Are you troubled by instances of sexist/racist bullshit on your social media feeds? Does opening your Twitter mentions fill you with a sense of dread? Have you or your family ever even dared to scroll down and read Youtube comments?
More importantly: do you remember where you were when the trailer for Ghostbusters III dropped?
I do– I was minding my own friggin’ business when I saw it on one of my social media feeds. It didn’t look like Citizen Kane, but it seemed like an interesting movie and I felt moderately hype about it, so I reposted it on my Twitter and Facebook, and moved on with my day. I should have heard the chorus from O Fortuna playing in the background…
The next thing I knew… Well, I’ll let the OG(b)s explain:
But on social media.
“But Belle!” I’m sure you’re saying, “Was it really that bad? I don’t come to the Internet for reasoned discussions and shit; how was this any worse than usual?”
I’ll just put it this way: for my part, I had to put the internet down and actually think about my life for a few hours after wading through the internet shitstorm caused by the GB3 trailer. Having grown up in an age where information is flung at me in a relentless barrage, I very rarely have to shut everything down and just breathe.
When I returned to the smoldering ruins that was my social media, it seemed that the arguments were still raging, drawing even the attention of the director. One thing was for sure: this movie was shaping up to be super polarizing.
Like everything these days, there’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to
talk shit about discuss a film like GB3. I’ll take you on a quick journey through the three most common arguments/discussion points I encountered.
Alright, let’s start with the shittiest argument!
- “It’s gonna suck because it’s all girls!”
I saw this argument most on Twitter and Youtube; that is to say, largely anonymous venues for comment. Toss in some more curse words, a few conservative buzzwords, like ‘SJW’ and ‘cultural Marxism’ (wtf does that even mean?), and BAM! Instant GB3 whiny potpourri.
Why do these guys think the presence of boobs is going to ruin the movie? Well, if they’re following in the footsteps of New Atheist saint and professional troll Christopher Hitchens, they might just think that women aren’t funny. You may snort derisively, but this is an actual problem facing female actors and comedians. The four leads of GB3 are alums of groups like Saturday Night Live, the Upright Citizens Brigade, and the Groundlings– institutions in American comedy. Humor may be subjective, but these ladies have been judged and found to be funny.
My advice if you encounter this argument in the wild? Approach with extreme caution, if at all. Call them out and tell them exactly what they’re doing. If they’re willing to have a reasoned discussion, knock yourself out, but if your tolerance for BS is low, save yourself the frustration. Pity these people, for their prejudice prevents them from enjoying 50% of comedy.
- “This is ruining my childhood!”
While I saw this argument on Twitter a fair bit, it was far more common on my Facebook feed, where actual names were attached to identities. It was just a strange coincidence, I’m sure, but for this reason, I’m still slightly skeptical of people who make this argument.
Look, far be it from my nerdy ass to tell anyone how to relate to their fandom of choice, but there is a certain sense of perspective that you need to have, especially given the fact that Hollywood loves a soft reboot of classic blockbuster franchises right now.
Here’s a personal example: I love The Wizard of Oz. My first paper I wrote for my English Major was 10+ pages about Dorothy’s story, L. Frank Baum’s ties to feminism, and the rise of women’s education in the late 19th century. My annotated copy of TWoO is still filled with Post-Its and bookmarks. As a kid, I watched the 1938 movie, read almost all 13 of the original books written by Baum AND watched Return to Oz, even though I’ve legit blocked most of it out because it was scary as shit.
I fuckin’ love the Wizard of Oz mythos, ok? I was a happy little fan, just chuggin’ along.
And then this happened.
I watched it, and tried my best to keep an open mind going in. The lush Technicolor world was faithful to the Ozian aesthetic I’d had in my head, but beyond that… no. This group of awesomely strong, smart and powerful women just step aside after one little battle to let the Wizard rule, despite his general incompetence? Why? And the Wicked Witch of the West becomes wicked because James Franco broke up with her? Just… No.
So, in this way, I know what the GB3 cultural detractors are feeling- that is, if their concerns aren’t disingenuous. It’s painful to see something that you love get shit on, I know, but take it from me: it will be much easier to endure pop culture in the coming years if you understand that Hollywood is going to toy with something that you love. It’s the Circle of Movie Franchises. But, as the saying goes, if you really love something, let it go.
Plus, the damn thing hasn’t even come out yet. Slow your roll, critics, and go into the film with an open mind. Give yourself the opportunity to be surprised.
- “What about Patty?”
Bless you. Bless your discerning little heart.
Concerns regarding Patty, the only WoC in the main cast, have been repeatedly raised among intersectional feminists and feminists of color. These concerns concentrate on the fact that she is the only non-scientist in the group, thus lesser than her white costars, as well as being the ‘street-smart,’ sassy one, a trope too commonly associated with black women. The trailer is super problematic in that regard, and while it can be conjectured that they’re being faithful to the source material, one would hope that the new version would try to improve upon the original’s flaws. And yes, I said FLAWS. Like how Ernie Hudson’s character went from a fleshed-out character with an interesting backstory to “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say” between script edits. Or the uncomfortably anti-environmental, proto-Tea Party overtones of the original movies.
In my opinion, THIS is the kind of discussion we should be having. For one thing, it doesn’t rely on circular “the movie will suck because vaginas/my childhood’-type arguments, which means it will be easy to keep the conversation going. But honestly, I didn’t see it come up very often, because it got eclipsed by the coverage of the misogynistic reactions and childhood-ruining. Yes, we can talk about how the movie may or may not live up to your expectations when you ACTUALLY SEE IT, and that’s fine. But let’s not lose sight of the things that can and will affect the real world. Representation in the media matters. Talk to any nerdy person belonging to any minority, and they’ll have a story about seeing a character like them onscreen for the first time, and how that character had the power to thrill. Yes, little white girls will see Kate McKinnon and Melissa McCarthy onscreen and they might think, “Yes! There’s a lady that’s into science up there! I want to be like her.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful for little black girls to be able to feel that elation too?
You can argue that it’s just a movie, and there will be plenty of other opportunities for minorities to be represented in major Hollywood productions in the future. That’s what they keep saying. It’s making minorities feel like Cubs fans in one big World Series that keeps passing us by, time and again: Maybe next year… Maybe next year…
So, no, talking shit about the GB3 trailer does not automatically make you a sexist. It’s all about how you talk the shit.
There! Doesn’t busting sexism make you feel good? HAHAHAHAHAHA I’ll see myself out.