Man-babies stop the hysteria over Ghostbusters

Oh, look, another think piece about the new Ghostbusters. And its written by a middle-aged white guy who loves the.


Oh, look, another think piece about the new Ghostbusters. And its written by a middle-aged white guy who loves the 1984 original.

But heres the thing: unlike most of the voices yammering about Paul Feigs gender-swapped reworking of Ivan Reitmans classic effects comedy, Ive actually seen the new Ghostbusters, and I liked it just fine.

It did not destroy my memories of the first movies. In fact, it used those memories to get a couple of laughs, repurposing images, ideas and even lines of dialogue from both Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. Thats smart. Its what J.J. Abrams did in his Star Trek reboot, showing the audience that he respects the original material even if hes not slavishly dedicated to reproducing it.

Of course, those sorts of assurances were useless on the Ghostbusters haters, whove been treating the new film as an abomination out of Tobins Spirit Guide since the casting was announced. And while its really easy to dismiss their concerns as the mewling of man-babies who believe they have creative control over the entertainment they passively consume (thanks, social media!), in this particular case theres something darker slithering around underneath.

The anger over the new Ghostbusters the genuine, ugly rage at the idea that women could possibly wear proton packs and catch ghosts all by themselves is rooted in a particularly unsettling combination of entitlement and hostility that runs through pop culture.

Its the same disconnect that caused a group of idiots to boycott The Force Awakens last winter because Daisy Ridley was the lead, and the same disconnect that led a different idiot to claim last summers Mad Max: Fury Road was feminist propaganda for placing Charlize Theron’s Furiosa front and centre in its marketing.

Part of this is simple misogyny, whether conscious or unconscious. But its tied to something else, something that someone far more insightful than me wrote on Twitter a few months ago (and which Ive just spent the last half-hour trying to find): this is what happens when people cant handle the fact that the hero of a new movie doesnt look like them. They cant relate to the hero on that most basic level, so they cant imagine themselves in that role. And it makes them angry that other people can.

This speaks to a lack of empathy, and a lack of intellectual development: you have to be pretty stupid to expect the world to reflect your point of view at all times. But its the same selfishness thats led people to start shouting all lives matter in the middle of that other conversation, or position a racist yam golem for the Republican presidential nomination. Its about representation as a zero-sum game, and its bullshit.

See, theres room for everyone in the movies. Women can bust ghosts, and a dude can be their receptionist. No doubt next weeks angry man-baby posts will ask why Chris Hemsworths character had to be so dumb, but his unthinking, utterly unearned confidence is a lovely way for the movie to comment on the ingrained privilege its heroes are constantly encountering on the road to saving the world.

The new Ghostbusters is really smart about things like that. You have to be halfway intelligent to see what its saying. I can see why there might be some issues here.

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner

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