Next in my sexism, social justice and science fiction series EYE spare a thought for the much maligned matriarchal re-imagining of an eighties comedy classic.
To be honest I have about as much interest in going to see the new Ghostbusters movie as I had in taking the recent opportunity to sit through this year’s remake of the 1991 cult classic Point Break (Certified 9% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).
That being said, I expect that the extremely small amount of people interested in reading a collection of essays on the theme of Sexism, Social Justice and Science Fiction might feel a bit shortchanged if I didn’t at least mention this year’s most divisive “blockbuster”.
Some people have described it as representing a ‘thrilling transformation in pop culture’ where women finally emerge from the sidelines, whilst others are convinced that the ‘all female’ casting is simply cynical pandering to influential social justice warrior trend setters.
Personally I struggle to particularly give a shit but lots of people apparently do. It’s already made history for having the most unpopular trailer ever having racked up more than half a million “thumbs down” votes on YouTube. This in turn has predictably provoked some professional paid pontificaters to point to the possibility that this is yet further evidence of what a depressingly misogynistic world we all live in.
This week Laurie Penney shared her view that all this negativity is just another ‘masculinity so fragile’ tantrum against inevitable change.
Interestingly she also believes that the reaction to the movie’s trailer is representative of a nefarious new trend of ‘organised trolling‘ where groups of peanut throwing knuckle draggers bombard a target with negative reviews, simply because of what it represents.
Organised trash-reviewing is now standard practice when certain corners of the internet panic about losing their privileged place in culture and need to go to their scream room and throw some toys around. This raises the obvious question: if your entire sense of self depends on seeing your own gender represented in the stories you love, how fragile must your masculinity be? Laurie Penny
Feminists frequently seem to pull out this sort of conspiracy theory when they sense a slight towards their sacred sisterhood and Laurie Penny has a bit of a track record for seeing sexism in the strangest of places. Even so, perhaps she has a point.
Maybe Ghostbusters (2016) really is the first movie trailer to make You Tube’s Top 20 of most unliked content because ‘vindictive, sexist little boys on the web‘ are scared of change. Then again, given that Penny also reckons that this film is part of a ‘thrilling sea change in literature and pop culture‘, it is at least possible that she has ever so slightly lost the run of herself (again).
In my humble subjective opinion, social media storms often tend to be somewhat over egged by the people who write about them and, given that the underwhelming trailer has even been criticised by one of it’s stars, it’s hard to argue that pressing the ‘dislike’ button automatically makes you a misogynist.
Sequels rarely achieve the impact or popularity of the first installment, remakes even less so, and inevitably enough many fans of the original lost interest as soon as Bill Murray and Co dropped out of the picture.
That said, even if a small minority of the ‘haters’ really do hate women, it seems possible that the reason why people have been pressing dislike in such record breaking numbers is because a lot of them simply don’t like social justice warriors like Laurie Penny telling them how they should think.
When I heard that Ghostbusters (2016) was going to be an all female reboot I have to admit that my immediate reaction was to wonder whether whoever pitched the idea had just finished reading the feminist blockbuster that is How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.
For the uninitiated Moran is a massive Ghostbusters fan and it did strike me that the all female direction might have been inspired by a desire to tap into the hashtag trending fourth wave feminist zeitgeist of recent years.
Which is more of an observation than a criticism by the way. Having seen the trailer it strikes me that the ‘all female’ angle may very well be remembered as the most original thought in what looks like a fairly uninspired retread of the first film.
And in all fairness, from the positive STEM role models to the beefcake secretarial support, the most unpopular trailer in the world does have a lot of social justice tropes on display.
Hopefully it goes without saying that in a world where Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch actually exists as an actual thing, there is obviously room for a female troop of Ghostbusters.
Then again it should also go without saying that it’s not sexist to think that the funniest thing about Ghostbusters (2016) so far is the Marshmallow Man’s reaction to it’s trailer.
Despite all the free publicity and no matter how uncharacteristically generous the critics may feel inclined to be, for all sorts of reasons it does seem unlikely that Paul Feig’s creation will be remembered anywhere nearly as fondly as the original. For one thing, as Columbia Pictures have found out, the Social Justice Warrior audience tend to be very hard to please.
The first trailer may be remembered for the response from the ‘misogynistic haters’ but all the immediate headlines were about the film’s perceived lazy racial stereotyping. Meanwhile if you believe everything you read in the papers, then parents everywhere are apparently up in arms that the marketing department are doing such a poor job of tempting their daughters into locking and loading their proton packs this summer.
It also seems that trailer number two may have created unrealistic expectations about the prospect of full blown supernatural sapphic scissor sistering and, as any self respecting feminist will (possibly) tell you, the whole show is based on the cultural appropriation of some extremely sexist source material.
When I heard that Ghostbusters 2016 was going to be all about girl power, I initially thought that the best way to benchmark it’s brilliance (or lack thereof) would be if Caitlin Moran came out of the cinema smiling.
I like Caitlin Moran, she’s a funny lady and a proper fan of the original so if she enjoys it then it will probably be worth a punt. In fairness though, these days a lot of adults are getting a tad overly possessive about rebooted childhood favorites so perhaps the fairest way of deciding whether or not the Lady Ghostbusters has been a worthwhile venture will be if lots of children under the age of eleven want to watch it more than once.
Mind you, I seriously doubt that the dick jokes will be as good as they were back in my day.