New Ghostbusters Trailer Sparks Old Debate
It has recently been reported that something strange has in fact been in the neighborhood. Question over who we are to call, are being asked by the public at large. The answer to that question, according to multiple sources, is “Ghostbusters”
recently a teaser trailer has been released to officially announce the upcoming Ghostbusters 3 movie; expected to be released in the Summer of 2020. This movie, unlike the 2016 reboot, will be a direct sequel to the original films and will be considered canon to the Ghostbusters story and its universe. Although this is much more in line with what the fans of the original franchise wanted, not all are happy.
Cast member of the 2016 reboot, Leslie Jones, voiced her thoughts via twitter.
She writes, “So insulting. Like f*** us. We didn’t count. It’s like something Trump would do.” She went on to say “uhgh, so annoying,. Such a dick move. And I don’t give a f*** I’m saying something!!”
Leslie later clarified her thoughts with: “…the point is if they make this new one with all men and it does well (which it will) It might feel that “boys are better” it makes my heart drop. Maybe I could have use different words but I’m allowed to have my feelings just like them.”
Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and feelings. However, individual thoughts and feelings do not equate to being correct. The biggest reason the 2016 reboot failed, was a major misunderstanding of what the fans of Ghostbusters actually wanted in a Ghostbusters film.
When Ghostbusters was first announced the initial feelings for the fans were that of cautious excitement. Excitement at the thought of revisiting the world and characters within the Ghostbusters universe. Cautious, because the original is very much beloved among its fans and widely considered a classic. Fans of the film could only wait and hope that the movie would be done justice.
The first disappointment came with the news that the long awaited next installment to the Ghostbusters franchise would in fact be a reboot. The fans have long craved a continuation to the original story, NOT a complete remake. This disappointment was quickly followed with the news that the 2016 reboot would be comprised of an all female cast. This triggered several questions. Why a reboot? Did those in charge of the film know and understand exactly what it was that made the original Ghostbusters such a success? Would this recast take into consideration the delicate balance of character types and their very specific comedic roles? The fandom held their reservations and hoped for the best as they were assured that the film was in good hands and the integrity of the franchise would be held.
For the fans, the concerns were abundant. But it was after the release of the official trailer, that the fans began to voice these concerns in mass. The glimpses of the cast in action seemed to clash with the original Ghostbusters artfully crafted mesh of character types. In the original, you had 4 critical character types that served to emphasize and bring home a slew of understated jokes and quick witted dialogue in the midst of a rather surreal situational comedy. This balance of character types was deliberate and was a critical component to what made Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters.
You had a character with an almost childlike wonder and enthusiasm over his work (Ray Stantz played by Dan Akroyd). This character serves as a balance against a more cynical, sarcastic, and spontaneous character (Peter Venkman played by Bill Murray). These two polar opposites of the same eccentric coin were pared with your every man character (Winston Zeddemore played by Ernie Hudson) who was more grounded, street wise, and relatable. All of these characters were tied down by perhaps the single most important character type to any comedy ensemble, “the straight man”.
“The straight man” is a term which references the one in a comedy group which remains composed or “straight”. No matter how preposterous the circumstance, or how eccentric his or her counterparts responses might be, the straight man stays steady with an unflinchingly deadpan delivery. The straight man is perhaps the most essential element to both setting up and bringing home many jokes. This role was of course played by the late Harold Ramis in Dr. Egon Spengler.
Instead of having very different characters with well defined motivations, the reboot seemed to color most of the characters with different shades of “wacky”. But without these crucial elements, the quick witted comedic dialogue the original films were known for would be all but impossible. Combine that with the neon cartoon ghosts and a comedic tone that seemed to rely on slapstick and you have grounds for real concern over the direction of the film.
Sure the trailer was only a glimpse, but the signs were there, and the fans voiced their concerns. The trailer for the 2016 reboot seemed to say; “Hey remember that amazing comedy from 30 years ago which introduced you to four iconic characters as they overcame insurmountable odds to save New York from the supernatural?!? Forget about them!!!” The decision to evoke the nostalgia of the original while simultaneously saying they would erase that very history seemed misguided to say the least. Ultimately, that trailer became one of the most down voted videos in YouTube’s history.
The response to this initial backlash was one of knee jerk defensiveness and was where the messaging for the film went irreversibly. Instead of addressing questions or concerns, the public relations strategy seemed to be to attack, berate, and belittle the fans. Anyone with a valid question was immediately grouped together within an “angry misogynist male” narrative. Instead of courting long time fans of the original film, it seems as if all of the pre release communication for the Ghostbusters movie was in direct opposition to the fans, their thoughts, and even their very being. Ghostbusters was seemingly possessed by the ghost of Identity Politics. Instead of promoting a movie, Sony Studios was in the difficult position of promoting a cause.
This created a cycle of negativity. The more the fans were attacked, the more the fans retaliated. The more the fans retaliated, the more entrenched the virtue signaling and outright mocking of the fans became.
And so water was thrown on the grease fire…
Paul Feig, the director of the 2016 reboot, had this to say in an interview:
“It was a great regret in my life that the movie didn’t do better… I think it kind of hampered us a little bit because the movie became so much of a cause. I think for some of our audience, they were like, ‘What the f***? We don’t wanna go to a cause. We just wanna watch a f****n’ movie”
Moviegoers were treated to a cause in the guise of a beloved movie. It had all the same beats of its 1984 counterpart without any of its originality or spark. Changing the main protagonists from male to female does not equate to creativity, nor does it alleviate the script writers from actually crafting: strong characters, well defined motivations, strong dialogue, or an intriguing story. In the end, what fans were left with, was a betrayal to the original film and the viewer response was resounding.
The 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters was a commercial failure.
This served as yet another in a long list of examples reinforcing the fact that fans of long standing franchises do not appreciate having identity politics, or social politics at all for that matter, forced within its narratives. In the face of this failure, Leslie Jones equates the proposed Ghostbusters 3 movie with the President of the United States of America. Granted, she is a comedian, and this was perhaps an attempt at alleviating her emotion with humor. However, much like the 2016 reboot, it fell flat.
The 2016 reboot failed in large part due to the over politicization of the movie and its promotional messaging. She therefore responds with MORE politicized rhetoric. Her outburst reeks of entitlement. She complains over the fact that the reboot would be over written, ignoring the fact that that is exactly what the reboot did to the original films, all while losing the studio millions of dollars.
A movie franchise can be either part of its previous films and therefore part of its cinematic universe, or it could attempt to “reboot”. To “reboot” is to overwrite the original in an attempt to establish a new cinematic universe on its own merit. When that attempt fails, how can you be mad over not being part of the cinematic universe you tried to overwrite? The movie was not what the fans were looking for and ultimately failed to motivate fans to purchase tickets. Perhaps in small part due to the incessant belittling and mocking of the fans. (insert sarcasm)
Leslie expresses concern that audiences will learn that women are not funny and that men are better. The lessons learned however are that identity politics, poor writing, lack of character development, and lack of respect for ones audience, is not funny. No matter how talented the actor, or iconic the franchise.
The proposed Ghostbusters 3 movie aims to bring the original cast together and will seemingly be passing the torch to a new set of protagonists. This is a welcome change in direction to fans, but the franchise still faces major difficulties. A fair amount of good will has been spent regarding another Ghostbusters movie and the fans will undoubtedly be keeping a very wary eye on this film moving forward. It is impossible to recapture the things that made Ghostbusters so great. It is the proverbial “lightning in a bottle” which is notoriously difficult to duplicate. In the end, it is unfortunate that everything boils down to a cause these days. One can only hope that actual time and effort would be used in crafting a genuinely interesting story for the next installment of Ghostbusters, and this time around, we could just “watch a f****n’ movie”.