The Ghostbusters reboot has caused rifts along gender lines since its inception. The vehemently sexist commentary on a film that hadn't even been released yet was unsettling. However, now that the movie is finally in theaters, the problem has gotten worse. Salon reports that critics are sharply divided among themselves when it comes to the all-female remake of the sci-fi classic.
The film — starring Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy — currently has a 77% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. According to Salon's analysis, 77% of the "rotten" reviews are from male critics. And 84% of the female critics on the site gave it a thumbs up. So why the stark contrast? Do women like Ghostbusters just because it stars women? And do men dislike it for that same reason?
Basically, yeah. Salon turned to industry veteran Meryl Streep for an explanation that makes a whole lot of sense: Men are simply accustomed to seeing themselves on the big screen. “Women are so used to that active empathizing with the active protagonist of a male-driven plot,” the actress said last year. “That’s what we’ve done all our lives. You read history, you read great literature, Shakespeare, it’s all fellas. But they’ve never had to do the other thing... It’s [a] very hard thing for [men] to put themselves in the shoes of female protagonists.” And studies show that this gender gap among movie reviewers is actually pretty common when it comes to films focused on women.
The fact that men might struggle to connect with female characters makes movies like Ghostbusters all the more important. Because the people conditioned to seeing male-centric stories dominating Hollywood include young women. This photo of Kristen Wiig is going viral because it shows the kind of impact that female heroes can have on little girls going to the movies. And that's a powerful force. So it looks like male critics may just have to get used to seeing more women at the movies.