s hard as it may be to believe folks, it’s still a hot topic a full year later. People are still screaming. There is still wailing and gnashing of teeth. A total and complete disaster happened, but the people responsible for it are still refusing to take the blame. Meanwhile, those who are trying to hold them accountable are being blasted as “racist”, “sexist”, and a whole host of other false labels meant to distract from what’s going on.
Of course, I’m talking about the 2016 “Ghostbusters” fiasco.
For those who missed it the first time around, I’ll sum up. The powers that be at Sony decided to put director Paul Feig in charge of rebooting the “Ghostbusters” movie franchise even though he had nothing in his resume at that point to suggest that he’d be able to properly handle a fantasy movie of that scale. Sure enough, Feig responded by treating it as a massive comedy with fantasy elements (comedies being his forte) rather than treating it like he should have.
While there was initial grumbling about the plans for a gender-flipped cast, the negative criticism truly began in earnest when the first trailer was released. The vast majority of critics (myself included) focused on substantive criticisms, like the lackluster special effects, the number of jokes that flopped, the visual evidence that the film was *not* shot in New York City, and other items. But because a single-digit percentage of people complained about the gender-flipping, Sony & co. quickly crafted an official narrative.
The narrative? Everyone who criticized the film, regardless of just what they were critical of, was a racist and sexist. Period.
The prospect of being hit with such a broad brush pushed a lot of people over the edge and encouraged overly hostile behavior. Others washed their hands of the matter entirely. The people who were being hateful to begin with felt rewarded for their behavior and so kept at it. When the film launched, people stayed away in droves. A cadre of professional movie reviewers tried to prop the film up, but the damage was done. Given that the film wouldn’t be opening in China, it needed every ticket of American sales, and Sony’s own efforts ensured that this never happened. The film ended up with a devastatingly low take compared to what Sony needed, to which it responded by doubling down further on the narrative; that one of the stars was trolled on Twitter was held up as proof even though there are reports that she responded in a fashion that essentially poured fuel on the fire.
So – what’s the big news now?
Dan Aykroyd, who was in the original “Ghostbusters” movies and has been working with the franchise since, is officially joining the chorus of people blaming Paul Feig for the film’s failure. Not only is he blaming Feig for spending too much money, he’s also blaming Feig for ignoring his advice. Aykroyd warned that the film would need certain additional scenes to help matters come together, but Feig refused. Test audiences lambasted the film and called for the very scenes Aykroyd had warned them about, leading to at least $30 million in reshoots and additional filming.
So – how long until he gets called racist? Or sexist? Or perhaps this time, folks might listen. The franchise is all but dead at this point, and Sony Pictures is teetering as well because it ate so many financial losses in 2016.
But who wants to bet that no one will learn?