The Ghostbusters Trailer Backlash Shows Men Believe in the Power of Representation (But Only When It Applies to Them)
Ghostbusters Shows Men Believe in Representation (When It Applies to Them)
As reported by ScreenCrush on Friday, the first trailer for the new Ghostbusters film is now the most-disliked movie trailer in the history of YouTube. Currently at 591,618 dislikes, the trailer is far more disliked even than the trailer for Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four film (20,175 dislikes) or Adam Sandler’s critically-reviled Ridiculous Six (5,803 dislikes).
In some respects, it’s not surprising that the Ghostbusters trailer would receive a disproportionate backlash compared to those other films. A significant—or, at the least, very vocal—portion of the Ghostbusters fan base was introduced to the franchise in their childhood, and therefore have an emotional investment in the movie that viewers of Ridiculous Six, for example, probably do not. The first trailer’s characterization of Patty was also controversial, which might account for at least some of the dislikes.
But it’s not just the number of dislikes the Ghostbusters trailer has that’s notable; it’s the ratio of views to dislikes. Based off a ranking of YouTube’s 100 Most Disliked Videos, ScreenCrush reports that Ghostbusters (the only film trailer on the list) receives nearly four times the amount of dislikes per view than the most disliked video on YouTube:
Justin Bieber’s “Baby” (#1 on the list) has a whopping 6 million thumbs down votes, but that’s on 1.36 billion views for a 226:1 ratio of views to dislikes. Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video (#4 overall) has almost 1.5 million thumbs down on 2.5 billion views for a relatively high ratio of 1,666:1. The Ghostbusters trailer is remarkable in that it has 507,610 dislikes on just 28.7 million views. That’s a staggering 56:1, almost exactly four times the amount of dislikes per view of Bieber’s aforementioned most disliked video on all of YouTube. (By contrast, a trailer for a movie like Captain America: Civil War has a 5,237:1 ratio.) It’s not just that people dislike it, it’s that they’re disliking it at a highly disproportionate rate to other YouTube videos.
So while some dislike is understandable given the amount of nostalgia associated with the franchise, the ratio of dislikes to views is surprising when compared to other videos. Although maybe not too surprising when you actually look at the comments section:
Like the majority of the other videos on YouTube’s most disliked list, the high number of dislikes arguably has less to do with the video’s quality than its focus on women: 59% of the 100 most disliked videos are female-led. What’s most telling to me with regards to the Ghostbusters trailer specifically is the number of people accusing the film of pandering to women, or complaining that it’s sexist to not have a male Ghostbuster.
I have news for these commenters: “What’s with all the exclusion? Isn’t having only one gender kind of unfair?” is pretty much how women feel looking at all media, all the time.
Men who accuse the new Ghostbusters of “pandering” to feminists either don’t recognize or don’t care that they themselves have been enjoying media that panders to them their whole lives. The original Ghostbusters movies pandered, too; but because they pandered to men, it didn’t inspire so much vitriolic criticism.
Since ScreenCrush’s article came out, the trailer’s comment section has been filled with people urging each other to get the trailer’s dislikes to 1 million, and that’s fine with me; people are free to waste their time however they so choose. What’s less important to me personally than the number of dislikes is the very telling rhetoric being displayed over and over again by the movie’s critics.
Men are vehemently defending Ghostbusters—a franchise based on pandering (to men)—but basing their argument against the new film on the grounds that it panders (to women). They are calling for gender parity in the new Ghostbusters, but threw tantrums when Star Wars followed six male-driven movies with two films centered around a woman.
If you don’t think that the Ghostbusters backlash is based in misogyny, yet you question why the leads are all female when you wouldn’t think twice about an all-male cast, wake the heck up: your dislike for the film might be influenced far more by your own, unexamined biases than it is by the trailer’s actual quality.
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