mr. r. s. braythwayt,
esquire


JavaScript Allongé
JavaScript Allongé


What I've Learned From Failure
What I've Learned From Failure


Creative Commons License Tweet Follow @raganwald

My Open Letter to the Ghostbusters Haters

About Ghostbusters:

I just watched the new Ghostbusters movie. Just so you know, I’m a 54 year-old man, I saw the original. I have watched SNL since the 1970s. I think I understand the original’s humour and style. I watch a lot of “dick flicks.” I don’t obsessively check whether movies pass the “Bechdel Test,” and yes I did leer at Slave Leia. I’m the target market for the Ghostbusters hate-a-rade.

But you know what? Some nutters are talking abut this new movie ruining their childhood, AND I’M NOT HAVING IT!

ghostbusters

I’m glad it wasn’t “completely faithful to the original”

If they tried to make this like the original, it would be a tepid remake. It could never be as funny as the original for people like me, because we bonded with the original when we were young and forming our tastes. Whether it had four guys or four women, if it had the tone and pacing of the original, I’d ask “why bother?”

I’m glad they didn’t do that.

So they did a reboot. It’s new Ghostbusters. They have a new style of comedy that I don’t find quite as funny because… Hold on to your nice-guy fedora… Because I no longer watch SNL every week and I my idea of comedy is still stuck on the style and rhythm of the comedy of the 1970s and 1980s.

This is as it should be. Ghostbusters is light and fun. It’s like pop music. If today’s pop stars choose to cover the songs of my youth, they’re supposed to do it in today’s style. And I’m supposed to grumble that singers today are all autotune and dance moves. And yell at kids to get off my lawn.

I enjoyed “Ghostbusters” with my son

But here’s what actually happened today. I went to the movie with my eleven year-old son. He is too young to know that girls are icky. I do not let him hang out on Reddit for you to tell him how wrong it is for him to enjoy a movie with women in leading roles. He has seen the original with me and he liked it.

This afternoon, I gave him the choice of Ghostbusters or Star Trek, and he chose to see Ghostbusters. So we went, we saw, we had a good time. I laughed enough to enjoy myself. I nodded at the cameos. Yes, it’s formulaic. And what, the original wasn’t an SNL skit expanded into a movie? Come on.

My son laughed and laughed. He told me he wanted a proton whatsis. He clutched my arm at points. We ate popcorn and slurped sugar water.

At the end of the day, it was the old family movie formula. The kids have a great time, and the moviemakers throw in a few things for the adults to nod at, so we wouldn’t get bored out of our skulls. It was light, clean fun.

“Ghostbusters” hasn’t ruined the original

There is zero wrong with it. Nothing, nada. The supposedly “objective” reasons for hating it are unimportant. It’s pop kitsch. It’s supposed to be stupid, some people find that stupidity funny and charming. All of my favourite comedies are objectively stupid, even the masterpiece “Blazing Saddles.” C’mon, a fart joke? If you want to, you can find reasons to dislike anything.

But who wants to get all hot and bothered disliking a summer comedy?

Also, Ghostbusters isn’t ruining the original. Ruining the original is when some ridiculous director re-edits the original to make Greedo shoot first. If you saw the original Star Wars on opening day, you can argue with me about that. If not, shut up about anybody ruining Ghostbusters. It’s still there, rent it on Apple TV and have a good time watching it whenever you like.

I re-listen to Bill Evans on piano playing “Blue in Green” on Kind of Blue. None of the dozens or hundreds of covers have ruined it for me. Why would this movie ruin anything for you?

But even if you do not like it, so what? Are you on a crusade to save the movie-going public from discovering that a formulaic comedy exploiting a decades-old franchise isn’t a work of art to last the ages? Really?

Come on, we both know that you’re really worried that the studio thinks your demographic is no longer the most important thing in the world. So you have this idea that if they won’t chase your spending dollars, you might bully them into cancelling the next female-led project for fear of another backlash.

This is also nonsense. In fact, it is jackassery. If you stopped and looked at Hollywood for a clear moment, you’d see that they turn out junk on a steady basis, without rhyme or reason. They usually get it wrong. If you did absolutely nothing at all, the odds are that the movie would quietly close. That’s what most comedies do, good or bad. They come, they go, they make their money on rentals and sales after the fact.

But no, you have to organize your protest and your ballot-stuffing on IMDB and what-not, and everybody notices this, and now you are trying to Streisand Effect the thing. Which is deeply ironic, because you are the sort of person who laughs when companies ineptly Streisand Effect themselves with lawsuits.

So you know, you should just stop paying attention to it. Take your energies and make some Ghostbusters fanfic. You’ll get just as much attention from your friends, and you’ll actually be creating something. And who knows, it may one day become a “real” movie. Stranger things have happened, just ask Russel T. Davies about that.

But back to Ghostbusters. The movie was fun, and if you could, for just one moment, go see the movie with an eleven year-old, and focus on whether the two of you were having fun, you’d find that out.

And if you don’t want to do that? If you want to hold onto your hate and invest your limited time on this earth to trying to derail a meaningless summer comedy?

Well then, you failed. I enjoyed myself, and you can suck it.