Last week, I had intended to write a venting piece about things that had been irritating me, particularly around the internet. I ultimately abandoned it and posted a bunch of random funny stuff.
But one thing that hasn’t gone away: the new Ghostbusters trailer. Or specifically, the overwhelmingly negative reactions to it.
Let me start this by saying: I like Ghostbusters. But I’m not a hardcore fan by any means. I’ve watched it here and there, I like Bill Murray’s humor and the chemistry of the cast. It’s fun. So I don’t really have a dog in this fight, except as someone who enjoys a lot of good movies.
Also, allow me to dispel one of the more annoying counter arguments to posts disliking the trailer: Yes, I have not seen the actual new Ghostbusters film. No, I am not judging the film here. I am judging the trailer, whose sole purpose is to help me decide if I want to see the film. If a trailer looks bad, likely I won’t go see the film. That’s the point of trailers. The argument “You haven’t seen the film so you can’t say it’s bad” is stupid. I’ve seen the trailer. I can judge that.
Anyway, I digress. Here’s the Ghostbusters trailer, if you haven’t seen it yet:
Yep…that is the most disliked trailer in YouTube history. It’s not terribly difficult to see why. But we’ll come to that later.
The internet exploded on this issue this week – like we don’t have more important things to deal with (but whatever). Of all the news outlets which covered the Ghostbusters trailer (and that’s pretty much all of them), they all seemed to think it was one of two things: (1) Sequel/Reboot fatigue or (2) Misogyny.
Here’s my question: Why can’t something just suck?
Case in point. There have been three films which have made over $200M in the United States on opening weekend. Two of them opened in 2015: Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Jurassic World is essentially a reboot (a sequel with an entirely new cast), and The Force Awakens was a little of both.
In fact, out of the Top 10 highest domestic openings of all time, only one is NOT a sequel or a reboot – The Avengers. (And let’s be honest, that’s essentially a sequel to all of the Marvel movies that preceded it).
So sequel/reboot fatigue is obviously complete crap. While people may complain about sequels and reboots (“There’s noting original in Hollywood anymore!”), it’s clear they’re still going to see them.
So that brings us to misogyny. I mean…really? Media pundits are really comfortable saying that 764,986 (and counting) disliked a trailer because there’s *gasp* women in it?
Okay, I’ll grant you: A LOT of people probably did. There’s more than a few people who are unhappy to see the iconic roles of their childhood filled by, essentially, the cast of Bridesmaids. The casting does feel like a marketing stunt by a large studio at least as much as it does a natural progression of the story (Kind of like the guys who are combining the Men in Black and 21 Jump Street franchises into a single movie. Yes, you read that right.)
But misogyny? A dislike of women? Please…let’s go back to the biggest film openings of all time: Of the Top 20, THREE of them are Twilight movies, none of which even came close to being certified “Fresh” by Rotten Tomatoes. Two of them were Hunger Games movies. Two films featured women either in a lead (The Force Awakens) or co-lead (Jurassic World).
It’s 100% true that there aren’t enough good roles for women. It’s criminal, for example, that there hasn’t been a Black Widow solo movie in the Marvel Universe (though apparently there soon will be). Also that Sandra Bullock has to call in favors to get a man’s role re-written for her to give her a good part. Or that seemingly 95% of actresses hit 40 and can’t find work.
But that’s not what’s happening here, not for the most part. For the most part, a good number of people (myself included) will go see about anything that has (1) Compelling characters and (2) An interesting, funny, and/or enjoyable story.
My friends: The new Ghostbusters trailer does not appear to have any of the above.
Let’s take it frame by frame:
Opening: 30 years ago, Four Scientists Saved New York
Already you’re in trouble. First off, this film is a reboot. No one has saved New York at all. Second, in the original Ghostbusters, Winston was NOT a scientist. He was just a guy who wanted a paycheck. So you’ve already confused your viewership into thinking this is a sequel (and now wondering where Peter Venkman et all are) and you’ve irritated the uber fans by making a factual mistake. 15 seconds and eight words in. Not a good start.
27 seconds: A New Team Will Answer the Call
Again – you’re setting people up to think this is a continuation. Hell, even Melissa McCarthy herself came out against the trailer on these issues.
33 seconds: The ghost
Looks like something out of a bad Scooby Doo episode. Weirdly bright, puffy and blue. You’ve just (mis)led people into believing this is a sequel. Now the ghosts look wrong – vaguely cartoonish, versus the more naturalistic and textural approach to the original films. In short, the effects were better 30 years ago. Meaning, they’ve changed for the worse and for no good reason. (Compare to this clip here to see what I mean).
45 seconds: “That stuff went everywhere…in every crack”
We get it. The slime went into her privates. Not remotely funny. But given 5 seconds of 150 in the trailer, and it’s the first joke.
54 seconds: More ghosts
More cartoonish, blue ghosts.
58 seconds to 1:12
Role call; we have a scientist and an engineer. Vague, awkward humor. Kristin Wiig does the finger guns in front of a quantum physics board, Melissa McCarthy accidentally electrocutes herself. Not really funny or interesting.
1:12: Introducing the sassy African American woman
Because of course they did. It’s 2016, and the role for the American American woman is still “the sassy one”? And people want to blame the dislike of the trailer on misogyny? That’s beyond laughable.
1:22: The hearse
Are we supposed to laugh because the Ghostbusters are driving a hearse? Might be good for a reoccurring gag or two in the film itself, but you’re devoting trailer time to this? Not a good sign.
1:29: “Lets go”
Two people saying “let’s go” at the same time. So overdone, so cliche. So not funny.
1:35: “Someone is creating a device that amplified paranormal activity, and we might be the only ones who can stop it.”
A bit on the nose, but actually this is the best part of the trailer. Establishes the stakes and the plot pretty succinctly. A bit of a departure from the last one. Gives you the idea that there is a defined villain here somewhere.
The last bit sets you up nicely for a good scare or a solid joke. But they give it away for nothing – a lame joke with one Ghostbuster scaring another one by wearing a stupid wig.
1:51: Licking the gun
Maybe you found that funny. I couldn’t roll my eyes high enough.
1:55: Random shot of Chris Hemsworth
Okay, so where does he fit in? Only shot of him, he’s walking weirdly, then we never see him again. Not intriguing, and a bad use of a movie star.
1:59: Melissa McCarthy is possessed
At no point is Melissa McCarthy’s character defined here, while the other three women (kinda) are. She seems relatively flat and lifeless throughout. And now she’s possessed. Almost like, “Everyone else has had their showy/weird part, now here’s mine”.
2:15: Leslie Jones screaming
I don’t think something is funnier because it’s screamed.
2:20: Double down on the screaming, plus more slapping
Is this a Three Stooges remake now?
In short, the trailer is a mess. The characters are either ill defined and flat, or stereotypical and cliche. The ghosts are cartoonish. While of course humor is subjective, there’s a whole lot of people not laughing at these jokes (myself included). And Sony’s confused pretty much everyone (including its own cast!) by framing this as a sequel when it’s in fact a reboot.
And yet, people wonder…why all the dislikes? Come on, (wo)man.