Ugh, sexism. Amiright?
The cast of the new "Ghostbusters" film stopped in to see Ellen DeGeneres during her talk show this week.
In an episode that aired on May 25, 2016, the cast of co-stars shared stories from their oddest jobs (Leslie Jones was a telemarketer for the Church of Scientology, FYI), and chatted about how an all-female reboot of the classic film was, according to Kate McKinnon, “the most incredible idea for a project" ever.
On a seemingly unrelated note, Hillary Clinton also made an appearance in the same episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
The host and presidential candidate discussed possible VP picks (be on the lookout for Hillary Clinton-Beyoncé Knowles 2016, everybody), and DeGeneres debuted the "first-ever swimsuit pantsuit" ahead of the summer season in honor of the former Secretary of State's visit.
All in all, Wednesday's episode was pretty much quintessential "Ellen": happiness, humor, and just the right amount of dancing.
So ... what's the big deal? Well, apparently not everyone was pleased with how Wednesday's show was booked.
According to a report from The New York Times, marketing executives at Sony, which produced the "Ghostbusters" reboot, were caught off guard with the "less-than-welcome news" that the cast would be sitting down with DeGeneres during the same episode as Clinton.
It makes sense that a business (Sony) promoting a product ("Ghostbusters") would be wary of aligning itself with any political candidate — even in the slightest sense. But in this case, the real cause for concern stemmed from the big, spooky g-word (that has nothing to do with ghosts): gender.
To understand why the film's marketing executives were displeased, you've got to know the backstory.
The first trailer for the "Ghostbusters" reboot is the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history. Not so much because it's actually deserving of the title (although, even co-star Melissa McCarthy said the trailer could have been crafted better), but because it was the victim of an onslaught of online misogyny directed at the all-female cast.
"[Sexism's] really the bigger problem here," Mike Sampson wrote for Screen Crush, describing the extremely chauvinistic notes that flooded the comment section. "It’s not that people disliked the movie on an organic level."
Regardless of whether the sexist hostility is warranted or not, film executives can't afford to turn away a large swath of male moviegoers if Sony plans to cash in on the reboot — a project costing more than $150 million to produce. That's why they're doing what they can to play down any overt feminist overtones regarding the film and play up, say, sexy movie posters.
With Clinton registering particularly high unfavorable ratings among men, her friendly visit with DeGeneres during the same episode as the "Ghostbusters" cast could only worsen the gender divide that's formed amongst moviegoers — or so Sony believes.
"In helping Mrs. Clinton reach women, the hit daytime show has inadvertently gotten in the way of Sony’s efforts to hold young males, a vital component of the audience for all but a handful of summer blockbusters," the New York Times explained, noting it spoke with anonymous sources from the entertainment brand.
Is your head spinning yet?
The turmoil over an innocuous TV appearance illustrates how women face unique challenges men don't have to deal with.
This is the first time the (likely) nominee of a major American political party is a woman, which makes it even more difficult to decipher how big a role Clinton's gender plays in her candidacy. And, to be clear, no one's arguing she should be above the tough criticism every presidential candidate should face.
But when talking heads tell her she should stop yelling during victory speeches, columnists write entire essays about how unlikeable she is without mentioning the well-documented research suggesting that "likability" is a concept predisposed to be sexist from the start, and, yes, disgruntled film executives sigh at the prospects of their film being associated with a female candidate out of fear it'll dissuade dudes from seeing their movie, it's hard to argue gender is irrelevant in Washington (and Hollywood).
Maybe next time, let's let our fave actresses and talk show hosts discuss movies without getting scared they'll bring up gender.
DeGeneres isn't afraid to weigh in on hot button issues — sometimes with the perfect joke, other times with spot-on seriousness. But we really need to rethink our ways if we're on edge over an episode largely devoted to busting ghosts, pantsuits, and watching Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy bumping and grinding in order to win a game.