Modern Hollywood is overwhelmingly in the business of turning popular things into big-budget movies on the strength of their name recognition - be they comic books, video games, toys or even text-message graphics. And while most such properties have a fanbase of one form or another that frequently becomes protective when the movie biz comes calling, when the subject is remakes of other films (i.e. "remakes" rather than adaptations) such fan outrage often becomes downright hostile.
Nowhere has that been more evident than Paul Feig's upcoming reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, a movie that has been assailed not only by nostalgic fans of the original feature but also by a strain of virulent sexism focused on the decision to feature four female leads in the reboot. Now, star Melissa McCarthy is speaking out about the backlash - and she has words for her most strident critics.
McCarthy spoke on the matter of the film's backlash as part of a lengthy, in-depth interview with The Guardian on the subject of her career and unique stature in the Hollywood blockbuster landscape. When the subject of the abuse being heaped onto Ghostbusters and her fellow stars came up, the actress opted to lament the life conditions of those who would engage in such behavior:
“All those comments – ‘You’re ruining my childhood!’ I mean, really, four women doing any movie on earth will destroy your childhood? I have a visual of those people not having a Ben [Falcone, McCarthy's husband and occasional director], not having friends, so they’re just sitting there and spewing hate into this fake world of the internet. I just hope they find a friend.”
While it would be inaccurate to say that fandom-community sexism has been behind all of the backlash against Ghostbusters (reboots, especially those of Generation X nostalgia classics, always draw negative response at first), that the tone and tenor of the outrage has been at its most vicious in regard to the gender of the stars is difficult to ignore. In addition, much criticism of the project overall has centered on the idea that the beloved franchise has been "hijacked" by a female-centric filmmaking team in order to push a "social justice agenda," though exactly what that agenda would be or how the mechanics of it are supposed to work are generally unspecified.
Whatever the outcome of the finished film, the backstory of its production overall is fairly mundane "business as usual" for modern Hollywood: Sony had been attempting to re-leverage the Ghostbusters franchise for over a decade (eager to re-launch one of the more reliable merchandising brands of the 1980s and early '90s) and had quickly pivoted to a remake when the tragic death of Harold Ramis effectively ended talk of a conventional sequel. Multiple filmmakers were considered for the position, with Paul Feig being the filmmaker who ultimately took on the job.
While Melissa McCarthy's sense of humor is divisive among critics, her films have been consistently popular with audiences and at the box office: In terms of profitability, she's one of the most "bankable" comedy stars - male or female - in the world right now; and her films with Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy) are among the bigger comedy hits of the last decade. Whether or not similar success awaits Ghostbusters remains to be seen, as it's significantly more expensive than Feig's earlier efforts. Its performance will likely rest more on its stars' appeal to mainstream audiences than the opinions of particularly-angry internet fans.
Ghostbusters opens in U.S. theaters on July 15th, 2016.
Source: The Guardian
- Ghostbusters (2016) release date: Jul 15, 2016