I’m not giving this one a snappy title. Instead, I’m letting a wonderful meme that my dear friend Anastasia simply refers to as “The Lemur” do the talking.
In all seriousness, this all-out war over the Ghostbusters remake has brought out the worst in everyone. Fans of the original are angry because they didn’t feel it needed to get remade. Some individuals have had a less-than-civilized reaction to the notion of an all-female lead cast, while others are lashing out against everyone else without taking a moment to reflect upon the criticisms. From someone who has, up until this point, quietly watched from the sidelines while trying to view it from all angles, this has become a massive shitstorm without sight of a so-called winner. The worst part? We’ve got another month and a half until the goddamned thing comes out. That’s another 6 weeks of people freaking out, calling each other names, and generally acting ugly to one another.
Listen, I get it; it’s yet another remake. One of the most common things I hear regarding movies is that it’s an unnecessary trend to remake everything good (or “reboot,” a term which makes my teeth grind), that there aren’t original stories coming out. Here’s a cold, hard truth: studios can predict with alarming accuracy just how much money a remake will pull in, and it’s enough to the point where they simply do not give a shit about what value the film brings to the table. It’s just that easy: a producer looking to add another summer home into the mix does not care if the film shits on the original; what matters is money, and if you’ve paid to watch it, you’ve given your money over. You can bitch and whine about how horrible it was, and people will go to see it just to make fun of it, resulting in more money. It sucks, but there’s a clear winner there. There’s a solution to this: don’t watch it. Don’t go. Save your money. Tell your friends not to go. If the pattern stops being profitable, maybe we’ll see a decrease in the dreaded half-baked remake. In a perfect world, I would LOVE to see more original concepts making it to the screen with the incredible folks helming them. I’m looking at you, Can Evrenol, who gave us Baskin. And my eye is definitely on you, Jennifer Kent, she of the searing The Babadook. As much as I had problems with Green Room, I’m looking at you, Jeremy Saulnier, and your masterful ability to create tension. I’m also looking out into the great wide open at the unnamed independent fimmaker who is going to give us something dark, twisted and primal, something that will give us nightmares and start conversations about some bullshit aspect of society. This is what we need; not remakes. And you know what? Enough people talk about the Baksins and the Babadooks and the Green Rooms to make others watch it. So start paying for the good shit and stop going to hate-watch the remake. If it starts losing money, you won’t have to see as many remakes, and if it starts being profitable to be goddamned good at what you do, then those folks will keep giving us original content. Win for everyone.
So here’s the ugly part of this conversation: the gender battle. I’m cringing writing this because the issues out there are bad. I’m bound to piss someone off; I’ve accepted that already. So I’m going to split this into the two camps waging war: those who are screaming that all-female anything is horrible, and those blindly screaming that we need all-female everything.
The negative reactions to an female-led cast have ranged from, “No one wants to see a movie with just chicks in it” to “You’re all bitches and whores and I hope you get fucking raped to death,” with the threat of violence being a predominant factor after the intelligence and worth of women is insulted. In response, women (and quite a few men) are understandably unsettled and angry. You know what? The abhorred reaction to these types of threats and comments is beyond valid. Under no circumstance whatsoever is it acceptable to tell a human being that he or she should get raped as a result of anything, much less a goddamned movie starring Melissa McCarthy. Physically, mentally and emotionally, rape is excruciatingly painful. If you wish that on someone for what you feel is a slight… Yikes. I don’t think you can fix someone that fundamentally broken. There’s no point in even lecturing someone who would wish that upon anyone that supports female equality. It’s beyond deplorable. What you’re really saying when you tell a woman that you hope she gets raped is that you want to see her humiliated, in pain, dominated by a man, and beaten down enough to keep quiet. No one deserves that. No one.
However, while the “someone should stab you and rape your corpse” reaction is fucking atrocious, flying off the handle at the slightest provocation doesn’t help, either. It’s one thing to say that a person is a misogynist when he or she states that women need to get their asses back in the kitchen and shut up; it’s not misogyny when someone disagrees with someone or something for reasons brought about by critical thinking, such as casting choices (in terms of who is right for the role) or plot direction. Sometimes, someone saying, “This movie is ruining my childhood” is someone expressing anger at the remake process and not doing the best job of articulating what he or she means; sometimes, it’s not a slam about the women in the film; it’s a slam against what looks to be a shitty film (once again, cycling back to my remake sentiments above). Commonly, I’ve heard people slamming this remake as using a female-fronted cast as a stunt to try to cash in on feminism – the idea that society is going to shame you as a misogynist if you don’t dish out hard-earned cash on a refried piece of shit so that you seem like you’re a good person and you won’t get bashed for hating women across the board. That’s just as underhanded, because it’s manipulating someone else’s desire to see a good change in the world. In that respect, I’ve side-eyed this method myself: there’s often a “you should support X Person because you need to support women and if you don’t then you’re obviously anti-woman” mentality, which is frankly just as dangerous if it seeks to cause someone to act simply based on gender. That’s borderline extremism, and I think you do your cause a disservice if you generalize rather than seek new information; “my way or the highway” is not a way to live. If you take everything as an attack against your cause, you’re going to wind up on your own pissed-off island without anyone to support you when you need it. Some of the best conversations I’ve had about feminism have been with men that have said, “Listen, this is how I feel. And I feel like if I keep talking, I’m only going to dig a further hole for myself and then someone will call me sexist and I’ll never be able to show my face again. Can you help me?” These men have asked me to either help explain or to see things from their angle, and comment on my own experiences, because they deem me to be a safe place that isn’t going to publicly tar and feather them for asking a question. I listen, and I dicsuss. To me, that doesn’t say that men aren’t ready to have these conversations – it means that they’re afraid to have these conversations because they’re worried not only about your feelings (and trust me, the ones I know – they don’t want to belittle your experience), but the very public, life-changing reaction it can have. That leads to resentment and a breakdown of communication, which doesn’t help anything.
That being said, there are issues here on which I think the feminists need some backing up. Can we all step back for a minute and agree that there are definite times when women would rather have something that is not the dreaded Chick Flick? I mean, fuck me, people, there are so many things I’d rather do than watch Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan or Reese Witherspoon or Jennifer Aniston whoever the hell we’re supposed to love as that gorgeous-yet-totally-relatable-girl-next-door. You know what? That’s not me. I’m the smartass geek that gets a tan from her computer screen. I have tattoos, I’ve been through a divorce, and more often than not, my hair misbehaves because I don’t have Orlando Pita styling it after my personal trainer appointment. In my actual life, I’m not the stick-thin love interest (I love food way too fucking much), nor am I the stoic, long-suffering mother who crusades against childhood illness; I’m not married to someone 25 years older than myself who’s pretending to be an action hero at the age of 60. Yet these are the roles to which women are relegated onscreen, and it’s annoying to see these films get promoted because it hold no fucking interest to anyone with a mental age above 6. I’d love to see a comedy or horror film based on something relatable. To be frank, The Babadook was a bit too close to the raising a special-needs child experience most women try not to admit is there; the perception is that we have to be perfect and not complain when we’re mothers, and this film blew that notion out of the fucking water. Best part? This is a horror film that scared the shit out of men and women alike, proving that it’s a story we all want to see. And really, that’s what women want: we want to relate to something. I believe it was Jackson Rathbone that once referred to Monuments Men as Ocean’s 1943. It’s the same damn movie, and it featured men being heros without much for ladies to do. Newflash: with half of the United States being women, we want some representation in the movies as well. We want to go and see women that look like us, that have struggles and stories like us. We want hope that a tough time in our lives will get better. We want to imagine ourselves kicking ass and taking names. We want to picture how we’d do in a horror movie. We don’t just want to be the love interest that’s put out to pasture when we’re 30. We just want to be seen, heard, and taken seriously. And much like any group that’s attempting to break out of a pattern – of being placed into that role of eye candy without much else out there – we’re angry that there’s pushback. Women are mad that the reponse is to tell them that they’re stupid for even wanting to see someone like themself on screen, and they’re fucking livid when someone tells them that they need to undergo a gross violation in order to pay penance for having the audacity to express an opinion that they deserve to be treated equally. There’s always struggle when one group says that they’ve had enough of getting treated a certain way, and that it has to stop. And right now, we’re in the thick of it.
In the end, though, this conversation is most likely not going to matter. Someone will get a death/rape threat for being a woman that opens her mouth. Someone is going to call another person (man or woman) clueless for saying this film is most likely going to suck, regardless of context. Some little girl will secretly covet the “boys’ toys” and films because they are way cooler than the mommy-centric shit that gets rammed down a girl’s throat. Worst of all, the world is going to be subjected to even more Fall Out Boy thanks to this soundtrack. So let’s put this into perspective: it’s a fucking movie. If you don’t want to see it, then don’t watch it; if you do want to see it, then go see it. If you put half as much energy into other causes – like taking care of our wounded vets and ending atrocities such as rape and domestic abuse – then think of how much better off the world will be.