One way or another, the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot will be one of the most talked about movies of the year. The conversation surrounding the movie has been raging now for well over year, ever since it was first announced that director Paul Feig (Spy) would be helming the updated take on the classic franchise with four women set to star. The social media reaction was swift and furious, with many decrying the need for a reboot of the series and many others crying foul on the "gender-swapped" nature of the film.
With Feig at the receiving end of a lot of online criticism, the director found himself in more hot water last week when the New York Daily News ran an interview quoting Feig as saying, "Geek culture is home to some of the biggest a**holes I've ever met in my life." Though it was soon revealed that the quote in question was actually from an interview given in February 2015, the damage had already been done and the internet once again swarmed against the director, heaping even more criticism his way.
In a subsequent Tweet, Feig attempted to stem the tide of hatred against him, clarifying the context and meaning of his original statement and issuing an attempt to make peace with the members of geek culture. The statement reads:
“The quotes from me in a New York Daily News article on Monday, May 2nd, 2016, were not from a recent interview but from an interview I did for a book on geek culture a year and a half ago that the author then sold to the Daily News, misrepresenting them as being my response to recent Ghostbusters reporting. The Daily News ran a correction yesterday, May 7th, for which I am grateful. To clarify, the interview actually took place on February 9th, 2015, one and a half weeks after I had first announced my Ghostbusters cast via Twitter, a week and a half that saw my actors and I inundated with some of the most hateful tweets, posts and comments I had ever seen. My quote was in answer to the question, ‘Has the paradigm shifted to a point where (because geek culture is currently so popular) the geek is the asshole now?’ I very much regret saying in my answer that I had actually met any assholes from the geek community. I have never met anyone from the geek world face-to-face who wasn’t a warm, kind person. The ‘assholes’ of which I speak are the ones who live online, who write those hateful tweets and posts and comments. I’m not talking about the people who have true concerns and worries about the rebooting of a franchise they love, nor am I talking about people who have watched the trailer for our movie and didn’t like it. Those are all valid opinions and I respect them all. I am talking about those that write misogyny and hate and threats. Those are the ‘assholes’ of which I spoke. As a lifelong geek and proud member of the geek community (as well as the creator of the TV series Freaks and Geeks), I abhor bullies. Every community has bullies who make up a very small minority of the community as a whole. Bullies scream the loudest and seem to get the most attention. But they are simply bullies who in no way represent the vast majority of wonderful, thoughtful people who make up our geek community. The geek world has been a haven for so many of us and we should all refuse to let these bullies hijack the conversations and debates we all love to engage in, nor should we let them represent our community and culture to the rest of the world. The bullies are not the norm and I would dare say they are not even true geeks. They are the micro minority. God bless the true geeks of the world and here’s to taking our community back from the bullies.”
While the clarification is nice, and it’s good to know that Feig hadn’t intended to paint the entirety of geek culture with a single broad stroke, it’s hard to deny that his original statement - taken out of context though it was - kind of had a point. The vitriol surrounding Ghostbusters has been pretty loud, and quite often abhorrent, especially when directed towards Feig and cast members. The unfortunate reality is that geek culture does contain its share of vocal bullies who express displeasure and disagreement in, shall we say, less than civil means.
We tend to forget that the people behind movies, even the ones we hate and have no interest in, are still just people. They’re wives and husbands, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. No one deserves threats for merely doing a job; no one deserves hatred just for making a movie. The simple fact is that the existence of the Ghostbusters reboot does absolutely nothing to lessen the original classic. It still exists, as it always has, and as it always will. And it’s possible to think a movie is bad, or that a reboot is a bad idea, without resorting to name calling and/or threats of violence.
Still, it’s nice to know that Feig hadn’t intended to offend his fan base, and it’s also good to know that the quote that made waves last week was an out of context quote from 15 months ago, rather than something new. Whether or not fans forgive him is hard to call at this point, and there’s certain to be a fair number of people who still latch onto this quote and use it to fuel further attacks.
It's worth noting, however, that the Ghostbusters reboot has some strong backing from the original cast. Ernie Hudson recently praised the script and the reboot's main cast, adding his voice to the likes of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd who've also praised the film and agreed to cameo in the movie. Hopefully, we can move past the petty name calling and threats of violence and judge Ghostbusters on its own merits.
Ghostbusters will open in U.S. theaters on July 15th, 2016.