On The Busting of Ghosts and Sexism

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Yesterday, the internet lost it’s mind about Ghostbusters (2016).

While I wish it was because Twitter has a new Ghostbusters emoji if you hashtag Ghostbusters, it wasn’t. It was a bunch of gross sexism.

Not necessarily a new phenomenon, but this particular wave of hate was launched when YouTube user “Angry Video Game Nerd” (who will not be receiving a link from me) uploaded a video entitled “Ghostbusters 2016. No Review. I Refuse.” It spread around the internet like the good little piece of clickbait it was designed to be and in the process set off a pretty toxic stream (see what I did there?) of garbage aimed at anyone who seemed remotely excited about the film, myself among them.

In the video, AVGN states his case for why he is refusing to watch Ghostbusters 2016. His points are stated with less vitriol than the ones that have been spewed around the internet for the most part, but it’s still a middle aged white dude gettin’ real mad about Ghostbusters being remade. More importantly than what AVGN said in his video is what a very aggressive section of the internet had to say yesterday, particularly on Twitter.

I personally received a handful of gross message simply for tweeting that I was cautiously optimistic for the film. That’s enough to drive these folks crazy, apparently.

Where’s this vitriol come from? Where was it during the remakes of other beloved 80s franchises? Where was the hate ahead of The Thing, Clash of the TitansRoboCop, The Dukes of Hazzard, Fright Night, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, Fame,  The Karate Kid, Conan the Barbarian, Footloose, Hairspray, Arthur, Miami Vice, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, My Bloody Valentine, Prom Night, Poltergeist…etc? There’s been a ton of griping about a large amount of these films, but the key difference is the hate for these movies came after they came out and sucked.

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What’s the difference between all of those movies and this one? Well, there’s a pretty glaring one, I’d say. This film stars women as new characters in similar roles to the roles pioneered by Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. The only other time I can remember any real anger ahead of remakes was when conservative folks got real mad about the 2014 remake of Annie that cast Quvenzhané Wallis as the titular character. The major difference in that film was that the majority of the cast was black. It brought out all sorts of casual racism, just like this film is bringing out all sorts of casual sexism. Admittedly, I was not a fan of Annie (2014) but I reserved judgement on the film or it’s perceived quality until I’d seen the damn thing. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of people who spend any amount of time thinking about, reviewing, or consuming films.

Not everybody complaining about this movie is a sexist. There are some solid arguments against it being made that ring true and don’t drip with misogyny. Namely, for every big budget remake that gets made money that could have gone to creating a new blockbuster or franchise is lost. Another very solid one is that Hollywood has been so completely overrun with remakes, reboots, and sequels for years that we haven’t added anything new of real value to the pop cultural discussion since the 90s. That one’s got some legs to it. You don’t have to be a sexist to hate the new Ghostbusters, but it definitely helps. You really do have to be a sexist to voice those criticisms the way that a lot of Twitter users chose to yesterday.

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A common thread that a huge chunk of the screaming ninnies shared was the belief that this Ghostbusters film is somehow a “Social Justice Warrior” weapon designed to steal every thirty-five year old man’s fond memories of Ghostbusters. A pretty large number of those tweets contain the clever hashtag #FeminismIsCancer, again, because Ghostbusters being remade is somehow a direct result of SJW intervention. SJWs have invaded Hollywood and are inflicting their cancer on beloved mid-eighties franchises. As though the only reason a filmmaker might make a remake of Ghostbusters would be to spread an agenda. Another common argument, and one that AVGN makes in his video, is that the film is simply trading on the Ghostbusters name in order to make money.

I hate to break it to you, but the Ghostbusters cashgrab film already exists and it’s called Ghostbusters 2. No legacy is being tarnished here. The only thing that can happen as a result of this film is that more people, an entire generation maybe, gets a chance to fall in love with Ghostbusters. I know that I’ll be bringing my daughter to go see it, and I know a whole lot of other folks will be doing the same. If they happen to see some fun, badass female role models along the way, I don’t think there’s any harm in that. That idea seems to bring out some pretty strong feelings in angry 30 year old Twitter dudes who have anime avatars and unironically use the term SJW, but I think it’s a pretty nice idea. Might even buy her a little proton pack. It’ll be cute.

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The idea that SJWs are stealing something from middle aged straight white guys is damn near a direct response to having had the entire world catered exclusively for them, their likes, and their dislikes for generations. Something being made without you as it’s primary target isn’t an attack. That’s not how the world works. This remake doesn’t make the old films, or the cartoon disappear. Everything will be okay.

Someone should tell Twitter.

I’m reserving real judgement on the film until I’ve seen it, you know, as film reviewers have done for generations. I don’t know if it’s going to be amazing or if it’s going to be terrible. I certainly hope it’s great. I want it to be great. However, I simply don’t know because I haven’t seen it. Even if it’s terrible which it very well may be, I’m going to be sipping on Ecto-Cooler this summer, so I’m not mad.

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The new trailer dropped today, and it looks way, way better than the first trailer. I’m cautiously optimistic. Check it out below and let me know what you think.

Humanstein

Nathan is a freelance writer, film critic, junk food enthusiast and founder of Humanstein.com | Humanstein is a digital magazine with the broad focus on “Crap Nathan Likes”. In more specific terms, that means horror movies, pop culture, nostalgia, and a lot of junk food.