In 2016, a great film was remade and released.
I’m talking about the remake that made the internet so angry that it forced one of the stars to close down their social media account due to the amount of unadulterated hate they received.
Of course, I’m talking about Ghostbusters.
The 2016 remake of the 1984 classic saw Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth fill the admittedly large shoes of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver. Yes, women playing traditionally male roles. How very dare they?
Personally, I loved the remake. The female leads were brilliant, Hemsworth was surprisingly funny and there were enough hat tips to the original while following its own path to make it a great movie in its own right. Four of the five stars of the original cameoed and there was even a statue of Ramis who passed away in 2014.
But despite being, in my opinion, one of the funniest films of this year, it’s average score on IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) is a measly 5.5/10. To give you some context for that score, the remake of Ben Hur, which crashed and burned at the box office and is widely regarded as not worth the effort, scored 5.4/10. Anyone glancing at these films would think that, in terms of quality filmmaking, they are more or less on a par.
However (and this is one of the reasons I love IMDb so much), the wizz kids at IMDb also show us the metascores for both films. Now while the first rating was voted for by users of the site, metascores are taken from respected reviews of the films (such as The Guardian, Screen International and IndieWire). The metascore for Ghostbusters is still only 60% (about 5% higher than the user score), while the metascore for Ben Hur drops way down to 37% (almost 20% lower than the user score).
So what’s really going on?
(WARNING: This is where I get super nerdy and start using graphs, so for those of you not into figures may wish to look away now!)
Here is a breakdown of how users voted for Ben Hur (2016)
As you can see, 17.7% of users gave the film full marks (10/10) and 15.3% gave it the lowest possible score (1/10). The remaining 67% fall somewhere in the middle, tending towards 6 and 7 out of ten, with the third largest group being the 14.6% who gave it 7/10.
Now let’s look at how users voted for Ghostbusters (2016)
More than a quarter of the users (26.1%) voting for this film gave it 1/10. On the other end of the spectrum, 21.5% of users gave it 10/10. And once more the remaining users (this time only 52.4% of the total) fall somewhere between the two. But, unlike Ben Hur, there is an enormous gap between second and third largest group, almost 10%.
I can hear what you’re thinking: but this doesn’t prove anything. Maybe it shows that Ghostbusters is a more controversial film remake, but not that the internet is misogynistic as you suggested in your blog title.
And you’re right. It doesn’t prove misogyny. So, I would like to present to you (once more care of the wonderful people at IMDb) more charts! This time looking at the gender and ages of the users voting.
We’ll start again with Ben Hur (2016)
The break down here shows a fairly even spread down the 5.4/10 line, with females tending to give a slightly higher rating and males giving a slightly lower one. 34 of the top 1000 IMDb users have given it an average rating of a very low 3.4, but overall, there is an agreement across the genders and age ranges that while this is not the best film ever made it is not the worst either.
And on the other hand we have Ghostbusters (2016)
It is clear from this chart that Ghostbusters is a much more divisive (even if the subject matter is markedly less violent) than Ben Hur. Once more there is a tendency for females to give the film a higher rating than their male counterparts, but this time the difference is almost twice as much (2.9 rather than 1.6).
What is true for both films is that the number of men voting for the film is significantly higher than the number of women. For Ghostbusters the ratio is almost 3:1 in favour of men voting, and for Ben Hur the ratio is more than 4:1.
While I’m not saying that IMDb is sexist or that the people who didn’t love Ghostbusters are wrong, I don’t think that at all. It seems to me that these trends show a worrying attitude that can be seen in all corners of the world wide web, especially when paired with the horrific abuse that actresses from Ghostbusters received on Twitter and other social media platforms, blogs and forums.
Perhaps the dislike of this film is because it is the first time anyone’s tried to remake Ghostbusters, where Ben Hur has been remade many times over. Perhaps it is because Ghostbusters has more of a cult following, or perhaps it is simply because it is a more recent film. But not in my memory has there ever been such a vocal outcry against a remake or reboot.