Ghostbusters’ stars might have faced the most hideous hatred from internet trolls for simply being women but perhaps gender isn’t the real problem. Hollywood has become too lazy. The ideas machine has run so dry, changing an iconic character’s sex is deemed a piece of originality.
Leslie Jones, the comedian, actor and one part of the all-female Ghostbusters, has quit Twitter because of the hideous abuse she has faced simply for starring in a movie. Singled out – partly because of her gender, partly because of the colour of her skin, mostly because she followed her dream of acting – Jones faced the brunt of the online abuse levelled at Ghostbusters’ mere existence. The fact the film had received thousands of 1 out of 10 ratings on IMDB before people had even seen it highlights a unique kind of hatred. Bitterness targeted at a film’s brand image without any care of its qualities as a cinematic experience.
I feel for Jones. Internet trolls are truly horrible. The anonymity of the internet has given its users carte blanche to express their freedom of speech with no regard for a person’s feelings or the consequences of their actions. With no authorship the troll has no sense of guilt. They detach themselves from their nefarious bahaviour. Their kick becomes the hurt they see from their targets. It’s spineless bullying.
Yet, behind the aesthetics of this internet carnage is perhaps a sign of boredom. That we’ve become so sick of Hollywood regurgitating itself the Ghostbusters reboot gave us something to shout at. Fans of the original bemoaned the fact the leads had enjoyed a sort of gender reassignment. Instead of criticising Hollywood for taking a great piece of 1980s movie real estate and churning it out to make a fast buck, the film’s critics wanted to be more petty. It’s not the fact the main cast are female, the problem with the reboot is that it exists at all.
We’re sick of Hollywood being so predictable. From its superhero movies following the same story arcs to so-called original films manufactured through testing to increase their franchise potential, Hollywood isn’t in the business of making films any more, it’s in the remake market. It’s not necessarily because of a lack of good, original ideas – just see what America’s independent industry turns out – but a disdain for risk. It makes business sense but audiences ultimately suffer.
Ghostbusters won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In fact, the frenzied reaction to the film’s initial promotion and continued animosity levelled at it since release has, perversely, emboldened Hollywood’s studios to continue what they’re doing. Jones’ personal anguish might merit a few industry bods to politely chastise the trolls but behind the sentiment they’re rubbing their hands together at all that delicious free viral publicity.