If Ghostbusters 2016 were any other average summer movie, the hype and discussion would already die down by this point in the year. As of this writing, even the Star Trek Beyond movie is loosing steam and there are ambivalent feelings towards Suicide Squad. However, as of this posting, Red Letter Media and Channel Awesome have already posted videos encompassing honest opinions towards the Paul Feig reboot. As a cinephile that likes to keep up with pop culture and trends, the controversy behind Ghostbusters 2016 intrigues me. After the first trailer was released earlier in the year, people already had loaded thoughts going in. The most popular being that 1) if you hated it, you were a part of the He Man Woman Haters Club or 2) if you liked it, how dare you partake in the ruining of childhoods. I’ve never seen a movie that I would rate as “eh, it’s all right” get this much loaded notions prior to a release date.
Indeed I wasn’t too hyped about watching the movie. However, being eldest daughter #1, I took my parents to $6 movie night to treat them. After all, mom and I would watch The Real Ghostbusters together when I came home from school. I thought it would be nice to share this experience with my parents who was very much engaged in my childhood. Regardless how I feel about the movie afterwards, I went in with zero expectations. Certainly, I’ve seen movies with trailers I loved, but the movie didn’t do anything for me. The same can be said vice versa. Most of my criticisms with the movie is the editing choices, pacing, and the story that seems like it could have used a lot more work. Without going into too much analysis, my dad and I could not unsee Boston. Even with establishing shots of New York City, once we saw familiar highways and buildings, we couldn’t unsee it. The lady team had excellent character backgrounds, but much of the Paul Feig wordy humor falls flat and does not know where to stop. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the lady team, even with Leslie Jones’ boisterous and street style, I was perfectly fine with. It’s just unfortunate that the story fell flat. I’ve felt this way about Hancock, to have a compelling story, one must make the antagonist as appealing and interesting and protagonist. As Doug Walker argued in his Ghostbuster’s 2016 review, though you didn’t see much of Gozer, you still felt his villainous presence though the movie. In this one, it’s just some bullied troll – I get that internet trolls are public enemy #1 these days, but it’s not as outworldly or paranormal in the spirit of Ghostbusters lore. If anything, it seems normal.
I would have been fine if this movie was a “passing on the torch” reboot / reset that compromises and builds bridges between old and new. We do hear bits of the Ray Jay Parker song in the beginning. The kids during the Tuesday night matinee were all over it dancing in their seats! Bill Murray’s cameo was the most painful to watch. Essentially, they vaguely kill him off in slapstick fashion. Because this franchise holds so much to many people, a passing of the torch type of thing to a new team would have sufficed better on Sony’s part. I would have loved to see a Boston based team of scientists (I didn’t think bringing it back to NYC was necessary, even to have the fire house. I admit the Chinese restaurant grew on me), to be later then discovered by Winston or Peter played by their original actors and get some sort of mentorship. While one can argue Sigourney Weaver fills this part in the credits scene, she plays a professor, not Dana. I think if this movie focused more about bridging generations of old and new, it would have had a solid hit. However, they were focused on feeding Internet trolls in an attempt to brand the movie as a “girl power” type of need. It was this idea of, if you believe in __________, then you need to see Ghosbusters as if to guilt the audience into seeing it.
What gets to me about Ghostbusters 2016 is the amount of unnecessary media attention it has received. There’s been a ton of loaded articles praising the girl power. While some points aren’t wrong – women in STEM, queer presence (Holtzmann is best girl), no need for a love story, nothing too sexualized, etc – these articles act as if this is the first and only piece of media to achieve this status. Hunger Games, the Alien franchise, a ton of shoujo anime (Sailor Moon, anyone?), Steven Universe (we are the crystal gems…), Star Vs the Forces of Evil, and I can go on and on on media out there on what’s available for “little girls” to follow. I also want to point out that I did grow up on The Real Ghostbusters and I do consider it a part of my childhood; it didn’t matter to me at the tender age of six that the main cast was male. I just liked a lot of the creepy stuff they were bustin’. I didn’t find my fictional lady idols until much later. If a “little girl” likes the new Ghostbusters, all the more power to them. However, pop culture news outlets also need to understand that Ghostbusters also appealed to a wide variety of after school syndication homework procrastinators, not just a single gender. The six year old boy next to me grooving to Ray Jay Parker? If he enjoys GB 2016, he should be able to as well!
In conclusion, I think there was a lot of missed opportunity with Ghostbusters 2016. The original movie, tv series, etc will always be there and can be enjoyed at any point. It actually made me smile, when a father was explaining to his kids all of the cameos from the original cast as we were exiting the cineplex. If people enjoy GB ’16, so be it. If people aren’t huge fans of the movie content, so be it as well. However, coming in with loaded notions because one person says that like or dislike something automatically labels them as something harsh is shallow. The difference of opinion and being able to discourse them is how we can make our entertainment better.
Also, Janine was awesome in the movies and TV series. She’s up there with Jeanette (Alvin and the Chipmunks) for my favorite 80s toons.
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