Movies come and go, but (male) fan entitlement is here to stay.
It’s not uncommon for fans of franchises like Star Wars to be let down by the latest installment, or for book lovers to be disappointed by film adaptations that leave out essential parts of the story. It’s even understandable. But what boggles my mind is the sense of entitlement some fans have toward a particular piece of work, as if it should have been created specifically for them.
This is particularly true for one particular filmgoing demographic: men.
To be fair, pretty much all of cinematic history has catered specifically toward men – especially white men. Every genre told a narrative that was created with white men in mind, even ‘women’s’ genres like romance. Even if a woman or a person of color was the protagonist, the stories were almost always written by white men, with a white male audience in mind. The female lead was chosen and costumed for sex appeal, seemingly there solely to entice men to see their movie. Comments about overt racism were scuttled in order to protect fragile white men’s feelings.
So naturally, there’s some sticker shock involved when white men slowly open their eyes to the reality that all films are not, in fact, created expressly for them.
The announcement that the new Ghostbusters cast would consist entirely of women popped so many fragile male egos, I started doubting their ability to act like the emotionless drones they seem to pride themselves on being, based on nearly every internet argument I’ve had with one. Reddit users flocked to the site to drum up groups dedicated to posting negative reviews.
One of my personal favorite ‘criticisms’ involved a man insisting he wasn’t a misogynist – he just thought it seemed like they’d grabbed a bunch of random actresses from Saturday Night Live to star in the movie. Apparently he never bothered to look at the credits of the original cast.
No, male confusion about films not being made specifically for them isn’t new. The indignation and entitlement brought on by fans of the recently released Suicide Squad, however, is.
Despite massive marketing and an obvious attempt to mirror the success of the Deadpool campaign, Suicide Squad isn’t getting the best reviews. The film has a cringeworthy 27 per cent rating on the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, featuring critic remarks like “This is what happens when the comic book fanboys have taken over the asylum,” and “To say that the movie loses the plot would not be strictly accurate, for that would imply that there was a plot to lose.”
And boy, did Suicide Squad fans lose it. The same boys who rushed off to slam the ratings page of Ghostbusters before the film came out had marked their territory on the Suicide Squad page as well, artificially pumping up the ratings of the film before it was released. Unfortunately for them, professional critics didn’t agree – in either case. They loved Ghostbusters and loathed Suicide Squad.
So Suicide Squad fanboys did what any sane, rational, level-headed group of people whose opinions are rooted firmly in entitled misogyny would do: they started a petition to take down Rotten Tomatoes for daring to criticize their film baby.
The petition was changed several times, and is now officially closed, but not before garnering the signatures of more than 22,000 people who actually thought this was a good idea.
I’m torn between laughter and a kind of shocked horror when I think about the fact that this excludes the ones that never found the petition, were afraid to sign it, or simply didn’t have the time.
Male entitlement to have films cater to them is no longer enough – now apparently we’re required to actively punish films that refuse to do this, and reward films that do. If a review site doesn’t fall in line? Shut it down.
But I have bad news for the entitled fanboys of the world: given the growing number of negative Suicide Squad reviews, and the fact that Ghostbusters is sitting pretty at a solid 74 per cent ‘fresh’ rating, it looks like they may have to actually live with the fact that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
GIF via giphy.com.
Comment: What did you think of Ghostbusters and Suicide Squad?