The third coming of Ghostbusters has been so long in the works that it’s attained the level of pop culture urban myth. The reboot of the 1984 hit comedy has yet to come to pass, despite periodic updates on its condition. The great Harold Ramis died this year, leading to director Ivan Reitman pulling out of the project. Ghostbusters lynchpin Bill Murray has long been a holdout on a potential reunion, noting that the push is more from the studio than the original cast and crew. “I understand, it’s business,” Murray told an interviewer in March. “But I don’t know. Are you planning on going back to high school?”
The newest possibility around the greatest ghoul-fighting squad in New York history is that Bridesmaids director Paul Feig will make a reboot, and that the new generation of parapsychologists may be women. This is still in the very shakey, trembly, baby doe steps of happening, but reaction was immediate. This led to some expected media commotion, including a hand-wringing article by Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. about how this will ruin the whole thing, y’all. Girls are infiltrating the club! Pull up the ladder to the treehouse!
In case the tone of the article wasn’t immediately apparent, the headline is a good tip-off: “Film Chauvinist Asks: Do We Want An Estrogen-Powered Ghostbusters?” The headline is basically the equivalent of starting an insult with “No offense but,” a thin guise for a sentiment guaranteed to offend. And yep, it does. The problem with this potential female-led reboot is that it makes Fleming feel cheated out of a cast including the likes of Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Charlie Day
What about the rest of us? The ones who feel a level of ownership of the classic 1984 guy comedy Ghostbusters, the ones who endured a disappointing sequel and waited years for Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) to finally say he was not going to answer the call for a third film so we could get to this point? I feel slimed.
People who feel ownership over Ghostbusters are not limited by their gender. That’s a movie that many people enjoy and grew up on, myself included, not just a dude comedy made for the enjoyment of other dudes. And people who are actually invested in Ghostbusters are not interested in a watered-down Harold Ramis-less reboot of the same, no matter who is in it. And his further extrapolations of where the film industry is heading–oh no! more women in everything!–is equally bone-headed.
Excuse me while I clutch my pearls in horror. Ladies invade the Cinemaplex? Heavens. The examples he gives, save for perhaps Animal House, are bad ones. Scorsese, who directed two of those films, is not much in the business of making sequels. (Though honestly, I would watch any of those fictional movies.) And the notion that a potential cast of women is somehow an attack on dude cinema is utterly ridiculous. I promise you, Channing Tatum is not going to be out of a job anytime soon. In fact, it’s a hopeful note for women who like watching movies. As Forbes’ Scott Mendelson pointed out, “A girl-powered Ghostbusters film won’t necessarily be better or funnier than a male-centric one…But a female-skewing Ghostbusters film, if it’s successful, is a good start to Hollywood hopefully crafting new properties that don’t default to the ‘four dudes to every one pretty girl’ template.”
A Ghostbusters reboot is that it will never live up to purist expectations, because it has to be different than the original. Sequels, reboots, and tributes often fail under the burden of measuring up to the original, and that’s not even their point. The point of a Ghostbusters reboot is, as Murray pointed out, to capitalize on a franchise, to draw out or recreate the commercial success of a project. The problem is not that having women in a Ghostbusters reboot will ruin it. The problem is that there is a reboot at all. But, if you are indeed a purist, I have good news on that front: Whatever happens with Ghostbusters: The Remix, whoever they cast and however it does, it will affect the original movie not one iota. The streams will not cross.
Follow Margaret Eby on Twitter @margareteby