The female-led remake of Ghostbusters sparked a baffling amount of negativity. Its trailer became the most disliked in YouTube history and comment sections to anything related to the film are full of vitriol.
Any time a film is remade, there are some claims from fans that the new film will somehow tarnish the legacy of the original, but the backlash towards Ghostbusters was different and far more widespread.
From the first announcement of the casting of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones in 2014, people started balking at the idea of a gender-reversed version of Ghostbusters.
Some of the adverse reaction does spawn from the fact that we aren’t getting a film with the original characters, but it is hard to imagine that things would’ve become so nasty had the new cast been male.
Before a single frame was shot, the film was seen as having a feminist agenda and a disgrace to the original. Ghostbusters became a lightning rod for the misogyny that runs rampant in our country. Not only did the film star women, they weren’t sex objects.
“The stars of the new ‘Ghostbusters’ are adult women — three over 40,” Manohla Dargis noted in the New York Times article “So that’s who you call: The politics of the new ‘Ghostbusters.’” “They’re not girls or especially charming.”
In 2009, there were rumors of Ghostbusters 3 with the original cast passing the torch to a younger team which would include a female member. Dan Aykroyd, who played Ray Stantz and co-wrote the first two films, suggested Alyssa Milano and Eliza Dushku. Both actresses are not without comedic abilities but are more known for their sex appeal. Entertainment Weekly even wrote a piece “Pick the new ‘Ghostbusters’ girl!” which led with a photo of Megan Fox.
If the new film had starred Jennifer Lawrence, Emilia Clarke and Emma Stone — all quirky young women who fit a more traditional idea of beauty and charm — would the retaliations to the film have been so hostile?
The film is now out and the general reaction is that it is good, not great, but certainly fun. Still, some people won’t let it go.
A YouTuber that goes by Comic Book Girl 19 posted a video “Why Being Honest About Ghostbusters is Important,” the premise of which was that the film was getting a pass because it starred women and that by doing that you’re actually doing a disservice to women.
This conceit assumes that deep down everyone knows the movie is unequivocally awful and that you’re lying to yourself if you think otherwise. As someone who is most definitely the target audience — I drank Ecto Cooler, played with the toys, watched the cartoon and spent years scouring the internet for any information about the third film — I wholeheartedly enjoyed the remake.
The “Ghostbusters” concept doesn’t need the original characters to succeed. All that is needed is a group of actors with strong comic chemistry, and the four leads are absolutely the best thing about the new Ghostbusters, especially Kate McKinnon in a breakout performance.
These women are allowed to simply be people passionate about paranormal investigation. Their gender doesn’t define them. This isn’t a film like Charlie’s Angels that relies on the sex appeal of its leads to empower them or forces them to have love interests.
Chris Hemsworth — continuing the gender-reversal — plays a dumb blond receptionist. It is a tired cliche that becomes all the more hilariously pronounced because of the gender switch.
Wiig’s character is infatuated with Hemsworth but it is played for laughs. He doesn’t become a love interest. In fact, by the end of the film, Hemsworth is more like a dimwitted but lovable puppy that the team keeps around.
Ghostbusters is far less obsessed with making a big deal out of the fact that it stars women than its naysayers are. If the film has an agenda, it is to allow these women to have fun and be funny busting ghosts without any provisos.
While It isn’t a perfect movie — the original is still better — as a fan, it was exciting to see the new weapons —including ghost grenades and a mulcher — and to see the concept pushed in new directions. I hope to see the premise and new characters explored even more in future films.