This Friday, July 15, marks the release of Sony Picture’s long-teased Ghostbusters reboot. Anyone who has spent any amount of time online since the film was first announced no doubt knows this to be true, as the promotion behind the film has been on overdrive throughout 2016. It seems every day there are new images, trailers, teaser, character featurettes, and related materials being made public, and I have no doubt those of you reading this now have looked through some, if not all of it. In the event that is not true, allow me to catch you up to speed:
Looks pretty decent, right? Maybe it’s not going to be the best movie of all-time, but it absolutely appears to be watchable.
If you live online however, and I assume many of you do, then you have no doubt heard about the outcry from many self-proclaimed “diehard Ghostbusters” fans about how this new film will suck. Whether these people are upset because the film now stars four women instead of the four men who lead the original film or because the initial trailers/footage did not live up to their expectations, many people have turned to social media and sites like Reddit to express outrage over the fact this movie has been made. Yes, in a world as crazy and messed up as the one we live in today there are people who make panning a movie they have never actually seen before it is even released in hopes they will somehow stop others from seeing it.
The crazy thing is, you don’t have to be a fan or frequent participator of film conversation to know this has been happening for months. Publications big and small have ran articles about the outcry from so-called fans about a film they have not yet seen. Even my parents, who are now in their 50s and could care less about the court of public opinion as it relates to pop culture, know that there are concerns from people that this movie might be a mistake. This tells me that even pop culture outliers are aware of the controversy, even if they don’t care about the film itself.
The question here is why? Why has a movie about fictional people doing fictional things spawned so much anger sight unseen? Why do anonymous commenters online, who mostly make themselves out to be men, feel personally attacked by seeing the male leads of the original films replaced by women? Why does the news of those original leads appearing in the new film not offset that rage?
The answer I believe, at least for some of this rage, is fear. These haters see their beloved film franchise undergoing an evolution and as a result they are forced to come to terms with the endless momentum of time. They connect a part of their own youthfulness to the franchise, and knowing it will no longer be what it once was forces them to recognize that they too are getting older. Just as the original Ghostbusters have been replaced they too will be replaced in time. That in no way means the new version is going to be bad, but it does mean it won’t necessarily be made for them. It will be made for the new them, and by that I mean the teens and young adults of today, and their inability to process the inevitability of aging expresses itself through outrage. It’s not about the movie, or at least not entirely. It’s about realizing they are getting older and understand the world continues to spin as it always has despite that fact.
This week, the first reviews of the new Ghostbusters have begun to emerge online, and – shocking as it may be – the overall response appears to be fairly positive. At the time of this posting the film has a 77% approval on Rotten Tomatoes based on 78 reviews, and many of those critiques come from major publications (Chicago Sun-Times, Us Weekly, AV Club, etc).
A logical person may think the positive reviews for the film would suppress the anger many have felt, perhaps they would even give them reason to look forward to the film’s release, but there is no logic when discussing why people express rage towards creativity online. In fact, many of those who have spent months being dead set on getting people to not see the new Ghostbusters are actively trying to hide the fact many are enjoying the film. As an example, here is a real screenshot from the official Ghostbusters subreddit captured earlier this week:
If you cannot make out the small print, it reads:
“We were doing a pretty good job of filtering out positive reviews of /r/movies (another, much larger subreddit), but they consolidated them into a mega thread and now people are starting to say maybe we were wrong. Is there any way to easily get the world out on social media that the positive reviews are probably all paid for?”
A few things worth discussing in response to this post:
– As a critic for a decade working in both music and film I can tell you first hand that reviews from major studios are never bought. I have spoken to critics from a variety of established print and digital outlets, including a few with much larger followings than my own, and not one of them has even been approached with such an offer.
– The intent of this post is not to reveal the truth, but rather to hide it. The people making and supporting posts like this want their narrative, which is the idea the film is so bad it shouldn’t be seen, to be the narrative people follow.
– The person making this post has presumably not seen the film. They are defending a stance they have no reason to take outside of assumptions they have formed based on promotional materials.
The crazy thing is, a post like the one above is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lengths some will go to in order to try and shame the film. Here is another Reddit post from the same group:
This one is a bit longer, but just in case you cannot see the words in the image I have included the text below:
“For example a wife and a husband have an argument about the new ghostbusters movie. his wife wants to see it, but he does not, so he leaves upset, steps into his car, goes to the liquor store. Bus alcohol. While driving drinks it and thinks why on this planet did I marry such a stupid woman! Then an accident occur(s) and he injured 4 people.
Now 99% of the people will be angry at the husband for injuring 4 people. However the root of the problem was his wife + sony!
If Sony created the ghostbuster movie the fans + masses wanted, husband and wife would have happily gone to the new ghostbuster movie. Nobody would have been hurt.”
Again, this post is nonsense. The scary thing about it is that it may represent how some people actually feel toward the film, or at least why the feel the way they do. There is this assumption that Sony made the film for reasons other than pandering to the core fanbase, but there is no evidence of this fact outside the four women cast in the lead roles. One could easily infer the original commenter is trying to say the wife wants to see the film because of the women leading the picture, which speaks more to commenter’s opinion of women in positions of power than it does to the film itself.
We’re still several days away from the release of Ghostbusters, and I have no doubt those hoping to see it fail will continue to make posts like the ones above until long after the film has begun playing in markets around the globe. Whether or not their voice has been loud enough to impact the box office bottom lie remains to be seen, but in a perfect world they wouldn’t change things one bit because in all reality their frustrations are born from internal struggles with gender roles and the passing of time. They may keep some away due to the sheer volume of publications covering their hate, but strong word of mouth from those who actually see the film will likely outweigh their unfounded opinions in time.
To bring this back to music, I ask that you think about the way you and others discuss new albums before they have actually been released. We live in a time where people will take one song, or even a snippet of one song, and use it as reasoning for why a certain project or artist is not worthy of people’s money when the truth of the matter is that they know as little about the final product as anyone else. Even professionals critics, and by that I mean those with a legitimate following who are paid to share their opinions, know nothing about how a project sounds or works as a complete idea until they have heard the album in full.
The point of all this is to urge you to form your own opinions. Criticism in the modern age should be viewed as a starting point for conversation rather than an endpoint. Just because a bunch of people online have strong opinions on something they legitimately know nothing about does not in any way mean they are right. In fact, they are almost always wrong, and this applies to things outside the world of entertainment just as much as it does to new films or albums. If someone hasn’t experienced something for themselves then their opinion is baseless, and as such it should be taken with a grain of sand (at most).
Life is too short to blindly believe the irrational opinions of others. If you want to do or see or hear or experience something you should absolutely make time to do that thing, regardless of what others have said. If it sucks, or if you’re less than satisfied, then at least you can speak from experience and talk to others about what did or did not work. Hating things simply because they do not directly target or entertain you is dumb, and the proliferation of such thinking only makes those promoting it look as empty-minded as the ideas they claim to back. Be your own person. Form your own opinions based on authentic experiences and share them with the world. If you still hate the new Ghostbusters, fine, but at least give it a chance. Give all art a chance.
On the creative side, you cannot let negativity deter you from bringing your unique vision to life. Not everyone is going to love what you create, and some may even claim they hate it, but the beautiful thing about art is that it allows for a wide range of responses. Listen to those with a dissenting opinion who have a reasonable explanation for feeling the way they feel, but don’t let those hating for the sake of hating get you down. If you let someone deter you from chasing your passions because you’re afraid of what they might think you will never become the artist you were meant to be. Chase whatever passion you have until you have exhausted yourself, and when you get a little rest you should continue that pursuit once more. Never give up because one day, whether it’s release day or six years after something has come out, your creation will be seen by someone whose experience with your art will make a positive impact on their life.
James Shotwell is the Digital Marketing Manager for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.