Why Do Sexists Hate The New 'Ghostbusters'?
The announcement that a gender-swapped reboot of Ghostbusters will soon be in theaters has generated quite a bit of excitement. Considering the top-notch comedy actresses at the project's helm, including Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, the hype is likely justified. But this excitement isn’t universal: As so often happens whenever any media is centered on women, indignant and frustrated misogynists have decided to criticize the film on social media. The blatantly sexist responses of these pitiful man-babies — not to mention their attempts to rationalize their behavior — are likely produced by many causes, but the persistent sexism in both geek culture and the entertainment industry undoubtedly rank high among them.
Geek culture has become increasingly popular in mainstream pop culture over the last decade and female fans have contributed to this rise. Many are proudly claiming their "fangirl" identities online and at convention. But even so, old ideas of what a geek "should" be persist. Plenty still feel that geek culture should remain the domain of men and some geeks prioritize their own identity and opinions at the expense of courtesy to others. Some geeks uphold a stringent double standard for women: If they're too attractive then they're seen as “fake” or “seeking attention,” but if they're too quirky, they're “trying too hard to fit in.” These attitudes are the result of our society's general discomfort with women and men's failure to reconcile their own insecurities.
Many of these misogynistic geeks have evaluated the new Ghostbusters movie through this narrow lens. Its all-female cast is interpreted as an attempt to outdo or replace the original all-male cast version — which many geeks regard as a piece of media emblematic of their culture — rather than a unique opportunity for authentically quirky comediennes to do a fresh take on a classic.
In addition to sexism in geek culture, sexism within the entertainment industry, and the comedy world specifically, seems to be a major contributing factor. Comedy bookers tend to either exploit or dismiss female comics, male comics may uphold outdated, sexist, and politically incorrect standards of comedy, and then there’s the age-old claim that female comics just aren't as funny as their male counterparts (which is even the subject of Bonnie McFarlane’s documentary “Women Aren’t Funny”). Women are also frequently cast in supporting roles, their only purpose supposedly to support the male comedian's ability to make a joke. When women are featured, therefore, they're seen as stealing a role meant for a man. When women are individually successful, misogynists dismiss them as exceptions to the rule. This persistently sexist attitude about women and comedic movies, therefore, likely also contributes to the Ghostbusters push back.
While only time — and the actual release of the movie — will tell just how funny this remake is, therefore, it's sad to see that there is doubt surrounding the product based on the gender of its cast alone. The outdated and toxic narrative of male-dominant sexism present in geek and entertainment culture needs to end, and embracing and supporting films like Ghostbusters seems like as good a place as any to start.
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