The Internet is abuzz with hatred over the new, all-female-led Ghostbusters film. The initial trailer is the most down-voted one in YouTube history, mostly because brigades of dude bros and GamerGaters are still convinced that somehow matters to people and sign in under multiple accounts to click "dislike" (they also spend their time giving shows and movies targeted to women bad ratings on IMDb because apparently my gender has a lot of time on our hands). Angry Video Game Nerd’s James Rolfe heroically has refused to review the film because reasons, and when Patton Oswalt cracked wise about that, even more heroic dudes attacked him on Twitter to make fun of the fact his wife had recently died.
That last one is the straw that broke the camel’s back with me. Though I’m interested in Ghostbusters the current cultural phenomenon that shows how men respond to women taking over roles, I never did really give a toss about Ghostbusters the film or franchise. I find the original film mediocre and am completely baffled by people’s fondness for it. As for the new one, I like all the actresses involved well enough I was planning on waiting until it hit Amazon streaming, but I wasn’t going to waste a rare night out at a non-kids movie on it. Now I’m getting a baby sitter and putting my ass in a seat opening weekend just to spite these joyless manbabies and their eggshell masculinity.
In fact, let’s tap that egg some more.
Posting about the film online got me a nice collection of sore-ass white dudes, an example of which you can see above. One of the manosphere’s favorite talking points goes like this: First, casting a film the way Ghostbusters has been cast is done only to please feminists, there obviously being absolutely no other reason to ever put women in an originally male role (that last bit was sarcasm, y’all). Second, this dooms things to failure because, last, feminists make up a very small percentage of the population.
Sometimes you see the above “feminists are only 13 percent of the population.” That’s either an accidental or deliberate typo from an old Men’s Rights Activist crow about a New York Times poll finding only 18 (not 13) percent of Americans consider themselves feminists. Granted, I could bust out a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll that finds 60 percent of women and 33 percent of men consider themselves feminist, but I’m going to be magnanimous and use the MRA’s 13 percent to prove my point.
Even if the only people who went and saw Ghostbusters were feminists, it would still be a smash hit. As of 2014, the population of the United States was about 319 million souls. That means if feminists were 13 percent of the country, there would be roughly 41.5 million feminists.
In 2015, the average American movie ticket was $8.42. For the sake of easy math, we’ll assume this year it's $8.50. That means if every feminist went to see Ghostbusters, its domestic gross would be $353 million, easily making back more than double its budget and making it the eighth-biggest grossing film of 2016. In fact, if only 43 percent of all American feminists went to see Ghostbusters, it would still break even, and that’s not even taking into account foreign gross or merchandising (them Ecto Coolers are going to be big money.)
Herein lies the point and the dark heart of the dude bro rage. Ghostbusters does not need anti-feminist white dudes to make money. It doesn’t even need anti-feminist white dudes to make a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man-size pile of money. No movie, TV show, comic or video anymore needs the old, young, white, male demographic to succeed, something Bernie Sanders is finding out the hard way this election cycle. The game has changed, and it is never going to go back to the way things were. That’s why this version of Ghostbusters exists. It hasn’t been forced on filmgoers. It’s been enabled by the changing world., a world that doesn't value white dudes and their fragile egos over and above everything else.
Jef’s collection of short stories about vampires and drive-thru churches, The Rook Circle, is available now. You can also find him on Patreon, Facebook and Twitter.