Ghostbusters vs the ghosts in our machines

July 22, 2016

Written by Kate Dippold & Paul Feig
Directed by Paul Feig
Staring Melissa McCarthy; Kristen Wiig; Kate McKinnon; and Leslie Jones
In cinemas now

Internet troll Zane Alchin will be sentenced in Sydney next week after pleading guilty to “using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend”, to wit 55 vile comments on a Facebook post.

“I'd rape you if you were better looking,” Alchin claimed. “You know the best thing about a feminist they don't get any action so when you rape them it feels 100 times tighter.”

The facts of the case, like the accused, are unremarkable. Happens all the time — and often worse — but this could be the first time it has been successfully prosecuted in Australia.

Alchin pleaded not guilty back in March. He told the police he was drunk and “just internet trolling feminists”, which was surely not a crime? Last month he changed his plea when it became clear his “victim” was not going to let this go.

Twenty-three year old Olivia Melville and a friend reported Alchin's posts to the police last August. They got the usual “nothing we can do, just switch off your computers, girls”.

Funny how the cops are all over cybercrime when the threats are aimed at them but can't find the on switch when women are tracked to their homes and threatened with gang rape and gynecological dismemberment.

So, who you gonna call?

Melville and her friends launched an online petition under the name Sexual Violence Won't be Silenced and gathered more than 60,000 signatures calling for online misogynist abuse to be taken seriously. Alchin picked the wrong post to piss on.

But Alchin is a mere Class I spectral entity — described in the seminal Ghostbusters Wiki as “insubstantial” and “undeveloped … simple application of a proton pack is normally effective”. The big news this week is the permanent Twitter ban on Class VII MetaSpectre Milo Yiannopoulos, twitter handle @Nero.

Nero is a very different canister of ectoplasm. According to the Wiki taxonomy, a Class VII MetaSpectre is possessed of “obsessive malevolence … exceptionally powerful … exhibits control over subordinate forms”. In real life, he's a British tech journalist who made his name as a new right misogynist championing horrific online attacks on feminist computer gamers in 2014.

In recent days, he summoned his ghouls to vomit a torrent of racist, sexist slime on African American actor and comedian Leslie Jones in the opening week of her new movie, Ghostbusters.

“OK. I have been called an ape, sent pics of their asses, even got a pic with semen on my face,” she tweeted, clearly extremely distressed. “I'm tryin' to figure out what human means. I'm out.”

Ghostbusters is the latest in a series of rebooted “summer blockbuster” Hollywood action movies that replace the traditional male action heroes with women. Like Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, the movie has driven desk-bound manbabies everywhere into paroxysms of eye-popping rage.

Their childhoods have been ruined, which is like so totally unfair because they are actually still in their childhoods and their mint condition collections of fully poseable vintage figurines are now covered in girl germs.

Of course. the Ghostbusters reboot is a deliberate provocation. Sony Pictures released a trailer early this year that became the most disliked theatrical trailer in YouTube history — and a PR coup.

The 1984 original is a geek touchstone — a paean to the heroic potential of every scared little boy ever cowed by an all-powerful she-demon. In this remake, the female ghostbusters cheerily shoot computer generated doughboys in the testicles and casually reverse the polarity on the proton thingumyjigs while slurping soup. Oh yes, it's fun and it's broad.

Where the original was thick with subtext — new atheist themes about the superiority of science over religion, new right barbs about environmental over-regulation and the positive potential of nuclear power … blah blah blah. This one, well, it wears its politics on the sleeve of its firefighter overalls and its got some good jokes.

Like the 1984 movie, it works on two levels — ghostbusting good times for the kids and feminist gags for the grownups. My favourite: the ghostbusters are zapping a big, ugly spectre at a death metal concert and, one by one, they leap from the stage to crowdsurf.

But the all-white crowd parts for Jones, the only Black ghostbuster, and she lands heavily on the ground. “Is that a race thing?” she mugs.

This movie, like all good blockbusters, taps into the zeitgeist. And if it teaches a new generation to fire streams of highly focused protons and positrons and polarise the negatively charged energy of the racist and misogynist ghosts terrorising us from inside our machines, its five stars from me.

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