I’ll just go ahead and say it: I’m sick and tired of all the hate directed toward the Ghostbusters reboot. For the most part the hate has been done by dudes upset that Hollywood would take a nerd icon like Ghostbusters and “ruin” it with a bunch of girls. Whether or not it’s actually ruined is a matter of opinion, personally I really enjoyed the film, but hey, I’ll respect those who have a different viewpoint, as long as it’s not a viewpoint soaked in sexist loathing.
The internet is all up in arms over the reviews of Ghostbusters because women and Tumblr and all the liberals have united behind this one cause: giving Ghostbusters “unfair” and “biased” positive reviews because it stars a bunch of women and we’re all supporting an agenda. Never mind the fact that this sounds exactly like that obnoxious rallying cry from Gamergate about “ethics in journalism.” No one makes a big political stink when Taken 5: Liam’s Voice is Missing gets made and seen by 90% dudebros and their unwilling girlfriends. No one throws around the words “male agenda” when Hollywood releases yet another all-male movie full of aging B-list actors. No, because that’s expected. That’s Hollywood and the status quo for you, hyuck.
But when one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, a reboot of a classic, comes out and it’s full of women instead of men, it’s suddenly a politically charged issue and MEN WE MUST GATHER THE TORCHES AND SINK THIS SHIP. Then, once fans start to enjoy the film the internet set about sinking, oh well, we’re just lying to fulfill an agenda. As if it’s completely unfathomable to enjoy a movie with a cast of mostly women.
And in discussing those Ghostbusters ratings, FiveThirtyEight’s article on the subject matter perfectly demonstrates why this bias can have a negative impact on ratings as a whole. The important stats of note are from Thursday before the movie was even released in theaters:
- IMDb average user rating: 4.1 out of 10, of 12,921 reviewers
- IMDb average user rating among men: 3.6 out of 10, of 7,547 reviewers
- IMDb average user rating among women: 7.7 out of 10, of 1,564 reviewers
Those are pretty damning statistics from groups of people who likely hadn’t even seen the film. Men ranked the movie down to oblivion and women who saw what was happening tried to inflate the scores back up so that then its actual score isn’t indicative of the public’s real opinion. Any scores thereafter have to fight an uphill (or downhill) battle to be seen as legitimate.
Look, the Ghostbusters trailers were bad. I’ll concede that. But even if the movie had received bad reviews, I still would have gone to see it opening night. I still would have supported a female-led film, because that’s how we make things better. There’s a reason why women voted in droves to improve Ghostbusters’ abysmal IMDB score. We want to see heroes in movies we can relate to.
Here’s the thing: anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of diversity. I’ll support female-created projects and POC-created projects simply because they were made by minorities. Should I judge solely based on quality? Sure, in a perfect world I could do that, but the world isn’t perfect and has an inherent bias toward white heterosexual male-dominated media. Instead of accepting what’s “normal,” I want our culture flooded with so much diversity that someday I can judge solely on quality. I don’t want to live in a world where we have one female movie director and one black actress and you know them by those labels. And the only way to cure that lack of diversity is to support the good and the bad, allowing more minorities the ability to create more media.
No, Ghostbusters isn’t the film that will change the film industry and finally convince studios that women want to see action and comedies full of–GASP–women. At best, it makes in a dent in the future we’re trying to carve out for ourselves. But Ghostbusters does one thing really well for its fans: it gives us women a choice. So often in ensemble films there’s a group of men and one woman, so as a human of the vagina variety, I am forced to identify with this one female character, who more often than not is a shell of a character compared to her to male counterparts. Let’s not act like Black Widow was some paragon of diversity here.
But in Ghostbusters, there are so many female characters to choose from to be my favorite that it’s perfectly acceptable for me not like Kristen Wiig’s neurotic Erin. (She frighteningly reminds me a little too much of myself.) Instead, I could fall head over heels for Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann and not feel guilty for not supporting a fellow female.
Isn’t it great when we can actually choose what we like?