The Ghostbusters reboot casting once again proves that geek culture has a lot of growing up to do.
So Hollywood, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to soldier forward with a reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise. This, like all projects, was in development limbo for a number of years, with a great deal of back-and-forth over whether it would be sequel or whether the original cast would be brought back in some capacity. In August 2014 Paul Feig, director of the Oscar-nominated comedy Bridesmaids as well as creator of the cult-classic television series Freaks and Geeks, was solidified as the person spearheading the reboot of the franchise. Also solidified was the decision to reboot the franchise with an all-female cast. Comediennes Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon were tapped as the new Ghostbusters, with filming starting later this year in New York.
The decision to go with an all-female cast, of course, set the internet on fire. And when I say “on fire” I mean it prompted a whole lot of vitriol and words that I will opt not to utilize that are extremely derogatory towards women and the whole concept of women bustin’ fictitious ghosts in a fictitious world.
I’ve been sitting and watching the negativity unveil itself in chunks, biting my tongue about the whole thing. But then a picture surfaced of the cast of the film taken at Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Celebration from this past weekend that seemingly ratcheted the negativity up a notch. Here’s the picture:
The comments attached to this picture across all of social media are much more vile than positive. I will not give the people who posted these comments the satisfaction of reiterating their scathing words; it’s not a productive use of my time or yours (I hope). But this latest battery of barbs, for me, was the key that finally opened my self-imposed cask of silence. You see, this whole situation can be summed up in two thoughts – one about the whole notion of rebooting the franchise and one more serious thought about the geek community and how it interacts with the world within and without its metaphorical walls.
My feelings on the concept of rebooting the franchise are simple: I don’t rightfully care about another Ghostbusters movie.
We don’t need another Ghostbusters movie of any kind, regardless of the casting. It’s not like we’ve all been sitting around pining for another Ghostbusters movie. Let’s at least be honest about that part of things– this wasn’t on anyone’s wish list. I’m also tired of the countless franchise reboots. It’s old, Hollywood. Literally old. I enjoy the original Ghostbusters films (the first way more than the second) and I’m happy that they exist. They aren’t in need of remakes or reboots. Can we PLEASE come up with some new properties? Do you know how many great novels and comic book series I read on a regular basis that are ripe for television or motion picture treatments? Dozens. Let’s make some of them into the next generation of entertainment. You can’t keep pumping water if the well has run dry.
My feelings on the reactions of the geek population? They are much more complex and go much deeper than any surface comment can delve.
Look: all of these fanboys are flippin’ their wigs about the casting of the Ghostbusters reboot when they didn’t actually care about another Ghostbusters movie to begin with. This isn’t about Ghostbusters. This is about the casting decisions made by Feig and Company.
With that in mind there’s only one question to ask:
Are you all really that surprised by all of this?
Look at the way women were threatened and attacked during Gamer Gate. Look at how the fanboy community reacted to Heimdall being played by Idris Elba in the Thor films. Look at the death threats that were levied out when Dan Slott made the decision to have Spider-Man replaced by Doctor Octopus.
This is how the existence of the fanboy works. This is why I try to distance myself from the tag “fanboy”; it comes with some very negative baggage that I don’t feel like “pack-muling” around all the time.
Let’s face facts: too large of a proportion of the fanboy community is Caucasian, male, sexist, racist, and homophobic, and more than willing to complain and whine about everything not being the way they want it to be. There’s a lot of white privilege and anti-social behavior that has no grasp on acceptance, understanding or gray areas of any kind that comes with the fanboy territory. As an African American comic and science fiction fan who is also a member of the LGBTQ community I find my interaction with the standard fanboy to not be a pleasant one more often than not because of this. I have been fortunate enough to associate with, collaborate with, and develop long-lasting friendships with some great people who just so happen to love comic books, science fiction, and fantasy. These people are a minority unto themselves when compared to the fanboy community at-large.
The level of deprecating and tasteless sexism that has been shown by the internet community toward the quartet of comediennes tasked with the job of being the Ghostbusters disgusts me – but it is par for the course in the world that we live in and the ultimate problem with geek culture. You see, this is how the majority of fanboys always react when things of this nature pop up on the pop culture radar. Geek culture has a pervasive history of throwing temper tantrums over things not being status quo and attacking women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community verbally, physically, and emotionally. Any time a studio casts a “classic” character as a woman, a different race, gay, lesbian, or transgendered these privileged idiots go insane and inundate the internet with enough negativity to resurrect Adolf Hitler. It’s why so many of the things the core fanboy base likes haven’t changed and evolved all that much in the last 50 years or so. If you are a major motion picture studio or Media Corporation and your core audience is Caucasian, male, sexist, racist, and homophobic more often than not history as shown us these companies stay in that box and cater to said audience. Here’s the thing, though: things are changing. And they are changing for the better.
Ten years ago a movie studio wouldn’t even entertain the idea that one of the Ghostbusters could be a woman, let alone all four. We are nowhere near equality in any way, shape, or form – and we will more than likely not see it in our lifetimes – but the world is not the world it was five decades ago. It’s not even the world it was five years ago. More than half of the United States recognizes same-sex marriage. Women and minorities now hold prominent positions in business and politics that seemed like pipe dreams twenty years ago. We have a President that has broken down racial barriers and we can look ahead to a future where we will have a President breaking the gender barriers sooner rather than later.
Even if I’m not hungering for another Ghostbusters movie I applaud the fact that they are moving forward with a cast of great comedic actresses who will do their roles justice. It’s about time Hollywood legitimately takes this step forward and starts making films and television that buck gender norms and stereotypes and reflect how varied of a world we actually live in. Actually it’s past time. People from all walks of life enjoy comic books, science fiction, fantasy, gaming, and every other aspect of geek culture. And they all deserve to be represented in those works with characters that they can connect to and identify with as well. Being a geek is about more than being a cantankerous, intolerant male. It’s practically a subsection of outcasts who are into things deemed childish by “regular” society. So when you attack people who are different when you yourself are different all you do is prove that you are an outcast due in part to your own attitude. I’m sorry if some of you out there are uncomfortable with the notion that other genders, gender identities, and races have a place in this world in all areas – including your precious geek culture.
And hey – you do actually understand A) it’s just a movie – it’s not going to kill you or main your family, and B) there are so many real things going on in the world that to go online and levy out verbal abuses toward people you don’t agree with for their sexual identity, gender, or race as it pertains to fictitious imagery is absolutely pointless, right? If I look at the geek culture track record the answer is probably a resounding “no”.
At the end of the day this movie is going to make its budget back and then some. And if they play up the more adult comedy angle that worked so well in the original Ghostbusters, it may actually be entertaining. And it will be in direct defiance of all of the vitriol many geeks spewed forth into the atmosphere.
There’s nothing better than excelling in the face of pettiness, single-mindedness, and hatred.