* * I’ll make an exception for you if Todd Solondz’ Happiness brought up all sorts of repressed memories.
Over the past weekend, the relaunched Ghostbusters film came, did well enough at the box office to ignite talk of a sequel, thrilled women and young girls for putting four kick ass heroines on screen while causing a million dudes with neckbeards to wring their hands, gnash their teeth and lament the raping of their childhoods. I can’t recall any movie in recent memory that absorbed the venom and outrage that this new vision of Ghostbusters has, and that’s months before a single person had the opportunity to lay eyes on the film.
The most frequent argument the Ghostbros make revolves around the idea that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. The notion of a new Ghostbusters film offends them to their core not because it happens to be four female comediennes taking up the proton packs but because their tired of having no new and original properties to watch in between lining up for third and latest relaunch of the Batman cinematic universe in twenty years. It’s the same irrational, straw man argument that saw the phrase “it’s about ethics in gaming journalism” entered into the public lexicon last year when female video game journalists found themselves sexually harassed, publicly threatened with violence and had their private and personal information leaked onto the internet by the same Men’s Rights Activists crowd.
If only remakes and sequels were a new thing. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any beloved film that was reimagined with the basic details intact. Oh wait. There’s Cronenberg’s The Fly. Oh, and some guy named John Carpenter did something or other called The Thing. Some no talent stiff named Francis Ford Coppola put his own spin on Dracula, the son of a bitch. There’s something like four versions of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I’m not sure what Christopher Nolan was thinking when he removed the Bat Nipples from the suit, but hey whatever man. But nope, I can’t think of any movies that ever took a beloved conceit and delivered a whole new spin on it.
Throughout film history heroes, monsters and villains exist to be remade, repurposed and reexamined for new generations. How many times has the Dracula story been told and retold? I’m sure there were fanboys back in the 1950s yet to my knowledge no one has ever hoped Christopher Lee gets butt fucked by a hot poker so hard that it comes out of his mouth for raping their childhood by daring to take on the role that Bela Lugosi made famous. Okay, Oliver Reed may have said that. The point is the characters we love have been adapted and reimagined a countless number of times. And if you’re kind of man (it’s always men. It’s always white men) who feel the need to defend the purity of the original artistic vision of a beloved property by deluging one of the film’s stars with hateful, racist attacks on Twitter, then you can get fucked.
In fact, part of the overwhelming appeal of these characters and franchises that we love so much is they offer a deep, vast playground for anyone to create new and exciting stories which can travel in any one of a thousand different directions. Whether you’re talking about the Universal Monsters, Sherlock Holmes,007, Star Trek, the classic 80s slasher villains or the Ghostbusters, these are characters that don’t exist as a singular vision frozen in a moment in time. They change, adapt and become something entirely new but recognizable and embraced by a new generation of fans. Take a look at the photo above this article. You tell me that isn’t a young girl that’s going to home, break out her Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon action figures and create hundreds of her own Ghostbusting stories in her backyard? Is that something you want to take away from her, or any other kid for that matter?
If there is a portion of the MRA groups that feel aggrieved by the lack of originality in Hollywood today then they can blame themselves. They’ve been catered to by the studios for decades, and if there’s any market that is oversaturated it’s the ongoing story of the cis-gender hetero white dude. Meanwhile women, persons of color, and the LGBT community have struggled to have their stories told, and find themselves marginalized and underrepresented on screen. If the Ghostbros were sincere in their desire for new, original films they would demand to see new voices represented on screen.
Yet we know that’s not what these neckbearded weirdos care about at all. The furor about women taking the leads in Ghostbusters isn’t about a lack of originality in Hollywood. It’s about the Ghostbros’ influence getting smaller as pop culture around them changes to reflect different genders, orientations and cultural backgrounds. It’s the last gasp in the form of a sulking tantrum that they’re not always going to get their way.