Opinion: Still Haunted by Sexism

Posted July 27, 2016 by The Argonaut in Columns

All this vitriol over the new “Ghostbusters” has me worried that Hillary can’t get elected

By Shanee Edwards

Now that women are allowed to bust ghosts, can a woman become president?

Now that women are allowed to bust ghosts, can a woman become president?

I’m an entertainment journalist. Mostly, the stories I write bear little consequence to the world beyond Hollywood. I see movies, give my opinions and occasionally break down film structure to help budding screenwriters understand how films work.

I thought writing about the new “Ghostbusters” was just another freelance job.

Then I got trolled in the comments section.

You may have heard about how actress Leslie Jones, who plays a Ghostbuster in the film reboot, was attacked on Twitter by a legion of these angry trolls. Many compared her to a gorilla. Others I won’t describe went even deeper into racist and sexist implications. Things got so bad that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey got involved.

Was this racism? Sure. But other minority actors have replaced white characters in film remakes —  “Steel Magnolias” and “About Last Night” come to mind — without setting Twitter ablaze in hate speech.

So does that mean sexism is to blame? Judging by the comments on my article, which pale in comparison to the vitriol that Jones confronted, I think so.

To be clear, my “Ghostbusters” piece wasn’t even a review in the traditional sense. I did see the film, but my audience was up-and-coming screenwriters learning to hone their craft. The title was “Ghostbusters: 5 Keys to Successfully Rebooting a Franchise,” and I detailed the different ways the film paid homage to the original while making the story feel fresh.

The article posted on July 14 — the day before the film opened — meaning that although my critics hadn’t even seen the movie yet, they felt compelled and entitled to attack me for praising the idea of casting an all-female ghost-hunting team to give the reboot an original twist.

Suddenly, these commenters “lost all respect for me,” and my colleagues and I were “complete clueless hacks.”

Another accused me of implying that audiences will have “lesser expectations” if the cast is made up of women, and that I was sexist.

Again, this is nothing compared to what Jones went through, but I was still shocked at all the rage directed at me just for writing about a movie that’s supposed to be fun.

While fond memories of the 1984 original may be amplifying peoples’ emotions, only misogyny is to blame for all of this hostility.

I get it: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, who doesn’t fare well in the reboot, was an iconic figure to anyone growing up in the 1980s.

Clearly, many who saw the original as children or teens have clung to the film as part of their own mythology. It represents a type of humor and machismo of a different time — a time before political correctness, before 9/11, before gay marriage was legal, and before a woman was nominated as a major party’s candidate for president of the United States.

Some of my friends have bemoaned that Hillary didn’t pick Sen. Elizabeth Warren as her running mate, but given all the hate spewed against “Ghostbusters,” I don’t see a ticket of two women as practical in 2016.

In fact, misogyny appears to be so prevalent in this country I’m seriously worried that a mixed-gender ticket with an experienced woman on top won’t be able to overcome a polarizing and inexperienced opponent.

But there is one silver lining about the “Ghostbusters” reboot.

According to Variety, the Mattel toy company is reporting better-than-expected sales of female Ghostbusters action figures — to both little girls and boys.

While I may not be optimistic that our country will give fair consideration to putting a woman in the Oval Office, I do have hope that those kids playing with toy Ghostbusters will grow up to accept women in non-traditional roles, on screen and off.

One Comment


    Thank you Shanee Edwards for sharing the abuse you received over a free lance article on reviving a movie franchise that happens to star women instead of men. It is vitally important to call out sexism and misogyny every time it happens or your see it, because without naming it, many people don’t understand what they are saying and doing and without awareness can’t even think about changing their behavior.

    I am shocked when even women I know who are basically enlightened, criticize Hillary Clinton for her ‘loud” voice, her clothing, hair, etc. without realizing that the standards, except for hair in this election, are double. We all need to be aware of our own words and thoughts when critiquing women and men.

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