Ghostbusters: Sexism in the Face of Change

On the 29th of April, 2016, Ghostbusters became the most disliked movie trailer on Youtube. On paper, this seems like a wonderful act of defiance; the start of a multiplex revolt. Audiences who swarm the local cinemas had risen up in opposition of the unnecessary reboot. We now opposed the un-originality of the modern cinema. We demanded, in mass, for original movies to light up the silver screen at our local theatres once more.

However, it is not too far-fetched for one to think that the reason behind the dislikes is an uncomfortable sexism in modern audiences. Sure, it can be argued that the trailer itself is lacking from any discernible talent in terms of film making, which is a response I’ve been greeted with frequently while posing this question. Judging by the current state of modern cinema, decent film making is seemingly something audiences don’t care about very much. The only factor in separating Ghostbusters from the pack of other reboots this year is the cast has changed genders.

So far in 2016 alone there have been twenty-seven reboots, sequels and franchised films, each meeting next-to-no resistance. Independence Day Resurgence has 5,578 dislikes, at the time of writing this. People didn’t flock to see IDR however (it made $41.6 million in its opening weekend in the states) but no one particularly cared about it too much. There was no hatred, nor excitement about the film, because it didn’t change anything. It was complacent in its own stagnation. The studio system spat it out for a quick buck.

I’m not stating Ghostbusters wasn’t made for exactly the same reason. Ghostbusters at least did one thing correctly in its reboot: it changed and adapted to the modern world. Instead of repeating the same characters and plot it set itself apart from its source material. Ghostbusters rejuvenated the subject matter by being its own film, with its own characters and its own story. If Hollywood is going to continue to pump out reboots, they might as well be as original as they can be.

This didn’t stop the “Ghostbros” from continually tormenting actress Leslie Jones. She was been bombarded by the sexist and racist backlash on her Twitter. The tweets are pretty clear; these people didn’t want the film because of its empowered film leads, not for its poor film making.

I think it is the most heartbreaking aspect of this whole cadaver. Some audiences care more about casting decisions than the quality of the film they’ve been cast in. For someone who dislikes superhero films, reboots, sequels etc. it’s upsetting to see hoards of irritated fans use a genuine concern for cinema as an excuse to revile a movie, simply because they don’t want to see women in roles previously played by men. Hollywood’s reign of boring, un-inventive retreads needs to be put to bed, but not because Ghostbusters now has a female cast.

Ghostbusters went on to make $46 million at the US box office in its opening weekend. The sexist hoards had no effect on the films financial success. Hopefully, Ghostbusters, its initial negative reaction, and its moderate box office success can teach modern cinema audiences two lessons:

1) If you hated it: Stop paying to see unnecessary reboots, sequels, and franchises. If films like Ghostbusters, or any reboot, consistently continue to make money, Hollywood will continue to shove reboots down our cinematic throats.

2) If you loved it: When watching a reboot, make sure it’s a film that can find sincerity and life within its familiar and unoriginal premise.

Words by Harry Longstaff

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