Log in to unlock your profile!
Equality vs the Social Justice Culture War!

Equality vs the Social Justice Culture War!

When news broke in August 2014 that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and his proposed "all-female" Ghostbusters reboot was being considered by Sony Pictures Entertainment over the "already in development" Ghostbusters 3 many fans and critics, including myself spoke out about the matter. The views expressed at that time split three ways - some such as myself called the studio out has having lost the plot and ignoring the properties fan base, while others called the studio on its worrying poor track record with remakes and reboots while criticizing Hollywood in general for its over-reliance in revisiting old properties. An exceedingly small, yet, unfortunately, very vocal minority voiced their opinions against the Ghostbuster reboot with needless sexist and racist comments. These comments were popularized when director Feig addressed them and their authors directly on the social network platform Twitter. In this exchange, Feig mistakingly associated these "haters" and their views together with all of those who had voiced opinions against his reboot, called such critics "misogynistic and vile". Although Feig did later address this mistaken association, in the interim a heavy pro-feminism campaign followed any news relating to the reboot, with anyone voicing an opinion against the movie being labeled as sexist. Star Melissa McCarthy's comments on Jimmy Kimmel Live added more fuel to the fire when she labeled all critics against the movie as "lonely middle-aged men living in their mother's basement."

By the time the Ghostbusters reboot was released in theaters this July the pro-feminism campaign surrounding the movie had escalated so much that any positive reviews were labeled as being written out of fear of social backlash. Even now with news circulating that the reboot has failed to reach the $300 million required to warrant a sequel some news outlets are arguing that the movie is socially significant and important, stating that its depiction of strong, independent women is a message that should not be muted or silenced and that any attempt to do so is a conspiracy against women, women's rights and feminism. Such outlets are arguing that despite the reboots lackluster box office performance, a sequel should be greenlit to emphasize the movies alleged pro-feminine message, whereas critics have stated that the movie's message is as shallow and empty as the movies needlessly controversial marketing campaign.

As crazy as all of this sounds, it is but the latest in an increasing trend of outcries from what are being called "Social Justice Warriors" or SJW's who are fighting a culture war against the studios of Hollywood (as well as video game developers, the TV networks and broadcasters, and the respective bodies in virtually all mediums of entertainment) whenever anything released is considered racist, sexist or otherwise potentially negative to any group of persons considered a minority. A recent victim of these outcries is Matt Damon's forthcoming movie The Great Wall, which has attracted criticisms of whitewashing in respect to Damon's role. This is despite the movie being directed by Zhang Yimou, one of China's most respected directors and featuring one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled. Another victim would be the next installment in the MCU, Doctor Strange, whereby director Scott Derrickson recently had to defend his and Marvel Studio's casting of British actress Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, who is typically depicted as a male Tibetan in the comic book source material.

Be it supporting the development of movies with a strong female lead or crying out against the casting of caucasian actors in roles originally portrayed by someone of another ethnicity, or even calling against the over-sexualisation of female characters in video games it seems that no one is safe from the growing culture war. Casting Russell Crowe as Noah, Christian Bale as Moses and Gerard Butler as Set the Egyptian god of darkness is bound to be controversial, especially when taking into consideration that the last iteration of Universal Pictures soon to be rebooted Mummy movie series featured a cast of middle eastern actors in their associated roles, yet how many middle eastern actors are recognized enough globally for Hollywood studios to warrant investing the bloated production and marketing budgets needed for such movies to amass a profit upon theatrical release.

Of course, movies cast irrespective of their narrative setting are usually done so as a "vehicle" for one or more of the movies leading cast, or because the director favors a certain actor, or simply because the movie is intended to be a brainless, nonsensical blockbuster. In the forthcoming example of Tilda Swinton's casting as the Ancient One, how many Tibetan actors are as recognizable as the classically trained British actress, or have the strangely mystic and androgynous presence she brings to the role. When casting for any movie the best choice for any given role may not necessary be the popular one. In 2014, although racism was never an issue, many fans were outraged when Zack Snyder announced that Ben Affleck was to be cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, yet this spring Affleck silenced many critics with one of the best on-screen depictions of Batman yet seen.

Although there were a few murmurs when Michael B. Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm in the critically panned Fan4stic, there was virtually no social justice uprising when Samuel L Jackson was cast as Nick Fury or when Laurence Fishburne was cast as Perry White or when the late Michael Clarke Duncan was cast as the Kingpin. Yet should Hollywood be brave enough to recast Blade, Cyborg or Spawn with a caucasian actor in the role the resulting social backlash would be almost thermonuclear, making this summer's fuss over the Ghostbusters reboot look like a tantrum in comparison. Yet, surely if a Black actor can be cast in a role typically depicted as a caucasian role, then surely the opposite is equally true? If we can have a group of female Ghostbusters, can we not have a group of Desperate Househusbands?

Terms such as whitewashing, color-blind casting, and gender-swapping are by their very nature derogative and segregative, but ironically the same is also true when rallying against these very practices. While one could argue both sides of the racist and sexist arguments both within and without the entertainment industry, such exercises are by their very nature fruitless, pointless and needless. Surely in such a modern age we as movie audiences and as individuals can accept an individual regardless of their gender or the color of their skin if they are adequately suited for the role. Rather than fighting for more power to any given minorities we should be fighting for equality for all. Anything less will just continue the needless and vicious cycle of social segregation.

Related WTF Articles

Replies

iotaSep-09-2016 9:21 AM

0

The tone of this article makes me uneasy. Given the campaign of negativity and voluminous, dubiously-worded previous pieces that have criticized Ghostbusters, with phrases like 'faux feminism' for example (what authority does the author have to dismiss the movie or its supporters with such a loaded term?), it seems to me that much of the above piece is rooted in a wish to absolve Mr Singleton of guilt that he has been a part of the wave of reactionary, distasteful resistance to the movie, long before it arrived in cinemas. He possesses the same sense of entitlement as the groups he is criticizing, and this sense is one of the modern forces that is pushing Hollywood to be more and more conservative, fearful and paranoid about fan reaction and future box-office receipts.

 

His final comments, that we should 'accept an individual regardless of their gender or color of their skin if they are adequately suited to the role' is doubtless true if each case is taken in isolation, but it ignores the institutional racism and sexism that has been a part of the fabric of our society - and Hollywood - since before movies began. Only by intelligently and carefully analyzing and discussing movies - and all cultural products, popular or otherwise - can we see clearly the implications of the narratives that play before our eyes, and can we as an audience reflect back to those who produce them what we deem acceptable, forward-looking, inclusive, inspiring and all those other good things that imbue every human being with the value that makes him/her worthy of a leading role in his or her own story. Such discussion should always be welcomed, and if the beliefs of a certain group seem entrenched and partisan, then it is the duty of others in the conversation to use rational argument to show where prejudice has hardened into factional thinking. Argument, debate, respectful and insightful, that is where progress is made and understanding is shared. Using phrases like 'pro-feminism' - which carries the implication that 'feminism' is reprehensible in some way - or 'social justice warriors' is reductive and shuts down debate, bringing intelligent discussion to an end.

 

And yes, we have had countless 'Desperate Househusbands' - The Hangover trilogy was effectively that, and the long tradition of male buddy movies, Three Men And A Baby type stories - these are all the kind of friendship narratives that Desperate Housewives drew upon.....

Something RealSep-09-2016 10:07 AM

138

GAVIN SINGLETON - As a woman, I agree with your sentiments. There is far too much "witch-hunting" in the world today.

Something RealSep-09-2016 10:16 AM

138

IOTA - Your statements bring a great deal of unease to me. It seems as though you are attempting to divest Mr. Singleton of his voice - the ability to express and give life to his thoughts. Disagreeing with others is natural and should be expected. If we all simply go along with what a select few tell us is right, we would be remiss to not question our place in the world as individuals. The best and most beautiful aspect about humans is that you are each fully-autonomous and free-thinking individuals. As such, you can view things differently. Yet, the only one who precludes civil discourse is the one who attempts to shut-down the speech of those with whom he/she disagrees. That is a path which leads to a world in which none are equal and no justice can be had.

Something RealSep-09-2016 10:27 AM

138

IOTA - Additionally, I find it troubling in the extreme that you have chosen not to directly engage Mr. Singleton. Instead, it appears you have marginalized and dehumanized him by referring to him objectively. Is this the method of healthy civil interaction? I do not believe so.

ChrisSep-09-2016 10:46 AM

1550

The only actor who should ever portray BLADE is Wesley Snipes, I don't care what anybody says.

Something RealSep-09-2016 10:51 AM

138

CHRIS PICARD - That is very true! I greatly desire to see a new Spawn film, as well! He was one of my all-time favorite comic book characters! :)

CentauriSep-09-2016 11:27 AM

103

it's a fairy tale in oz...if we look behind the curtain we will discover that the wizard is a banker.  Im just glad i can still watch other great movies out there...theres so many i still haven't seen.

 

Something RealSep-09-2016 11:45 AM

138

HAWLEY GRIFFIN - Well said! :)

GavinSep-10-2016 1:08 AM

370

@ Something Real - thanks as ever for your well phrased and thought out support.

@ Chris Picard - Until a better actor becomes available for the role.

@ Hawley Griffin - It is sad to admit that in most cases the movies we watch are developed to be as financially successful as possible, with many such films sacrificing their creative and narrative quality to maximize profit margins. Though it may pain us to admit it, thank god directors such as Ridley Scott and James Cameron are now in a position to make the movies they want to.

GavinSep-10-2016 2:31 AM

370

@iota - I will answer your response point-by-point...

The tone of this article makes me uneasy. Given the campaign of negativity and voluminous, dubiously-worded previous pieces that have criticized Ghostbusters, with phrases like 'faux feminism' for example (what authority does the author have to dismiss the movie or its supporters with such a loaded term?),

Have you seen the Ghostbusters reboot? In my review, I mention, as have others before me, that the movie is loaded with false feminism. The leading characters only coming across as strong women because they exist in a world where all the other characters are one-dimensional stereotypes, and none of the male characters are depicted in a positive light. Saying that women can only be strong in such circumstances is not a positive message, the same can also be said of the villain, a victim of bullying who resolves his predicament by committing suicide.

it seems to me that much of the above piece is rooted in a wish to absolve Mr Singleton of guilt that he has been a part of the wave of reactionary, distasteful resistance to the movie, long before it arrived in cinemas.

I am assuming that you have not read any of my previous articles on Ghostbusters. Please feel free to do so on the Ghostbusters Scified blog and you will see that my issue with the Ghostbusters reboot was never because of the genderswapped cast. My issues with the reboot started the moment it was announced because it was greenlit by former sony co-chairperson Amy Pascal on the basis of a lunch meeting and email with director Feig at the expense of a Ghostbusters 3 which had a script, cast, crew and production start date. Ivan Reitman and the Ghostbusters fans were screwed over by Pascal and Feig in favor of one of the most distasteful movies released in recent years. I followed and reported the news on Ghostbusters well before there was news on a reboot and as such saw one of the most disgusting travesties unfold in which a studio used an intellectual property it owned to create a needless social political shitstorm, needlessly attack a long term loyal fan base and sideline a respected cast and crew, all the while attempting to make as much money as possible. I have no guilt for my opinion on the Ghostbusters reboot because it is what I and many others have always claimed it to be - a shallow and empty cash cow. For those that want to preach about the pro-female message, please remember that just under half of the established fan base pre-reboot are female; Ghostbusters never needed an influx of female fans it already has more than most science fiction franchises. What Ghostbusters needed was a sequel, a sequel which the late Harold Ramis worked on up until his passing two and a half years ago.

He possesses the same sense of entitlement as the groups he is criticizing, and this sense is one of the modern forces that is pushing Hollywood to be more and more conservative, fearful and paranoid about fan reaction and future box-office receipts.

As a Ghostbusters fan since the original movies release you bet your bottom dollar I am entitled. Sony owns the intellectual property to the Ghostbusters franchise, a franchise with a well-established fan base, both male and female. For a studio that should be trying to maximize its profits after a string of sub-par releases and reboots the release of a reboot that objectifies and ignores approximately 60% of that franchise's fanbase makes no sense, fiscally or otherwise.

His final comments, that we should 'accept an individual regardless of their gender or color of their skin if they are adequately suited to the role' is doubtless true if each case is taken in isolation, but it ignores the institutional racism and sexism that has been a part of the fabric of our society - and Hollywood - since before movies began. Only by intelligently and carefully analyzing and discussing movies - and all cultural products, popular or otherwise - can we see clearly the implications of the narratives that play before our eyes, and can we as an audience reflect back to those who produce them what we deem acceptable, forward-looking, inclusive, inspiring and all those other good things that imbue every human being with the value that makes him/her worthy of a leading role in his or her own story. Such discussion should always be welcomed, and if the beliefs of a certain group seem entrenched and partisan, then it is the duty of others in the conversation to use rational argument to show where prejudice has hardened into factional thinking. Argument, debate, respectful and insightful, that is where progress is made and understanding is shared. Using phrases like 'pro-feminism' - which carries the implication that 'feminism' is reprehensible in some way - or 'social justice warriors' is reductive and shuts down debate, bringing intelligent discussion to an end.

I will not sit on the pedestal you believe I sit upon and demand that discussion into racism and sexism should be sidelined, or that the history of Hollywoods distasteful practicing of whitewashing, color-blind casting, and gender-swapping be ignored; it is far from my place to do so. I will also acknowledge that is well within yours and any others rights to want to discuss these matters. Yet my opinion, my perspective on the matter is that while such discussion and debate may help to understand, or at the very least chronicle the history of these practices, it will never bring us to the much-needed position of equality. While we should learn the lessons that the inequities of the past are there to teach us, we should not allow those inequities to continue to dictate our opinions in a world with ever dissolving borders. An actor should feel free to take on any role without the fear of social backlash regardless of their sex, color or sexual orientation. This will only happen when audiences move beyond the need to focus on the inequities of the past and instead look forward to an equal and just future where without needless criticism Laurence Fishburne can continually play roles originally devised as a caucasian role (Man of Steels Perry White and Hannibal's Jack Crawford), where Jim Parsons can play a straight man (despite being gay) and where Tilda Swinton can be cast as the Ancient One (despite being female and white).

Something RealSep-10-2016 10:54 AM

138

GAVIN SINGLETON - You are most welcome, my friend. :)

S.MSep-11-2016 3:17 PM

0

What iota said.

 

" It seems as though you are attempting to divest Mr. Singleton of his voice - the ability to express and give life to his thoughts."

And yet Mr Singleton is able to continue posting his thoughts.  Thoughts that describe the opposing view as "unfortunate" and wishes to quash those 'evil SJWs'.

I've never heard anyone who uses the term 'SJW' in a derogatory way make an intelligent argument about anything.

Some on one side over-react to perceived racism.  Sometimes the racism and sexism is real and needs to be challenged.  Some on the other side can provide a reasoned argument, but more often choose to react by tweeting rape and death threats, while missing the irony of labelling those on the other side 'warrior' from the bravery of their own keyboards.

 

Something RealSep-11-2016 5:57 PM

138

S.M - This is why I stated the word "attempting". If IOTA had succeeded at what I believed he was attempting to accomplish, I would have stated "you have divested Mr. Singleton of his voice". :)

Please sign in to add a comment
Visitor Comments
Gavin

Written By Gavin
Published: 2016-09-09 03:05:16

1,078 Reads

Trending Story

Shin Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah and more grace artwork for the Godzilla Store!
Shin Godzilla, Mothra, Ghidorah and more grace artwork for the Godzilla Store!

4 responses so far

Last reply made by riggzamortis86 Oct-23-2017 8:04 AM

❱ Read all comments and add your own here!

ADVERTISEMENT

Featured Forum Discussions

Godzilla vs Kong. Why I root for Godzilla

10 Replies • Last reply: 2017-10-23 08:11:53

Will Mothra appear in Larva form in Godzilla 2?

2 Replies • Last reply: 2017-10-23 07:31:07

Michael Fassbender used Hannibal Lecter as a reference for David.

14 Replies • Last reply: 2017-10-21 15:41:44

Androids + Emotions

19 Replies • Last reply: 2017-10-21 12:33:57

COMNET 12-26-2093 Upload

6 Replies • Last reply: 2017-10-21 08:54:19

The Tumour Garden by Matt Hatton

7 Replies • Last reply: 2017-10-21 07:55:23

Royal Engineer

30 Replies • Last reply: 2017-10-21 07:28:20

See More

Featured Image Galleries

Alien: Covenant Images
Alien: Covenant Images

Browse the latest Alien: Covenant movie stills, film posters, trailer screenshots and concept artwork here.

Alien: Covenant Images
Kong: Skull Island Images

A collection of all Kong: Skull Island movie posters, images and trailer screenshots.

See More

Latest Activity

See More

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Forum Stats
  • 35,235 Members
  • 93 Recently Online
  • 26,797 Forum Topics
  • 293,828 Replies

© 2017 Scified.com, All Rights Reserved

Your account has not yet been verified. Please check your email for the verification link to begin posting.

Please review our rules before sharing content

Use Your E-Mail:


Password:


Stay Logged In

Content Policies & Legal Disclaimers