I was actually going to write a blog on this topic before the whole Ghostbusters scandal. It was supposed to be on the idea of marketing ideologies to people, such as feminism. I was going to focus on how celebrity endorsements, social media, and social trends we’re all creating the perfect environment to market products to impressionable people. Long story short, my post was going to be about marketers using the growing trend of social media feminism to advertise and popularise their products.
Then Ghostbusters happened. I sat back and watched the drama unfold without ever getting involved. It was brutal, heroes of my childhood like James Rolfe were being taken down for expressing their opinions. Mainstream media was covering all of the hatefulness. It became an all out controversy, but the thing is… it was all totally manufactured.
As much as people will tell you otherwise, people enjoy conflict. It’s why people play video games, or argue on the internet. It gets people fired up, and that feeling is a powerful feeling, people like feeling powerful and its understandable why people would push for that feeling more often. Anecdotally, I had two friends who used to love being furious, to the point where they would find any little thing to be angry about, just because it would get them fired up and explosive. It’s an addictive state of being. It’s finally a chance to feel really big, after spending so much time in the world feeling so very small.
Internet arguments about feminism and MRAs follow the same path. It’s conflict for the sake of conflict in most cases. With one or both side being intentionally obtuse just to annoy and wind up the other person. Places like Twitter don’t help this either, the 140 character limit means you not only have no room to discuss big issues, but also shows where the true focus of their Tweet really lies. Which is obviously the quirky, funny, devastating one-liner type quip that has been themed around equal rights. It doesn’t have to be right, it doesn’t have to contain any real information, the only requirement is that it makes you feel like you’ve one-upped the people you’re fighting against. That’s how you feel that rush of energy from conflict.
Knowing all of the above, marketers will often try to create conflict and this is exactly what happened with Ghostbusters. Sony, producers of the film, didn’t just extend their reach to stirring the pot a little; and instead opted to use the electric mega-whisk. Sony, who have paid for reviews before now, also deleted legitimate comments about why people didn’t like the film’s trailer. Leaving only the childish and hateful misogynist ones. Bloggers, YouTubers, even mainstream media all jumped straight on the bandwagon. Presented with the manufactured evidence that this was a sexist outcry, and misogynists were the root cause of the film’s hate – media everywhere jumped to the defense of the film. Blindly backing it regardless, because fuck those misogynists, right?
The publicity grew, and now people who identify with the feminist label vehemently back the film and celebrate it as being an amazing victory for women everywhere. Others, who just don’t want to seem sexist themselves and haven’t done their research will back the film too, lest they get the severe beating that long-surviving YouTube star James Rolfe got. It’s a sinkhole of bullshit, trying to drag everyone down with it.
Yet it was so easy to do. All it took was deleting a few legitimate comments of dislike, leaving only the hateful ones to fan this fire. Sexism, empowerment of women and also the “feminist” label are thrown around in the media and celebrated all the time. Even when those feminists prove not to even know what a feminist is. It’s very clear bandwagoning and Sony took advantage of this media trend to try and create a cash-grab reboot of a film nobody asked for, and it probably worked.
Sony stirred the pot, and pushed this “controversy” upon us using feminism and the growing trend to speak out and battle against sexism as a marketing tool for publicity. It worked 100% with everyone talking about it. You all just got played.
Like most people, I don’t have any problem with female actors taking roles that were typically or previously played by men. Not at all. What I do have a problem with is bad comedy, badly written characters, badly written plot and story and of course bad cgi. All of these things, wrapped up in the skin of a franchise that died over 20 years ago is unnerving. This Franken-Film will never be good, and it has nothing to do with the fact the main characters were female. There is no controversy here, no sexism, no hate for anyone, and if you don’t like my opinion – fine? Go watch the film if you want, I can’t tell you what to do with your money.
Update: Speaking on Twitter today, I’ve come to really understand why this is such a problem. It’s not because we’re getting bad films, or because we might not like the films coming out. It’s really down to trust. We know of paid reviewers and we know of shilling for products, and a lot of the time we know how to avoid them. What we never expect from brands like Sony, brands that we trust, is that they will actively be involved with the manipulation of their audience in such a profound way. I don’t think ever before has a company been so bold as to delete regular comments, leave the hateful anti-women ones and then claim all the negative press is just sexism.
I don’t entirely blame media corps around for reporting on this as if it was sexism, they’re just doing what they do, reporting what they see. A lot of people saw the reality that Sony had created – but the important thing is that it wasn’t the actual reality. Those media corps should have done better homework, rather than lazily throwing out articles for quick and fast hits. I also don’t blame feminists for reacting the way they did, but again the same applies. The idea that Ghostbusters was the center of an anti-woman hate campaign is absolutely, totally and categorically a lie created by Sony to sell you a bad film. People need to know these things, people need to be aware of the truth before they can start pushing back against companies who would use and manipulate their consumers in this way.