What do you get when you attempt to reboot a classic as an AU (more or less)? You get resistance which will need to be overcome by producing something almost flawless.
What do you get when your reboot gets appropriated by a very vocal minority (feminists)? You get some interest raised – and some skepticism.
What do you get when you place a hitherto known side character (we don’t really know what role Hemsworth will really have in the film) front and center of a mag cover?
You get a conundrum: the central positioning of Chris Hemsworth surrounded by the actual main characters of the new Ghostbusters.
#1 Supposition: People have responded well to all-male casts. They should (and have before) respond well to all-female casts.
#2 Supposition: People like to watch realistic people on film. Realistically depicted women should draw in the crowds.
#3 Supposition: People want fantasy. Sexy star Hemsworth should be enough to provide the fantasy aspect.
Unspoken #4 Supposition: Men are shallow beings who will only respond to sex or sex appeal on screen.
It’s #3 Supposition and the unspoken #4 Supposition that has resulted in Hemsworth’s position on the mag cover.
While it is true that all-female casts can work (Charlie’s Angels, anybody?) and while people on occasion want an everyman kind of character to relate to onscreen, for the most part, people go to watch films in order to have a good time and provide more material for their fantasy/sex/fantasy sex life. [See Note 2] In other words… a way to release certain hormones and endorphins etc, an appeal to the senses, a more expensive form of fanfiction.
The women on that cover… Well, let’s just say that marketers deep down think (know?) that the female cast won’t provide men the urge to go see the film for sexiness. So they appeal to the man’s second instinct – heroism of the macho male symbol (Hemsworth). (Particularly strong image as most men today are in reality at desk jobs and can’t – or don’t want to – fulfill biological male instincts on an everyday basis.)
As for women viewers… who are they gonna fantasize about at the end of the day? In terms of selling sexual fantasy, with less than 1% (or so) of the general population being lesbian and less than 2% (or so) of the general population being bisexual, generally speaking, women are more than likely gonna take home fond memories of secretary!Hemsworth. Even if they aren’t going to seriously fantasize about him, they’ll still get excited when he comes on screen.
Unless you are a serious Ghostbusters fan, you will go expecting to see something fun and – let’s be honest – see whether Hemsworth will actually be cast as a bimbo male secretary. Only a small majority of people will watch it for the specific reason that it is an all-female cast. (Seriously, very few people say: “I’m going to watch Lord of the Rings to get my Catholic metaphorical allegory on.” OR “Who’s up for a philosophical exploration of Augustinian evil versus Manichean evil? The Village is my favorite Shyamalan~!”)
So, before people get mad about the cover, they should recognize the publicity for what it is – an attempt to spark interest in what could be a great film. This misguided attempt tells us that the North American audience is most easily appealed to through the visual of sexiness, just as they have been raised to do.
How can we know this is fact? Because these people (the marketing folk) make a living watching everyone’s Internet usage and judge people based on historical and personal responses within the economic and digital world. (I’m looking at you, feminist Tumblr, and your soft celeb porn.) It’s a logical move which speaks to the state of this world: sex sells.
Society believes that men are pure sex machines, ready to rape at a moment’s notice and only interested in superficial constructs of women. Society believes that women are liberated sex machines, deserving of getting any man they wish regardless of appearance and ready to take control of the males about them.
As a result, the only thing that can appease both crowds is a super sexy muscled Hemsworth. He becomes the unifying factor. At the end of the day, it is Hemsworth men want to be and it is Hemsworth whom women want to be with.
So this conundrum – whose fault is it?
Obviously, we can blame society (aka everyone and ourselves) for fostering these preconceptions about men and women. However, bizarrely enough, I think it’s the vocal pro-feminist minority who inflamed the issue. By forcing the focus of the film to be on the fact that it was an all-female cast, the realism overwhelmed the fantasy, the scent of propaganda overwhelmed the promise of fun, and the foundational problems of how society perceives men and women was brought to the fore.
To make sure the film was a financial success, the marketers fell back on tried and true stereotypes and attempted to remind us that the film isn’t just for fanatical women but for everyone (ordinary men and women who just wanna have fun).
We’ll see if it works.
As for me… Well… As someone who has not seen the original Ghostbusters and someone who is not a fangirl of Hemsworth, I will not be shelling money out for the film. Now, if they had Hiddleston, Pace, or Bale on the front… I’d be singing a different tune.
Note: I wanna see an all-male cast of Charlie’s Angels with a super hot babe as Charlie in the middle. This reverse harem needs to happen.
Note #2: I know some people are gonna tell me that not everyone watches films just for fun. The answer is that of course there are different kinds of movie-goers.
- Type 1 – MAJORITY. Watches just for fun and never thinks twice. Much reliance on social opinion. “What is critical theory? Can I eat it?”
- Type 2 – MINORITY. Initial watching is just for fun and afterwards the film is processed. The delay between watching and processing may be quite long and the depth of processing may be varied depending on material. Some reliance on social opinions, current ideological trends, or virtue signalling in order to look cool. “It’s just Star Wars.” “Memento really got me thinking.” “I enjoy some indie films.” “It’s about teamwork!!!”
- Type 3 – SUPER MINORITY. Process while watching it, so no idea or preconception has a chance to stick. They may be whispering to their friends about deep critical concepts while watching. May get up and leave if they no likey. Will often wait to dl sub-par films so they don’t waste money on mainstream (or indie) crap. Will read social opinion but will rely on self to form own (often unpopular) opinions. “Why did they do that?” “Plot hole alert! Plot hole alert!” “I saw what you did there with that motif. Nice.” “Dumbledore being gay is inconsequential to the films.”
Regardless of what movie-goer you are, you shell out money. Money is not easy to come by. You think twice before you go (I hope). You put your money where you want investment to go in the future. Most people aren’t gonna pay for morbid, depressing, hyper-realistic storytelling. Their lives, they believe, are already morbid, depressing, and hyper-realistic. So expecting people to shell precious money out for anything less than a fantasy experience is expecting too much of the mainstream human race.