I am Switzerland in the Great Ghostbusters War of 2016. When Sony Pictures released a trailer of its new “Ghostbusters” remake earlier this spring, many fans of the original franchise roundly derided it. The trailer has received more than 865,000 downvotes on YouTube, a record for any movie. Critics say the film, featuring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth, looks horribly unfunny and that the original deserves better than it got from director Paul Feig.
In response, feminists said that critics are a bunch of sexists whose funny bones are damaged by their misogyny.
But to me, it just seemed like a typical remake. Hollywood is in a rut of remakes, and let’s-remake-this-comedy-gold-classic-but-with-women passes for groundbreaking creativity I guess. I’m no more incensed about this remake than I am about any other retread. And I like the women in the film, even if the well-regarded Leslie Jones’ comedy isn’t my cup of tea. The point is: I’m neutral.
But I have a conspiracy theory about the making and marketing of the film. Hear me out.
Take Christian Movies. Please!
It is well known that Hollywood is a den of iniquity, and that it exists to subvert all that is good in the world. I’m not even sure if I’m joking. I mean, right this moment we have a film being pushed that argues that disabled people should kill themselves because life outside of a perfect body isn’t a life worth living at all. This young disabled female wrote the best response to it around — “Dear Hollywood, Why Do You Want Me Dead?” — and she’s only 11 years old.
Anyway, sometimes Christians, realizing that the culture has, shall we say, been in a bit of decline in recent years, decide to make a movie. And the quality of these movies varies wildly. Good, fine, and ugly.
No matter the quality, though, the marketing is targeted to traditional Christians and encourages them to prove to the world that a Christian movie can make it in godless Hollywood. Movie studios encourage Christians to organize groups to go to the theater. There’s a sense of a moral imperative to purchasing the ticket.
I thought of all this when I read a June 7 Yahoo! story that began:
Ghostbusters has had well-publicized battles with internet adversaries who don’t like the fact its heroes are now played by — gasp! — women. Well, those naysayers had better monitor their blood pressure today, because there’s a new trailer for them to grapple with, this one made for Japan.
Let’s leave aside this common practice of grossly mischaracterizing actual critiques of the film. And let’s leave aside what Tom Nichols said in response to the trailer — “Every trailer gets worse, but seeing it in Japanese makes it perfect: like a cheap Japanese knock-off using second-tier U.S. actors and violating all kinds of trademarks and copyrights.”
Replace “Ghostbusters” with the latest Christian film and “now played by women” with “Christian,” and run this on a Christian site instead of Yahoo! and it would be the typical way studios hoodwink Christians into seeing bad movies.
It’s Part of a Pattern
Last week producer Judd Apatow taunted the film’s many critics by saying they were probably just Donald Trump fans:
I would assume there’s a very large crossover of people who are doubtful Ghostbusters will be great and people excited about the Donald Trump candidacy. I would assume they are the exact same people.
Kind of a weirdly polarizing thing to say, no?
Or remember in late May when the females in “Ghostbusters” showed up to promote the movie on the Ellen Degeneres show … with Hillary Clinton? “Hillary Clinton, Ghostbusters, and Gender Politics Collide on Ellen,” wrote Slate.
Kind of a weirdly polarizing marketing choice, no?
And when James Rolfe of Cinemassacre declined to review the film — on the grounds that he didn’t feel the need to watch it — he was decried as a misogynist, a sexist, a “men’s rights activist,” and a man who didn’t deserve a wife. The reaction was beyond bizarre.
The Hollywood Reporter has a piece on attempts to save the marketing of the film — “How Sony Plans to Out-Slime the Online Haters.” My colleague David Harsanyi noted the use of “slime” and “haters” and added “Obviously no one would frame criticism of a movie like that if it wasn’t already instilled with identity politics.”
The Polarization is Coming from Inside the House
Listen, I want to enjoy this reboot. And I want it to be good, as Feig’s “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat” were good. I want to laugh and relive the joy of the original “Ghostbusters.”
I have an open mind about the film. But it is the least-liked trailer in YouTube history, and its marketing doesn’t seem designed to overcome its problems.
What if the movie is just awful and the geniuses at Sony are doing what they do with bad “Christian” films? What if it’s so bad and unfunny and such a betrayal of the original that the only marketing idea they have left is to make feminists feel obligated to go see it? And what if Sony is just trying to trick them into renting out movie theaters out of solidarity with the cause by running this bizarre social justice warrior style campaign?
i might see ghostbusters like three or four times just to drink all the male tears when it’s a success
Bill Hanstock (@sundownmotel) May 18, 2016
Maybe Sony is crazy like a fox and playing feminists for every dollar they can get.