Saturday, May 21, 2016

EDITORIAL: The Giant Toxic Ghostbusters Bubble

DON'T PANIC! Thinking with your penis is harder than you think
(and against what people say, you may not actually be doing it).

Hello there, dear Wanderer. Yes, I know what you must be thinking. The world looks quite different since the great Ghostbusters fallout. Dividing men, women and all in between from peace amidst the horrific Trumpocalypse and online warfare against each sex lead ideology. Come. Walk with me. There’s many a history to go over. You have any combat training? Any hardcore stance on the whole Ghostbusters gender issue? No? Well, that’s okay, just take this gun anyway. Both sides will surely attack you for some reason or another.

It all started with a studio. Surprisingly enough *not* Sony. Releasing a statement that specifically said they were remaking the beloved Ghostbusters series with an all-female cast. Sounds fair enough, right? Remakes aren’t really that well beloved, so they should have expected some backlash there. There weren’t so many female lead movies, so they tried to cash in on that female lead gimmick (while helping the equality cause, which is always nice of course). It was like this great giant meatball thrown to the world to do with it what they wanted. What that studio didn’t expect was for that meatball to hit the fan, splatter every feminist, meninist and problem having nostalgic fan in sight, and create an uncontrollable cynical discourse from there. The whole issue started from sexist grounds. Females and feminists of both genders like myself saying “Chill out, man. We need more females in movies”. Nostalgics saying “I wish they would extend on the classic’s lore”. Extremist menisnits and feminist-deniers screaming in complete unison “No, fuck you.” Either outright with their hate for women or trying to mask it by saying “this isn’t Ghostbusters, bruh”. Disguising themselves amongst the other people who… simply don’t want a Ghostbusters remake. Good people who frankly don’t care. Disruption running through all in such playground “You’re either with Sally or me, blockhead! You can’t be in the middle!” dialogue. Never really talking about the film itself, which to be honest still doesn’t look *too* great. Passable enough. Paul Feig has never been known for great trailers. It’s just Ghostbusters has become a pop culture discussion board for sexism first, and an actual film able to be critiqued second. Making it hard to be critical about the movie purely about the movie itself without accidentally standing next to a sexist. The studio thinking all of this is all A Okay as long as people from both sides see the movie. It’s a tragedy.

It’s a tragedy because it’s lead people looking for sexism in every discussion about this film. In people and opinions that don’t seem to have sexism at all. Much like The Angry Video Game Nerd, his recent video called something like “Ghostbusters 2016. No Review. I refuse.” and Devin Faraci’s recent article “The Soft Sexism Of Hating On The New GHOSTBUSTERS”. The video was quite simple. Its intention quite clear, presenting his nostalgia for the original film openly, essentially saying “Studios listen to your wallet. I know this movie doesn’t appeal to me. I won’t see it.” It’s an opinion filled with nostalgic bias. A dislike for remakes that try to act as original, but are banking off the license with (as it appears from the marketing) little to no genuine inspiration thrown in. It echoes the feelings of many other fans of the original that are simply wondering ‘Why isn’t it working? Why does it feel studio mandated? Why isn’t it winning *me* over?’ In Faraci’s article, most of which I don’t agree with, he states that this isn’t a Ghostbusters film made for them. And he’s right on that statement. This Ghostbusters doesn’t concern itself with the support of the nostalgics. It’s aiming for a different audience, a different style, a different humour. It feels like a new IP with the “Ghostbusters” label and products slammed over the top (which begs the question: why put that label on top at all?). Why waste the opportunity to appeal to both sides? Forcing your character representations as gimmicks rather than the natural thing I’m sure Feig intended them to be? I can’t exactly say why myself, but I know this, Wanderer, it’s going about progressiveness the wrong way.

Faraci’s article mentions the likes of Mad Max Fury Road asking why people didn’t boycott that? It’s a reboot (not remake) of an existing property, it adapts Mad Max to the modern cinema battleground. Why didn’t people care then? (We won’t discuss meninists who actually *did* boycott the movie at the sight of a capable girl in the trailer), but for actual normal people it’s simple. Of course Fury Road looked like/was a great movie (your movie being good is important to making your argument) but it created appeal to both sides, who from the trailers had an immediate longing to see the movie, while sporting SEAMLESSLY INTERGRATED PROGRESSIVENESS. Mad Max Fury Road adores the nostalgics. It adores the newcomers. It took men and women both on a ride to Valhalla and said the way to progress was shiny and chrome. With compelling characters male (Max & Nux) and female (Furiosa & The Wives), that feel genuine and authentic. That’s a great film in its own right, with a clear identity, never exploiting feminism and gender roles as a marketing tool.  Something the media and studio can’t say about the new Ghostbusters film at this point.

Why I believe Ghostbusters isn’t working politically isn’t because of some prejudice I have (I’m a genderfluid left wing person for crying out loud), but instead because it’s forcing its progressive politics the wrong way. It was caught with its pants down, and to many people was unable to show its identity, quality and what makes it special in the marketing, and today the defining thing about it is the all-female cast that the studio announced from the very start. (I also doubt it would have this much controversy if it had a diverse, seamless cast with Kristen Wigg, Chris Pratt, Kate McKinnon and Paul Rudd). I wish everyone would accept the movie and its gender roles for what it is and move on, but as humans that’s not how progress works. “I don’t like chaaange” they’ll say initially, as the anxieties and worries wash over them. Waiting to be won over by something grand. If you’re going to go head first into progress the way Ghostbusters did, it *needed* to prove itself. Straight away. Be it a great trailer, a great cast, and it can still come out as a great movie. It just needed to come out swinging…however it just didn’t do that. If the marketing worked the movie could have escaped the sexism discussion bubble it’s been left in for a while now. Letting us discuss critically without the social issue on the table. However it just didn’t do that. Instead it’s antagonised nostalgics that wanted continuations and something of higher quality. It doesn’t look all too exciting to newcomers. It turned the people’s attention back to the conflict at hand. It’s lead people like Angry Video Game Nerd, who don’t concern themselves with the political hoopla wondering “why would I even watch that? It just doesn’t look good”, which is fair enough since after all this is the film *business*.  Studios listen to your wallet when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. It just saddens me we’re not separating the political from the critical. The movie itself and the giant meatball bubble it’s in.

Faraci makes an argument that Angry Video Game Nerd is participating in what he’s coined as “soft, unconscious sexism” (that I think is being used the wrong way). Implying not supporting Ghostbusters makes him a part of the larger social problem. An implication I can’t help but sit back and say “you’re going too deep”, or rather “you’re digging in the wrong area”. We agree you are NOT sexist for hating on Ghostbusters. Nostalgics and newcomers would be very open a new Ghostbusters accepting with open arms if it had something to prove. If it was say a continuation or something in a familiar stylistic vain with seamlessly integrated male and female characters and humour. Defining itself on more than just gender, but as that AND more. It’s just we’ve placed this movie in a very morally complex position. Where if it succeeds we’ll see more Ocean’s Eleven ensemble casts with females (more females than males is NOT what feminism believes in), and if it fails they’ll blame it on females as a whole. Sending us back to George Clooney sausage parties that are the status quo, without the creatives realising “…maybe we should…make more cohesive, stylish, daring, *better* movies”. We’ve turned Ghostbusters into an entity to feel guilty about if you do or you don’t. Tying being critical about the movie with being a prejudice little fuckboi. Everyone involved with the movie, the media and discussion boards unaware of what they’re doing. Unconscious that yes, the film became popular because of sexism and the fight for equality. People who hate on it because “fuck girls, lol” are not really good people. But liking or disliking, supporting or not supporting the movie because the movie simply isn’t good *is* a thing. It’s a blame game of mass hysteria. Losing the core of what makes cinema great. It can convey messages and be downright awesome, but needs all the help it needs. It’s a two way street. We need more nuance. We need the support of everyone. Of the nostalgics and newcomers of all genders. We need more Mad Max Fury Roads in this world. That come in with a flame guitar of awesome. That please a new generation of women with quality as it does appeal. New IPs like Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect that rock female ensembles with style, giving the new generation something to give a shit about. Not the recycled version of male properties.

You’re bigger than the condemning media of today, Wanderer. It’s a hard world out there ready to accuse you. Just stick to your belief in lovely movies and wonderful messages. Calling out the wrong minded. Calling for equality. Wanting more out of your movies. Saving your money and bottle-caps for the next great motion picture. It’s what you deserve as a happy-go-lucky film fan.

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