How Angry Male Nerds Are Ruining the Internet

There are three Ghostbusters: the original, the remake, and the “childhood ruining” version that only exists in the minds of misogynistic internet trolls. The second it was announced, a small but vocal contingent of so-called “real fans” has been rooting for the new Ghostbusters to fail, and doing their best to make sure that happens.

For a while, the cloud of testosterone-fueled hatred was amorphous and vague. It had nothing to give it form or measure its power. Then the first trailer came out.

The admittedly mediocre first trailer for Ghostbusters (2016) became the most “downvoted” video in YouTube history, approaching one million dislikes. Contrast that with the 2015 reboot of the Fantastic Four, which deviated horribly from the classic source material, bombed with critics and audiences alike and is widely regarded by even its own director to be a colossal failure. It  has around 20,ooo dislikes.

Two percent of the hate heaped on Ghostbusters.

Walt Hickey, over at statistics site FiveThirtyEight has been tracking the Ghostbusters hate. There are angry people (mainly men) who will angrily tell you all of the reasons that the female-led reboot is awful — sight unseen — while angrily denying that gender has anything to do with it.

But it’s really hard to argue against math. Hickey analysed the demographics of both viewers and “raters” of the movie on the IMDB. His findings?

* This number is actually growing as more reviews from people who actually saw the movie have poured in.

So men are rating the movie very negatively, and nearly five times as many men have rated the film as women. Assuming the film brought in equal number of men and women to theaters — or more likely more women than men — this means that the review sample is way off.

The movie is not succeeding or failing on its own merits. Like the  trailer before it, it appears that a group of men who never actually saw the movie have decided to downvote it into oblivion.

This is not an new phenomenon. It actually builds on Hickey’s earlier IMDB analysis that showed:

Men Are Sabotaging The Online Reviews Of TV Shows Aimed At Women

Once again using IMDB because it actually breaks down reviews by the reviewer’s gender, Hickey analysed shows with more than 10,000 reviews listed. He found that the more popular with women a show was, the more men showed up to trash it with a “one” — the lowest rating possible. The reverse was not true.

FiveThirtyEight Chart


So what is happening? We are experiencing a demographic shift in media that follows trends in the United States as a whole. Although we have a long way to go, comics, television, movies and video games have ceased to exclusively cater to the white male demographic. Not every story is designed specifically for their tastes. Not every story is told from their point of view. Just most of them.

We are asking men (and white men in particular) to do what everyone else in society has done for a long time. Follow a story on the screen that is not about someone like you. Put yourself in another person’s shoes.  For a very few, this intrusion of diversity into domains they previously held as their own infuriates.

To paraphrase a quote I can no longer source, “They have confused the loss of absolute privilege with genuine oppression.”

Nothing bad is happening here. We are just entering a world where not every single film, comic or video game is created to pander to the interests of socially awkward white men. That’s actually a better world. They just need to put on their big-boy pants and deal with it the way everyone else has for decades.

To be fair to them, I imagine it must hurt a lot more to have your “childhood ruined” when you never grew up in the first place.