Ghostbusters: How a comedy reboot became the most controversial film of the year
If you’ve been following film news over the last year, you’re almost certain to have seen, heard, or read something about Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot. When it was first announced that Feig was to helm an updated version of the beloved eighties sci-fi comedy, replacing the original cast with female comedians Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, the reaction was, to put it lightly, mixed.
It seemed only a small minority of filmgoers were happy with the announcement. Feig fans were happy to see him reuniting with Wiig and McCarthy after smash hit comedies Bridesmaids and Spy. SNL fans were excited to see four of the funniest women in the show’s history teaming up. For feminists, it was a big step forward to see the biggest comedy of the summer handed over to four of the funniest women around. However, negative reactions overshadowed everything else.
Some people have claimed misogyny played no part in the hatred Ghostbusters received. These people are frankly wrong. Not all Ghostbusters haters are misogynists, but all misogynists hate Ghostbusters. People frothed at the mouth, furious that not only was Paul Feig “raping their childhoods” by rebooting a beloved comedy, but that four women had the nerve to replace any of the original cast. Admittedly, I’ve been vocal in my dislike of constant remakes, especially when films (like Ghostbusters)still hold up today, but it also seemed pretty clear from the initial announcements that Paul Feig’s film was a reboot. Besides, The Thing and Halloween have already been remade into schlock. Everything else is fair game now.
When reading Reddit comments about the first official photos of the Ghostbusters reboot, certain comments and themes repeat themselves again and again:
“It must be aimed at SJW’s and people on Tumblr”
“This movie is going to fail badly”
“Melissa McCarthy isn’t funny at all”
“Kristen Wiig isn’t funny at all”
“Why are they all women? This PC culture is getting out of hand”
That isn’t me paraphrasing, by the way; all of those comments are taken straight from Reddit. Clearly, a lot of people were: A. Unhappy that “unfunny women” were taking over from Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, B. Furious that SJW’s were making feminist statements out of eighties comedies, and C. Praying that it would flop. What I find particularly frustrating about bile-filled internet trolls is that they’re making it difficult for Ghostbusters detractors like myself: People who simply thought the film looked terrible.
From all the promotional material I’ve seen, nothing about Ghostbusters appeals to me. I’m a fan of Kristen Wiig (especially her more dramatic roles like The Skeleton Twins) and Melissa McCarthy has been very good in certain roles (especially her criminally underseen performance in The Nines), but none of the trailers made me laugh (Leslie Jones’ “Hell naw!” dialogue seemed horribly dated), and none of the posters filled with me with an overwhelming urge to buy a ticket.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to express these opinions because so many people hate Ghostbusters for all the wrong reasons. If you think it looks bad, don’t go and see it. If you don’t find the trailers funny, that’s absolutely fine. Tearing it apart without seeing it because a bunch of funny women are desecrating your childhood? Stop being a whiny, entitled brat. Lots of people like the original Ghostbusters. Lots of people will like the new updated Ghostbusters. Get over it.
Unfortunately, the hatred only grew in numbers and stupidity. The Ghostbusters trailer, which made it look like any number of mediocre blockbuster comedies, became the most downvoted trailer of all time. Did Adam Sandler’s Pixels get this much hate? Did Dirty Grandpa get spat on by the internet? Did Entourage, or Hot Tub Time Machine 2, or Ted 2, or A Million Ways To Die In The West?
However, neither did The Other Woman or The Boss or Bad Moms. Ghostbusters isn’t being so brutally crushed by internet trolls just because it stars women. It’s hated because women dared to star in a remake of a classic, male-centered comedy. Misogynists and MRA’s may claim to only hate on the film because it’s a remake, but ask yourself this: Would the reaction have been nearly as bad if the reboot had starred Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel? I doubt it.
Sadly, despite the film opening to decent reviews (which suggested it’s a decent, slightly above-average blockbuster comedy), the trolling and hatred have only increased. Thousands of IMDB users scored the film a ‘1’ without seeing it.. Any positive reviews have been met with accusations of ‘shilling’ and ‘pandering to SJW’s’, while negative reviews have been applauded for ‘telling the truth’. Somehow, an inoffensive, bland American comedy has become the most talked-about, fought-about film of 2016.
Many people will hate Ghostbusters, deriding it as an unfunny, lame reboot of a much better comedy. Many people will love Ghostbusters, heralding it as a hilarious, fresh take on an old favourite. Most people will be somewhere in between, neither detesting or worshipping it but simply accepting it as passable fluff. If you’re declaring Ghostbusters a masterpiece because it fits your agenda, or saying it’s the worst film ever because you hate the idea of women remaking your favourite film, maybe you should stay away from the film altogether. When there are masterpieces going under the radar and radical filmmaking flopping in cinemas, why don’t we use our energy to champion pioneers and underdogs, instead of endlessly arguing about SJW’s, misogyny, and Ghostbusters?
By Harry J. Ford
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