NOTE: This was originally written as the script for a video, but I decided it read better than it sounded performed. As ever, if you like what I do here, there’s a MovieBob Patreon for that.
Alright. The Internet is all up in arms because of the below video wherein a guy who reviews movies says he’s not going to review the GHOSTBUSTERS remake mainly for nostalgia/”respect-the-original” reasons (and will instead do a “non-review” seemingly mostly about the failed attempts to make a proper GHOSTBUSTERS III over the years); and I find the fallout interesting because half the web is celebrating: “Hooray! Famous Internet Man has joined our anti-feminist witch-hunt!;” while the other half is scolding him over:“Boo! Famous Internet Man joined their anti-feminist witch-hunt.”
Meanwhile, the gender-flip business of the remake doesn’t really come up other than a factual acknowledgment thereof in the actual video, making it nicely illustrative of the tiresome way discussion of this movie has become proxy-vs-proxy and not about the movie at all… but also of who’s to blame for that tiresomeness in the first place (HINT: It ain’t the so-called “SJWs.”) Anyway, there’s the video, my take after the jump.
So. Background: James Rolfe, probably still best known as the Angry Video Game Nerd and pretty-much the INVENTOR of the whole “pop-culture rant” internet video genre, put out a video where he announced he was going to do some kind of vaguely-defined “non-review” tie-in video to the remake of GHOSTBUSTERS because it looks really bad and he resents the idea of remaking it in the first place and would thus rather not watch it.
Which… I totally understand and think is pretty valid. I mean, look – I’m a film critic by trade and I’m generally of the opinion that everyone critic or not should experience as many things as possible and that goes double for things you assume you yourself won’t like I assume we’ve all read GREEN EGGS & HAM and I don’t have to explain the logic behind that further. BUT! It’s also true that not everyone CAN see everything and if you really do think something looks so beyond your capacity for enjoyment or rational engagement then maybe it’s best left to others every once in awhile.
To be frank – short of “not gonna watch it” I have a hard time disagreeing with most of his basic premise (though I’d like to think I wouldn’t have said it was “good” that Harold Ramis didn’t get to see the movie – that’s a bit much.) GHOSTBUSTERS is one of those all-time classics that shouldn’t be remade even if remaking it well was possible which it isn’t because the making of GHOSTBUSTERS was one of those lightning-in-a-bottle scenarios that can’t happen twice and GHOSTBUSTERS II is the proof of that. The remake they HAVE made thus far looks and sounds terrible both conceptually and based on the trailers, everything about it makes me embarrassed for the very talented cast that’s been assembled to put it together. It’s a movie that probably never should have happened, stands almost no chance of being worthwhile and thus far doesn’t even look like it’ll be good enough to be a “whatever, next movie.” The last time a movie project looked THIS bad top-to-bottom before its release was BATMAN V SUPERMAN and just look how that monstrosity turned out.
And yeah, I COMPLETELY “get” resenting remakes of classics because – yes – while a remake doesn’t make the original “disappear” it does often inject a sour note into the cultural history of something (fairly or not) at least for a little while. See: Today, when you talk about ROBOCOP, you kinda have to specify that you mean the good one from the mid-80s and not that godawful piece of garbage from last year. Or when you talk about HALLOWEEN and have to point out that you mean the John Carpenter movie and not the Rob Zombie one. It’s not a huge problem or a major tragedy but it DOES kind of suck that unless this remake is itself an outright classic which – no, it won’t be – any discussion of GHOSTBUSTERS will now have to specify whether you mean the remake or the good one.
Now look, I’m not here to “defend” The Angry Nerd OR start some kind of debate over all this or even really to talk about his thing at all. And before somebody brings it up YES, I understand that he’s doing a “bit” and the whole “principled stand against a remake of a classic” thing feels like basically a clever promo for a what sounds like a video more about the history of the failure to make GHOSTBUSTERS 3 while it was still possible that he probably wanted to do anyway. I get it – self-promotion is the business, the business is what it is and he’s been doing it longer than almost any of us.
What I do think is worth noting is that the “discussion” that spilled out of this continues to be all about sexist assholes in fan-culture clearly being upset at this movie because they recast it with women… and the fact of that BARELY came up at all in Rolfe’s video. Now, look – full disclosure: I know this guy, not super well but we’ve worked with a lot of the same people, have done a few of the same events, I always admired his work, he’s always been a good guy to me, I have ZERO reason to believe he has some kind of issue with women and the fact that he doesn’t bring it up at all bares that out: I take him at what looks to be his word that this is about remaking classics and not about gender politics or whatever.
But what’s interesting and also depressing is… it doesn’t really MATTER, does it? The remake of GHOSTBUSTERS became a proxy battlefield for political posturing pretty-much the minute it was announced because that’s the world we live in now, and that’s always a frustrating phenomenon because it involves weighing two equally true facts against eachother – Fact #1 being that issues like feminism, progress, social-justice etc are, objectively, more important than whether or not a movie is good; but Fact #2 being that the only fair way to judge a work of art is based on its intrinsic merits and not which “side” of some bigger, more important argument its quality or lack thereof backs up.
This is partially why you haven’t heard ME really have anything substantively to say about the movie up to this point: Honestly, I was rooting for it to be good (and still hope it is even though all possible signs point to “no”) because inverting the character-genders raised a lot of genuinely interesting possibilities and almost seemed like a good enough reason to remake a classic in the first place. And as soon as the awful trailers and the awful everything else started to roll in, y’know… I felt physically sick over it because I realized what we were now in for:
The same pissed-off woman-hating assholes that ran roughshod over video-game fandom last year and this year have managed to (improbably) turn the otherwise well-intentioned Presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders (of all people!) into a fucking punchline are going to climb all over this movie sucking as ammunition for their bullshit cause, which means the GOOD people on the other side will either feel compelled to jump in and “defend” this or get sucked in otherwise because it becomes the new talking point of the moment.
And while that’s annoying on all fronts, I’m not trying to make a false equivalency here: I HATE the fact that we can’t have an honest back and forth about this or any other movie without having to think about whether or not what we say is going to get repurposed a weapon in a bullshit “culture war,” but I know who’s to blame for it – and it aint’ the so-called “SJWs.”: It’s the regressives and the trolls and fedora squad and the MRA/”meninist” right-wing internet collective that’s been banging on about this shit ever since they realized that the inexorable tide of cultural evolution is poised and ready to sweep them and their bullshit played-out reactionary worldview into the dumpster of societal-obsolesence.
Because guess what: The remakes of ROBOCOP and TOTAL RECALL *both* looked just as bad as the new GHOSTBUSTERS looks (and spoiler: they WERE exactly as awful as they looked) – but I don’t remember a year-long preemptive, pre-TRAILER hate campaign against those movies; so logically there’s obviously something else at play here – and while it’s true that Chris Hemsworth being in a movie where he’s NOT playing Thor is usually a bad sign… I kinda don’t think it’s that.
So… yeah. You think the remake of GHOSTBUSTERS looks terrible? I agree – it looks terrible. I just hope it doesn’t stop people from putting Leslie Jones Kate McKinnon in good movies because those are two funny fuckin’ people. You think it looks super-disrespectful to the legacy of one of the most important genre-comedies ever made? Yeah, I think that looks to the most-likely case. Don’t wanna watch it because of that? Fine – totally valid, you do you. But please, don’t you DARE insult either of our intelligences by trying to tell me that *most* of the super over-the-top mega-hatred that’s being trained on this project and RUINING any chance to have an honest discourse isn’t mainly coming from paranoid sexist assholes who think something is being “stolen” from them.
Egh… can we just get this over with? And by this, I mean can we just fast-forward to five years from now when we’ll be able to find out what everyone REALLY thought of this movie?
P.S. Since it’s relevant, my original “Really That Good” episode on the original GHOSTBUSTERS. For those wondering: RTG: “Superman: The Movie” is in-production and should be done soon, Yes, I am aware it took longer than I wanted it to. As ever, if you enjoy the work and want to encourage more, please consider The MovieBob Patreon.