How did the remake of a beloved 1984 comedy became the most controversial movie of the year?
Pleasing geek culture is difficult. But so is making a successful reboot of a once defunct franchise. And nobody knows that better than Paul Feig and Sony, the director and studio of the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot/remake/reimagining. Fans of the beloved 1984 comedy, and its far less successful sequel, have been waiting for decades to see a continuation of the franchise. But, just from the promotional materials alone, the 2016 Ghostbusters has been met with an enormous amount of hate and scorn. The first trailer for the film, posted last March, is now famously the most disliked movie trailer in the history of Youtube. Later, famous Youtuber and geek James Rolfe, aka Angry Video Game Nerd, made headlines when he announced that he refused to see the upcoming film.
One of the biggest controversies surrounding the film is the role that sexism does, or does not play, regarding the intense hate surrounding the trailer. Defenders of the upcoming reboot accused critics of having a sexist bias towards the film, and have compared the backlash to the new Ghostbusters film with the 2014 Gamergate controversy. The defenders have also blamed the heavily prevalent sexism within geek culture as to why the response is as negative as it is. Critics of the upcoming film pointed out that both Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the upcoming Rogue One feature a female protagonist and have not been met with as nearly as much hate as the upcoming Ghostbusters.
Though successful franchise reboots such as Star Trek and The Force Awakens were able to bring in new characters and a new story while still being a continuation of the original story, the 2016 Ghostbusters is a reboot that doesn’t acknowledge its original movie. Both Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson were given cameos in the movie, but did not act as their characters in the original series. This was an inexplicable move, as fans had waited years to see the cast return as their original characters. It was even discovered, during the Sony leak of 2014, that the studio was threatening to sue Murray if he did not appear in the film, in a cameo role.
Though the film hasn’t been released yet, and it’s only fair to reserve judgement until the final product comes out, the 2016 Ghostbusters has had production trouble rumors surrounding it for months. According to hearsay, various cast members, including noted Ghostbusters fan and star Melissa Mccarthy, complained about the film’s script, and had various fights with director Paul Feig. Rumor has it that both Melissa McCarthy, and another unidentified actress in the cast, had huge clashes of egos on set, and ample time was dedicated to insuring that both actresses get an equal amount of lines. All of these rumors came from an anonymous user from 4chan, which makes the claims sound dubious. Still, the production rumors for Fantastic Four were also revealed by an anonymous tip on 4chan.
Both Sony and director Paul Feig have felt the intense backlash toward the upcoming film. Feig had a “twitter meltdown” following the trailer’s poor reception and Sony removed comments, on Youtube, that were critical of the film. Interestingly enough, Sony reportedly deleted valid criticisms, and kept up racist and sexist comments, in an attempt to give off the impression that backlash against the film was solely sexist and racist. The subsequent trailers have been met with even more hate, and prominent people in of Sony’s marketing department have already been fired. Commenting on the film’s enormous hate, Feig responded to the Daily News that geek culture is filled with “assholes.”
My personal feelings are mixed. Though I watched Ghostbusters when I was younger I never had the strong emotional attachment to it that millions of people have. I was optimistic when I heard that the new Ghostbusters crew was all-female, and hoped that it would prove the myriad of sexist people on the internet wrong. Yet, the trailer looked extremely unpromising, and according to industry insiders, the rough cut of the film is a disaster. Defenders of the film have praised the not yet released movie as “progressive” and “bold,” but it seems like just another cash-grab of a beloved classic from Hollywood.