Dan Aykroyd Praises New ‘Ghostbusters’ and the Internet’s Reaction Is Predictably Ugly
It’s become impossible to talk about Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters without acknowledging the unsavory reactions from fans of the original who have declared the reboot cinema non grata (to say the least). It’s also been suggested that perhaps some words of support from the original cast members might help soothe the aggressive fanbase, that if their so-called childhood heroes give Feig’s film the stamp of approval (as if their willingness to cameo in the film wasn’t endorsement enough), maybe the anti-reboot fan contingent would settle down and come to accept a crew of female Ghostbusters. That’s not the case, as OG Ghostbuster Dan Aykroyd shared his positive thoughts on Feig’s reboot, inspiring a slew of predictably angry reactions.
Aykroyd took to Twitter last night to share his thoughts on the reboot after sitting in on a test screening:
"As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from … https://t.co/Z9pcg9ehDF
— Dan Aykroyd (@dan_aykroyd) May 30, 2016
Here’s the full quote:
As originator of the original: Saw test screening of new movie. Apart from brilliant, genuine performances from the cast both female and male, it has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films plus Bill Murray is in it! As one of millions of man-fans and Ray Stantz, I’m paying to see that and bringing all my friends!
Sure, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but Aykroyd means well and it’s his opinion. The neat thing about opinions is that we all have different ones that are shaped by different backgrounds and experiences. Will I think Paul Feig’s reboot is better than the 1984 Ghostbusters? Probably not, but it could still be really good on its own and worthy of praise.
Setting aside Aykroyd’s belief that Feig’s Ghostbusters is superior to the classic film and its sequel, there are a couple of noteworthy things here: First, he points out that Bill Murray is in the new film, which is definitely notable since Murray has been the lone hold-out on Ghostbusters 3 because he hasn’t liked any of the scripts. And yet he agreed to appear in Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot, so you have to consider that maybe he’s onto something.
Second, Aykroyd calls himself a “man-fan,” directly acknowledging the very vocal and mostly male contingency of fans who are staunchly anti-reboot. Those fans have been denouncing Feig’s film since it was first announced, and deriding it sight-unseen, based solely on a couple of trailers. And if you ask them why, the stock response is inevitably some variation on, “I don’t have a problem with the women, it just doesn’t look funny and I am generally against reboots” — never mind the fact that the majority of them have undoubtedly paid to see numerous sequels, reboots and remakes over the course of their lives.
As you might expect, Aykroyd’s praise of Feig’s Ghostbusters didn’t go over so well. I won’t give the commenters the satisfaction of a link to their tweets, but responses included the charmingly accusatory “Royalties whore!” and the inevitable conspiracy theorist remark, “I’m just worried people where [sic] strong armed into saying good things about the movie to help sony make more money.” You know, like when Marvel paid critics to write negative reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Then there was this response, which is so stereotypically on-point that it feels like satire: “They raped your baby and you’re thanking them.”
It is tiring to address the Ghostbusters backlash, but using words like “rape” to describe a reboot is not only offensive, it’s childish, overly-simplistic and absurdly ignorant. A movie cannot assault your childhood. That inelegant metaphorical statement is entirely nonsensical. A movie cannot ruin your childhood. A piece of pop culture cannot travel back in time and decapitate your favorite stuffed animal and set your VHS collection on fire and throw your toys in the sewer.
The 1984 Ghostbusters isn’t going to be magically erased from existence when Paul Feig’s reboot hits theaters in July. It will still exist, and you will still love it, and nothing is going to tarnish its memory or “ruin” or — ugh — “rape” your childhood. The only thing capable of ruining your childhood is your parents.
If you don’t want to watch Paul Feig’s reboot, no one is forcing you to do so. If you don’t like the idea of incredibly funny women like Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Kristen Wiig putting on some costumes and busting ghosts, that seems like a you-problem, not a world-problem. The new Ghostbusters might not seem like your thing, and maybe it’s just not — maybe it’s not for you because it wasn’t made for you. And maybe that hurts a little, that someone took a brand you loved as a kid and decided to share it with girls.
Here’s the thing: if the original Ghostbusters is so important to you that the idea of a reboot has you distraught to the point of casually tossing around words like “rape,” then maybe it’s time to pause and consider why that is. Is it so horrible for a new generation to have their own Ghostbusters, or for young girls to see themselves reflected in this group of geeky heroes? What’s so unbearably horrible about this reboot in particular and not, say, the infinite remakes of slasher films or the exhaustive recycling of Spider-Man and Batman — how many times do we have to sit through the deaths of Uncle Ben and Bruce Wayne’s parents?
But we get one little Ghostbusters reboot featuring women, and all of a sudden there’s a full-scale internet riot rife with conspiracy theories and plots to undermine the reboot by organizing a mass-disliking of the trailer on YouTube. You can click “unlike” as many times as you want, but this movie is still coming out on July 15. And you can say that it has nothing to do with a female cast, and maybe that’s true for some people, but it seems highly unlikely that a reboot would inspire this much concentrated, vocal hate if they had cast men instead of women. Where was the internet backlash over the Vacation reboot? Or the coordinated attacks on Dwayne Johnson’s plans to remake Big Trouble in Little China? Why isn’t anyone upset about that weird Men in Black reboot / 21 Jump Street crossover?
The sheer amount of effort that’s gone into tearing down the Ghostbusters reboot is ridiculous. If you’re not interested in seeing Paul Feig’s movie, then don’t. There’s no need to spend hours on the internet leaving negative comments on trailers and responding to every mention of Ghostbusters with declarations of some childhood that’s been irrevocably ruined by the existence of a movie. It’s just a movie. And one that might actually be good if you gave it a chance.