Friends, Romans, countrymen. I am here today because I saw a movie this weekend, and if you have something to say about it, I probably do not care.
If you've spent any time online recently, you will have heard of Paul Feig's reboot of the 1984 comedy classic Ghostbusters. It stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones as the eponymous team of paranormal warriors, and man, is it great.
If you've spent any time online recently, though, you might not know that. You might discover that its perfectly fine and normal and entertaining trailer is somehow the most disliked movie trailer on Youtube, a coordinated effort by Men's Rights Activists (ugh, capitalizing that pains me). You might have also seen some questioning, by legitimate news and entertainment sources even, about whether it's worth it, whether it'll make enough money, whether audiences really want something like this (barf), etc.
I hate to break it to you all, but many, if not most, of these projections and reflections, regardless of where they came from, are really gendered. And regardless of the intent of the person writing them, be it a staff writer at Variety or a moderator on the sub-Reddit The Red Pill, they are ignorant.
So, here are just three of the many, many opinions one could have about Ghostbusters that I, frankly, am not here for. And I am not even going to start on "women are not funny." If there is really anyone who still believes that bullshit, they truly need more help than I can give them. Jesus, maybe? Maria Bamford? It's above my pay grade.
Ignorant Opinion #1: A $46M Opening Weekend Is Not Enough.
The morning after I saw Ghostbusters, I wanted to know more about it, so I cheerfully typed the title into Google. I have to stop assuming Googling things will be an enjoyable experience. In the news section, I was met with mostly the same headline, the same question - some iteration of "Is a $46 million weekend good enough?" The argument appears to be that, because Ghostbusters is already a familiar franchise, such a box office performance doesn't justify the amount of money it took to make.
Is a $46 million weekend good enough? For a recognizable franchise film that cost $144 million to make? Interesting question. Hmm. Given that it did surpass original projections for the film, I can see why you would ask (if I could insert the eye-roll emoji, I would). Let's consult the Mission Impossible team. In 2006, Mission Impossible III, also a recognizable franchise film which cost about $150 million, opened to a $47.7 million weekend. Comparable, right? It did worse than expected at box office, granted. It was a bit of a disappointment for the studio. But did anyone publish articles pondering whether that amount was "good enough"? I don't remember any. I do, however, remember that they made another Mission Impossible movie, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, which cost $145 million to make and grossed LESS THAN $13 MILLION in its opening weekend. Yes. It made less than a third of what Ghostbusters made this weekend.
Woah. Man, sucks to be Tom Cruise, I guess. There's no way they would make another Mission Impossible aft--OH WAIT. A few years later they spent even more money ($150M) on Rogue Nation. Another one is slated to come out in 2018.
Mad Max: Fury Road made less than Ghostbusters in its opening weekend, and it won deserved Oscars. American Pie 2 made less Ghostbusters in its opening weekend, and we cannot get rid of that dumbass franchise, no matter how hard we try. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines made less, and they still made Salvation. Terminator Salvation made less, and they STILL made Genysis.
So, what I really want to know is, is a $46 million dollar opening weekend good enough for what? For the studio? For a sequel? Or for Hollywood to stop pandering to white men and start giving us the kickass female leads we deserve?
That's the real implication here, isn't it? No one asks if it was good enough for Mission Impossible. Because it doesn't matter if it was good enough. It only matters when a studio takes a "risk" by portraying women as real human beings.
Ignorant Opinion #2: "God, EVERYTHING has to be about women(/racial minorities/gay people/literally anyone who doesn't look and act like me) now?!"
There's this great exchange in the movie in which the Ghostbusters are confronting the villain, who is actually described as one of "the sad, pale ones" - an entitled, creepy dude who has decided to take over the world because he wants people to bow to his will. They are trying to convince him that the world is ultimately good and worth saving. He responds that if they believe that, they must know what it's like to be treated with respect and dignity, unlike him. Abby, Melissa McCarthy's character, says, "No, people pretty much dump on us all the time, actually."
If you truly, truly believe that "feminazis" are taking over the world, please take a breath and, seriously, literally, look around you. Right now, at this moment. How many books on your shelf are written by women or racial minorities? How many black faces do you see on your TV? Can you identify the female characters in that movie by name? When I say "physicist," are you thinking of a woman? When I say "housekeeper," are you thinking of a man?
When you are used to a world that has belonged to you since birth, it can be difficult to share. But the next time you are at the movies, genuinely, just do some counting. Look up some real, scientific statistics. Still convinced we're taking over?
Ignorant Opinion #3: They are ruining the original Ghostbusters.
I saw the original Ghostbusters when I was a kid. I remember thinking it was okay. I liked it, sure. I didn't ever ask to watch it again. You know what I did ask to watch, all the time? Matilda. I loved Matilda. I couldn't get enough of that story. Because it made me feel powerful. To see this little girl do such big things and help all the people she loved. If a person who was like me could find the courage to do that, I could too.
Here's what we mean when we say, "representation matters": I never once even considered the idea that I could be a real writer, until I found out that J.K. Rowling was a woman. In college, I was very good friends with a guy who wrote and directed his own shorts all the time. But I didn't ever even fathom that I could do that, until one girl, who I knew vaguely because she worked as his camera operator, made her first film. Those were the moments when everything changed for me.
When I was leaving the theater I saw Ghostbusters in, two preteen girls were walking out behind me. I overheard them discussing the movie, one of them in a voice like she had just seen a new color. "You can write a movie, and direct it? So like, if I have an idea, I can write it and direct it myself?!"
That girl probably hasn't seen the original Ghostbusters. But everything is going to be different for her, now that she knows that she can do anything.