The movie studio behind the new Ghostbusters movie is probably going to make some ignorant, sexist mistakes when it comes to marketing the film. This is an early intervention.
Yesterday, director Paul Feig tweeted the first official picture of the cast of the new Ghostbusters reboot. It’s a great shot—with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon all wearing their iconic jumpsuits with relish and attitude—and, as I looked at the picture, I couldn’t shake one overwhelming certainty that kept crawling to the front of my brain.
“The Sony Marketing Department is going to fuck this up.”
You know they are. And we ALL know where that fuck-up is going to be the worst—the merchandising.
It doesn’t matter if this new take on Ghostbusters features the most progressive working women in the history of cinema, YOU KNOW that the marketing and the merchandising of this movie is going to be reductive, sexist, and depressing.
But it doesn’t have to be.
I AM NOW SPEAKING to Sony, Columbia Pictures, Amy Pascal, and everyone else involved in the marketing and releasing of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters…
There are some rather OBVIOUS ways that you’re going to FUCK UP the marketing when you release Ghostbusters in 2016, so, let’s get them out on the table RIGHT NOW, get them resolved, and you won’t have to deal with any backlash next year, OK? Let’s make life a LOT easier for your future selves.
For starters, YES, you have to make action figures of the new Ghostbusters. YES, even though they’re women.
YES, you have to release those figures to stores like Target and Wal-Mart. NO, they should not be “fashion dolls” and they shouldn’t be kept in a solely pink aisle.
LOOK at that picture that Paul Feig tweeted. It is bad-ass. They look amazing. They look like ACTION FIGURES. They’re even posing in front of a perfect vehicle that can be used to drive around their action figures.
IT DOES NOT MATTER THAT THEY ARE WOMEN.
This is a major studio release. If Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt were playing the Ghostbusters, there would be NO QUESTION that you would make action figures of them to sell to children who were probably too young to see a PG-13 movie in the first place. You would make those action figures in a heartbeat.
If you’re going to balk at making tie-in toys for this movie SOLELY because the characters are played by women, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
You are on the wrong side of history. You are going to get a TON of negative press, way worse than anything that happened with the #WheresNatasha or #WheresGamora campaigns that accompanied Marvel’s most recent films.
It’s pathetic that Marvel and Disney excluded female characters from the merchandising for movies like Avengers 2 and Guardians, but, even in those films, the female characters were in the minority. It was one heroine for every four or five heroes. You could get away with excluding Gamora from a group shot of the Guardians on a size 6 boys t-shirt and hope that no one would notice. (They did notice, BTW.)
But these new Ghostbusters—THEY ARE ALL WOMEN. If you cut out the ladies because… I don’t know… you have some half-assed marketing data that says boys thinks girls are icky… YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO HIDE THAT. That will be such blatant and over-the-top sexism that the public will NOT ignore it.
And don’t play the bullshit “marketing data/sales figures tell us” angle. It’s completely flawed for two reasons.
1). Movie studios make toys for shitty movies all the time. There were toy lines for Battlefield Earth, Bradley Cooper’s A-Team movie, the GI Joe where they killed Channing Tatum, the Lone freakin’ Ranger—to name a few. With Hollywood’s merchandising track record, you can’t expect ANYONE to believe that you actually have an accurate ability to tell what movies deserve tie-in merchandise and what movies don’t.
Ghostbusters is a huge summer movie release—the reboot of a franchise that has a history of tie-in toys, cartoons, Halloween costumes, etc. You can’t suddenly say “Oh, yeah, despite a long history of GB merchandise, we’re not going to do much for this movie.” BULLSHIT. If that happens, it’s 100% because they’re women.
2). Movie studios have NEVER, EVER released a high-concept, family-action-comedy franchise film like this before with a fully female lead cast. There is no accurate historical data that represents this movie. You can’t say that there will be no demand for female Ghostbusters toys because YOU HAVE NEVER TRIED TO SELL ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE. There is no precedent to cite here.
So, again—I’m talking to Sony, Columbia Pictures, Amy Pascal, and everyone else involved in the marketing and releasing of Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters—DO THE RIGHT THING.
Don’t spend next summer on the ugly side of a protest campaign or a Jezebel article.
Look at that picture of the cast. You need to treat Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters like you’d treat ANY OTHER tentpole summer movie with huge name recognition and a plot that makes toy tie-ins easy.
You HAVE to make Ghostbusters lunchboxes—for boys and girls—with images of the cast.
You NEED to make Ghostbusters Halloween costumes for girls AND boys (even with the orange stripes on the jumpsuits that I’m not totally sold on yet).
You MUST make sure not to release ANY pink Ghostbusters merchandise because come the fuck on.
YES, you HAVE to make Ghostbusters action figures.
YES, you have to even make a figure of the black woman. In fact, given Hollywood’s history in this regard, ESPECIALLY OF THE BLACK WOMAN. (And she has a name and it’s Leslie Jones and she’s hilarious.)
AND, YES, you HAVE to sell those toys at mainstream places like Target or Kohl’s.
SONY—you are making a mainstream franchise film with an all-female cast. THAT IS AWESOME.
BUT, because you took that job on, you need to take responsibility for respectfully releasing and marketing that movie like you’d release ANY OTHER FILM LIKE THIS.
So, have we settled this? Aren’t you glad that we had this conversation NOW rather than after the inevitable protests started? Can we please not have to talk about this in 2016 because having to talk about it in 2015 is really goddamn depressing.
I’m looking at you, Amy Pascal. Please help guide Sony and let’s have one fucking summer where Twitter isn’t consumed in gender rage because Hollywood fucked something up that should be REALLY, REALLY OBVIOUS.
These women deserve better. The Ghostbusters deserve better. And my eight-year-old daughter—who took one look at that group shot and said “Oh my god, I can’t wait to buy the toys!”—she deserves better too.
Image: Credit—Paul Feig (@PaulFeig) on Twitter.