The Ghostbusters Conundrum

May 19, 2016 0 Comments

Never have I ever witnessed a movie scandal of epic proportions since Sony was hacked for daring to publish a film involving the assassination attempt of North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Il. This appears to be a rather common trend we seem to be seeing with Sony and its participation in arts and entertainment. However, that was an original movie; this movie is another reboot. The film, of course, I’m talking about is Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters was before my time, so I can’t join in on the nostalgia and say that I grew up walking this movie. Regardless, just because I didn’t grow up with this film doesn’t necessarily mean that I can appreciate it for the classic that it is. It also means that I am incapable of understanding what made the original Ghostbusters so famous. I believe this is what the directors and the creators just couldn’t comprehend when developing this film.

Usually, I wouldn’t really care about Hollywood regurgitating another reboot. However, considering the backlash, I think the public finally has had enough of all of the remakes and reboots.With more than 750,000 dislikes, Ghostbusters stands as the most hated movie trailer in YouTube history:

Most people consider this to be a “no-brainer” as to why this iconic movie is so hated, but for entirely different reasons. Unfortunately, some are intellectually dishonest and smug enough to claim this is because of sexism. The only reason people hate the new Ghostbusters trailer is that the film has an all new cast starring women.

From the Washington Post:

On the trailer’s YouTube page, more than 100,000 people have liked the video and nearly 200,000 have disliked it. That might be a record-breaking amount of hate for a trailer. To give you some context, the official trailer for the recent bomb “Gods of Egypt,” which came under fire for a whitewashed cast, was liked around 10,600 times and got 1,300 dislikes. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which has its own share of controversy and trailer haters, has 414,000 up votes and 15,000 down votes for its Comic-Con trailer. Even “The Fantastic Four,” one of the biggest bombs of 2015, has more likes than dislikes. The new Nina Simone biopic, which has been controversial for featuring Zoe Saldana in skin-darkening make-up, has more likes than dislikes at its “official” trailer at Fandango’s Movieclips channel, but more dislikes in another, unofficial one that’s been viewed more times.

Never mind the fact that the trailer is unfunny, uninspiring, very confusing and does little to pay homage to the actual source material, according to the faulty logic of Stephanie Merry, people only dislike the trailer because the film has an all female cast. Merry’s premise is faulty because, in her article, she has listed several examples of recent blockbusters with a higher like-to-dislike ratio (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gods of Egypt, The Fantastic Four, etc.). Since all of the examples on her list were total flops at the box office, that somehow proves proof of blatant sexism.

Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that these films were not as good as the trailer would suggest. They all flopped because those movies weren’t very good. It might not have ever occurred to Ms. Merry, but a movie trailer is essentially a commercial for the movie itself. If the trailer looks good, people are more likely to see it. If the trailer looks bad, people are going to avoid the movie like the plague.

However, if the author of the article had any modicum of intellectual honesty, she could have just provided her readers with examples of female leads from well-known franchises to prove our blatant sexism. For example, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a female lead (Felicity Jones) and the trailer has significantly more likes than dislikes; Star Wars: The Force Awakens also has a female lead (Daisy Ridley) and this trailer is also widely popular.

Star Wars also has a much larger impact on our culture than Ghostbusters ever will. If sexism were truly a factor, it just wouldn’t make sense why both Star Wars films are very popular while Ghostbuster is the most hated. Most of us do understand (from personal experience) that simply slapping a well-known brand onto a new movie will not automatically encourage fans to jump in. If anything, it’s a sign that shows the public is tired of poorly produced remakes and reboots.

By looking at the trailer, you can probably understand the problem. The titling explains:

30 years ago, four scientist saved the world. This summer, a new team will answer the call.

Lets ignore the fact that Winston was the only member of the original Ghostbusters who wasn’t a scientist. The trailer gives the viewer a premise that this new film is a continuation of the events that happened 30 years ago, when in actuality, that isn’t what’s happening at all. The writers and directors are simply ripping off an old formula with brand new characters, and I can see why even Melissa McCarthy was confused by this trailer. It’s very difficult to tell whether or not this film is supposed to be a sequel, a remake or a reboot.

Although, Melissa’s confusion wasn’t enough to get people to start thinking critically about the trailer. The final straw occurred when well-known nostalgic video game/film critic James Rolfe from Cinemassacre (aka The Angry Video Game Nerd) provided his opinion on this whole Ghostbusters fiasco.James, like myself, is a critic. Like most critics, we tend to be open-minded and try everything, regardless of our initial opinions. However, instead of watching a film most people already know they’re going to hate, James has decided to take a different approach: avoid it entirely.

James, like myself, is a critic. Like most critics, we tend to be open-minded and try everything, regardless of our initial opinions. However, instead of watching a film most people already know they’re going to hate, James has decided to take a different approach: avoid it entirely.

I don’t think I need to explain why I completely agree with James, with a few minor exceptions: this film is a reboot, not a remake. It might seem like I’m playing with semantics, but for this particular purpose, it’s important to understand why this film is NOT a remake.

Remake:
A remake is a film that does its best to pay homage to the source material. When it comes to remakes, we often see a modernization of old classic films regarding cinematic quality, sound, theme, dialogue and even changes in characters. There may be slight variations on how things occurred, but essentially the story doesn’t change.Examples of remakes include Total Recall (2012), Robocop (2014), The Mummy (1999), The Karate Kid (2012).

Examples of remakes include Total Recall (2012), Robocop (2014), The Mummy (1999), The Karate Kid (2012).

Reboot:
A reboot is a complete overhaul of the original source material and essentially becomes a reimagining of how things occurred. The reimagining may become so vast and overbearing where the only thing similar about the films are its title. Reboots may decide to maintain some core elements, such as characters, plot elements, themes, settings, and storylines, but a reboot is essentially starting from scratch.

A common example of a reboot would be the new Planet of the Apes and Dark Knight Trilogies, which aren’t terrible by any means. However, these examples are few and far between. Ghostbusters, based on what we have seen from the trailer, is not really different.

It may seem like a minuscule difference, but understanding the difference between a reboot and a remake helps the audience have a better understanding of what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish. As such, when you watch the film in theaters and think to yourself, “Hey, that never happened in the original,’ you’ll be less surprised when it does happen in the reboot. A reboot is simply a retelling of events, portrayed in a different manner or style.

So, calling it “The Next Generation” or “Reenergized” as James suggested isn’t really appropriate in this case. By changing the cast, without changing the formula, the directors are essentially starting over from scratch. However, no matter how rationally you explain your arguments about why something is bad, people will always hear something else.

David Sims from the Atlantic:

Things reached a fever pitch yesterday when James Rolfe, host of the popular “Cinemassacre” YouTube channel with over 2 million subscribers, announced that he wouldn’t even deign to watch the film. His reasoning dances around the simple fact that has set this innocuous-seeming movie apart from its fellow blockbusters this summer—that it’s a tentpole genre film starring women.

Maggie Serata from Death and Taxes:

Granted, most of those words describe how this 35-year-old man looks like he’s sitting in a wet diaper. That alone tells you everything you need to know, but then Rolfe spends six minutes explaining how the sanctity of his childhood has been threatened because a studio rebooted a film that originally featured a giant, murderous marshmallow in a sailor outfit and a ghost who gave Dan Aykroyd a blowjob.

The twitter comments are equally moronic.

And I’m not sure how unfunny someone has to be for Dane Cook to find you “hilarious:”

I must say, these are all brilliant arguments, and I’ve always admired what terrific mind-readers progressives are. Even if you’ve said “statement x,” you must have actually meant “statement y,” which, therefore, makes you sexist. Also, you are indeed hiding your sexism by refusing to confront your sexism and watch a movie most people believe is going to be terrible based on its own merits. Welcome to 2016.

Ghostbusters Isn’t “Progressive” Enough

There is much to dislike about the new Ghostbusters film, and the all-female cast isn’t one of them. However, taste is often subjective, which means people will always find their own reasons to dislike something, regardless of how irrational or nonsensical those reasons are.

I’ve already mentioned previously that Winston (played by Ernie Hudson) was the only member of the original Ghostbusters team who wasn’t a scientist. The directors, as unoriginal as it is, decided to keep that specific element in the current film. This is apparently a problem.

We’ve been having Black Presidents being portrayed in our media since 2002 (The 24 Television Series) and probably going back further. Because of this, we should be able to have blacks being portrayed as scientist professionals and engineers, because… it’s 2016.

I mean, never mind the fact that less than 8% of the people who go into science and engineering fields of study are black. If people are trying to hint at racism, there is nothing racist about filmmakers adopting a small dose of reality into their medium (even if it is at the expense of Leslie Jones playing the stereotypically loud black woman).

The fact that Leslie isn’t portrayed as a scientist isn’t a problem; not even for the actress herself. Leslie Jones decided to fire back at the critics making this claim, which I won’t post here because it would just make the post longer than it already is, but the most relevant parts can be summed up with these few tweets:

Leslie Jones makes some valid points. If the isn’t about blacks being underrepresented in films, then the issue is being poorly represented, due to the use of stereotypes or the lack of roles that are uncommon for black characters. Progressives make the best types of critics: they’ll find literally anything to complain about.

What Would Make This Film Better

I don’t think the film writers understood what made the original Ghostbusters so attractive. The original wasn’t just a simple movie with a bunch of comedians getting together just to tell jokes. Rather, the original film was established as an adventure for many of us growing up; which allows the actors to use their comedic abilities through the actions being portrayed in the film. Case in point:

Contrast, compared to this film, everything just seems very cheap. The jokes are just step up in the most typical way possible. Everything in the film seems to be aligned in a specific way so specific jokes can be told. It seems as if the writers were trying to focus more on the jokes and less on the story or the adventure.

As for what would make this film better; None of us have seen the film, so we can’t make that determination. I can only judge what the film could be like based on what I saw and my reaction. I do know that I didn’t laugh once watching the trailer. I also know that I didn’t get a nostalgic feel from watching the plot either. Does that mean that this film is going to be terrible? Who knows?

Maybe the film will exceed our expectations; maybe it will meet them. Considering the generation you grew up in, your expectations will be different. However, it is impossible to build a franchise on something so iconic as Ghostbusters by alienating the original fanbase.

Also, if the film wanted to be “progressive,” which it looks like it’s trying to be, it could have simply done what James Rolfe has suggested: pass the torch on to a newer generation. Instead, we’re just pretending as if the older generation didn’t exist, all for the sake of progressive and inclusion.

We also could have entertained the idea of men and women becoming Ghostbusters and fighting side-by-side. Wouldn’t that message promote real equality and genuine progress? I guess that make far too much sense for anyone to adopt.

Regardless of what your opinions are about this film, it does demonstrate the sad state of our current culture. If our films aren’t remakes, reboots, cultural adaptations or spinoffs, filmmakers won’t invest the time or the money to produce the film. It demonstrates the lack of creativity, autonomous and original thought our society is suffering from. Maybe, just hopefully, Ghostbusters will be the final straw for this nonsense. I won’t be holding my breath.

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