On March 3rd Paul Feige’s Ghostbusters trailer dropped to a hail of gunfire. Fans of the original movie (and quality films in general) were, naturally, appalled by just how Mad TV-esque the two and a half minute preview was. And many of those who weren’t fans of the original, and/or had no investment in the film at all, used this as an opportunity to highlight the fact that it was “men picking on women” yet again. “Baby men who don’t want girls in their boy club with their boy movies.”
These arguments are ignoring one core fact: the movie genuinely does look like a turd.
You sign onto Twitter, you log onto Tumblr, you check out your Facebook feed – on each and every platform you’ll see one prevalent voice: people defending this movie from the brigade of sexists tanking the trailer on YouTube and vocally criticizing it on social media. The only problem is… nobody has ever said, “This movie is going to suck because it stars four women.” Nobody.
And when I say ‘nobody’, I’m being a bit hyperbolic. What I really mean is, 0.0083% of those discussing the film actually have — but that number is so insignificant compared to the rest that it is best to be categorized as a pure 0%, thus ‘nobody.’
What people have been doing, though, is criticizing the movie for its apparent weaknesses based off the two trailers that’ve been released. Professional movie critics are almost reluctant to point out just how bad it looks because they’re scared of being lumped in with these surprisingly well hidden sexists. As if, you know, the general public would’ve assumed Roger Ebert had the same values as a YouTube commenter.
It must stated that thousands of people combatting five 12 year olds, a literal handful of chauvinistic fans, and a couple of Twitter trolls do not make for an actual issue. On the contrary, what’s become more nauseating to bear witness to has been the initiative some have taken to use this non-existent ordeal as a soapbox to propel themselves and let everyone know that they’re ‘good people.’
Men specifically in this case cannot wait to tell you how much they don’t hate women. They’ve begun to use this Ghostbusters debacle as a soapbox to inform you and everyone else that they’re nice. That they care about equality. Which would be great if it wasn’t so methodical and self-serving.
The internet is filled with men rebelling against this unspoken, yet seemingly omnipresent, majority. It’s their duty to let the world know, “Women — you’re safe with me. And let me make it clear, any and all criticism of this movie (except perhaps my own, but I think it looks great – honest!!!!!!!) is an act of sexism.”
They. Are. Everywhere.
Not even the undercooked second trailer, which was marginally better than the first, could scare them off of this social justice train that’s about to be derailed. As a matter of fact, social media users and clickbait outlets such as Gawker and Salon (I’m not even going to bother linking to their “articles”) have only gotten more revved up as a result of the reinforced opinion that this movie is showing signs of being a clunker.
What’s amusing is that none of these white knights have rushed to the defense of the new Star Wars: Rogue One trailer and the sexism surrounding that. Although, that might be because… there isn’t any. Nobody cares that the lead is female. There are no outraged cries or people attempting to boycott it. Why? Because from what we’ve seen, the film actually appears to be good. See, this is how trailers work. You watch a two minute montage of the feature and then form an opinion.
In this situation, people have something to gain from the vitriol surrounding this movie. They can benefit from clicks. They can gain new followers. They can grab the attention of those who agree or disagree (such as myself). Or they can be applauded for ‘taking a stand’ against the ‘patriarchal mindset’ plaguing the trailer’s viewers.
Ultimately, here’s what it boils down to: these acts and statements are transparent. Or rather, they should be transparent. Unfortunately some people actually buy into these unapologetic crocks of shit. And despite what Ghostbusters (2016) director Paul Feig would have you believe, you’re not asshole if you dislike his movie’s trailer. It does, however, make you of sound mind.
Jayme Karales is the author of DISORDERLY, the director of WIZARD, and the producer of TRUANT. His work has been published by Thought Catalog, The Rebel, Underground Books, and many others.