Ghostbusting team and the result, two months before the movie is even due to hit theaters, is a record for the most dislikes on YouTube. One step forward, one step back. I just hope the film does well at the box office, otherwise, studios will continue to indulge only the younger male demographics and subconscious sexism will prevail for another generation.
Let’s go back once more to the nostalgic pants-wetting and preemptive criticism arguments. Preemptive criticism is nothing new. I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past, speculating about how bad something might be before seeing it. But I never fully dismiss something before having seen the final product and giving it a fair shake. If I dismissed something on principle alone I’d be a hypocrite. How can I tell my kids “you don’t know unless you try” if I myself refuse to choke down Dawn of Justice before I find out it’s indeed hard to stomach? It helps to see things from another point of view. My girls love the original Ghostbusters film, but they are thrilled that this new team is a group of women.
Look, I don’t doubt that there are a ton of people out there whose dislike of the very idea of this film comes from a genuine belief that they have a stake in the nostalgic ownership of the Ghostbusters franchise. Well, this meme pretty much sums up how I feel about that…
At the end of the day, Ghostbusters could end up being a bad movie. You never know. But before you boycott it, at least give it a chance. Don’t let your preemptive negativity feed the internet trolls and misogyny. It may not be your aim, but sadly, this is where we find ourselves.