Posted in Blog Entries

Ghostbusters: Feminist Pandering or Fun Summer Comedy?

A regular blog entry for once, but this time talking about what may be one of the most ridiculous of all debates taking place on the internet at the very moment.

Of the many films that have come out in 2016, one of, if not, the most controversial is probably one of the most unexpected ones at that – it was a Ghostbusters movie out of all things. When the first trailer surfaced the web, it may very well have been the most disliked trailer to have been put on YouTube, totaling to nearly 100,000 dislikes. The movie finally came out, and while positive reviews may have surfaced on Rotten Tomatoes, the IMDb community has remained vitriolic, a rating of 5.3 which consists mainly of 1-star ratings balanced out with 10-star ratings. The backlash has only managed to increase more and more over time, thus even resulting to personal attacks whether it come from both enraged fans or the people who worked on the film. Part of me was not looking forward to Ghostbusters at all, in spite of my not minding the idea of an all-female reboot. Eventually I gave it a chance, but that’s not the point which I’m trying to make. The point is, after a friend of mine wrote it in his own piece about the issue, that certain standards have been set for judging another film to the degree that fair judgment is already so difficult to find.

Initially, I wasn’t looking forward to Ghostbusters because of the following reasons. Paul Feig going behind the camera made me rather wary for I was not a fan of his three previous directorial efforts (I hated Bridesmaids and The Heat, and I thought Spy had a fair share of funny moments but they were far too sporadic). The promotional material for Ghostbusters was another one of the most off-putting aspects, because just simply talking about the way it looked – I thought it all appeared horridly unfunny, and when I heard a new rendition of the theme that were to be performed by Fall Out Boy, I was rather sure that the film were doomed. What also doesn’t help is this, I’m not a fan of Melissa McCarthy at all. The moment I finally decided to give the film a shot, I came out with a reaction I didn’t expect at all: I ended up liking it. From there on, I’ve been called terms like “extreme feminist” and “an executive paid by Sony” over social media and it was all over the simple act of expressing a genuine opinion.

Here’s the reason I saw Ghostbusters. I was willing enough to give it a chance because all the controversy over a single film that I’m sure was only intended to be a fun time for the summer ended up becoming one of the biggest political battlegrounds of the year. However, upon seeing the poor box office performance within the first weekend, I wanted to go see it in theaters as a manner of supporting the cast and crew for whatever this backlash may have dragged them into, as I felt bad for all of them. It’s sad that having a genuine opinion over a single film at this rate is now decisive of one’s political stance, for if one likes the film they will be labelled as feminists or Sony executives and if they don’t like the film, they will be called out as misogynists. Not only that, but we even have cases in which some people are only seeing it for the sake of angering MRA’s or misogynists for the matter. This brings into question, why can’t a film like this be seen only on the count of what it intends to be, just a fun time at the movies and nothing more? Why is all the political hoopla directed towards a Ghostbusters movie of all things? Shouldn’t politics be about the betterment of humanity and complicated problems? Because if so, I highly doubt a Ghostbusters movie will be the end-all and be-all for remotely any of this. All that’s happening from this is that extremists are having their beliefs strapped onto a movie and if there’s another doubt that comes in, it would be that the people behind the movie care about the politics, because that’s not at all what they were trying to create in the very first place.

What I won’t deny is this, Paul Feig and Leslie Jones are among a few that ended up going in the wrong at some point, with Feig referring to geek culture as “home to some of the biggest assholes” and Leslie Jones even taking some of the hateful comments directed at her over Twitter rather personally and some of her replies in that case were quite snide. As all this was going on, the conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos has also gotten himself banned off Twitter for he was among those responsible for the hateful comments. Since Milo’s banning, more fake “tweets” from Leslie Jones’s account have been showing up and Milo’s own supporters have been more active about having him freed from the ban. It was at this point to which I thought to myself, who is even in the right anymore? Supporters of Milo are also using his ban as a means of saying that freedom of speech is being killed, but what grants anyone the permission to send a rather hateful or personal remark to anyone who worked on a specific film? Is it all because they didn’t like the film? It’s apparently offensive to their political leaning? I’m all for freedom of speech, but there is only one level to which you can express your frustration over a specific film but let me ask you one thing, do you walk up to an artist just to say “your work is shit” or anything like that? If the answer is “no,” (which I’m very much hoping it is) why does a personal attack over social media make it different? I’m aware that over the internet, one is certainly subject to more hate depending on whom they interact with, and thus it’s easier for someone like myself to take snide comments towards their work with a grain of salt but attacking what others are as human beings is uncalled for, as all they’ve did was make a movie.

Here’s one thing that I feel needs to be said, if you’re trying to stand for freedom of speech and yet you attack on others who share a genuine opinion on Ghostbusters whether it be within the positive or the negative, I’ll ask you this, do you not see the hypocrisy in what you are saying? No one has committed a federal crime all because they either like or dislike a movie, so why act like it either way? Let me take this from personal experience; over social media one person I knew would go ahead and say that everyone who wrote a positive review for Ghostbusters only did it to “piss people off.” This is another thing to which I find highly illogical unless someone really is sensitive to that sort of extreme degree. I’m not denying that there are certain groups of people exist who just wish to have differing opinions from the popular crowd, but why apply it to everyone who has a genuine opinion? It’s unfortunate to see that there are more oppressed “opinions” that exist and in turn overshadow all the genuine ones in such a battleground like this where one way or another, you get branded.

Ghostbusters is a feminist movie that makes men look like a bad joke.

This is not a direct quote, mind you, but it’s the sort of criticism which I can’t seem to take as valid for a number of reasons. Role reversal of a male-led film does not equate to feminism, it’s a means of getting the opposite gender their own equal, which I think can be handled in an intriguing fashion. At that, the new Ghostbusters succeeded because in a sense, the new film never has a clear goal at making women look as if they are more powerful than men, it is merely going by the same pathway to which the original did, only with the roles reversed. Is it inherently wrong that we have films existing in which the genders are opposite from one version? The original film never suggested any sort of ideology that men had power over the women (even though I still have an issue with the women’s roles in the original mainly stemming from them not being nearly half as memorable as the team), and I don’t understand any sort of idea that this new one would carry an inherent philosophy.

If they wanted to represent equality they would have a team of men and women working together.

Now for a direct quote on a comment thread that took place before I saw the film, adding more to my point about why fair judgment almost seems nonexistent. This comment here alone makes me question whether you even saw the new Ghostbusters or not, because I’m pretty sure that the point of Ghostbusters in the first place is not even the slightest bit close to being a political film. This new Ghostbusters film was in fact, directed by a male who also happened to be one of the co-writers for its screenplay. Yet because it is female-led, it apparently has a “feminist agenda.” This is the sort of comment that only gives me one impression, all you are being is nothing more than just a politically correct Internet commentator who is expressing anger. Comments like this only leave me to think that female casts need more representation, because the female demographic of moviegoers is just as important as the males. This comment here also is asinine in the sense that it is assuming that people only relate to characters who are of the same gender, which is a concept I find to be stupid beyond belief.

The overall craziness behind a Ghostbusters movie of all things is one of the most ridiculous debates to which I have run into all year, perhaps even more than just such a time frame after all. We’re living in a world where the most controversial film of 2016 is not a political thriller nor some factually incorrect biopic. Of all things it had to be, it was a Ghostbusters movie. And the manner to which both sides are going on about with this debate is just making it all the more difficult to find a reliable opinion, because people all over the internet are so quick to dismiss others and give them a label as unfair judgment is still going about. So if you’re going to be seeing Ghostbusters to satisfy a feminist group or make misogynists mad, all I can say is this, you’re simply just wasting your time, and those who are to attack it for similar reasons are no better at that. Feminism isn’t a bad thing, but the overthinking behind what this movie is saying is. If you hate the idea of a Ghostbusters reboot at all, then there’s no point even making yourself endure something to which you know you are going to hate. I only saw this new film with the morbid curiosity arising from its ridiculous backlash and I needed a fun time to which I could relax with. And to me, that’s what Ghostbusters really was. It didn’t need to be some sort of a ridiculous debacle, and I really wish it wasn’t. I’m not a Sony executive or some radical feminist, I’m just a guy who liked a movie. I just wish that people who want to see it only are going to do so for what it is. It’s just a commercial product, not the political battleground of the year.


You can find my review of the new Ghostbusters film right here.

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Author:

Jaime Rebanal writes film reviews regularly for Letterboxd and is also the founder of Jaime Rebanal's Film Thoughts, a blog dedicated to discussing the good and bad for the many films he views. He has written consistently for at least a year and continues to allow his content to roam free across the web, and is always open to discuss with fellow film fans.

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