Reactions to the All-Female Ghostbusters Trailer Prove It’ll Be the Most Polarizing Movie of the Year

A culture war's odd new battleground

Headshot of David Griner

Usually, a major movie's first big trailer generates one of two reactions—passionate enthusiasm or shrugging indifference. That's certainly not the case with the new Ghostbusters film. 

Some, including myself, might see it as a movie that promises a mix of highs (Kristin Wiig and Kate McKinnon in perfectly cast roles) and lows (derivative gags and the only black character being a cringeworthy trope of sass and street smarts). But such middle-of-the-road perspectives are in short supply today. 

Instead, the reboot's trailer, released Thursday morning, has immediately become one of the most polarizing in recent memory. For some, it's yet another battleground in today's culture war over gender equality, feminism and the supposed marginalization of the American male. But it's also creating a generational divide, with quite a few children of the '80s feeling like their entire childhood is somehow riding on the quality of this film.

In other words, almost everyone who's watched the trailer seems to have a a strong opinion. Even those who claim to be "meh" about it still have a lot to say about their expectations, frustrations and skeptical observations.

On YouTube, the upvote/downvote ratio has been split evenly all morning. As I write this, it has 12,000 thumbs up and 13,800 thumbs down. That's a rare split for any movie, even one that generates healthy skepticism, like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, whose teaser trailer generated 19 times as many upvotes as downvotes. Hell, Zoolander 2's trailer got 79,000 thumbs up and just 4,600 thumbs down, and that movie looked (and is) abjectly terrible. 

So, what do people hate (or love) so much about the new Ghostbusters? Well first let's watch it together, then we'll get into the details. 

First of all, there's the obvious fact that an all-female team of specter slayers has replaced the all-male one, which some take as a socio-political statement about the superiority of women over men … or something. 

"Really disappointing looking so far," wrote one Facebook commenter. "Ruining the charm of a classic movie by forcing today's ideology into it." 

"Ghostbusters officially became a chick flick," wrote another. "Sad day in Movie history."

And of course, there's lots of chatter on Twitter and Reddit about how the movie is basically just cultural pornography for "social justice warriors" (SJWs).

The trailer is also getting its share of barbs for scenes featuring Leslie Jones as both the movie's only black star and its most eye-rolling collection of stereotypes. 

For fans of the trailer, though, it largely comes down to celebrating a movie that puts women in the cockpit of a science- and fantasy-driven Hollywood blockbuster. And they seem to welcome the conflicts that are going to come with that. 

For now, one thing is certain: Whatever your take on Ghostbusters, you're bound to have an opinion on it. And at a time when many movies come and go before you even knew they were in theaters, that's not an easy feat.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."