The ‘Ghostbusters’ Controversy: Are We Really Doing This Again?
There’s nothing that annoys me more than useless controversy. In a world that’s stacked with all manner of ridiculous injustices, some right in the open, we shouldn’t get worked up over a pointless Ghostbusters remake. Since that trailer was horrendously unfunny years ago, I made the smart decision of not seeing the film in the theaters. When I finally did see some of it, I realized that I had made the right decision. Seriously, when Dan Aykroyd made his cameo and said, “I ain’t afraid of no Ghost,” I felt like bashing my head in.
But the film became much more than just a useless Ghostbusters remake. For some reason, it became a subject of political discourse. The dialogue surrounding it was tiresome, all of it surrounding a very lousy, big-budget studio comedy. I was relieved when people finally forgot about it.
Since a new film has been announced, which will be directed by original director Ivan Reitman’s son, Jason Reitman, the controversy has been making a comeback. In this article I hope to sincerely enlighten people on the ridiculousness of the controversy. Hoping to inspire people to look past the manufactured controversy, or their own political bubble, and see a Ghostbusters film for what it truly is: a Ghostbusters film.
How Did All of This Get Started?
I won’t go too in-depth into the subject because plenty of acclaimed YouTubers have already done so, my favorite of which has to be “Scientist Man Analyzes Ghostbusters 2016” from a hack channel called Red Letter Media.
I’ve been quite skeptical about the origins of the politicization of Ghostbusters. On first glance, it seemed to originate from the misogynistic comments of man-babies after seeing the first trailer for the film. But upon deeper inspection, the politicization seemed manufactured, mostly by Sony who realized they had a giant dud on their hands. In order to salvage some profits, especially due to the bad reception of the trailer, they decided to capitalize on the current fiery political climate, turning the 2016 Ghostbusters movie into a symbol of female empowerment.
This feminist theme was heavily marketed by the cast and crew, in talk shows and countless clickbait articles. The theme seemed to be that if you didn’t give the movie a chance, you must be one of those man-babies. One side, it seemed, was filled with misogynists, the other with SJW snowflakes. To put it bluntly, the whole issue was really, really, stupid.
Rumors were abound that Sony manufactured this narrative, by deleting reasonable complaints about the trailer so that the misogynistic comments were left standing.
To be fair, many people, from both the left and right-wing spectrum took advantage of the Ghostbusters controversy. Both sides used it to inflate confirmation bias from their base.
2016’s Ghostbusters wasn’t the first movie to use the culture war as a marketing ploy, and it certainly wasn’t the last. The supposed social significance of Black Panther had been continually mentioned during its release, and while I have my own personal feelings about it, it does make more sense because at least that movie had some actual political commentary. Yes, it’s a silly movie featuring a final battle where men ride rhinos, but it had something to say. 2016’s Ghostbusters was meant to be nothing more than a humorous Paul Feig vehicle. It was never supposed to be political.
The film eventually flopped. People moved on. We could finally focus on real issues.
And then suddenly, a new Ghostbusters film was announced which would ignore the 2016 remake and be a direct sequel to the original Ghostbusters films.
And so one of the stars of the 2016 Ghostbusters remake expressed herself diligently…
It all started when Leslie Jones shared her subtle criticism of the upcoming Ghostbusters movie:
So insulting. Like fuck us. We dint count. It’s like something trump would do. (Trump voice)”Gonna redo ghostbusteeeeers, better with men, will be huge. Those women ain’t ghostbusteeeeers” ugh so annoying. Such a dick move. And I don’t give fuck I’m saying something!!
— Leslie Jones 🦋 (@Lesdoggg) January 19, 2019
Naturally this tweet spawned a series of clickbait articles. Some were ridiculing her, others were on her side, even hinting at the subtle misogyny in the studio’s choice to abandon a sequel to Ghostbusters 2016. The adorable (and immaculately dressed) Paul Feig defended her, saying that she spoke her truth and that he supports her. But in turn, he also supports the new movie coming up.
Now, I like Leslie Jones, and I’m not sure about her reasoning for tweeting this — in my paranoid mind, it might be a marketing ploy to create some buzz for the upcoming Ghostbusters film — but the reason we aren’t getting a sequel to Ghostbusters 2016 has nothing to do with the world being run by man-babies and everything to do with money. (Granted, there are an annoying amount of man-babies out there with too much money, some of them have even become presidents.)
What It Always Boils Down To…
The truth is that Sony spent too much on Ghostbusters 2016. They hoped they had a giant franchise cash-cow on their hands. There was even talks about a Ghostbusters universe, with different characters banning together eventually. The original Ghostbusters film was a massive hit, but the level of success was a surprise. It wasn’t created with the purpose of it becoming a giant blockbuster, it just became one.
Not to mention Ghostbusters 2016 wasn’t well received by fans. Most of them flat-out hated it. Putting cameos of the original cast in the film wasn’t going to change anything. They wanted to see the original cast — which due to the passing of Harold Ramis was impossible — back on screen. At the very least, they wanted to either continue it from the same universe. Nobody wanted a remake. Rarely has a remake of a beloved film been embraced by the original fans.
Ghostbusters 2016, even with cameos of the original cast, also didn’t feel like a loving tribute of the original film. It followed the basic formula but its style of humor and over-the-top action CGI splendor was nothing like the original Ghostbusters.
Not only that, I truly believe Feig was held back by the PG-13 rating. Like most people, I enjoy Spy and Bridesmaids, and they were full-blown R-rated. The actresses did not have to hold back. The foursome did have to hold back in the Ghostbusters 2016 remake. To my mind, this seriously affected the film’s comedic possibilities.
For a studio that just wants to make some money from their Ghostbusters property, making a direct sequel, especially after the success of Jurassic World and 2018’s Halloween, is a smart business decision. You can bet your ass that Ghostbusters 2020 is going to be a soft reboot.
So Leslie Jones’ reaction is simply ridiculous. Yet considering the online abuse she had to endure, I can sort of sympathize with how weirdly important the Ghostbusters remake became for her.
But the facts speak for themselves, and the numbers and feedback from fans destroyed any chances of Ghostbusters 2016 to have a sequel. It has nothing to do with sexism or orange-haired despots. It’s all about money. As it usually is.
Your Politics Don’t Matter to Them
Sony didn’t make Ghostbusters 2016 for political purposes or because they loved the original Ghostbusters movie (in the Sony leaks it’s revealed they actively pushed original creator Ivan Reitman out of the creative process), they made it to make money. In order to make said money, they attempted to capitalize on the current zeitgeist, whatever gets the attention of the masses.
They know that reasonable people hate sexist douchebags, so they made it seem like this movie is their victorious statement. It never was. It was just a movie. To the studio, left-wing or right-wing politics don’t really matter. It’s a brand. Just a way to grab attention from the masses.
If the studio thinks they can make more money by politicizing the brand, they will do it. When their narrative becomes entangled in modern culture, a big-budget studio movie will suddenly become an important cultural icon, even if it merely is a big-budget studio movie with nothing to it.
It might seem cynical, but it’s not. It’s just business.
From their perspective, we are stuck between two worlds: one ruled by sensitive snowflakes, and one ruled by insensitive trolls. Both are pursuing, often indirectly, their confirmation bias. Both are lost in their own personal hubris. The movie studios know this and they know how to play our minds.
All we can do is try to be aware of it, recognize the signs and focus our outrage on something more productive…or we should get one of those They Live sunglasses. They seem to work well.
As for the upcoming Ghostbusters film, I can’t say I’m too excited about it. I think it’s in good hands as Jason Reitman has proven himself to be adept in both drama and comedy, though not so much in the supernatural genre. I’m sure it will be a typical soft reboot that will introduce younger characters and have former ghostbusters passing their torch, or, in this case, their proton pack.
But to me, as a fan, Ghostbusters has always been about the chemistry of the four leads. And sadly, one of these men, the great Harold Ramis, has departed this earthly realm.
Ghostbusters: The Game, is the final entry of The Ghostbusters saga as I know it. It’s the last time we could hear the original voices of these four great men together. It also was inspired by Aykroyd’s original script idea for the third film, as the foursome combat ghostly creatures in a hell-version of Manhattan. It would have made for a great film in of itself, but alas, this can never be.
It’s too late now. We must move on.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on Ghostbusters? Comment down below!
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