Looking around the Internet in response to the trailer for the new Ghostbusters and it’s clear most people have forgotten how advertising works. So here’s a refresher: a trailer is a piece of advertising for a film—it’s not the film.
When you pass judgment on a trailer, you’re commenting on a commercial, and your opinion has the same veracity as any remark directed at something produced by McDonalds. Oh yes, that’s the other thing most people seem to have forgotten: capitalism. Any film produced by a major Hollywood studio is in existence because their financial department, and all the producers involved, with hopes it will make a profit. Therefore, any product chasing profit is going to need to attract customers, which is why advertising was invented. Woah, it got a little cynical for a second there but that’s because these are the fundamentals that underpin the dynamics of a movie trailer. Where it gets complicated is that film is regarded so highly as a creative art form that it’s easy to forget about the almighty dollar, but anyone who flocks to the cinema regularly knows the inner optimist hopes the craft will trump any financial stakes. And yes, this counts for whatever Michael Bay is detonating or what cinematic spell Paul Thomas Anderson is crafting.
So a trailer is scrutinised as if it were the final product and the thinking is that a trailer is a way for a film to put its best foot forward in order to appeal to potential customers. The perception is that a trailer is cut together with the best parts of a film, and thus, it represents the quality of the film. But a trailer contains only the best parts suited to sell a film, but not necessarily the best parts of the film.
The trailer for the new Ghostbusters clocks in at two minutes and thirty-seven seconds, and at the writing of this article, it has over 34,000 comments on YouTube after 2.2 million views. Over 45,000 people have clicked the ‘like’ button and just over 68,000 have decided they ‘dislike’ it. Scrolling through the comments (never read the comments) is like getting hit by a tsunami of sexism and entitlement.
Sony made the mistake of deleting comments on YouTube when the trailer first dropped. Whenever you remove comments from any site, the Internet always pushes back and overcompensates with visceral reactions, which aggravates the idiocy of the comments. Reading through a lot of the comments it seems like most have made their mind up before they even watch the trailer. There’s an aggressive backlash to the all-female Ghostbusters laced with a poison of nostalgia and misogyny that this film has faced since day one. The Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, Tom Rothman, said in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the day Sony announced their plans for a new Ghostbusters they never made the point it was going to be ‘all-female’, they just said there was going to be new Ghostbusters. The director and co-writer, Paul Feig said in an interview, "I just want the funniest people, and the funniest people I know are women. Ghostbusters are for everybody."
Ghostbusters are for everybody. This isn’t entirely true, because maybe there’s a group of people it’s not for; the type of person who makes a knee-jerk reaction to a trailer and then goes running to the comment section of a website to complain their childhood has been ruined by a bunch of girls. Again, the opinion is based on a piece of advertising. So here’s a tip: if you don’t like it, don’t show up. Simple. Use your power to decide you don’t like something, like a trailer, and give it a miss and let the others decide what they think of it based on more than the length of a Katy Perry song.
Open-mindedness dies with our inability to process the full scope of something because you can’t truly offer an opinion with any integrity until you’ve seen the whole damn movie. However the new Ghostbusters turns out, terrible or not, it’s the power to find out for yourself that matters—and this counts for every film. You can decide whether you want to see something or not based off a trailer because you can do whatever you want with your money like decide if you want a burger or a pizza. Just finish the meal before you tell the world how it tastes.
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @MrCamW