The Reelist is a column featuring Kristen Page-Kirby’s musings on movies. For Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday’s review of “Ghostbusters,” click here.
“Ghostbusters” is pretty funny and anyone who says otherwise is a virgin loser who lives in his mom’s basement. That’s hyperbole, of course (except for the part about “Ghostbusters” being pretty funny; it is), but it seems like the knee-jerk response to the knee-jerk misogyny that’s surrounded the female-led reboot. For every “keep those unfunny women away from my precious childhood memories” found in a comments section comes a “you won’t like the movie because you can’t get laid.” The blatant sexism that has been so prevalent since this “Ghostbusters” was announced is sickening, but suggesting that a guy’s lack of sexual prowess is to blame is problematic too.
OK, some guys have decided that, for whatever reason, this “Ghostbusters” is not for them. That’s fine; I don’t see every mostly male movie (and I have QUITE a variety to choose from) and that doesn’t make me a misandrist. However, some men (not all men, of course) view the original film as holy writ and don’t want anyone with a uterus anywhere near it. These guys are bad guys, and we — by which I mean women and guys who are not bad guys — should call them out on their badness. What we shouldn’t do is use that image of Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons” as a way of dismissing their misogyny — even if they ARE virgin losers who live in their moms’ basements.
First, explaining away a guy’s sexist behavior with “well, that’s because he never gets laid” feeds into the absurd social constructs we’ve built around sex. It suggests that if the guy could just have sex, he would be more likely to enjoy “Ghostbusters,” or at least give it a chance. Sex doesn’t transform a jerk into a nice person. Most of the time it transforms a jerk into a jerk who’s had sex.
This Virgin Loser image of a guy wiping his pizza-smeared hands on a faded, Mountain Dew-stained T-shirt after gleefully downvoting the “Ghostbusters” trailer allows actual men (I KNOW. NOT ALL MEN) to pretend they have nothing in common with that guy. By creating the Virgin Loser image, we’ve set the bar for conquering misogyny pretty low: Have you had sex? Do you live outside of your mom’s basement? If you answered “yes” to both questions, congratulations! You can go ahead and moan about how “Ghostbusters” is ruining your childhood and not have to really consider why you’d say that.
Online commenters have made the Virgin Loser the face of misogyny. In fact, though, he’s a diversion. Not for women (we know sexism comes in many forms) but for men who would deny any sexism, conscious or unconscious, that gets pointed out to them. The Virgin Loser isn’t the problem; the problem is the men who think that not being him is being good enough.
More columns from Kristen Page-Kirby