When I first heard that Hollywood was putting out a new Ghostbusters movie with an all-female cast, I thought two things: first, what an awesome idea, I can't wait. And second, buckle up and get ready for the hate. A move like rebooting a beloved blockbuster with a gender-swapped cast is a dangerous one and any geek, fan, or internet-dweller knows it. Nothing brings out the hate more than messing with a fanboy's beloved 'favorite franchise.' And so as a lady-geek thrilled for the new movie, I started mentally preparing myself to deal with the sneers and comments every time I said "who's excited for the new Ghostbusters?"
But sometimes, you just can't prepare yourself enough.
The trailer for the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot has more dislikes than any other movie trailer in YouTube's history, and I am mad as hell about it. The egregious responses aren't just on the dislikes bar, but are lower in the comments section.
"Fucking femenists," writes a disgruntled Nattt Mills, not bothering to spell the word correctly.
"Shouldn't there be women and men if you're trying to 'prove a point?'" Bill Ricker says, missing the point entirely.
"Pray for Chris Hemsworth. Imagine having to be on set, smelling Melissa McCarthy's farts." Writes Ninjagai, with the gusto of an 8-year-old.
The comments range along the same lines they have since the trailer dropped in early March:
"SJWs ruin everything!"
"Stop pandering to feminazis!"
"They're erasing the original Ghostbusters!"
"Why are they objectifying Chris Hemsworth?"
"Melissa McCarthy is fat!"
Yes, people are entitled to dislike things that I enjoy, and are entitled to talk about it on the internet. But as a writer who specializes in geek-related opinions, I'll be damned if I'm not just as entitled to come up with expansive responses as to why this is a shitty thing, and why the point has gone entirely over hundreds of thousands of heads.
No, this movie isn't pandering to any feminists, and no it's not made by the evil Social Justice Warriors trying to force those awful women with their awful not-entertaining vaginas into everything, and no it's definitely not erasing the idolized original.
No, Bill Ricker, if the new Ghostbusters is seeking to prove a point, it most definitely won't prove it by splitting the roles between male and female actors.
I'm not going to try to explain that having an all-female blockbuster movie isn't pandering to appease 'outrage culture' or 'feminazis' or 'the PC crowd.' Suffice it to say, making the movie with a mixed gender cast of title characters wouldn't have proven a point about lady leads. It also wouldn't have been met with any better of a reaction; it would have been tacking on the token woman or two to the group like a post-it note afterthought, and you bet your butt fanboys would have still complained it was pandering.
What gets me about the 'feminists ruin everything' comments is the basis that it's ruined. Really, what's so bad about re-imagining a blockbuster classic with women instead of men? What's so damn scary about seeing ladies with proton packs instead of boys?
Again, I'm not going to try to explain how or why there's an ingrained aspect of American culture that says women aren't funny, entertaining, or deserving of the limelight. That incredibly backwards idea is exactly why we don't ever see summer blockbusters with full casts of women, and why it's up to movies like Ghostbusters to flip that idea on its head.
One of the things this is really about isn't just ingrained sexism, but it's about the culture that surrounds what it is to be a fanboy. What headspace do people need to be in in order to get so fired up about a lady Ghostbusters movie?
When I'm listening to personal accounts of why, the same thing tends to come up, that it's "MY favorite movie." This is "MY favorite franchise," they say like it's supposed to signify the stake they have in it. This is huge in the geek community, where the culture is based almost entirely around material forms of entertainment like movies, TV, and games. It's really the only community with such a dependence on media, and while there's nothing wrong with that it has the capacity to lead to something incredibly problematic. With a dependence on your 'favorite' media, it creates a sense of possessiveness, and then a sense of defensiveness.
I beg anyone in the geek community to tell me they haven't experienced the defensive fanboy before — the hyper-opinionated mud-slingers who really don't like you having a different opinion, or the Nerd Police that want you to know you aren't a real fan. The latter has its own personal essay, by the way. Point is, it's everywhere, and don't tell me otherwise.
There's nothing wrong with being a dedicated fan to a franchise. But loving something doesn't mean that it's yours, and that you have a claim to ownership over it. And that's the problem with fanboy dedication that's ruining the chance Ghostbusters has at changing the industry; obsessive possessiveness.
The fanboys see Ghostbusters as something they own, something they can't share, and above all something they don't ever want to see grow and change. It's not just dedication but it's sometimes a stifling attachment. What's the point of loving something if you don't want to see it grow and change creatively? And more importantly, what's the point of loving something if you don't want it to be inclusive to more people so everyone can experience it?
That's what this new Ghostbusters is supposed to be, and what it's meant to be; a new take on something classic that expands inclusiveness to new people — a younger generation, women and girls, and boys who don't turn their nose up at lady-led movies.
It deeply hurts me that fans don't want to see "their FAVORITE movie" expanded and looked at from a new, creative lens. They instead want to write shitty comments about how feminists ruin everything by getting their grubby man-hating hands on THEIR favorite movie. They'll disown the idea solely because it's different. One commenter even put down that he's getting a cover-up for his Ghostbusters tattoo because the franchise was so totally ruined from this reboot.
What hurts me the most, though, is the repercussions this terribly close-minded fan reaction is going to have on the industry. The corporate execs at Columbia are probably already sweating in their suits, preparing to apologize to the fans for making such an awful decision to greenlight the film. But when the movie premieres, and when there are boycotts and protests, and when it ultimately doesn't rake in the cash that they hoped it would... they're never going to take the risk again. This is just going to show Hollywood that the world isn't ready for an all-star woman-led summer blockbuster, and it'll just go back to afterthought "chick flicks" that don't have the gravitas of a huge geek-power film like Ghostbusters. Maybe, after this reaction, it's clear that the world isn't ready, and that's what makes me so upset.
Like a lot of female fans, I wanted the entertainment world to stop giving me testosterone-packed Avengers, Bourne, and Star Trek summer flicks, and instead give equal treatment with a high-budget female-led summer cash cow. And I can't believe that it seems to be such an unpopular opinion.
I'm going to support this movie with as many damn ticket stubs as I can, even if it doesn't live up to the hype. I desperately want it to be a game-changer, and to prove to the fanboys that they can share their precious favorite films with little girls who want to see it too. I even want the fanboys to give it a chance, if they can relinquish their possessiveness of THEIR favorite movie.
Because it's not just for you, fanboys. If you want your Ghostbusters, watch it; it already exists. Let the rest of us have something new, exciting, and hopefully amazing.