Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Trouble with Ghosts

I've written a bit in the past about the trouble with so-called "fan boys" and women. When the piece about Lianne Spiderbaby came out, a lot of males didn't get angry about Ms. Spiderbaby's plagiarism as much as her being a woman "writer" in a typically male-dominated field (penning genre reviews). The acceptance of women as being fans of and participants in genre films, filmmaking, and fandom has only gotten worse rather than better with major flare-ups around events such as "Gamergate" and Sad Puppies.

This same anti-woman sentiment seems to be the undercurrent of the backlash against the 2016 remake of Ghost Busters which reverses gender roles of our five main characters (Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth). Rather than being forward with the idea that a female-lead Ghost Busters is anathema to "fan boy" culture, it's easier to disguise the hatred while holding up the mantle of fandom and originality. While film culture is beset by remakes, sequels, and prequels, too many male fans have used Ghost Busters as the rallying point to decry remakes as if it were simply a bridge too far.

Apparently it's no big deal to make horrible movies out of geeky TV shows like "Transformers" or "Jem & The Holograms" but Ghost Busters (1984) is a sacred text. Can I remind people that Ghostbusters 2 was absolute garbage and one of the two (!) "Ghostbuster" cartoons was also terrible. If anything, Ghostbusters 2016 seems to be cleverly paying homage to the good Ghostbusters cartoon -- "The Real Ghost Busters" -- via Kate McKinnon's wild Egon hair.

That said, I have been not-so-silently lambasting James Rolfe AKA Angry Video Game Nerd, as being something of the face of this issue. That's probably not fair as he's not overtly come out to say that he has a problem with the gender-reversal of Ghostbusters 2016 but he has been very vocal in his dismissal of the film prior to its release via a video he made for Cinemassacre titled "Ghostbusters 2016. No Review. I refuse."

Watching this video is painful as Mr. Rolfe comes off as a whiny little prick. It takes him five and a half minutes to state to his fans (the audience of the video) why he won't be reviewing Ghost Busters 2016. He does this without vitriol or even raising his voice from a languid librarian pitch. There's no "koala dropping" rant. No. Instead it's a very calm discussion of how there's no way that Ghostbusters 2016 can be good because:

  1. It uses the same name as the original movie
  2. It forgets about the old characters
  3. It doesn't pay service to the fans

Apparently, all of those things can be judged by the trailer (which is one of the most disliked trailers in YouTube history). Mr. Rolfe goes on to talk about good examples of remakes/reboots/sequels like Star Wars VII and Star Trek XI which pass the torch from one generation to another. "A little fan service goes a long way," he says. How does Mr. Rolfe know that there won't be any "fan service" in the new Ghost Busters? I already mentioned Ms. McKinnon's hair, the trailer seems to show a few familiar characters like Slimer, and Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts, and Ernie Hudson make appearances in the new film. I suppose it's too little because Harold Ramis (RIP), Bill Murray*, and Rick Moranis won't be in the film. It seems to me that, if anything, Ghostbusters 2016 is going to have too much fan service but I can't be sure because I haven't seen the movie yet.

*Bill Murray may show up in an uncredited cameo as he did in at least one other film.

I think Brad Jones does a terrific job of recontextualizing Mr. Rolfe's video by taking the gender politics out of it and simply pointing out the absurdity of Mr. Rolfe's arguments against the remake/reboot/sequel protest:

Again, Mr. Rolfe does not say anything untoward against women or that the idea gender-swapping is a cheap gimmick. Instead, he seems to focus more on the idea that this new Ghost Busters will sully the memory of his love of the original series. As someone who suffered through The Phantom Menace, I would ask him to get a grip. He doesn't know what pain is.

Does Mr. Rolfe sound like a "whiny man baby" in his video? He doesn't whine but he comes across as whiny because he felt the need to even bother to spend the time to make the video. Some people feel that he had to address his fan base because they were demanding it. I don't buy it. Isn't it enough to say "That movie looks bad. I'm not going to see it."?

Mr. Rolfe has his very odd reasons for not watching Ghostbusters 2016 and he felt the necessity to get on his YouTube soap box for five and a half minutes to talk about it.

Unfortunately, Mr. Rolfe has become something of a poster child for paranoiac fan boys who feel they're being persecuted by feminists.

Seeing the responses to the responses to Mr. Rolfe's video (here and here) really make me sad. Are people really persecuting fan boys for not enjoying the trailer for Ghostbusters 2016? Are they being burned in effigy? Has anyone been killed because of it? Or is this all conjecture based on self-delusion and some internet comments/tweets?

You can hate the new Ghostbusters without being a misogynist and I'm not saying you are a misogynist if you do. I'm not saying you can't pre-judge a movie based on its preview. Full Disclosure: I have only watched one of the trailers for Ghostbusters 2016 as I don't like to watch a lot of trailers because they can misrepresent the movie (Hugo), give away plot twists (Shutter Island) or simply show all of the plot points of a movie. The one preview didn't look very good but I'll still be seeing the movie as I'm curious to see it.

If you dislike Ghostbusters 2016 because it's a remake of a film you hold sacred then get a grip. If you dislike the movie because it's bad, that's fine. If you don't see the movie because you don't want to spend money on it, that's fine.

I'm just saying that with the gender-reversal of the film that it's very easy for people who misogynist or at least gynophobic to decry a movie they've never seen based on the idea of strong female characters and masquerade as simple "movie fans speaking their opinion."

But, please, don't try to pretend that you're anything other than a sexist pig if the real problem here is that you can't stand the idea of women playing in your safe space.

If you want to see a video version of what I said here, Comic Book Girl 19 does a good job of summing it up:


deadlydolls said...

To me, what it comes down to in this issue is that he knows exactly who his audience is, and it's filled with the kind of a$$hole misogynists who will take his words as further validation to be jerks. You're name is "The Angry Video Game Nerd" for goodness sake. Why stoke a fire when you know the guys hanging around it are carrying flammable material? If your whole mantra is "I'm not going to see this thing I'm judging without seeing it," why make a thing of it? I could be convinced that this dude is just a fanboy baby who takes anybody touching his collectible material as a sin worse than rape (and now that I said that, I'm sure this guy has used the term "rape my childhood" in his life), but you can't convince me that a guy whose site is called TAVGN has no knowledge of the very intense and ugly misogyny this has brought out it in people. Irresponsible and stupid.

Gerald Groy said...

I saw a preview last week and it stinks. Plenty of misogynists in our lovely genre, but you're not going to waltz out of that movie singing happily.

Legend Blogger said...

I think they have just copied everything from the movie and tried to remix it, but they couldn't do so. I also agree with you that they have forgot about old characters.

Anna Smith

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